Early this morning here in California I received an email from a reporter at the Belfast Telegraph informing me about the article that describes Michaella McCollum Connolly grasping my book Secrets About Life, as she was taken to prison.
It was very humbling for me to see the photograph of Michaella in handcuffs.
As a transformational teacher for over 35 years, my life purpose has always been to serve others on their path to emotional and spiritual freedom, and to help them break free from what I often refer to as the "emotional prisons" all of us inhabit.
So to see someone walking into an actual prison, clinging to the wisdom contained in my book, filled me with great compassion and moved me to tears.
In response to your kind request to give some advice, I can respectfully share some of the same guidance I offer to anyone facing any unwanted circumstance in which we feel powerless, frightened and desperate to figure out how to just survive each day.
Michaella will be forced to find some sense of power and even freedom within herself.
Even in prison, this is possible.
Michaella may not be able to control what happens to her, but she can control what happens within her moment by moment.
In each moment she will have a choice of how she responds within, and no one can take that choice away from her, no matter what other freedoms she will lose.
I believe and teach that, as improbable as it may seem, hidden deep within pain and tragedy there is always a treasure, a blessing, a gift.
Many times when we are faced with a devastating situation, we often succumb to feeling abandoned by God or spirit. We might pray: "Please God, make this go away."
My offering would be that if Michaella feels inspired to pray about her situation, that she asks to be given the vision to see the higher purpose in what is happening, to pray to have the humility to look for the lessons in what has occurred, to pray even to find meaning in what must seem meaningless, to dig for the gold buried in the mud of this nightmare.
The harsh, unforgiving conditions of her imprisonment are going to force Michaella to create an inner refuge when perhaps her life had been spent, as it is for so many young people, in seeking fulfilment and meaning on the outside.
Within each of us, there is a place of healing stillness.
It is the source of our true power, our true connection to the highest, and ultimately our only true sanctuary no matter what is taking place in our lives.
I am sending love and courage to Michaella and her family, and holding her close in my heart.