Rev. Peter Panagore, M.Div (Yale) has had two near-death experiences, the first while ice climbing in 1980 and the second in 2015 due to a heart attack. He recounts these in his book Heaven Is Beautiful: How Dying Taught Me That Death Is Just the Beginning, an Audible Best Seller available globally in nine editions. His best-selling second book, Two Minutes for God: Quick Fixes for the Spirit, is a collection of original inspirational devotional stories, many of which he told for 15 years on a daily TV show reaching 30 million viewers annually in Maine and New Hampshire. Previously, he served as a United Church of Christ minister and pastor in Maine and Connecticut. He published 150 sermons and many prayers in Homiletics, a leading clergy journal. He now runs a global spiritual counseling service for “closet mystics” and travels nationally as a public and inspirational speaker and teacher. He has been practicing Zazen/Centering Prayer and Kundalini/KriyaYoga for forty years.
Ishtar (Thomas Howell) is a meditation teacher, Ishaya monk, gardener, writer, and intuitive astrologer. A sense of himself as Presence was a pronounced feature of his life until about age 7. At age 13, he was in a car accident that took his mother’s life, and initiated an NDE that brought about a profound experience of Samadhi that in the subsequent months he experienced right along with an intense process of grieving. After the Presence faded, he longed to return, resulting in an energetic spiritual search. At 17 he began a regimen of meditation practices and ascetic disciplines that included waking to cold showers at 3 AM, fasting, and 6 hours of daily meditation practice. Longing to find his path, he encountered a practice known as the Ishayas’ Ascension, an effortless and deeply pleasurable form of meditation, which he quickly recognized as the path for which he’d been searching. Several months after learning Ascension, he found himself living on the Oregon coast in a monastic environment dedicated to the practice.
The ashram life brought about a rapid acceleration of growth, leading to ever more consistent experiences of Silence, in closed eyed meditation practice, while cooking in the community’s café, doing service work, and planting gardens. After going through a 6-month intensive Teacher Training program, that involved 12-16 hours of closed eyed meditation a day, he began teaching classes around the world, and living in various regional meditation centers around the world. Seeming, miracles, wild manifestations, witness consciousness, and celestial perception were frequent occurrences, as Awareness slowly but surely saturated more and more of life.
In 2008, he left his monastic organization and then took an extended break from meditation teaching. The years lived outside the semi cloistered environment of the ashram were often challenging, but ultimately led to a more deeply anchored Presence. Subtle barriers fell, opening to the experience of the world as the Self. This process continues to unfold and expand.
Since 2014, he has again been teaching Ascension and working as a spiritual guide, giving people a reliable practice with which to cultivate Awareness and assisting people in relaxing into Presence as a constantly lived experience. Since 2015 he has also been working as an intuitive Astrologer, with a primary focus on helping people align more completely with their soul’s purpose. More information can be found at these websites: ascension-meditation.com and awakenedlightastrology.com.