A Radical Turn
An Interview with Shawna Ristic on her Near-Death Experience
Shawna Ristic has wrestled with integrating transformation for over 20 years after facing life’s biggest transformative experience: death. On Christmas Day, 1993, Ristic was in a serious car accident that pushed her near death, leaving her in a coma for weeks. We talked with her about her life before and after her near-death experience (NDE), and how her visit to the other side changed her perspective forever.
A body therapist and intuitive healer for nearly two decades, Ristic will be the guest speaker for Arizona IANDS at Unity of Tucson (3617 Camino Blanco) at 6:30 p.m., December 13. She will also be speaking at Unity of Mesa at 7 p.m., December 14, and at Advent Episcopal Church in Sun City West, at 2 p.m., December 17.
Can you tell us about your life before the accident?
Before the accident, I had begun an illicit life of modeling and working in bars. It appeared to me that the value of a woman in our society, my own value, rested entirely on my physical appearance and openness with my body. I was bitter and angry this was my lot in life and vowed to get financial restitution in return. I began to contemplate how far down the rabbit hole I was willing to go with this reality and began taking private trips with customers.
My soul’s journey required me to make a radical shift toward the light. I set an intention for change, but had no idea it would bring me to the brink of death and back.
In retrospect, I see lifetimes spent thrown about by the whims of men under the influence of seduction, booze and drugs. This lifetime was to be different. The car accident brought the karmic plan to a halt. I was sent back to the other side to reassess and return to life with an entirely new perspective of truth: each of us is purity at the source.
Do you remember your time on the other side?
I remember seeing my body from above with my mother sitting by my side, her head bending down toward my hand. What had I done? I had been gently, lovingly lifted from my body by six beings filled with light. They reached their hands under my body and lifted me up. I felt a joy, acceptance and surrender beyond anything I had ever experienced. I understood that I had a choice to come back or not. This was a joint decision between me and the Council, a group of twelve beings—the six who lifted me and six others who I met during my time on the other side.
I saw the ramifications of both choices. I saw the peace of staying with the beings of light that had so lovingly lifted me from my body. I also saw how the choice not to return would affect many people.
Most of all, while I was on the other side, I became aware of the incredible fabric of love that was around and within me. Only confusion and illusion had kept it from my awareness. Love is the current that flows behind everything. It is the motivating force and the substance. It is everything. The energy coursing within this matrix orchestrates our lives. I saw my contribution to the matrix and my heart opened to a depth and rawness I had never known.
What was it like to come back to your body?
When I came back, I saw pure light within everyone. My body experienced every emotion that others held within themselves, consciously or not. Upon slowly awakening from the coma, I realized that everything had changed.
There were some physical challenges to overcome as my spirit reclaimed my body, but the internal changes were remarkable. I had been to the other side. I had seen that beauty and love are the fabric that makes up reality and that the essence of each and every one of us is pure light finding its way to shine through the layers of illusion. I felt an enormous sense of gratitude and responsibility in being alive.
I had commitments to keep for the Council, other people and the planet. I lost all fear of death and I knew that I was supported beyond understanding by nonphysical spiritual beings. This is true for each of us. My realization was so profound that I found myself gaping in awe at the beauty of grass, of sunshine, of all that gives its radiance to us so freely and asks for nothing but reverence in return. I marveled at the light that shone out from each person.
How did others in your life react to your experience?
My desire to have people understand the reality I experienced was great. During this initial time of awakening, I shared some of my experience with those who were around me, but was met with rationalizations and justifications about my healing brain, medications and illusions. These were all logical explanations, but my visceral knowing left no doubt that my experience was real. I realized the truth could not be received by the people around me and so I closed up around it.
What was your recovery experience like? Was it hard to get back to “normal”?
I shifted my focus to recovering my physical and mental capacities. I was desperate to be normal. I needed to fit in, to be human, to belong. Fitting in had never been a high priority, but now I needed to know that I could still connect and share in human activities and experiences. A year after my miraculous recovery, I was proving all the medical prognoses wrong. I was living independently, going to college, working and had no cognitive disabilities. I was achieving all the things I was told would create a happy and fulfilling life, but I was miserable. I was exasperated by humanity’s blindness and my impotence to change it. I felt small and helpless. I had come back to make a difference and I didn’t know how.
One night, in the depths of despair, I picked up my pen and began to journal. The words and questions flowed from my fingers. As I wrote, I slowly began to realize that something was responding. The words were no longer questions. They were answers that I could not have known or created. I had begun to channel the Council. They became my confidants and my support team. I spent many nights snuggled in bed, deep in journaled communication. Things began to change in my life. Synchronicities appeared. Decisions became guided. I was led to massage school, began my life as a healer and embarked consciously on my journey of integration.
You chose to start a massage practice. How did your unique abilities help clients?
Although what I do is more than massage, I was hesitant to talk about the “other stuff,” the intuitive knowing. Yet, that is what people came for. People found their way to me in times of transition or transformation. I hold a space of sanctuary where clients can open to their experience vibrationally.
With kinesthetic body awareness, I know where to go on the body. Intuitively, with the guidance of the Council, I am aware of energies that are influencing my client’s ability to move closer to wholeness, to their inner light. I have worked in this way for the last two decades.
What are you up to now?
It appears that now Spirit has other plans. In early 2014, while visiting Santa Cruz, California to meet my husband’s spiritual teacher, I met a man who asked my husband a very random question: “Do you know anything about the near-death experience?” He replied, “No, I don’t, but you should ask my wife.”
I had never labeled my experience as such, nor did I know that interest in NDEs had become a movement. Over the year, this question led to interviews by Raymond Moody and a move to Santa Cruz as I began to open up and share my experience.
It has taken patience to integrate and own my story, as well as an incredible amount of courage to share and trust that it is now possible to create a new consensual reality, one that recognizes pure consciousness in ourselves and each other and one that acknowledges our vibrational experience. This story is part of that journey, and I am open to whatever is meant to happen next.