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I am a computer engineer and a mother of a 13-year-old who discovered my spiritual side through life’s challenges. The journey was not easy and if I leave out all clichés, I am not sure if I made it difficult through my own resistance to see the truth and change.

An unhappy childhood and painful marriage brought me to a juncture at 30, contemplating why God messed up my life. I wanted to meet God and have a conversation on how his universe had a “design flaw.” As an engineer I wanted to redesign the world and remove all the pain. I was led to wonderful Indian ascetics  and my quest became infused with passion. I was not ready to believe a religious concept given to be my parents or my culture. I wanted a direct experience of God that is self-validating. My truth barometer started functioning, which helped me avoid my own illusion masquerading as “the truth.”

I was led to my first spiritual teacher Adyashanti, of the Zen tradition, who wiped away most of my preconceived ideas on how I should be or how another should be. Truth cared nothing for my personal loss as the blade of discernment slashed through all that I thought was my truth.

The journey with Adya prepared me for my beloved teacher, Maya, who helped me go deeper and discover my deepest shadows that I conveniently ignored in the name of self-preservation. I saw the arrogant, jealous, proud, insecure, and fearful being that I was masquerading as a “good” coworker, friend, and mother. Maya’s power and her presence brought me to my knees until I had nowhere to go but within, and hold all my shadows in compassion. Ironically, the more I owned it and released it, my outside reality changed to be more nurturing, abundant, and truthful.

The last several years’ journey with Maya has been filled with the deepest knowing of self where self-love birthed in the muddy waters of my shadows. I walked away from people and situations that were draining rather than nourishing. Leaving the old was very fearful as I did not have anyone in my family to look up to and learn from.  I learned to depend on my truth and in God, while discovering such beautiful insights and compassion for myself and others. Compassion for another is born when we can see our “stuff” within and own it in full honesty without blaming the outside reality. How can we have compassion for another’s action when we are busy rejecting the same fear led action within?

In illusion, we create our reality. If a person believes he or she is not lovable, that experience will be met in who that person attracts. If a person believes she or he is a failure, guess what? That person will be proven to be a failure, in as many lifetimes as needed, until the belief system is changed.

I created a situation where my power was taken away for 30 years. I had to learn to own my power and stand up for myself. I remember lifetimes where I created the same powerless situation! This is because the soul will create experiences for its learning until its completion. If we are slow learners, and love denial for a very long time, we are in for quite a bumpy ride!

I must admit that owning my disowned shadows as reflections from my coworkers, store clerks, friends, and family was devastating. They all existed so I can finally own my stuff, release it, and be free from that negative experience. If I had a strong reaction to another being negative, the process helped me see the part in me that was not in integrity. If my manager abused his power, I had a disowned self within which abused power too. I remember as a technical lead at a former job, I pushed my teammates with the aim of meeting project deadlines and looking good to my superiors—that is abuse of power and putting another in a powerless position.

Over the course of months, the self work I did by using my teacher’s technique helped me to release fear. I stopped letting fear stop me from having the life I desired. Walking through fear is not easy, but crossing it is very empowering. I now know I can take care of myself emotionally and financially without the need for another to do it for me. I discovered responsibility for self, which morphed into responsibility for the planet. I stopped blaming others for my creations and life changed for the better.

God was simply waiting for me to own my “stuff” and release it by walking through the fears.

The journey of self-inquiry, the revelations I experienced on the power of illusion, and learning the method to release fears resulted in my book, The Power of Illusion, a guide to help see through limiting thoughts with techniques to release limiting beliefs, fears, addictions, and other challenges. The book has techniques to manifest the life we desire by releasing the fears that prevent it from being received. Through this technique I have released fears causing my neediness, arrogance, addiction to certain foods, pride, financial limitations, and the inability to speak my truth.

Today I enjoy giving workshops and consultations while discovering the truth of each moment in being a student of life.

Maya Vidhyadharan is author of The Power of Illusion.