If you were able to access wisdom, advice on how to live a calmer, more connected, and fulfilling life but you weren’t sure where it came from or even who is speaking to you or maybe through you, what would you do?
Dr. Siri K. Zemel kept it a secret, or at first she did, but after working with healthcare professionals to understand the phenomenon and after experiencing only positive effects from it, she’s now decided to share her story in the hopes that it will help others. This is all in her new book, Guided: Journey into the Unknown to Awaken the Soul and Live in Truth.
On Author Hour today, Siri discusses her incredible experiences, how these messages have changed her life and the power of getting beyond the mind’s ego.
Jane Stogdill: Hi Author Hour listeners, I’m here today with Siri K. Zemel PhD, Author of Guided: Journey into the Unknown to Awaken the Soul and Live in Truth. Siri, thank you so much for being with us today.
Dr. Siri K. Zemel: Jane, it’s a delight, thanks for having me.
A Journey to Understand
Jane Stogdill: This book details fascinating experiences you’ve had that are very foreign but very interesting to me. I’m so eager to learn more about it since some of our listeners might be kind of new to this as well, can you start by telling us a little bit, giving us a little bit of foundational information about channeling or tongue speak or some of the experiences that you detail in this book?
Dr. Siri K. Zemel: Absolutely. I’ll just start by saying yes, it’s foreign and it’s unusual and it’s not something we hear about every day, which is what so much of the book was about for me, this hidden part of myself that I didn’t dare share with others. I work in behavioral healthcare, executive leadership, and this is not something that you bring up around the conference room table, especially in the south. I live in Tennessee and so this is something that I kept hidden for a long time.
I really had a fear of sharing and the secrecy and the hiding really got to a point that I wasn’t living an authentic life, I wasn’t living in truth in the way that my soul was designed. I decided, “You know what? It’s awkward and it’s strange and it’s unusual and it just is. So, I’m going to trust that.” To explain a little bit about it, there’s this language that moves through me. It sounds like another language, from another country.
It has moved through me since I was a child since I was a very small child. Now, I never knew what it was, I really never even thought about it when I was younger. All my family members just knew this was a weird part of me, this language comes out, sometimes in the middle of the night, or when I’m startled, or when I’m playing around. It wasn’t until my 20s in grad school, when I was doing a lot of meditation and yoga and self-reflection that the language would just pour out of me in times of peace and calm, maybe when I was driving around or sweeping the floor, doing laundry.
When I was content, the languages pour out, largely as a song but sometimes as speak, just as words. It just was what it was, I didn’t really share it, didn’t really talk about it, didn’t really do anything with it, it just always felt good to let it–it’s like my heart song, you know? That part of me that just kind of comes out. Really, I started to get curious about, like I said when it came through more, and when it really started to take up more of my day and with my mindshare. I explore it, “I think gosh, what in the world is this and what do I do with it?”
I try to understand it, I had gone to a professional’s training–I should add that I said I’m in executive leadership in behavioral healthcare, my undergraduate degrees were nutrition science. My graduate degrees were also in nutrition science with a minor in counseling psychology, and so at the time, I was working as a registered dietician and leading a treatment center for eating disorders.
Working with it from that perspective, from the professional perspective, the behavioral healthcare perspective, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t crazy first of all, but also really just wanted to understand what was happening. I started to work with the language, I did training with Dr. Brian Weiss at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, and that training was on past life regression. I thought, maybe this is a language from our past life, and it turned out not to be, Dr. Weiss said, “No, it’s really not a commonly recognized world language, it’s something else but keep going, keep exploring it.”
The next thing I did was I started a doctorate program with Dr. James Gordon in mind-body medicine. If this is something that’s moving through me, only understand the mind, in the psyche, and what all of this is about.
Jane Stogdill: You started the doctorate program in part to try to understand what you were experiencing?
Dr. Siri K. Zemel: I really did. I guess thank you for asking that question because there’s probably more to it than that, that was a big part of it, but another part of it was, I was working as a dietician, raising my two beautiful children and there was just this compartmentalized part of myself that I didn’t feel whole, I didn’t feel complete. I felt nothing was wrong, I was happy and healthy and productive and successful, and all of those things but there was just something missing, right? There’s just this part of myself that I wanted to explore a little bit more.
It was partially because I wanted to understand the language, but it was partially just moving forward in my life, in my career, advancing academically and intellectually. To broaden my horizons all around so it was kind of both.
Wisdom of the Body
Jane Stogdill: Then, what did you learn?
Dr. Siri K. Zemel: Yeah, in that program, I learned to trust the wisdom of the body, I learned to trust the wisdom of the mind, I did learn a little bit more about altered states of consciousness and trance work, which can happen with just a few deep breaths, which can happen with hypnotic technique, certainly. One of the things that are becoming more popularized these days is the use of psychedelics in healing. Certainly, that’s not my path here.
For me, it was just a few simple breaths and that was it. But there’s a lot of interest in understanding consciousness and understanding the power of the mind and the psyche and healing and then bringing the mind and the body into harmony.
I dove into all of those things, I ended up not actually studying this language in my doctorate program just because a doctorate program is really intense, there’s a lot of academic pressure on research and really defending the phenomenon. I really just wasn’t ready for that yet, it was too fragile and scary and unknown and unique, and so I just tucked it away. I wrote my doctorate on hungering, being a dietician working with eating disorders but also having an interest in soul hunger, that’s what I ended up writing my doctorate on or my dissertation.
Jane Stogdill: What is hungering, just if we can hop into a little cul de sac for a second?
Dr. Siri K. Zemel: Yeah, I utilized a research methodology called classic grounded theory, and in classic grounded theory, it kind of turns research on its head. You’re asking a very big question and allowing whatever emerges to guide the research, rather than in traditional scientific theory, you’re starting with a hypothesis and then you either prove or disprove that hypothesis, right? Classic grounded theory, you’re just starting with a really big concept and then diving into it.
You may be familiar with Brene Brown and her work on shame and vulnerability, all of that is classic grounded theory, so you take a really big concept, and you dive into it and see where it emerges. I took the concept of hunger, and I dove into hunger and I interviewed research participants, collected the data, analyzed the data, and what came up in those interviews in scouring the data was a sense of physical hunger we’re all familiar with, but soul hunger, spiritual hunger, emotional hunger are all things that we experience, right? We have this need and this desire to consume different things in our lives, both on the physical level and at the abstract level as well.
Teasing those apart and understanding what that meant to the study participants and understanding what that meant just for us as human beings, that’s what my dissertation was about essentially. That’s hungering. While that sounds like a pretty big topic, which it was, and it was beautiful and really fulfilling and satisfying to research that, it still wasn’t as core in my soul as this other piece, this language that moved through me.
After I graduated, I continued to work with the language, and at this point, I had started working with a psychologist friend of mine who would hold a safe space for me to just let the language come out. She would come to guide me into mediation where I could just relax, and let it flow through.
Slowly, over time, what I learned to do was interpret the language and receive these incredibly profound messages from the other side–spiritual guidance, spiritual messages, and connection with spiritual guides and entities and even departed souls who had passed over to the other side. You can imagine, I kept this part of myself hidden for quite a while, because I still buttoned up and went to work every day running treatment centers, and a staff of psychologists, and therapists and dieticians, and other staff, raising my two daughters.
This was just through a secret part of myself I didn’t talk about but over time, it became a really beautiful, trusted companion in a way. I would go to this place with just a few deep breaths, connect with spiritual guidance, and it was very enriching, and it really gave me information to live my life in greater peace and harmony and truth.
For a long time, I felt like I was living these two lives, right? I had this outer mask of normalcy and my brown leather bag and my laptop and you know, all my meetings for the day and going through a very busy schedule, and on the weekends, I just decompressed and lived in this very different world. You know what? It was when COVID hit, the isolation of being at home and feeling this angst of hypocrisy and hiding, I thought, “Well, it’s time. I can kind of stay in this place of disingenuousness and hiding who I am or I can start to accept it.”
So, really, that year of social isolation for me was pivotal in healing and learning to love and accept this part of myself, and really embrace it, and put together some words on paper, and out came Guided at the other end. Here we are.
Jane Stogdill: Okay, the book is full of passages, these what you’ve said, what you’ve channeled, you interpret the language that comes out into English. Tell me about the decision to include those bits of speech and wisdom.
Dr. Siri K. Zemel: Yeah, that’s a good question. To me, the information was so helpful in my life, there’s a lot of content around self-acceptance, self-love, trust, surrender, right? These big spiritual concepts that really pushed me along my journey or rather, supported me along my journey. Held me through my journey and well, I wanted to share them because this book, yes, it’s about me and it’s about my journey, but it just feels like it’s bigger than me.
It’s more than just about me, Siri, my personality, my personal struggles, and what I’ve gone through in life. I want to share with others the information that’s available, that I feel like is available to all of us. I admit this is a little bit odd and unusual and unique, and I really have come to believe that we all have access to a truth, right? That may be different for all of us, but access to a place within ourselves or outside of ourselves that is more loving, more kind, more supportive, and that does offer us guidance through the tumultuous times in our lives.
Jane Stogdill: I want to ask you about that because I have always so desperately wanted to connect with something. I don’t seem to have the ability, or I haven’t figured out how to unlock it, but let’s back up for a second because we should tell readers that these bits of content that have come out of you and been transcribed by you are largely advice. Pieces of wisdom about how to live a more centered and connected and heart-driven life if I said that accurately, is that right?
Dr. Siri K. Zemel: Yeah, I think so.
For the Readers
Jane Stogdill: Talk to me about these two desires for the reader. I feel like what I’m hearing is in part to share this wisdom not just to keep it all to yourself, but then also to encourage readers to connect with their own voices of wisdom?
Dr. Siri K. Zemel: Yeah, I think that’s well said. The other piece of COVID is you know, I watched so many people, I mean certainly, myself included in the beginning, but family members, patients, coworkers, just so much suffering. Just through the roof rates of depression and anxiety, suicide, drug and alcohol relapse, and eating disorder relapse and job loss, and a lot of suffering. A lot of hardship and I am a big believer in mental health treatment and behavioral healthcare treatment.
Of course, that’s the field in which I work, and for a lot of people, they still are suffering. To know that we all have access in some way to a breadth of resources in our own heart and soul, in our own mind–even listening to the wisdom of our body, that really multipronged approach to healing is something that I am very passionate about. Of course, you know, my foundation and my education and background is nutrition.
I am very passionate about taking care of the body, and then as I got into eating disorders, really learning about how trauma is held in the body, and relieving that and listening to how emotions move through the body and really what is the intelligence that our body tells us about our own healing and that kind of deep listening at the physical level, and then understanding the mind and the emotions and how helpful it is to have a listening ear–a therapist or even using a psychiatrist or pharmaceutical support in getting the mind to a stable place to be able to process thoughts and emotions, so that we can move closer to a sense of wholeness and healing.
There’s this other layer. There’s this other layer that I’ve been hiding that I was too scared to share with the world, and that’s really that spiritual side, that mystical side, that connection was something invisible that is free, and doesn’t really have horrendous side effects, and may be difficult for some to tap into and others maybe not. Some do better in tapping into that in group settings and things like that but really, I think my passion is just around integrative healing in general and knowing that there are multiple layers towards wholeness and towards healing. So, that was part of the message there too.
Jane Stogdill: Thank you and what have been some of the most helpful pieces of wisdom that have come out of your mouth?
Dr. Siri K. Zemel: I know, right? Because it’s not me.
Jane Stogdill: That helped change you and guide you toward healing. Give me the spirit guide takeaways I think is what I’m saying.
Dr. Siri K. Zemel: There were a couple of messages that were consistent over the years. This book is actually written with content that I had recorded and transcribed over a 10-year period. This is not just six months, I get into it and I’m going to write a book. You know, this was doing this work and going to this trance-like state, right?
Jane Stogdill: Just for the readers, sorry to interrupt, you were literally turning on the recording app on your phone, correct?
Dr. Siri K. Zemel: Yeah, that’s exactly right. I am going to sit down with my iPhone, hit voice recorder, and just let the words come out, the non-English words come out, and as I entered that state with letting that language flow out of me, I would slowly be this sense of meaning. This sense of a message and at first–you know when I first started Jane, it was like taking these concepts that were much bigger than my brain. Just huge–gosh, it’s really hard to describe actually, but plugging into something that I couldn’t comprehend, and then condensing it down through the very narrow neuronal pathways of my brain and then translating into the English language and then spitting it out through my mouth so that it made any kind of sense at all.
The process took years to get to that. You know at first, I would have a huge headache and be wiped for the rest of the day, it really took this very strange brain capacity kind of training to get to that point. But you asked what the takeaway messages were and so, over this ten-year period of doing this work, there were some very consistent messages that I heard over and over and over again and those were surrender, trust, and love. And there were a lot more too, here and there, but those were the core.
I can say them now so easily and simply, but it has taken a decade and lord knows, I am not there. I have certainly not arrived as an enlightened being, I work on this every day, but those concepts took me so long. I mean like I said, I was in communication with this, you know, if you want to call it a divine source, fine. If you want to call it my own imagination, fine. If you want to call it the creative construct of my psyche, fine. I don’t know what it is. I do believe in something beyond the self and beyond the ego.
Whether that’s God, whether that’s angels, spiritual entities, it all seemed very, very real and true to me, and so I choose to perceive it that way, but I also recognize that what only works for us is what we perceive, right? There is a lot of different ways to look at it and semantics to put on it, but regardless, it took the surrender piece and the trust piece, it really took me 10 years of working with this to finally let go and say, “Okay, I’m just going to put this out there and I am going to trust that and I am going to surrender to it and I am going to love myself just as I am–this very weird, very odd soul.”
It was learning that self-love and that self-acceptance that was the hardest part. It really was the hardest part and once I got to that, you know I really felt a strong connection with this force outside of myself, “Okay, I can practice this surrender thing.” I can practice and I say practice because it is, it is a daily practice.
A Great Unfolding
Jane Stogdill: Surrender to what? Trust in what?
Dr. Siri K. Zemel: Excellent question, sort of this great unfolding, you know? Sort of this evolution of consciousness beyond our own ego, kind of how life tends to harmonize and work itself out for us. I know that’s a really hard thing to hear in the world that we live in right now, with so much pain and so much destruction and so much violence and dishonesty and pain. It is hard to trust all of those things and finding this personal relationship with the body, the mind, the psyche, and the soul does lend itself to this sort of understanding, this sort of connection, sort of feeling that we’re not in it alone.
Jane Stogdill: I like how you mentioned, whether you believe it’s this or that or whatever. This idea of being beyond the ego, I mean there are parts of our brain that don’t function fully because of the ego and when the ego was quieted, it can come alive. I’m sure, you’re familiar with some of the studies that Michael Pollan wrote about that, and so there’s certainly beyond the ego that really resonates with me because it could mean a variety of things, but the point is that the ego can kind of silence or inhibit connection.
I guess what I’m wondering is, have you thought about if it is something outside even of your brain and subconscious–it is guides or spirits, why do you think they have chosen you and if it is something inside you, why do you think you have been able to access it?
Dr. Siri K. Zemel: That’s a great question and I really don’t know the answer and I ask myself a lot the latter question, the question about if it’s something within me, what in the world is my brain doing to conjure this thing up? I’ve looked into functions of the psyche, functions of the ego, the stories that we tell ourselves to keep ourselves safe or to give ourselves a sense of how the world works and our place in it.
I did ask myself that question, “You know, was this just…” because it started when I was very, very young, as young as I can remember, you know three, four, five years old. I have this language that moved through me and I had these invisible, really invisible friends at that age. These invisible beings that I always hung out with. Did my mind make that up because that gave me a sense of safety that I wasn’t otherwise feeling in my family or origin, or was that my way of kind of soothing my mind with regard to safety, emotional safety, and attachment?
I don’t know, you know, and did that stay with me through the course of my life as a coping mechanism? Because that is what ego is, right? It’s a defense mechanism that helps us to process information in the world and navigate our ways through it. Is it just a construct of that? I certainly don’t know, and what I finally came to is if it is, okay, whether it’s true or not, whether it’s real or not, it feels good. It doesn’t have negative consequences for me.
In fact, the opposite, it has incredibly healing consequences and my own sense of peace, contentment, safety, fulfillment, my relationships with my spouse, with my family, my work in fact even brings me more connected to my colleagues, more attuned to intuitive decisions and sensing kind of the flow of work, so it is a positive benefit. Again, in a world where we really have so many inadequate means of coping, drugs, alcohol, connection to the image, and disordered eating and body dysmorphia and we have a lot of inappropriate coping mechanisms that are self-destructive to the body or to the mind.
This doesn’t feel like it fits in that category, right? It feels good and the fruits of it are all very positive and benevolent. Now, if these are spiritual guides that have chosen me somehow to communicate these messages or to be this conduit, this spiritual medium, this channel, that is one of the things frankly that I am working through right now and asking myself. You know, even just calling myself a channel or calling myself a medium, that is something that I am still kind of working through.
I didn’t work so hard in my academic career and in my professional career to hang my hat as a medium. That is not the outcome that I chose for myself, believe me, not even close. Because I think mediums and channels in a lot of ways have a bad rep because there are bad actors out there, that just prey on the vulnerabilities of people’s sensitive emotions or needing to connect, feel connected to loved ones who have passed or feeling lost in life and really needing a sense of sure direction.
There are really talented, incredibly talented gifted people out there who do bear this gift of spiritual mediumship and I have respect for that and it’s tough. Because there is not a professional association that has published the scope of practice guidelines and ethical expectations where there are CEU credits that you have to get every year in order to continue to keep your license. There is not the depth of oversight and evidence-based practices that I am accustomed to.
I am accustomed to working in an environment that has really clearly set boundaries in making sure that the care that’s provided to individuals is absolutely of the highest quality.
Jane Stogdill: Maybe that’s why the guides have chosen you. You’re like, “This industry needs to be regulated,” we’ve just stumbled into doing it.
Dr. Siri K. Zemel: Yeah, maybe. I mean, to be honest, it’s kind of where I ended the book. I ended the book by asking those questions and I certainly don’t have answers right now but those are the things that make me nervous about just putting myself out there professionally as a channel or a medium as well, but where’s the supervision? Where’s the other side? Where’s the scope of practice guidelines? Where are the ethical standards? Yeah, maybe those are things that just need to be developed.
Jane Stogdill: Well, there’s so much more to discuss. The book includes so much more about the wisdom you’ve picked up and how it’s affected your life. I find your story very encouraging, thank you for sharing it and it’s been a pleasure speaking with you today. Congratulations on the book and on your coming out.
Again, listeners, the book is Guided: Journey into the Unknown to Awaken the Soul and Live in Truth. Siri, in addition to reading the book, where can people go to learn more about you and your work?
Dr. Siri K. Zemel: Oh, great question. My website, sirikzemel.com.
Jane Stogdill: That’s sirikzemel.com.
Dr. Siri K. Zemel: You got it.
Jane Stogdill: Great, thank you so much.
Dr. Siri K. Zemel: Jane, I appreciate you having me on, thank you.