IMG_0005Transformation Dragonfly
Image by Shann Vander Leek

My dad passed away last week. While I grieve his passing, I also give thanks for all of the healing work I’ve done to let go of the story I carried around for years about him and us. I feel deep gratitude for the chance to reconnect with him after many years estranged before he died. May he rest in peace.

Here is a post from the sacred archives of Transformation Goddess about the evolution of our relationship.

A few years ago I summoned the courage to reconnect with my dad after almost ten years estranged. Back then, I witnessed an alcohol-fueled argument between my dad and stepmother that triggered a flood of painful emotions I had buried deep inside my whole life. I decided that my dad was out of control for the last time in my presence. In that one moment, I made the choice to protect my toddler daughter and myself from a narcissistic, “Jekyll and Hyde” character who happened to be my dad. I was done.

As a transformation enthusiast, I believe we must learn to create safe boundaries to honor and protect ourselves. After experiencing trauma, we subconsciously erect protective walls around our hearts to insulate ourselves from the pain and abuse we once endured. The good news is, we can remove the barriers within that keep us from experiencing compassionate self-care and unconditional love.

I’ve learned that you can heal your past, open your heart and experience more joy. In my experience, forgiveness began my cycle of personal healing. Whether through coaching, counseling or facing things on our own, there is deep emotional healing that must be attended to in order to reach a place where the old story is no longer the only story.

I believe that when each one of us heals and forgives ourselves and others, we invite a profound shift in compassion for ourselves, our community, and the entire world. When you experience compassion and trust, you feel loved. 

My sacred process for letting go of an emotionally challenging past with my dad included practicing Yoga, meditating and understanding my place within the Sacred Heart Healing Cycle.


Yoga means “Union” – the union of the mind, body, and spirit with the Divine. Practicing Yoga quite literally transformed my life. From my first gentle yoga class, through my teacher training, and teaching Luscious Living Yoga playshops, Yoga has remained the perfect way for me to access peace and tranquility while calling up repressed emotions, and facing the scary monsters who once lived under my bed.

If you want to get to the root of what is weighing you down, drop in on an introductory Yoga class and get back in touch with your body, mind, and spirit. Your entire life will change, without question.

Guided Meditation

Guided meditations are an excellent way to relax, unwind and let go. Many of the women I partner with can’t sit still and simply focus on their breath. But they can get comfortable and be lead through a meditation. Guided relaxations helped me sink in and care for myself over my healing journey.

I love creating supportive and relaxing guided relaxations for women who want to live fully, in complete awareness of their own power, divinity, and joyful essence—women who crave self-care, and wish to ease stress and anxiety during challenging times.

You deserve to carve out some time to relax and drift off into a peaceful guided meditation or visualization. You are welcome to sample the Transformation Goddess Experience Album at iTunes.

I created the Sacred Heart Healing Cycle to help you identify with some of the feelings you may be experiencing. Each emotion represents a part of your experience and can be attributed to your overall upbringing, parent-child relationships, school experiences, romantic relationships, professional relationships, even your relationship with yourself.

SacredHeartHealingCycleThe cycle begins with the abundant flow of pure loving energy we are born with. We are shiny and new. Innocent. As we grow up, we endure personal experiences of heartbreak, pain, and wounding. If we’ve been a victim of abuse and significant loss, trusting ourselves and others can seem unfathomable. When we decide that we no longer want to suffer, we summon the courage to do what needs to be done to heal our precious hearts. Only then can we return to innocence and complete the cycle.

Below, I’ve categorized the feelings and behaviors of which you should be mindful during each part of the Sacred Heart Healing Cycle.


  • Where are you in this cycle?
  • Can you identify with some of the feelings listed above?
  • What do you know you need to do to support the feeling you’re experiencing right now?

You can set yourself free from attachment to the trauma that comes with a painful past or difficult relationship with a loved one. The best thing you can do right now is to forgive yourself and forgive everyone else who’s ever done you harm. Carrying the weight of a painful past is like committing an act of violence against yourself, every day. Imagine being rid of the burden, anger and grudges you’ve toted along with you over the years. How would it feel to let them all go? I can tell you from experience that it feels incredible…

Do your work. Heal your heart. Mend the relationships that need mending. Most of all, be gentle with yourself.



About Shann Vander Leek

Shann Vander Leek

Shann is a Transformational Leader, Award-Winning Podcaster, Best-Selling Author, Voice Over Talent, Podcast Coach, and Producer. She lives in the village of Suttons Bay, Michigan with her beloved husband and mouthy old cat. This Goddess Shines!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lisa Marie Rosati Aug 29, 2013, 12:05 pm

    Beautiful article Shann. I love guided meditations, especially yours… they allow me to wander off into a beautiful dream. My visions are vivid most of the time and provide me with great peace and joy. Healing is a process, I love how you defined each stage. Ultimately, the path of forgiveness is a path home to your soul.

    Lisa Marie Rosati
    Creatrix, The Goddess Lifestyle Plan

    • Shann Aug 29, 2013, 2:55 pm

      Thank you for your kindness Lisa.

      I agree that forgiveness (of ourselves and others) is the path back home to our souls.

  • Patience Mahlalela Aug 29, 2013, 12:33 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story, Shann. Thank you also for clearly articulating the feelings that one can experience at the different points of the cycle. I was struck by how the cycle is not linear at the heartbreak and wounded phases. On reflection I can see that one can be in both phases at the same time for different reasons. I feel that at this stage of my life experience I am definitely straddling the the two in both my person and professional lives yet also at the beginning of the healing stage.

    • Shann Aug 29, 2013, 2:57 pm

      Hi Patience,
      I’m glad you found the sacred hear healing cycle supportive. You make an excellent point about how we can experience more then one stage at a time. Blessings to you as you begin to heal your heart.

  • Stacey Aug 29, 2013, 3:42 pm

    Beautiful Shann… I’m so glad that you were able to heal and forgive in your own way, at your own pace. Allowing ourselves to experience healing is so important. Sometimes we force it before we’re ready, other times we close up and shut down keeping the wound open, but it’s nice when we just lean into it (however long that takes). Love this post!

    I also really enjoy guided meditation, although I can be still, I love the imagery of being guided 🙂

    • shannvanderleek Aug 30, 2013, 8:35 am

      Hi Stacey,

      Thank you for your kindness. It’s been an interesting 10 years!
      Big LOVE to you!

  • Llinos Aug 29, 2013, 4:11 pm

    This is a very moving post. Another reminder that the journey to inner peace is through yoga and meditation.

    • Lisa Fitzpatrick Aug 30, 2013, 2:37 am

      Thanks for the inspiring work you do Shann, I really related to your insights and appreciate the vulnerability and pain you have described and courageously healed. Many blessings, Lisa Fitzpatrick (find your voice coach)

      • shannvanderleek Aug 30, 2013, 8:39 am

        Hi Lisa,

        Thank you for your support and loving kindness. It means a lot!

    • shannvanderleek Aug 30, 2013, 8:40 am

      Hi Llinos,

      Thank you. I glad you were moved by my story. Yoga saved my life in so many ways.