My core collapsed. The deep rumble started in my center, and it felt like the soft, repeated strikes of a finely wrapped mallet on a deep bass drum. With every beat, my form expanded outwards. As the drumming intensified, I braced myself for the explosive crescendo…but it never came.
Instead, every piece of my form detached from itself with a calm grace, like tissue paper falling from the sky. I watched curiously as all of the layers I’d once thought of as my body came apart like puzzle pieces. As the tiny pieces detached, they twirled away like slowly spinning ballerinas, and then scattered like dandelion seeds in the air after a gentle blow from a sweet child. There was no pain, and the letting go brought a deep peace I’d never known before. I briefly wondered what was left of me…until I had no thought at all.
It all happened in a moment too small to be measured, in the same way that the present moment is gone before you can pinpoint it. And just as past moments cannot be recovered, I knew that I was beyond the point of no return. Indeed, I no longer had a form.
The space that remained was indescribable. If I tried to explain, I could say that it felt like a void… no color, smell, feeling, or sound. Or maybe the endless space was every color and perhaps the sound was so loud that it would have shattered my eardrums—if there had been any air to allow the sound waves to travel. I am not sure. I just knew I’d profoundly misunderstood everything that had happened before that moment.
If I’d had a mirror, I would have only seen a light brighter than a thousand suns.
This is the start of a novel I drafted, entitled Seven Lives. My incredible friend and editor for the project Jordan Rosenfeld encouraged and assisted me with polishing the starting points, but then my perfectionist tendencies overwhelmed me. I burned myself out. I wanted every part of the book to live up to this introduction I wrote in a flurry while visiting my sister Iris in Houston several years ago. Maybe one day…
In the meantime, I thought I’d share this to pair with a podcast episode I’m about to record for Live Free with Selena Sage called, “See The Elements.” You can find the episode here.
This project has been a major artistic and spiritual undertaking as I endeavored to capture the key spiritual lessons I’ve learned over the last seven years in the most Zen, beautiful, and accessible way possible.
The idea for this book came on 12 August 2022, in Redondo Beach, California, while I was sitting on the patio at my favorite vegetarian restaurant (The Green Temple). Seven years after deciding to leave my corporate career behind to seek ultimate freedom, the inspiration came for me to capture what I’ve learned.
From there, I channeled ten more pages of brief quotes that became the basis for the book.
It was important to me that this book not be the parroting of my beloved Zen, Taoist, and Advaita teachers. Instead, the intent of this book was to capture the essence of what I’ve learned from these great masters in my own words to modernize the teachings.
A few days later, I began experimenting with mixing images from my travels to create innovative art. I was inspired by a particular artwork by Tacita Dean that I was fortunate to have seen in Luxembourg the previous month at MUDAM — The Contemporary Art Museum of Luxembourg — during her opening. Through a film printing process and colored pencil, she created this otherworldly magic that I thought was revolutionary. (I am thankful that I was able to tell her that at the opening!)
I used a digital process of superimposing images and adjusting transparency to mix my own magic. Always influenced by Japanese artistry and my favorite artist, Hokusai (most known for “The Great Wave”), natural elements were emphasized in all of the mixtures to highlight the beauty and blessing of my globe-trotting nomadic life over the last seven years.
Here are a few of the images from the book:
The original idea of the book was to combine images with quotes, but this felt very overwhelming. After putting together a few drafts, there was a recognition that the ideas on their own was not a full reflection of the lessons I’ve learned.
That realization shifted me to the heady third phase of the project, which entailed writing my succinct perspective for each of the ideas I’d channeled. This took months to complete, and even after that time, there were many adjustments made to further clarify the ideas.
There was a realization that these edits could have gone on forever, so I eventually had to tell myself that whatever was completed in 2022 was what was meant for the book. Any revelations that occurred later would have to be for another creation.
After that, the fourth phase–organizing the content of the book–was equally as challenging. Sorting, organizing, and editing the content to flow into categories that made sense took many, many tries.
While flipping through one of my favorite books with teachings of Zen master Bodhidharma, one of his quotes caught my eye: “Not thinking about anything is Zen. Seeing your true nature is Zen. Everything you do is Zen,” and there were fireworks in my heart as I realized these statements would be a beautiful way to organize the ideas and honor the founder of Zen.
After I selected all of the fonts–always a very important part of the process, and always with my sincere thanks to the amazing designers that are credited at the end of all of my books–I constructed a layout with space and the ability to open the book at any page to gain inspiration for contemplation.
When I completed the first draft, there was a strong feeling that I also needed to do the graphic design work for this project myself. I am thankful for the InDesign crash course from the wonderful graphic designer I’ve partnered with on my previous projects to make this happen. (Thank you, Dillon!)
After that, it took me an additional month, filled with 14-hour+ work days to complete the InDesign work. Each page, of the 172-page ebook, was designed separately with great care and attention to detail. In many ways, I think of the book as 172 pieces of artwork.
With thanks and love to my incredible USA support system of family and friends, this six-month undertaking was still very exhausting! Though I would have liked to have remained in the USA to have the physical books printed, the energy was not there to do that. Resting and recharging was necessary. It also felt important to put the book down for a few weeks and look at it with fresh eyes before the final review. All of these objectives were best accomplished by me returning to Cabo Verde.
With the benefit of a slower pace, beautiful nature, and the ability to turn off my phone for a few days, I was able to complete the ebook and file the official copyright for the book on 31 December 2022!
Creating Finding Freedom Where You Are has been an absolute labor of love. I am thankful for the prayers and blessings of support from all of you, and the ancestors and sages who have absolutely fortified me through this process! My fingerprints and DNA are in every part of this book, and I hope that you feel the love in each pixel.
As an independent artist, author, and publisher, I have learned that while platforms are the easiest way to distribute art, it is actually the platforms that make the profit…not the artist. As such, I am doing everything possible to distribute this book independent from those platforms.
After completing the book, additional weeks have been spent doing a complete update to my publishing company website, zentaobooks.com. (This was another completed challenge that I’m still processing and celebrating!) You are able to view sample pages of each of my books from the home page. Also, the checkout process has been greatly simplified — requiring only your name and email before being re-directed to PayPal for secure payment.
Following your purchase, an order confirmation screen will display with download link(s) for your purchase. Additionally, an email will follow with the same links. Your downloads will never expire.
To better protect my intellectual property, Finding Freedom Where You Are is being shared as an EPUB (electronic publication) file. This is a standard file type that can be read on any device. For assistance opening EPUB files on your device, please click here.
I recognize that this process requires a step or two more than established platforms, but your support of this independent artist is very much appreciated and recognized.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I sincerely hope that you enjoy the book, the Zen, and the artistic journey. Namaste.
Namasté dear one. After a whirlwind, glorious, ten-month roadtrip around the USA and Canada, I rested for a few months on the island in Santo Antão, Cabo Verde. That was also glorious! I’ve just returned to the USA after a month spent hopping happily around Europe! The adventures have been truly wonderful and I am so thankful.
The podcast remains ad-free, and I thank you for subscribing, sharing, and recommending the podcast. Our community is beautiful…and so are you!
Due to the difficulty of keeping all of my various platforms updated while I travel, I’ve focused mostly on keeping Instagram updated (link here), and I’ve also started a TikTok account to share videos (more good vibes, link here).
Thank you for joining me on my adventures! I hope you enjoy this season of the podcast.
When I was on the island, I dreamt of coming to America to surprise my beautiful mother for Mother’s Day and I imagined buying a car to take a leisurely trip around the United States to see loved ones and new lands.
Magically, all of the saints and sages decided to co-sign my dreamy plan! I’m so thankful to have beautifully surprised my mother (and father, too!) and found the perfect vehicle for a cross-country roadtrip!
The last month has been a total whirlwind as I had to make a ridiculous number of purchases for everything that broke on the island (including computer and phone), and items that needed replacement that I wasn’t able to easily purchase there (glasses, contacts, clothes, etc).
Additionally, I had to renew my passport (success!!) and continue to work through some new exciting projects with some goddesses I’m fortunate to know haha (in progress, stay tuned!).
I’m thankful to be afforded this incredible opportunity to live out that dream and, so far, I’ve seen dear ones across the Southeast I hadn’t imagined I’d see! I’m doing what I can to keep my Instagram page update here, and share reflections on my podcast here, but I’ll try to remember to add some updates here too! Haha
Thank you for your continued love and support! I’m so excited for what’s unfolding in this moment and what’s coming! What are you excited about??
Photo: Cortez Beach, Florida (near my current location in Sarasota, Florida!). So far, I’ve been blessed to flow through Austin and Houston, Texas; Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana; Mobile and Beatrice, Alamba; Jacksonville, Orlando, Sarasota, and Clearwater Beach, Florida! More stops coming as soon as I get important things rolling here in Florida.
Drop everything. Even you. Bonus: What remains? —— A direct way to discover your true nature is by dropping everything — your thoughts, feelings, ideas, images, memories, hopes, plans, traumas, and triumphs. Then drop YOU — your idea of who you think you are; you as the person. What remains?
Namasté dear one. On the last episode of season 3 of my podcast (listen to “Live Free with Selena Sage” here), I announced that I was taking some time away from social media. Between then and now, I’ve been developing Instantly Zen, which I’m so excited to introduce! (I’ll share details about what it is at the end of this post because this message is focused on how Instantly Zen came to be.)
At the time that I disabled social media (way back on October 17th haha), I knew that I needed to take a step away from everything. I felt something new trying to bubble to the surface and I needed to block out all of the noise.
In the silence, I generated a lot of ideas, and I’m so thankful for persons in my “inner circle” who gave me feedback, both helpful and harsh haha, to get me closer to what this idea needed to be.
I admit freely that my first idea / presentation was off the mark, but putting it on-screen and sharing it allowed me to process it; the feedback I received helped me strengthen it; and as I developed it, I ended up weaving in parts of the original idea that were worth keeping.
I say this because often times we try to process ideas in our heads and resist sharing them with others for various reasons. Those reasons for not sharing can sound like: “It’s not ready,” “It’s not perfect,” “They will steal it,” “They will tell someone else who will steal it.” But please let me tell you that original ideas are never really ready or perfect; most people don’t have the know-how or energy to actually develop and execute the idea like you can; and if you have that concern about a person stealing or sharing your idea with the wrong person, they probably shouldn’t be in your inner circle.
That said, know, too, that thoughts are constantly changing, so the mental-development method is not really that trustworthy. Instead, I find there is great power in taking a moment to jot down random ideas that come up, and choosing to work through the idea that you vibrate with on the highest frequency (meaning, you keep thinking of it or it stands out).
Once you’ve made that mock-up, treat it like a first draft and share it with only a very small number of very trusted people (two or three) that will give you honest perspective. Then, prepare yourself for both positive and negative feedback and stay open to both. Don’t let negative feedback discourage you, and lean into positive feedback (even if it’s your own belief that it will work) to fuel you as you take the next steps forward to fine-tune your first idea.
What is the measure of an aspirant’s progress in terms of authentic attainment? They must evolve to such maturity wherein they are capable of bringing mental chaos back to silence, without requiring outer assistance.
from “Writing on Water” by Sri Mooji
Once you recognize your power to simply observe mental chaos and bring it to silence—and you are able to use this power effortlessly, whenever needed—you have mastered transcending your monkey mind :)
This seems a fitting time to tell you that I am in the process of developing events to help you do just that! Stay tuned for upcoming announcements on this new offering I’m excited to share! :)!
Namasté and love,
Photos: This morning in Ponta do Sol, Cabo Verde :)