07/11/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

How do I love myself?

Ten years ago, my life changed dramatically. The loss of several of my loved ones along with an abrupt end to my financial security had left the image of who I thought I was lying in pieces.

Exactly how these losses brought me to transform myself from the inside out is another story, but now, a decade later, I look back on who I used to be and feel like a totally different person.

In this blog, I will explore the insights and practical steps that brought me from my own personal hell to absolute freedom, and eventually led me to create the Isha System, which today is used by thousands of people around the world to create more peace, joy and love in their lives.

The transformations I went through a decade ago brought me to South America, a fascinating part of the world that I previously knew almost nothing about. I have been living and traveling throughout the continent ever since.

The following incident, which took place when I first established a retreat center in Colombia, will help explain the nature of my message.

... As I was driven through the jungle, I asked the driver the name of the head of the paramilitary. I was on my way to visit him, having recently arrived in what turned out to be his territory. The oceanfront hilltop my foundation had set up base on was in the middle of a "red" zone, 'protected' by the paramilitaries who looked over us like the Sierra Nevada, the largest coastal mountain in the world.

It turned out that his name was Jesus. I thought to myself ironically, let's hope Jesus is my friend.

Jesus was. He was charming, delighted that I was teaching a form of expansion of consciousness so close to his beloved city. He assured me that if I had any trouble, he would swiftly deal with anyone who was impeding my stay. I avoided asking exactly how he was planning on dealing with them, opting instead to just smile sweetly.

Here I was, a spiritual teacher in the middle of the jungle, proposing union in a province where paramilitaries and guerrilla soldiers shared only their dislike of the government.

One day, as the sounds of movement broke the morning in our hilltop offices, where usually the rhythmic rumble of the ocean coaxed us out of bed, a troop of exaggeratedly heavily armed soldiers trooped purposefully up the steps. Dressed in black, laden with grenades and guns that would require a heavy workout just by being carried, they assembled sternly on our veranda, the spectacular tropical panorama framing them, like intruders on someone's vacation.

They were anti-narcotic police, under President Uribe's command, but we didn't know that until they presented themselves.

After a few gruff questions about our intentions in the area, they put down their Uzis and their hand grenades, and Rambo bullet belts, and sat for a brief introduction to the work of the foundation.

As they listened about consciousness, unconditional love and the union that exists beyond our apparent differences, their faces denoted sincere interest and curiosity. But the most impacting was their responses to the question, what do you want?

It doesn't matter where I go in the world. Whether I am speaking at a high security prison, an international forum, to senators, catholic nuns or ex-guerrilla soldiers... everyone has the same answers.

"Peace" said one of the soldiers. "Love" murmured another.

Peace. A word that unites humanity in its common desire for union. Even those who fight, are fighting for peace.

Have you noticed that when people are asking for peace, they're usually screaming?

I want to be in peace!

Leave me in peace!

Turn off that noise! I want some peace!!!

As humans, we are always saying, I want to be in peace, and then next minute we're fighting for 'justice'; fighting to be right. So what's really the most important? Our peace, or being right? When we become attached to our point of view, it can become more important to us than anything else. This need to be right, which often requires proving the other wrong, generates conflict.

Where are you fighting in your life? Where has your opinion become more important than peace, than harmony? Beyond our apparent differences, lies the common core of consciousness, which unites us beyond all diversity. Here's an idea: why don't we focus on that, instead of the things that seem to separate us? Maybe if we did more of that, we would discover the peace we so yearn for.

I am not suggesting that we abandon our ideals, but let's not lose sight of what is truly important, and stoically create the world we want from the inside out.