Book Review: ‘Becoming the Light: Realize Your True Enlightenment Nature,’ by Vivianne Nantel

Vivianne Nantel’s Becoming the Light: Realize Your True Enlightened Nature (Greenleaf Book Group Press, August 2018), is a memoir wrapped around a guidebook. Within an incredibly riveting story of one woman’s path to a spiritual awakening are lessons and tools for how to follow in her footsteps. But Nantel’s journey starts in a place that’s far from peaceful. She’s just tried to kill herself, and she’s a despairing mess in a hospital bed.

Trapped in the depths of a crippling depression, Nantel had lost the will to live. It’s a dramatic way to start any book, let alone one designed to help readers find their way to enlightenment. But by the end of this true story, Nantel personifies bliss and inner awareness. Her spirit is free and she feels “wrapped in a mystical embrace.” Even better, the joy she conveys in her writing is absolutely infectious. The point is if she can do it — despite tremendous odds — so can we. Within richly detailed chapters are plenty of practical tools and strategies for letting go of unhappiness and poor health and becoming one with the energy all around us. This is one of those books whereby the time you get to the end, you want to go right back to the beginning and read it all over again — and learn everything you can.

To become a true 21st-century mystic, Nantel spent years — or really, decades — on an epic quest to find inner peace and happiness. She had a tough childhood and an even tougher young adulthood, but in the midst of it was always conscious of some kind of profound beauty, or presence, calling to her, soothing her. As a child, she found it in nature. In the company of animals and trees, she found a sweet escape from rough treatment. Her first “true teacher,” as she calls him, was her beloved cat. Tumbling through life at first, Nantel suffers from depression, illness, toxic relationships, insecurity, and all those modern-day afflictions that keep us locked in cages of our own fears and doubts.

But the thru-line here is that the Divine never completely abandoned her. Always, whether from a distance and sometimes in close proximity, she hears it calling. It takes her to India, to an incredible world of mystical practices and traditions, a swirl of ritual and color and profound spiritual growth. It leads her to the Dalai Lama, to the Sadghuru, to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, to Yogiraj Gurunath Siddhanath. She learns the power of meditation, of mindfulness, she learns to trust and explore the epic wisdom in her own dreams, and she experiences soul-changing revelations. She also escapes death when she reschedules herself — off a plane that went down in the ocean. She’s haunted by the souls of those who lost their lives and realizes just how connected we all are.

One of the most remarkable facets of this book is Nantel’s ability to convey the nature of spiritual awakenings and consciousness. She experiences periods of utter intoxication, when Spirit flows through her entire being, and not only welcomes it but can help others welcome it as well. At a gathering led by Sadhguru, she addresses the fellow devotees who are unsettled by their own flooding emotions: “There is no need to be afraid. It’s so beautiful and precious to feel this Divine energy! Everyone experiences it differently. I rarely cry or mourn anymore, I just keep laughing! All my garbage is gone! Why be afraid? These divine phenomena can’t be explained, only experienced.”

Indeed, Nantel writes with the exuberant authority of someone who has discovered the key to happiness and knows it works. She makes a convincing case for living a life of humane kindness (she’s an avowed vegan). At one point, she is harnessing the power of her own energy to help blast cancer cells right out of her body. Her higher consciousness does not prevent life from happening — and that’s a meaningful lesson in her story. But it does enable her to face it head on, and bounce back with joyous resilience, which is what so many of us want. This isn’t a book about leaving your earthly cares behind. It’s a book about making your life on earth infinitely, beautifully better. For anyone interested in yogic practices, mysticism, spirituality, and happiness, Becoming the Light is a must-read.

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Jennifer Woods - Twitter @WriterJennWoods

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