Travel for Transformation: Opening A Portal in the West Bank

Entering A Spiritual Portal in the West Bank

travel west bank“Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.”

My menstrual cycle started several days early, the night after we crossed the Israel-Palestinian border to visit Bethlehem in the West Bank in Palestine. I took note of it, because my menstrual cycle almost never comes early. We had just visited the famed Milk Grotto church in Bethlehem. As the story goes, the Holy Family sought shelter in this church during the Slaughter of the Innocents. And the Mother Mary spilled a drop of her milk in the church, turning it white.

You may be wondering why I am sharing such “personal” information about my menstrual cycle. We will get to that.

It turns out that traveling to the Middle East opened a spiritual portal of epic proportions. For the past two months, I have been careening down the Rabbit Hole at record speeds. I have written little because I feel speechless. There are no words. Yet I must find the words. So the Walls can come down …

What Is Travel for Transformation?

Let’s backtrack a little. Earlier in my life, the way I viewed travel was more like the way some pickup artists view picking up women. I was seeking experience. I liked getting stamps on my passport, feeling like I had “checked boxes” of the amazing things to see and do in life.

It was also early in life, though, that I realized travel often surprised me with how much it changed me. Family trips to Montana as a child got me in touch with nature and built my confidence with being in the world. A hiking trip deep in the Grand Canyon with my dad when I was in college got me out of a funk and helped me lose weight.

A month-long post-law school trip to Europe with my then-boyfriend led us to the ruins of Pompeii. I felt shocked how close I felt to the people who died there, as if I had been one of them.

west bank palestine wall

Written on the Wall in the West Bank – “Treasures Can Be Found in Ruins”

This feeling of deep connection with ruins continued with a trip in 2002 to Machu Picchu in Peru. I climbed to the top of Huayna Picchu alone and felt awestruck and timeless and so connected to the people who had once lived in that mecca in the Andes.

Less than a year later, I definitely passed through another spiritual portal – perhaps the one that really led to my spiritual awakening – while scuba diving in the Blue Hole in Belize. I experienced nitrogen narcosis for the first time … and wow, that same feeling of time stopping, of being intimately connected with centuries past, that profound feeling of absolute peace … Timelessness. I was never the same after that.

Then there was the visit to Tirta Empul holy water in Bali. That opened a portal that led to meeting my ex in Saigon, Vietnam a couple of weeks later.

Now, next to these spiritual portals through travel … we will put the near-death experiences. First my own, then Fritz the Cat’s near-death experience … and now Harvey the Cat’s near-death experience … but we will get to that. The near-death experiences all had the same “feel” to them as the spiritual portals opened by travel, though of course they also felt far more traumatic.

Back to the West Bank and Bethlehem and Palestine.

west bank wall israel jerusalem

A sniper tower along the Wall separating the West Bank from Jerusalem in Israel

I realize that no matter how I write this article, this will be viewed by many as a political post. And it’s not a political post. I don’t take sides in this situation. I feel deep empathy for everyone involved in the Israeli-Palestinian situation. I see it as a metaphor for all of us. I see it as a metaphor for every tragic situation we have experienced where so much conflict and anger occurred that it seemed impossible for two people, or two groups, ever to live happily together ever again.

So let’s make it clear – this is not a political article about Israel, Palestine, and the West Bank. This is a spiritual article.

For me, this Wall separating the West Bank from Jerusalem represented our whole plight as a human species right now. The problem of separation. The problem of duality. All over the Wall were written stories. Tragic, terrifying stories.

west bank palestine wall graffiti

These “stories” were written all over the Wall in the West Bank. Stories of tragedy and limitation. Stories of despair.

I remembered when I first learned Emotional Freedom Technique, how Gary Craig taught about the “writing on our walls.” That is, the limiting beliefs that keep us stuck where we are. And here, quite literally, was the writing on our walls, keeping us stuck where we are.

Stuck in conflict. Stuck in our stories. Stuck in separation from each other.

I wondered what would happen, if all the Palestinians who had written on the Wall … would come together and use my Emotional Freedom Technique emergency protocol to tap everything they had written on that Wall … whether that Wall might disappear. Not in war and conflict and terror. In peace and harmony. After all, at the end of the day there simply is no denying … that all of our limitations are self-imposed. And every story on that Wall was another lock on the door of consciousness, binding us to the past. I don’t say that to judge or criticize anyone. I saw myself in that mirror.

When it was time for us to return to Jerusalem for the evening, I felt really surprised how labyrinthine was the passageway to get back to the other side. There was no clear signage pointing our return out of the West Bank. We made many false turns before we finally made it to the checkpoint. Navigating duality is never easy.

A Journey of the Heart

palestine graffiti wall west bankHow do we bring that Wall down? Not through force, certainly. It would seem there is only one way, and that is through our hearts.

I felt surprised today when I went back through my photographs of the West Bank how many of the graffiti that I photographed are heart images. “Free this place” inside a heart. Free our hearts?

It is especially poignant for me to see all this heart imagery now because of what happened when I returned from overseas.

I was only back in San Francisco for a few hours … utterly exhausted from traveling and making my home in Tahoe ready for the summer rental season … I had barely stolen an hour or two of sleep … when my cat Harvey started vomiting violently in the early morning hours. I had been concerned about his health for a while. The Angel cards advised me to rest but I ignored the advice.

When I put Harvey the Cat in his green canvas carrier to take him in the car to the vet, just 10 minutes away, he seemed fine. When the veterinarian came into the examination room, he started asking me very strange questions.

“Did you notice anything unusual about his legs?”

“Did you notice anything unusual about his breathing?”

cat heart disease

Harvey the Cat behind bars – the Wall of Separation – during his second hospital visit

No, he seemed fine. Well, he wasn’t fine. Something horrible had happened on the short trip to the veterinarian, called a saddle thrombus. Every cat lover’s worst nightmare. When the vet took Harvey the Cat out of his carrier, my beloved Harvey the Cat was paralyzed from the waist down. He was panicking and trying to drag himself by his front paws. It was, hands down, the most horrifying thing I have ever seen. But it got worse.

“We don’t recommend treating this condition,” said the vet. “Your cat has very advanced heart disease, and there is no cure.” He wanted me to euthanize my cat right then and there.

Kill my cat? Ah yes, send him to the other side of the Wall. The same Wall I saw in Israel. The wall of separation, the wall of duality, the wall of death.

As I would

Was I going to kill my cat? His heart needs help and healing, so the “solution” is to stop his heart altogether with sodium pentothol? The same drugs used in capital punishment

No. F-ing. Way.

I was going to do everything in my power to keep us together.

The first thing I did was emergency protocol in the next veterinarian’s waiting room, and we got one of Harvey’s legs back, and his tail and bladder and bowel control, within two to three hours. It was a huge breakthrough for sure, but I had no idea that this was only the beginning.

west bank wall graffiti

More hearts in the West Bank Wall graffiti, plus the color green that characterizes the heart chakra.

Over the next few weeks, I learned the full extent of the “tragic stories” written on the “Wall” of feline heart disease.

And let me tell you, it was bleak. Like the kidney failure we had overcome three years earlier … like the West Bank … this seemed like a violent prison with NO WAY OUT …

And so Harvey the Cat and I were plunged into a living nightmare that lasted 40 days and 40 nights. Coincidentally, the same amount of time that Jesus was tested in the desert near Jerusalem. For 40 days and 40 nights, I barely slept, I barely left my home, and my entire life was put on hold. I put everything I had, absolutely everything I had, into Harvey the Cat’s healing.

Healing Harvey the Cat’s heart.

Coincidentally, just a few days before Harvey the Cat was admitted to the hospital with severe congestive heart failure … the Star of Bethlehem shone in the night sky … right above Grace Cathedral and our home … right above Harvey’s head … for the first time in over 2000 years.

And coincidentally, right after Harvey the Cat was admitted to the hospital, my menstrual cycle began again.

feminine violence israel

Other than in Hollywood movies … never have I seen such an overt connection between the Feminine and violence as we did in Israel. And how can any mother feel safe with her children living in a world of violence?

What was the significance of my menstrual cycle starting at both of these times? To me, it was an indicator of the need for mother healing.

How can any mother really feel peace about the well-being of her children in this world – whether biological children or just those in her care – when we are living in a world of Walls enforced by violence?

There were so many other coincidences, I don’t even know where to begin to describe them all …

What I’ll say for now is this. Separation is pain. Separation is violence. Separation is death.

In true love, we don’t let ourselves get separated. We reach across that divide, and hold each other’s hand no matter what. We put our foot down, and keep our loved ones – which includes all humanity, not some special select few – on THIS side, with us.

a course in miracles

The book A Course in Miracles was instrumental to Harvey the Cat’s healing. Since then, Harvey has started using the book as a pillow on a regular basis.

Death is not God’s Will.

We as a species don’t have to live like this anymore. There is another way.

The way of the heart.

I hope as we continue Harvey the Cat’s heart healing … that we will find a way to show the world the way of miracles.

I don’t know what will happen from here. This is the most grueling healing I’ve done to date, even more grueling than how we healed Fritz the Cat. What I do know is …

It’s a miracle that Harvey the Cat is here now. I feel so grateful. Thank you God.

And how about you – How has travel transformed you deeply?

I would love to hear about your travel transformation experiences in the comments section of this blog post …


I hope you never find yourself in a situation like we did with Harvey the Cat, and with Fritz the Cat three years ago. To receive devastating health news from doctors or veterinarians who give you no reason to hope for even a little more time, much less a fully happy outcome, is right up there in life’s most painful experiences.

In this world though, pretty much it is inevitable that sooner or later you are going to find yourself in this situation. And at that time, I hope you will have already learned the skills not to succumb to “euthanasia as your only option.”

In this healing, which is still in progress, I realized after the fact that I drew upon pretty much every principle that I teach in my acclaimed 15-Week Miracle Coaching program.

If you don’t feel quite ready to make the commitment to the 15-Week Miracle Coaching Program, you can get started with our very affordable Gold membership or our 30-Day Personal Power Challenge.

If you want to feel empowered to help your loved ones, it is imperative to learn these skills BEFORE an emergency arises. During an emergency, there is simply too much overwhelm to be learning new healing skills. The time to learn these skills is NOW, before they are needed to turn the tide of a life-or-death-situation.

Yes, I want to learn the skills to change the outcome of a life-or-death situation – GET STARTED HERE.

Erika Awakening

About the Author:

Erika Awakening is a Harvard Law School graduate and former practicing attorney. She left the rat race to become a location-independent entrepreneur, holistic life coach, blogger, speaker, healer, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT tapping) expert. Erika Awakening is one of the world's foremost experts on eradicating limiting beliefs and lifestyle design on your own terms. Learn more about Erika Awakening

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  1. I find that a lot of my travels are spiritual in nature. It’s not intentional though … it’s just how things turn out.

  2. Sorry for your loss. I’m glad you could get in tune with your spiritual side while traveling.

  3. I would love to visit Belize! Such great culture

  4. This is a very touching story. I know that we all long for peace in this world and most people don’t realize that they do gave the power to change the world. You do it one at a time by showing other people love so that they go and show love to others. We need to keep love going. Jesus told us to love our neighbors. Even if you don’t care for the neighbor, he told you to love them anyways.

  5. Wow! Thanks for sharing this! It could be part of our growth (because even as adults, we still go through them) or that there really is a deeper meaning to all the experiences you’ve had in the past to lead to this newfound inner voice. Harvey is very lucky to have someone love him so much. We just lost our dog a few months ago and she was with us for almost a decade. She was a rescue dog and was like a part of the family. Now it’s still a little sad and weird to walk in our house and not say “hi” to her.

    • Awww, Lexie, my heart goes out to you for the loss of your dog. That heartbreaking mourning for all the fun, connection, and love they provide.

      Yea one of many things I used my healing method on was the anticipated devastation of Harvey not being here. He spent three nights in hospital, and it felt so empty here without his presence. This motivated me to put even more of myself into his healing. Thanks so much for commenting.

  6. Elizabeth O. says:

    This is such a moving post. Most people discover themselves or learn new things when they travel, thus transforming them. I have yet to experience this, because I haven’t traveled in a while. I’m curious as to what I will discover for me.

  7. It is nice you are opening your heart and using travel as an inspiration to be more spiritual. I am glad the kitty is fine =)

    • Thank you Adriana, we are still working on Harvey’s healing. But as for the vet who said he would not have good quality of life and all that, well, he’s sitting here right now purring. I’d say he’s pretty happy to be still here and alive.

  8. Courtneylynne says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your cat :-/ I have a fur baby myself and couldn’t imagine losing her.

  9. What a remarkable story you told about Harvey. I can’t help but hope deeply that healing does indeed take place in its entirety!

  10. It’s always hard to get bad news about a family member, even if it is a pet and not human. I still grieve thinking about my first dog and wonder if I could have done more to help him live a longer life.

  11. This is a lot to take in and think about. I didn’t even realize that these places even existed. There are things in my life that need to change but where do you begin?

  12. Delroy Murray says:

    How’s your back??

  13. Hmmm.. okay. But even when a “healed mind” does not plan, it ends up in a place it may never have expected (or planned for) or actually chose for itself, it’s all left up to “fate”. Don’t know if it was Winston Churchill or Benjamin Franklin who said it: “He who fails to plan, is planning to fail.” But then, there’s always “tapping” to help you cope with the unexpected failures… ;)

    • Well, like I said, we can go very deep with this. How do you know what is a “success” and what is a “failure”? what if you rushed to have a child due to perceived “time limitations” on doing so, when actually your destiny was to remove those limitations? if you plan based on the past, how do you create a future that is free from the limitations of the past?

      A few questions for starters … ;)

  14. Found this post very intriquing, how you weaved your trip to the West Bank, your cat’s health, and your menstrual cycle all together to make a point about seperation and healing. You are a very empathetic soul, and sometimes far too much for your own good, or this cruel world. But that’s not to say you should ever change, it’s who you are! The problem is, things like the Wall, or even the health (or death) of a loved cat, or even a menstual cycle are beyond our control sometimes. Yes we can affect them maybe temporarily, but cats do eventually die… 15 years is the average life span of a cat… anything beyond that is a bonus. I truly think you should contemplate becoming a REAL mother… before it’s too late, even if you have to do it “on your own”. I would hate to see you become a “cat lady” in your old age (you know the type), and pour all your emotional “mothering” energy into cats… when you have so much you could give to a child that is an actual part of you, and that can make a difference in the world. Even WE don’t live forever, dear… but we do through our children and their children. Just my opinion, but I think you deserve that happiness… God Bless!

    • Ah David, thank you for commenting. We could sit down over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and have quite a deep conversation about all this. We would need to sift through each of the assumptions here … and you know of course that thought occurred to me … what if we get Harvey the Cat healed now and then I have to face this all over again in a few years? won’t I eventually have to face his death one way or the other?

      And there I can only refer us to “A healed mind does not plan.” I don’t know if this will turn out to be right, but this is how the Voice answered:

      “If that happens, you’ll do again what you did three years ago, and what you’re doing now. In True Presence, death is impossible. And so it is possible to live one holy instant into the next, and return to Eternal Life. Harvey the Cat is not dying. He is being reborn to eternal life. And so are you.”

      That’s what the Voice said. Where it will go from here, I don’t know. A healed mind does not plan.

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