About

Spiritual Awakenings International

"Bringing us Together"

Raising Awareness • Networking • Sharing

Spiritual Awakenings International’s mission is to spread awareness globally of Spiritually Transformative Experiences.

Aims and Ideals

Spiritual Awakenings International (SAI) is a non-profit worldwide network of individuals and groups who are interested in collaborating to raise awareness, network, and share personal experience relating to diverse types of Spiritually Transformative Experiences, “STEs”, (Kason 1994, 2019), to raise global spiritual awareness. 

STEs include: near-death experiences (NDEs); mystical experiences; psychic/intuitive experiences of many types; spiritual energy/kundalini awakenings; inspired creativity; other death-related STEs such as deathbed experiences, care-giver experiences, death-watch/shared-death experiences, after-death communications; and more.  STEs are sometimes referred to as “extraordinary experiences”, “exceptional human experiences”, “spiritual emergence syndrome”, samadhis, siddhis, ascension experiences, and other terms.  

All types of STEs tend to transform experiencers’ values in a more spiritual direction and propel an increased desire to be loving, ethical, and of service to others.

Spiritual Awakenings International recognizes the interconnectedness of diverse types of STEs. An experiencer might have one type of STE as their initial “spiritual awakening” experience, and later find their consciousness more open to other types of STEs. For example a near-death experiencer or kundalini awakening experiencer may later have more psychic/intuitive experiences and mystical experiences.

STE experiencers often feel isolated, misunderstood, might feel they are mentally unstable, and fear being labelled as “crazy” by others.  SAI is striving to build a safe, supportive, and informed community amongst STE experiencers and spiritual seekers, and to increase understanding of STEs worldwide.

Spiritual Awakenings International is multi-faith, multi-cultural, non-aligned, and is open to anyone peacefully seeking a higher understanding.  We promote respectful and supportive dialogue of diverse views and perspectives on STEs.  SAI was previously known as iSee, the International Society for Extraordinary Experiences.

Goals

To raise awareness of STES of all types and our true spiritual nature, and the fact that STEs are a normal and healthy occurrence in human consciousness which often occur as part of a spiritual awakening process.

To facilitate networking globally, building bridges and community between diverse groups and individuals who share an interest in raising awareness of STEs through: regional group meetings; a newsletter calendar of affiliated groups’ events; and by listing affiliated groups websites on the SAI website.

To provide a sharing forum where STE experiencers, counselors, friends, and researchers can share experiences and information in a safe, supportive environment: at local affiliated group meetings; through online events; and at SAI conferences internationally.

writing in the sand
photo by Robert Bare

About the Founders

Yvonne Kason
Yvonne Kason MD​
President
Book cover

Dr. Yvonne Kason MD, MEd, CCFP, FCFP,  is the President and Co-Founder of Spiritual Awakenings International. She is a family physician and transpersonal psychotherapist [retired], previously on faculty at the University of Toronto. She is an internationally renowned medical expert on Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) and other Spiritually Transformative Experiences (STEs), with 40 years experience counseling and researching persons with NDEs and other STEs. Propelled by a powerful kundalini awakening in 1976, and a Near-Death Experience in a 1979 medevac plane crash, she began to research NDEs and other spiritual experiences. In 1990 she became the first Canadian medical doctor to specialize her medical practice in the research and counseling of patients with diverse types of STEs. Dr. Kason is the person who first coined the phrase “Spiritually Transformative Experiences” in 1994, in her book, A Farther Shore. She has had five Near-Death Experiences herself, two in her childhood and three in her adult life, as well as multiple STEs.

Dr. Yvonne Kason is the Past-President of IANDS, the International Association for Near-Death Studies (2019-2020) and a former IANDS Board member. She is the Co-Leader and Co-Founder (2019) of Toronto Awakenings Sharing Group, and is a member of ACISTE, the American Center for the Integration of Spiritually Transformative Experiences.

Dr. Kason has been a pioneer in the field of Spiritually Transformative Experiences for over 40 years. In 1990 Dr. Kason was a Co-Founder and later a long time Board member of the Kundalini Research Network. She was also the Canadian Coordinator of the Spiritual Emergence Network, and in 1992 the Founder of the Spiritual Emergence Research and Referral Clinic in Toronto. In 2000 she Co-Founded the Spirituality in Health-Care Network, and in 2002 she was Chair of the University of Toronto’s first ever conference on Spirituality and Health-Care.

Dr. Yvonne Kason has five published books, her most recent, Touched by the Light: Exploring Spiritually Transformative Experiences, (2019). Dr. Kason has extensive media and public speaking experience worldwide. She has been a keynote speaker at conferences internationally, and has made over 100 professional presentations. She was a Keynote speaker at IANDS Vancouver conference 1999, and a plenary speaker at IANDS Philadelphia conference 2019. Dr. Kason has been an invited guest on many TV talk shows including: The Dr Oz Show (2020), and radio shows including Coast to Coast (2020). Her 1979 plane crash Near-Death Experience was re-enacted on Sightings and in two documentaries. Dr. Kason retired from the practice of medicine in 2006 for health reasons after being incapacitated for twelve years and following a dramatic brain healing in 2016, a “miracle of brain neuroplasticity”, Dr. Kason has now resumed writing, public speaking, and giving media interviews about NDEs and STEs. Yvonne Kason lives in Toronto, Canada, and enjoys “snowbirding” during the winter months, in Encinitas, CA.

Robert Bare
Vice President
young uniformed Robert Bare
Robert Bare in 1972

Robert Bare MPA is the Vice President and Co-Founder of Spiritual Awakenings International. He attended West Valley College, San Jose State University, the University of California Santa Cruz and The University of San Francisco where he graduated with Bachelor and Masters degrees in Public Administration as well as obtaining two teaching credentials.

His former employment included working for the Santa Cruz Police Department and then joining the California Highway Patrol from 1970 to 1992. His work assignments prior to retirement included South Los Angeles (Watts), East Los Angeles, San Francisco/Oakland (twice) and Santa Cruz (twice). After retiring from law enforcement, he worked a variety of positions: an Adjunct Professor, a General Manager/City Administrator for three communities, the Executive Director of a Community Resource Center, the Tribal Administrator of a Native American Nation and a Staff Executive/Consultant for an International Consulting Company. Additionally, he is still continuing his work career as a grant and technical writer.

He has always volunteered for several community programs. He coached Little League baseball and girls softball, Pony League Baseball, Pop Warner football and American Legion Baseball. Additionally, he coached a women’s fast pitch traveling tournament team for 18 and under girls and was also President for a Pony League in the Santa Cruz area. He attended Professional Umpire School in Florida and umpired baseball at all levels.

He was active in the communities he resided in by serving on the City Planning Commission, a County Drug Free Coalition, and the Commission on Children and Families. He also served on the California Special Districts Board of Directors and the California Special Districts Workers Compensation Board. He received recognition when selected as “Peace Officer of the Year 1976”, and nominated as “Special Districts General Manager of the Year 1997”

Robert is an almost-textbook case of someone whose life and values were forever changed by his NDE. You have to have a tough mentality to be a police officer, and Robert spent more than two decades as a California Highway Patrolman. Robert admits that “I saw lots of death, and I became callous,” he says. Spirituality or religion played little role in his life.

Robert’s near-death experiences shook him to his core. They occurred shortly after he boarded a plane in March, 2009. He had a massive heart attack and was deceased for approximately 45 minutes. His second NDE was for approximately 10 minutes. His NDEs were profiled in the TV show, I SurvivedBeyond and Back, and he was a featured case study by author Debra Diamond in her book,”Life After Near Death”. Robert has also interviewed for an upcoming episode on William Shattner’s show “Unexplained” on the History Channel.

In regards to his NDEs, Robert has said, “Accompanied by loving beings, I gravitated toward a beautiful bright Light,” He recalls. “I saw some colors I had never seen before. I remember being in the presence of a “Higher Power” who talked to me. I had a “life review” and saw everything that I had experienced in my life. He calls the review “the reckoning of my life a humbling experience.” He further emphasized, “I could see everything in my life, but I was also in it, and I could read everyone’s mind. I realized that I could have done better, and I did not want to judge or hurt anyone anymore.”

After taken to a hospital, he had a second NDE this time, floating above the operating room, observing what was transpiring below. This NDE included a pivotal moment: he could hear medical staff talking about him while he was unconscious. Later, the doctors verified that he had indeed heard their conversation. “I’m a different person now,” Robert says after his NDE experiences. “Now I only want to do good in my life.”

Robert currently lives in a home on the beach in Oregon, where he has been a past Commissioner on his Community Planning Commission for 9 years and past President of a local Humane Society. He was nominated as the “Citizen of the Year” twice in different communities and received other community recognition as well. Robert is the past Vice-President of IANDS and also a former IANDS Board member.

Recent Talks

Meet Our Board Members

Linda Truax
Linda Truax
Board Secretary - Treasurer
Linda Truax riding a horse

Linda Truax (height 5 feet), refers to herself as a tall Texan who got cheated but has always driven herself to do just a little more than just be.  She was born a rebel, but raised a Yankee in Massachusetts then educated a redneck at the University of California, Davis.  Military service in the U.S. Army followed allowing her to travel around the United States and one tour in Europe, and she reached the rank of Major. After retirement in 1996 Linda engaged in a childhood dream of having a horse farm in Texas where she had a special Appaloosa mare which earned 2 national titles. 

After dealing with a significant emotional event Linda chose to sell the farm and move elsewhere.  During these trying times she discovered the wealth of comfort shared by the Edgar Cayce Foundation and read many books describing near-death experiences.  After meeting many of the near-death experiencers Linda began seeking deeper understanding of these extraordinary events, and became actively involved in expanding educational programs to expand awareness of all types of spiritually transformative experiences.

Linda returned to Texas, and is currently the go-to person for the local members of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV),   Linda has continued to serve at her local DAV Chapter as Service Officer, Junior Vice Commander, and Commander.  Her service to others also included many years assisting another nonprofit organization in marketing, governance, and education outreach.  On the side, Linda also supports and participates with an equestrian drill team of a local Sheriff’s Posse. 

Why I am excited about SAI? I  see great opportunity in joining SAI to further expand the unified effort to share the reality that each of us are instruments of divinity, here to serve and help others remember we are all one.

diane willis
Diane Willis
Advisory Board Chair
Past President of iSee
Diane Willis playing a flute

Diane Willis MM,  was born and raised in St. Louis, MO.   It has recently come to light that Diane was most-likely a Near-Death Experiencer before and/or during birth.  As a child, she was always very close to God and church.  She thought churches were little patches of heaven on earth and people went to church every week to get a shot of that special, unconditional Love from the Other Side.  She was aware of seeing and talking to her Guides daily until she was about six years old.  And every night, one of her Guides was with her until she was an adolescent.

She attended Lutheran High School Central in St. Louis.  At age 18, she was one of six girls who won a week-long trip to New York City as a member of Seventeen Magazine’s National Fashion Council.  She then went on to Northwestern University where she received her BM and MM degrees in Music (Flute Performance).  She married and moved to Wilmington, DE, for 10 years, where she raised two sons and had a large class of flute students.  In 1980, she moved back to Evanston, IL, married Tribune Music Critic Thomas Willis, had a daughter and continued teaching flute.

With a group of Chicago area flutists, Diane was on the steering committee, which laid down the foundation for what became The Chicago Flute Club.  Then as the Secretary of the first Board of Directors, she also became Program Chairman and spent several years organizing and presenting the early series of flute presentations by that organization. That gave her the knowledge and experience she needed to be able to subsequently become founder and President of one of the largest IANDS’ organizations in the world:   Chicago International Association for Near-Death Studies (Chicago IANDS), in May 1998. She also served as an IANDS’ Board member in 2003-4.

Her major Spiritually Transformative Experience, which occurred In Spring of 1995, sent her through the tunnel to the Other Side, where she and God had an extended conversation, changing her life 180 degrees, and reconnecting her to her Spirit Guides who started her on an intense spiritual journey which led to her starting Chicago IANDS and much more.   Her Guides have continued to choose speakers and direct the organization (and Diane), with loving care.

In July, 2013, Diane’s  Guides encouraged her to start the International Society for Extraordinary Experiences (iSee).   The organization was formed and incorporated, and although she knew that the primary intention was to include all kinds of spiritual experiences that would help people lose their fear of death, Diane was told only that it wasn’t yet time and she was  given no further information as to how to achieve its purpose until it recently became clear that iSee could be relaunched as Spiritual Awakenings International with almost the same goals.

Diane’s CD, Improvisations From the Other Side, Music for Meditation and Relaxation,  with John Fish, piano, was published in 2003.  It can be listened to on YouTube.com.

Nicole Gruel
Nicole Gruel
Advisory board Member
woman in bamboo forest

Dr. Nicole Gruel PhD, comes from a long line of samurai and is on a mission to support people in creating optimum wellbeing on all levels—body, mind, spirit, relationships, planet—so they can become the Agents of Awesome they were born to be. Nicole’s books have been featured in leading Australian wellbeing magazines and she’s been published in peer-reviewed academic journals. Her newest book, a finalist in the prestigious INDIES Award, is The Power of NOTEs: How Non-Ordinary Transcendent Experiences Transform The Way We Live, Love, and Lead.

Nicole has a PhD in Integral and Transpersonal Psychology, is a past Board Member of IANDS (International Association for Near Death Studies), Co-Founder of IANDS Sharing Groups Online, Mentor for Life Coaches at ACISTE (American Centre for the Integration of Spiritually Transformative Experiences), Gifts Compass™ Advisor and Training Facilitator, past NSW/ACT President of the Australian Association of Psychological Type (AusAPT), certified Counsellor, and certified Life Coach with Strategic Intervention and ACISTE. She has also trained in various healing, movement, and energy psychology modalities. She lives in Sydney, Australia.

Why I’m excited about SAI. It’s an incredible time to be alive on this planet. Never before have more people been reporting awakening experiences of all varieties. Never before has there been such urgency to put one’s gifts into action to co-create a more just, wholesome, sustainable, and connected planet. Never before have we had so much technology and ways to share and implement wisdom. Our spiritually transformative experiences are the secret sauce to our greatest potential — they’re the life-force driving creativity, innovation, love, healing, inspiration, grace and magic. And so, I’m excited to see a greater collective awakening take root in my lifetime. Together we are capable of phenomenal things that we haven’t even skimmed the surface of. To assist people step powerfully on their path towards this end gives me endless joy. Onward we go!

History of SAI

Yvonne Kason — Why I Co-Founded Spiritual Awakenings International

For many years I thought it important that an international organization be created to raise awareness about the whole range of Spiritually Transformative Experiences (STEs) that are happening to people today.  I saw that many organizations today focus exclusively or primarily on only one type of STE. 

But my observation of STE Experiencers I counseled over the years and in my own spiritual awakening process is that following the awakening STE,  the Experiencer usually goes on with time to start having multiple types of STEs repeatedly, most commonly diverse types of psychic or intuitive experiences.  I therefore came to think that diverse STEs are somehow interconnected, and we needed to look at all STEs together and examine their relationship. 

As a multiple STE experiencer myself, I am also acutely aware of how difficult it is to find a safe place to share the stories of one’s own STEs.  Too often doctors, friends, family, or counselors may incorrectly label STEs as “imagination”, a hallucination, or a sign of mental illness. 

For over 30 years now I have been advocating for STE Experiencers, and loudly stating “STEs are real!  They are not a sign of mental illness.”    Then, in the last few years I felt strongly called by Spirit to provide a “safe space” for STE Experiencers, to share what I have learned about STEs with the global community, as well as to bring diverse groups together for dialogue to deepen our understanding.  Now, the launch of Spiritual Awakenings International is a beautiful realization of this vision.  I am delighted and grateful to play my part in the birth of SAI!

Robert Bare — Why I Co-Founded Spiritual Awakenings International

As someone who on March 22, 2009 has been deceased and revived, my life forever changed. As an “NDE Experiencer”, I had difficulty understanding what really happened to me when I was deceased, and all the emotional upheaval that as a result affected me in everyday living. I had no idea if I was normal, and if anyone else had ever experienced what I did.

At first, I could not discuss my 2009 NDE with anyone, including family and friends. Usually, someone had to engage me in the conversation regarding my NDE, and even then I was very guarded in what I discussed or said. Years later, after being interviewed for the TV show “I Survived Beyond and Back“, I met with the show producer and asked her what others like me had told her. It was nice to hear her tell me that what I experienced was not unusual.  Then I just dropped the topic and tried to not think about it, which was not possible.

After the TV show aired, I started to get invitations to speak to different groups about my NDE. After speaking to an Arizona IANDS group, a person queried me about my corporate skill set. One thing led to another and he asked me if I wanted to become an IANDS Board member. After thinking about it, I agreed, and later was selected as a Board Director in February 2019. My corporate skillset was something that I felt I could contribute to IANDS and I did my best to work hard to help the organization.

It didn’t take too long for me to think about the direction of the Board, its mission, and objectives. In July, 2019, I had a long conversation with fellow IANDS Board member, Dr. Yvonne Kason.  Yvonne had been nominated to run for the IANDS President, and she had called to ask me if I would want to run as a “slate” with her as the Vice President nominee. We discovered we were like-minded, and I knew my corporate skillset was needed for the organization.  I accepted her invitation. We started to talk about our values and visions, and we both expressed an interest in possibly starting another non-profit group, that would bring everyone together, and addressed both NDE and STE experiencers concerns.  I subsequently had several discussions with Yvonne about our multiple NDE and STE experiences. One of the items we repeatedly toyed with was the concept of starting another nonprofit that could be a global organization, and would address the needs of diverse STE “experiencers”. In one conversation with her in August 2019, she coined the name “Spiritual Awakenings International – SAI” and I immediately thought that this was possible.

Yvonne and I were subsequently elected as President and Vice President of IANDS and Linda Truax was the Secretary. We became Executive Committee colleagues and worked hard in our positions on the IANDS Board. Occasionally, I would bring up “SAI” to Yvonne and we would leave it for a future project if it were to materialize. Then came my 72nd birthday on March 21st and the 11th anniversary of my NDE on March 22nd. At this stage in my life, I don’t think about putting things off and the more I thought of “SAI”, the more I wanted to do it.

On March 27th, 2020, I submitted my resignation as Vice President of the IANDS Board and that same day secured the Corporate Registry name of “Spiritual Awakenings International” and the domain of “www.spiritualawakeningsinternational.org” intending on starting this new nonprofit. I decided to devote all my skillset to create something new that would become global. Yvonne Kason had decided to resign from the IANDS Board that same day. Linda Truax’s term on the IANDS board had finished end of February.  The succession of events culminated with the former Executive Committee of IANDS (President, Vice President, and Secretary) all assuming the same leadership roles in Spiritual Awakenings International: Yvonne Kason as President; Linda Truax as Secretary; and myself as Vice President.

I have felt strongly called to start this organization with these trusted colleagues. Additionally, Diane Willis of Chicago IANDS and Nicole Gruel of “Agents of Awesome” from Sydney, Australia are now involved. Nicole and Diane are also former Board members of IANDS.

Spiritual Awakenings International is being created to raise awareness about the whole range of Spiritually Transformative Experiences and not just one type of STE. We are creating this organization to bring diverse groups together for dialogue to deepen our understanding of all these types of experiences. As of this writing, SAI is expanding rapidly worldwide, with several groups and individuals in all parts of the world affiliating with SAI.

The launching of “Spiritual Awakenings International “-“SAI” is the realization of a vision created by its founders.  We are grateful for the opportunity to bring the organization into reality to benefit all who desire and need its resources and networking. I hope you will join us and share with us in this worldwide endeavor.

Diane WIllis - Why I founded iSee and came to Spiritual Awakenings International

In April, 1995, I had an intense STE (Spiritually Transformative Experience).   It was very much like a NDE, but I didn’t die.  At first, I had no idea what had happened to me.   It was before the internet was available for research, so I scoured the Library, looking for answers.   The closest I could come to an answer was information about the Kundalini Awakening. 

After my STE, my Guides became active in my life.  During my STE, I was told that my mission in life was to help people lose their fear of death.   I wasn’t told how I would do it, but I was definitely told that was what I was to do. 
 
Six months later, my guides sent me to Cairo, Egypt, on three days notice.  While in Egypt, I met the leader of Seattle IANDS, Kimberly Clark Sharp, and learned about IANDS.  Upon returning home, I began to be guided to start Chicago IANDS, and unlike the national IANDS’ organization, which focused only on those who had physically “died”, I was guided to include others who could help people understand that death was nothing to fear. 
 
They gave me all the information I needed to start Chicago IANDS in May 1998.   I had everything so completely in place for the first meeting, that today, 22 years later, we are still doing things in much the same successful way.
 
After about eight years, my guides began to introduce me to the idea of another organization.  They talked about how this new organization would include all kinds of experiences which would help people expand their knowledge to help understand Spirit from a larger perspective. It would be called The International Society for Extraordinary Experiences. (iSee)
 
Being the obedient girl that I am, I immediately started putting iSee together.  It was incorporated in Illinois as a Not-for-Profit Corporation in July, 2013.   But unlike Chicago IANDS, my guides didn’t tell me what to do with it.   When I asked, I was told that it wasn’t time yet.   So it sat there until recently, when Yvonne Kason, MD, came to speak at Chicago IANDS in December 2019.
 
While she was here, we began discussing how it would be good to have an organization which would include all types of experiences, and she began to tell me her thoughts about Spiritual Awakenings International…and I told her my thoughts about iSee.  It seemed a natural pairing.   So we got together with Chicago IANDS’ lawyer, Frank VanderPloeg, and changed the name of iSee, and agreed that we could profitably join forces to create a new organization, Spiritual Awakenings International, Inc.
 
We are hoping that this exciting new venture will lead the way to helping people not only lose their fear of death, but also help them to understand the importance of loving communication between all people of the world, and to bring new insights and understanding about life on earth and beyond.