Executive Editor Matt Sutherland Interviews Judi Miller, Author of Perfect: A Path to Love, Forgiveness, and Transformation
Fear is funny stuff. Your fear of mice, for example, can be terrifying but it is not of the same magnitude as being chased by a grizzly bear that hopes to eat you. Strangely, our brain doesn’t seem to differentiate—both those fears are filed in an area of the brain stem known as the amygdala, the home of fight-or-flight mode. Be that as it may, mice and grizzlies and fighting or fleeing aren’t even the most damaging consequence because fear has spiritual dimensions—too often it serves to block out light and love and so much of what is good in the universe. Judi Miller would like to show you another way.
In Perfect: A Path to Love, Forgiveness, and Transformation, Judi did the work to overcome her debilitating fears and her story is sure to resonate with anyone hoping to live a serene and blissful life.
Enjoy the interview!
Early in the book you tell an old Taoist fable about a farmer experiencing periods of good fortune and bad with a nonchalant attitude of acceptance. About the farmer, you write, “He knows that the events aren’t actually good or bad; it’s only our stories about the events that make them appear so. … In my view, the farmer sees everything as perfect—as ordained by something higher, every detail exactly as it needs to be. This is how I see what I experienced, too.” Why does this story resonant so strongly with you?
Albert Einstein once said, “The most important decision we can make is whether we believe we live in a friendly universe.” How we answer this fundamental question will paint the picture of how we view and interpret the events of life.
I believe the entire universe is a complicated, interconnected web of events and energies, all of it perfectly designed. Like a jigsaw puzzle; there may be uneven edges, missing pieces or even holes in the picture here and there, but as those final pieces snap into place, the perfection of the whole becomes obvious.
The Taoist fable resonates with me because, in my view, the farmer sees everything as perfect, as ordained by something higher, every detail exactly as it needs to be. When we step back and see our lives from this grander, larger perspective, the events of our lives weave together to tell a much larger, richer story.
The farmer also refuses to label events as either good or bad. They are just another piece in the grander picture called life.
So called “painful” and “unwanted” events are going to happen to all of us. We can either experience that event once or we can play it repeatedly in our minds—hundreds maybe even thousands of times. I believe the most dangerous part of an event is not the event but the labels, judgements, and stories we create and then repeat about the event. When we label and judge our experiences, we begin to own them and letting go becomes harder. It’s not the event that makes us unhappy but the thoughts about the event. All suffering happens when we wished what happened didn’t. Byron Katie said it beautifully “When you argue with reality, you lose—but only 100 percent of the time.”
Our stories and thoughts are also not always true and can distort the way we see the world.
Let’s quickly follow up by sharing with readers that you were born with an extra thumb on your right hand. Let me ask in the most innocent way: why do you think the universe gifted you with that miraculous bonus appendage?
I believe we are all gifted with different attributes and experiences so we can grow and learn.
For most of my life, I felt different, unworthy, not enough. I was born in Trinidad and moved to the US when I was very young. I didn’t look like other kids in my neighborhood and I felt like I never fit in. This is not about race or discrimination but about the judgements I had about myself. I was also born with eleven fingers and had an inexplicable fear of the dark that accompanied me for most of my life. I always wanted to hide my differences because I felt that nobody could truly love me for who I am. Despite educational and outer success, I always felt it was never enough—I felt like I was never enough. It felt like I was nothing. However, I realized that in the nothingness, I could be anything I wanted. When we drop our stories, labels, and judgements about ourselves, we can be anything we want—we can emerge as our true and authentic self.
My extra thumb was surgically removed; however, it continues to be a loving reminder that what we label and judge as wrong or bad can often be our greatest blessing.
You credit your family’s Chinese and Caribbean heritage as helping you reconcile your “Catholic faith with a deeper spiritual understanding,” even after moving to the US when you were four. “You write, “It was understood that up and down our line, some people had heightened abilities. Some people, my family knew, were different. … I am one such person. As a child, I often saw spirits and different energies. I could sense things that came with no easy or logical explanations. I could feel the presence of someone or something and see the movement of energy.” But as it turns out, you suppressed many of these gifts for thirty years or so. Why did you feel it necessary to do so?
I was raised Catholic, but I have a very open concept of religion and spirituality. I believe this is in part due to my mixed heritage where there is a very open understanding that there are things in the seen and the unseen that are not easily explained. People who adhere to strict religious tenets may not resonate with Perfect; however, I’ve never found the two to be at odds. I believe there are multiple paths and religions that can lead us all “home.”
I also believe that we are all born with the ability to sense and feel things that are not easily explained. We have over 10,000 more sensory receptors than we do motor. But society has taught us to shut down many of the gifts that we are all born with. When we are perceived to be different, we are often more vulnerable to attack.
I suppressed many of my gifts because I was afraid. As I reflected on my life, I realized that much of my life was lived from a state of fear. This state of fear had been contracting and stifling me my entire life. These fears permeated every aspect of my life. I was afraid of being different. I was afraid that I was not enough. I was afraid of speaking up. The list can go on and on. I realized that I no longer had to live afraid—afraid of life.
I believe all emotions fall into two categories: fear and love. If I let go of my fears, who would I be? As I contemplated this, a lifetime of stories melted away; the stories that I was not worthy, that I was not enough. I realized that in the absence of fear, only love remains. I can now step forth into the world as I truly am, no longer afraid. We all can.
A couple years ago, you had a transformative spiritual experience on Good Friday and seized upon the love and connection you felt to change your life. Can you talk about surrendering to the experience, for yourself, but also for your ancestors who were carrying deep-seated family pain?
For most of my life, I felt that I was different and that no one could love me for who I am. But all of that changed on Good Friday. As I waited for Mass to start, an intense feeling came over me. It was an overwhelming sense of love, magnified a thousand times that filled my entire body. I felt love in all its many forms: gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, etc. I felt all of it. I could barely hold it in and it began to overflow in an outpouring of tears. It’s often hard for me to find the language to describe what I experienced. The best words I can find still fall short and I can’t fully convey what happened. I had been touched by the divine love of the Universe.
In that instance, I knew that I had always been unconditionally loved and accepted by the Creator—we all are. So many of us feel unworthy and unloved. But if we knew how much we were loved, we would never doubt ourselves again.
All of this occurred on Good Friday, which represents death and rebirth for me. This experience showed me that we can all be reborn into a new reality the second we choose to look at life differently.
Do you believe your spiritual gifts, your ability to sense the world at a heightened level also inspires you to be more open to things that are new or hard to understand?
I believe we are all blessed with different gifts and collectively they form our beautiful and vibrant world. I also believe that we are all born with the ability to sense and feel different energies, but they are quickly stifled and then forgotten.
My greatest gift is the ability to see the interconnectedness of things. It helped me in school, in my professional career, and now in helping me to understand how the seemingly random and disparate events of my life weave together to form that larger and grander view.
I believe we live in a loving and supportive Universe and that everything is here to serve us. When we drop our stories, labels, and judgements and experience each event as an opportunity to grow and learn, we begin to see how these experiences are serving us. All the seemingly random events of our lives do fit together. Life is one huge, interconnected puzzle, each piece perfect and part of the whole. Once we begin to view life this way, life becomes easier and we rejoice in each new experience.
You write intriguingly about a period in your life when issues of spiritual development began to mesh with other, can we say “secular,” aspects like medical care, fears, habits, and the more self-helpy responsibilities of your life. There’s an everything’s-connected thread buried in there that many people find difficult to bring to fruition in their lives. Can you delve into that transitional time a bit deeper for us?
For as long as I can remember, I have always been committed to self-help. I thought there was something broken inside me that needed to be fixed. I read countless books and attended endless seminars. However, it never filled the void or loneliness I felt.
I’ve realized that the loneliness and emptiness that so many people feel today is not because we are isolated from each other but because we’ve become disconnected from ourselves. When we judge and label ourselves and others, it causes a separation or disconnection from the very essence of who we are and the divine connection that unites us as one.
Additionally, we are already born worthy. There is nothing to prove for we can truly never get it wrong. When we let go of this need to prove ourselves, our lives change. We can show up as our true authentic selves in the knowing that we are more than enough.
During an extremely anxious night before serious surgery, the vision of a black panther appeared while you listened to a guided meditation. Tell us about spirit animals and why this experience was so instrumental to your development as a spiritual being?
Because of the perceived differences and judgements I had about myself, I’ve felt alone for most of my life. The appearance of the black panther was the start of many synchronicities and signs from the Universe that we are truly never alone, never abandoned and always loved.
I’ve had an inexplicable fear of the dark that accompanied me for most of my life. During these moments of darkness, the trauma and pain that I inherited from my mother was particularly intense. The vision of the black panther melted away all the fear I had about my surgery and helped me to begin dissolving the fears and stories that no longer served me.
At her first appearance, I knew little about spirit animals and searched the internet for the black panther and its meaning. The initial search was shockingly accurate. Deeply connected to the feminine, the panther symbolizes overcoming fear of death and fear of the dark. The one who is connected to the panther can see and understand darkness in a way that many others cannot. Those who walk with the panther can heal with their ability to embrace the darkness that causes all suffering in the first place. As a mother spirit, she holds her children safe as they walk into the unknown. She is a deeply empowering figure and having a vision of her suggests the beginning of a new chapter.
I’ve stopped trying to rationalize these sorts of synchronicities as apparent coincidences. I’ve learned to welcome and acknowledge them as signs from the Universe that we are never alone and always supported.
The powerful word “forgiveness” is featured in the subtitle to Perfect. Why is it so important to the spiritual life?
When we forgive, we are not condoning the actions that might have hurt us. Forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves. It allows us to release negative, contracted energy that we are holding in our bodies and allows us to move forward. It also allows us to move beyond the stories we may have created.
In regards to other spiritual guides you’ve been visited by, you write: “Receiving this sort of guidance also highlights the importance of boundaries. There are many different types of spirits, and part of learning to accept their wisdom includes knowing which sort of voices to not accept. I became less afraid when I learned the simplicity of this process. My job is to set the boundaries and then to allow the ones who make it through that filter to enter. I clearly set an intention that only the beings of the highest light and love are welcome, and then I trust that the ones who come are here to serve me.” Was it always so straightforward to differentiate the good from the evil? Do you have advice for others who may be experiencing similar visitations?
Scientists have proven that everything in life is just energy vibrating at different frequencies. When we apply this to the spiritual world, there are entities that vibrate at a higher or lower frequency. I’ve learned to invite in those that are only of the highest light and love and that are here in service to humanity. It is a very simple practice that has proven to be quite effective. However, it has not always been so straightforward.
We have over 60,000 thoughts a day. It is often difficult to distinguish that small inner voice and the subtle whispers from the Universe from our endless mind chatter. And we are often torn between which voice to listen to. The highest vibrations are light and love. Consequently, everything from the light will be of a loving and supportive nature. Everything that is not of the light will often sound judgmental, pushy, and not very loving.
The essence of who we are is love. Consequently, I will often place my hand on my heart to help me connect in with that divine, higher version of myself. I then ask what is the most loving thing that I can do. This simple step often helps me distinguish what is for the highest and greatest good.
Please talk about the connection between the emotions we experience and the stories we create in response? Why is that search for meaning potentially troublesome? Is it possible to dissolve the stories that aren’t helpful?
Events in life are just events—how we label and judge them determines our experience. Life is truly meant to be experienced in our bodies as feelings without labels, rather than through the stories created in the mind.
A friend recently shared the following story about the former singing duo Carly Simon and James Taylor. I think it summarizes it perfectly!
Carly Simon described her terrible stage fright with the following: Right before I get on stage, I get SO terrified! My hands sweat, my heart pounds and my stomach churns. It’s all I can do to get up there.
Her husband at the time James Taylor described a totally different experience: Right before I get on stage, I am so EXCITED!! My hands sweat, my heart pounds and my stomach churns.
Our bodies don’t know the difference between terrified and excited. We experience the same physical manifestation. It is the meaning we give to our physical symptoms that drives our stories and ultimately our lives.
Science shows us that truly feeling an emotion is a quick, nearly immediate experience; it usually takes no longer than ninety seconds. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a well-known neuroscientist who was able to heal from severe brain damage, teaches us what this ninety-second barrier means in her book, My Stroke of Insight: That once our ninety seconds are up, it’s up to us. As I understand it, everything from that point forward is just a story. “Moment by moment,” she writes, “I make the choice to either hook into my neurocircuitry or move back into the present moment, allowing that reaction to melt away into fleeting physiology.” Again, she mentions that it’s a choice.
As I see it, the choice is between creating a story or not. And here’s why that is so important: When we’re in a story, we think we’re feeling the same thing over and over, but in truth, we’re not feeling it at all; we’re thinking it instead. Because we don’t feel or acknowledge the sensations that accompany emotions, we can’t release the emotions themselves and they become stuck. Then, in a misguided attempt to understand our emotions with logic, we create stories about what everything means. “He said that, which means he thinks this about me.” “I suffered in that way, which means I am like this.”
The best way to let go of a story is to not create one in the first place. I find that when I just let things happen without giving them too much meaning, I don’t create so many negative patterns and life becomes much lighter. I process things quickly and just move on.
But like everyone else, I’ve created stories in my own life. I like to use an acronym called N.E.S.T. to help let go of the stories that no longer serve me. I invite you to try some of these techniques for yourself.
N – Notice the stories you are creating
E – Experience the sensations in your body
S – Scratch the record
T – Tender Love & Care (TLC)
N – Notice the stories you are creating around the events of your life. We have over 60,000 thoughts a day, over 95 percent are the same ones we had yesterday and the day before. And 80 percent of them are quite negative. As humans, we are hardwired to notice and retain the negative aspects of a situation. Thousands of years ago, we had to hunt and gather for our food. Noticing what could potentially harm us was critical for our survival. However, we no longer live in that reality. We need to retrain our minds. Today, many of us live on autopilot. We need to become aware of our negative thoughts and flick them off before they take root. We need to replace our negative thoughts with more empowering thoughts that can serve us.
We know from the law of attraction that whatever we focus on expands or grows stronger. So, notice your thoughts and replace them with more empowering beliefs. Beliefs that will serve you.
E – Experience events as sensations in your body. When painful and traumatic events occur in our lives, many of us automatically begin to create a story around the event—it was good or bad, happy or sad. As Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor mentioned in her book My Stroke of Insight, it only takes ninety seconds to process an event, through our bodies as sensations, and then let them go. After those ninety seconds are up, we can hang onto those sensations and begin to label them or we can choose to let them go. You can process events more easily and quickly by experiencing them first in your body. Next time an unwanted event occurs, notice where you feel it in your body—is it a tightness in your chest, dryness in your throat or fluttering in your stomach? Imagine yourself breathing gently and lovingly into the sensation and you may begin to feel it soften, then let it gently go.
S – Scratch the record. It is easy for us to replay the same stories repeatedly in our minds. The following techniques can help you disrupt the thought patterns that no longer serve you.
You can say cancel cancel or cancel clear to disrupt the negative thought. Some people use a rubber band to gently sting themselves when they have a negative thought. I believe this works because it disrupts the pattern and helps you get back into your body. The next technique I call zany crazy thing; I learned it from Tony Robbins many years ago. If there is a negative pattern that you do habitually, plan in advance something that you will do to disrupt that story or pattern. The next time you argue with a partner, grab their nose. Or if you reach for that chocolate cake that you think will make you feel better, hop on one foot for a minute. Have fun—make it zany and crazy.
T – T stands for Tender Love & Care (TLC). Many people have abandoned themselves, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Whenever you spend time connecting or nurturing yourself, you rediscover the essence of who you truly are which is love itself. Loving and taking care of yourself is not arrogant or selfish—when you love and accept yourself more deeply, you have more love to give to others.
Make N.E.S.T a part of your life and notice how things begin to change!
As you grew more comfortable in your spiritual shoes, you were confronted with the question of your spiritual purpose. Please explain why this period was frustrating and even frightening for you—personally, professionally, spiritually?
I worked in corporate accounting and finance for over thirty years where everything was very analytical and logical. Suddenly there was so much happening in my world that few people in my close circles could really understand. Strange experiences, visitations from guides or sudden knowings were frequently interrupting my days; in fact, they had become part of my days. And I was acutely attuned to the fact that the life I was living was no longer aligned with the experiences I was having. I felt I needed to make a change, but first, I had to figure out what my purpose was. It was frustrating. I knew I was being called to do something, but I didn’t know what it was. The very idea of my purpose had begun to bother me; it was elusive, something I could never quite catch. Why was I here? What had the Creator sent me to do? I was worried my search for purpose had become part of my story—an excuse for not taking action.
I also felt that the gifts I was given also came with an overwhelming responsibility. I wanted to take care of what the Creator had given me. I wanted to be a good steward. That’s part of why I wanted to know my purpose—and the exact reason that deep down, I was afraid to do so. I didn’t want to truly understand my life’s purpose, because if I did, I would be out of excuses. In taking ownership over what I was here to do, I would have to actually do it. And would I? Could I? Would I have the courage to do so?
And then one evening, via the divine insight you refer to as a download, your purpose arrived in a moment of clarity. You write, “It linked everything together—opening the heart, where we access the Creator, and finding the joy in the discovery. This was my purpose and it was perfect.” Can you talk about your specific purpose and the emotions you felt as the new reality sunk in?
In that moment of clarity it came to me: My purpose is to help people reawaken the Creator within so they can live the truest desires of their heart. And to embrace the love, joy, and wonder along the way.
Knowing my purpose felt joyful and exciting. I understood what all the downloads were there for. They were meant to be shared through words, through expression—which was why I was called to write this book and share my story with the world. But just as I had suspected, when I finally did find my purpose, I didn’t want to own it. I didn’t want to face the immensity of what it would mean if I had.
I finally did let go of the fear when I came to the realization that when I think it’s me doing it alone, it feels like a tremendous responsibility. When I openly trust and accept the support and guidance from the Universe, life becomes easier and less of a struggle.
We live in a loving and supportive Universe. When we learn to listen and trust the subtle whispers of our hearts, each moment is a beautiful new discovery.
Do you have advice for readers about working with healers and empaths?
I think people should always trust their heart or gut instinct and approach new situations with an open and receptive heart.
It’s important to learn to quiet the mind so we can feel the inner guidance system of our hearts. Our hearts will not lead us astray. We are often so busy doing that we often miss the subtle whispers of our inner knowing.
We can teach ourselves to quiet the mind through meditation, walking in nature, or anything that creates a sense of silence or revery within us.
When working with others and navigating life, follow that inner guidance and you will begin to trust more and more of what you already know within you.
Additionally, in new and different situations, be open to new ways of looking and approaching life. Ask yourself “what if, what if this were possible?” These simple questions can open up a whole new understanding and possibly change your life.
You are quite certain that you inherited memories from your mother through the DNA she passed down to you. Can you talk about the new scientific research that is proving how such a thing is possible?
We know that through our DNA we can inherit many traits from our parents—the color of our hair, the shape of our nose, and so many other physical characteristics. However, the science of epigenetics tells us that we can also inherit the pain and the trauma experienced by our parents and our ancestors.
Studies with Holocaust survivors have shown that the pain and the terror experienced by these survivors can be passed down to their offspring.
In a recent experiment, mice would be exposed to the scent of cherry blossoms and then gently zapped on the foot. As you can image, after a while, just the scent of cherry blossoms would trigger that same fear in the mice even though they were not being zapped. What I find more amazing from these studies is that the mice’s offspring would experience the same terror in their bodies even though they were only exposed to the scent of the cherry blossoms—they had never been zapped. Even more amazing was the mice’s offspring demonstrated similar results.
Scientists have also stated that female babies are born with 2–3 million of their reproductive eggs at birth. On a cellular level, you may have been present in your mother’s body as an unborn egg—experiencing the very same triumphs and traumas that she had.
If everything in life is energy, it doesn’t seem so unimaginable that we could tune into and pick-up the same energetic frequencies our parents or ancestors may have experienced.
Please tell us what’s next for you? How will you go about sharing your life’s purpose?
My journey has brought me so many lessons around the nature of the Universe, forgiveness, and the trajectory each soul follows throughout the course of many lives. Today, sharing these lessons is an integral part of my mission. I’ve also had the honor of working with some of the world’s most spiritual visionaries and I’m trained in energy and ancestral clearing. As a life coach and radio show host on TalkRadio.NYC, it is a privilege to help people awaken to the truth of who they really are. We are love and we are light. In the remembrance, there is great joy. You can connect with me at JudiMiller.net