How did you come up with the core theme of your book that enlightenment is easy?
After being healed by a Reiki master in 2001, I dedicated myself to learning as much as I could about esotericism and healing, with the goal of understanding the mechanisms through which I had healed. I dived into the catalogues of publishers like Hay House and Sounds True, reading a wide range of books on self-development and spirituality. I found my own spiritual teachers who initiated me in the techniques of reiki and channeling. I also fell in love with yoga and became a yoga teacher.
As a side job to my main profession in finance, I eventually offered spiritual coaching for clients which included channeling and energy work. I noticed that like the reiki master who healed me, I could also connect people to a frequency of love and joy and help them heal.
I saw in my sessions that behind each person is a subtle force who wants to exist as him or her. It chooses every detail of you from your parents, to your physique, to the town you were born in. I call that force the soul.
One thread in The Easy Way to Enlightenment is the exploration of the simple idea that you are here because your soul desires to exist as you. You are its chosen one. I observe in clients and myself, that when we try on this idea and wear it, we enlighten ourselves. Knowing that we are wanted and loved frees us from the need for parental and social approval. Giving ourselves permission to exist in happiness no matter what is an expression of enlightenment.
If enlightenment is easy, does that mean you consider yourself enlightened?
I consider myself to be a more enlightened version of myself than I was 2, 12 or 20 years ago. I share the story in my book of my journey through infertility that ended in two miscarriages. I knew that if I did not enlighten myself, the pain of my loss would destroy me. Even though depression paralyzed me, I learned from working with clients that we all possessed the power of a seedling to crack through pavement and reach the light of the sun. I held the vision that I could break through to the light on the other side of my suffering. I worked with the idea that my soul wants me to exist. Affirming that my life has meaning with our without children gave me the strength to heal.
The Easy Way to Enlightenment offers a clear path to understand that your individual existence is meaningful to your soul. You are loved whether your parents, kids or partner love you or not, whether you have money, a house, a career or not. Whether you have been a victim or a perpetrator, your soul reaches out to you with unconditional love.
Typically we believe that enlightenment is only for a few, but in our own way, we are already enlightened. Every time we act lovingly to ourselves or another, we bring more light into the world. I am asking people on the modern spiritual path to let go of what they think enlightenment should be and to acknowledge how they have enlightened themselves already.
You dedicate an entire lesson to loving the planet. What does the Earth have to do with enlightenment?
I like to imagine what my soul would think and feel looking down at planet earth. What is so compelling about this place that it would make a nonphysical entity like a soul choose to come here? When we step on the spiritual path, we may encounter ideas like past-lives and karma. Some teachings tell us that we continue to incarnate until we work off our karma and become enlightened. But what if our soul also incarnates because it wants to experience this magnificent planet through our body and five senses?
We all know that an easy way to lift our energy after a tough day is to take a walk outside. Most people love to travel to the beach, to the forest or the mountains to relax and recharge. Intuitively we know that nature is healing and enlightening.
After the 2016 presidential election, my heart grew heavy. I asked myself what specifically upset me about the new government. In meditation I saw my fear that more nature would be destroyed and exploited. As we open to our soul, our love for Mother Earth grows with the consequence that her suffering becomes ours. I offer exercises in the book to acknowledge our pain from loving Mother Earth and heal it so that we can take positive action on her behalf without anger.
What do you want readers to take away from your writing?
As I dived into healing traditions from around the world, I began a notice a common thread between Eastern and Western thought as well as between coaching and esotericism that nobody was talking about. As I structured the book, I saw the commonalities across seemingly unrelated practices – for example my channeling teacher in Germany taught me the same world view that I later learned when studying the yoga philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism. My heart desired a modern approach to enlightenment that is inclusive and not bound to a particular tradition, so I created one. I synthesize these commonalities into one simple framework I call the enlightenment architecture. I now work with this simple model myself to reconnect to my soul, the Mother Earth and myself. I learned that I can honor all of my teachers, yet don’t have to consider myself a follower of one particular system.
There are millions of people around the world who have become better versions of themselves through self-development and spiritual practices, yet discredit their achievement because they have not reached what they believe to be the ultimate state of enlightenment. I want to give the readers an outlook for the future: I ask the readers to share what they are learning with the world to create a global shift in consciousness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Leigh Ann Kittell is a life coach, yoga teacher, and intuitive empath with an unquenchable curiosity about how to transcend the challenges of everyday life through self-development and modern spiritual practices. After a miraculous encounter with a Reiki master, Leigh Ann dedicated herself to learning as much as she could about esotericism and healing, with the goal of understanding the mechanisms through which she had healed, and how she could help others do the same. Leigh Ann teaches and works with individuals and groups internationally, sharing practices on connecting with higher forms of guidance, and helping people sense and develop a relationship with their soul. Born and raised in the United States, Leigh Ann has lived in Europe for the last twenty years, giving her a unique, global perspective on modern spirituality. She is a Martha Beck Certified Life Coach and brings more than two decades of research to her fresh approach to the topic of enlightenment.