Spiritual Grace
A Letter of Gratitude To
Those Who Walked Me Home!

By Jeannie Fitzsimmons

Magical years

The twelve years I spent with Lester Levenson, founder of the Sedona Institute, and Virginia Lloyd, the Institute's Director of Training and primary instructor for nearly 17 years, who developed the Sedona Institute Basic Course, changed my life completely. This mentorship and guidance was clearly the culmination of years, and no doubt lifetimes, of my yearning heart—the outward play of the Divine Plan. It was the blend of these two very unique, loving, and brilliant people that made the magic.

The end of seeking

This was my Grace and blessing in this lifetime, to be led to finding the answer for what my own heart was seeking…to be free. Although I was inspired and cajoled for many years by Lester, it was Virginia who gave me the practical steps to walk back home—to my heart of love. It is one thing to be awakened, as Lester may have been in 1952, and share for many years from this direct experience of expansion and ‘squaring it all with love’, yet entirely another to develop a practical step-by-step releasing system that makes sense to the masses of humanity for their emotional self-mastery and freedom. A system which goes beyond cultural boundaries, because we all have the same feelings.

This was Virginia’s gift to give.

Lester brought Virginia the answer to her heart's deepest question on the very first night they met, in New York City. Upon hearing his words, her head and heart simply burst wide open, as she belly-laughed at what she saw from his very clear, concise, and direct answer. He also introduced her to the concept that one could ‘square it all with love’, encouraging her, and everyone else, to ‘just drop it', whenever they had something that they were troubled by, or were grappling with in any way. While that may be good advice, it's often easier said than done. 

Virginia’s discovery and gift

One day, in the early 1970s, after several weeks of very focused letting go to dissolve resentment and jealousy towards a fellow student, Virginia’s introspective work resulted in an opening to great love and joy. Soon after, she bumped into this very woman, Kathleen, in a Laundromat parking lot. This was the person who had stimulated such uncomfortable feelings within her. She had completely let them go. They now happily reconnected while doing laundry, and during their joyful conversation, two conceptual sentences were given to Virginia by this fellow-student and friend.

Virginia turned those two simple sentences into the development of an entire practical, and experiential, system of letting go. This system, and the advanced courses and intensives that followed, all came from Virginia. She took what she learned from her head to her heart, and that's when it came together—for all of us.

In addition to this stellar Sedona Institute Basic Course, she organically created a powerful series of courses which took her students ever-deeper with each retreat in the sweet Red Rocks of Sedona, Arizona. I now teach retreats there, as well, and it always feels like home. I was one of the fortunate ones, during the 80s, to attend over 30 of these personal, powerful, and often playful, yet profound retreats, as well as many other courses that she created and designed.

My joy of sharing

Having brought this wonderful releasing work to Los Angeles in 1980, for Virginia and Lester, I was trained to teach this work in the early 1990s. However, I didn’t activate the training in any formal way, until many experiences, mentors, masters, time, and my inner-prompting inspired me to do so. I consider this to be the greatest privilege through which to serve other’s quest for freedom.

Several years passed with many deep, rich spiritual experiences with other profound teachers. I felt that a ‘living-of-life-maturity’ was necessary for me to step into what I had seen so many years ago: exactly who and what I, and everyone else, truly IS now—only love. I also had a glimpse of my role in the future, and that time is ‘nowHere’.

Now I know why it took so much time, why I was asked to ‘simply see’ and wait, and be true to the truth. I will explain as I go along.

Our eternal oneness is already true

But first, no one can ‘bottle truth’, own it, or deliver it to another soul, and, most importantly, ‘truth does not need improving, nor can it be improved. Neither does simplicity need to be improved upon. It is not an ever-improving-seminar-of-techniques. Cleverness does not bring us home, humility does. ‘It’ simply is. Truth is already true to Itself. We each must discover ‘it’ by uncovering what is already true, by discriminating with love, clear seeing, and, as Lester often said, “there is nothing new under the sun.”

That may be true, and in my experience it is true, for how can ‘who and what we are, which is eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent’, suddenly be ‘new and improved’? We are all the same…love, only. Love isn’t ‘new’. Ancient wisdom remains ancient wisdom—it doesn’t suddenly become ‘new’.

However, how people, through their skills, wisdom, experience, and the generosity of their hearts, put together the steps to understanding and awakened wisdom, and then give it to others—IS always ever-new. Virginia was that new-ness, innocent spirit, tenaciousness, commitment, and dedication that became the vehicle of this Basic CORE Releasing Course, a vehicle from, and for, the simple heart. My own simple heart was revealed, while in attendance with Virginia, on a long Intensive retreat in July, 1984. That day changed my life forever.

The inspiration for this work

Contrary to popular belief, although Lester was a 'just drop it' teacher, guided meditation as well as giving spiritual talks, he did not develop this work. He never taught releasing, or conducted any of the courses or trainings, nor, by his own admission, was he equipped to do so. He made many comments about 'the amazing course that Virginia developed' at many retreats. However, we loved it when he would come to class and share his experiences and wisdom and of course his 'puns'. He often stated that he would never have the patience for what Virginia did. As evidenced by his quick 2 hour visit over a 7 or 9 Day Retreat...he was correct.

Lester needed an instrument to decode his pointing and language. Virginia was that highly skilled and heart-centered translator, drawing from her own direct experience, years of working with releasing students, and her long and substantial background as an actress and acting teacher.

Through her own simple, loving experience, and through the experience of others that surrounded Lester during the years at ‘the Ranch’, and beyond, the true ‘how to of letting go’ was born, because ‘just drop it’ simply doesn’t help most people ‘let go’.

Expanding love—history is inclusive

I felt that it was time to write these things, for over these past two-plus decades, people have a tendency to give Lester all the credit for releasing, which is a natural and inherent gift within each one of us.

After many years of working directly with Lester and Virginia, and experiencing Virginia’s amazing teaching skills, I know that she is the mysterious ‘missing link’, rarely spoken of in the ‘rest of the story’. As the actual author of this releasing work, she has often been omitted or overlooked.

There is always welcoming and room, in the vastness of the sky, for another few voices of truth, love and service, yet many of those voices have been silenced over the years. Virginia’s is one of those amazing voices. What is the voice you have that has not yet been heard? We each have one.

A 17-year reunion

Until unexpectedly reconnecting with me at the end of 2007, Virginia has lived a quiet life for nearly two decades. Now she is writing, as well as enjoying her expanding family and grand-children. Her book, Master Your Emotions, will soon be revised and expanded, benefitting releasers around the world.

Virginia is no longer the best-kept secret, and her heart is bursting to share again, in a new way. After nearly 18 years of living, working, and teaching separately, she and I will be creating products together, and, at times, even teaching together—using the newest technologies for ease and practicality.

I remember Lester often saying that “without Virginia, there would be no Sedona Institute, and no Sedona Method®.” He realized her value and how much her work, and dedication, was helping others. At one point, he also realized that people were going to Virginia for the answers, and not to him. I know this to be true myself.

Restoring my emotional sanity

I fell in love with Virginia, and with releasing, almost immediately. There is nothing like dissolving our emotional pain, and I was in it ‘big time’ when I flew up to San Francisco to attend the two weekends of the Basic training.

I was separated, hoping to reconcile with my husband and best friend. It was not to be.

Releasing actually saved my life and my emotional sanity during that difficult time in 1980. When one’s life is torn asunder and everything falls apart or comes ‘undone’, we need a life-raft with which to navigate those choppy and unknown waters. Virginia’s emotional release system, her gentle guidance and approach, and my own releasing, was that life-raft. I have seen this work save, or restore, many marriages, as well as businesses; prevent unnecessary confrontations; and remove long-held fears—in moments. I needed this gift of emotional self-mastery.

Love is eternal and evergreen

This releasing work was a gift I gave myself; an evergreen gift to my own heart, and to all who come in contact with me, for I am someone who lives releasing as a way of life.

Although there are many mentors, acting masters, ministers, therapists, spiritual teachers, and others who have contributed to my experience over my very lucky lifetime, nothing but releasing (as taught to me by Virginia in all of those intensives over the years) opened my heart, jump-started my loving, and re-ignited my life, helping me to see anew, from a brand new pair of eyes. Regardless of the external support and pointers in my life, nothing has consistently contributed more to my freedom, than the emotional self-mastery within the work Virginia Lloyd developed.

Over time, even with Lester’s inspired, and sometimes absolutely infuriating off-the-wall guidance, it became clear that it was Virginia’s steadfast presence, and teaching, that was the key to opening that lock to my heart. I adored Lester, but I revere Virginia, for she did what he couldn’t do, deliver the answer to my heart’s call for liberation. It’s not enough to hear about liberation, or listen to others repeat aphorisms, sacred texts, mantras, kirtans, scriptures, or Eternal Verities. I discovered that one must wake up, within, to the living experience of what each of these devices point towards.

The carrot story can inspire or disenchant

Lester may have ‘gone free’ in 3 months, I wasn’t there. His story has inspired many, and yet shut others down just in the hearing of it. Who knows what is true… and it doesn’t matter, for everything is just a story. I only know that being ‘hit over the head’ thousands of times with that comparison he leveled at us, “what is taking you so long, it only took me three months and I didn’t have this method,” was nothing short of abuse of my trust, and of my soul’s cry to be free.

Keeping our own council

For me, I believe we must all learn, through self-discovery, that no one and no thing can make us separate from ourselves—our true, loving nature—unless WE give our power away to that teacher, idea, reaction, belief, path, community, message, or leader. This has been a well-learned lesson for me in this lifetime. We cannot compare our journey with another, nor should we, but the spiritual pathway home often compels us to do just that. We get caught in the ‘trap of seeking’, in ‘spiritual materialism’.

Natural and heart-centered

Remember, as I said, Virginia spent years designing and organically developing the Basic Course from a concept given to her by a fellow student. It blossomed from her own understanding, through releasing resentment and opening into joy and gratitude. This is the key.

What resulted was a graspable, learnable, heart-centered, and do-able system of letting go—a now-popular releasing method. However, over the years, in my direct experience, the pure work has moved away from the intended, foundational ‘simplicity—to multiplicity, complexity—and, at times, confusion. 

Lester pushed Virginia into teaching classes, where she was able to develop the training from working with students on an on-going and experiential level.  He was the catalyst, and her faith in him was her inspiration.

Keep it Simple, Sweetheart—by releasing from the heart

As a releasing teacher of Virginia’s original course, it is my preference to “keep it simple, sweetheart,” as encouraged by Lester. This elegant and brilliant work is simplicity, itself. Building this simplicity into her course is the contribution I know Virginia Lloyd made during her time with Lester Levenson, and retaining that simplicity has been the challenge for many releasers. Our mind is very clever and likes to complicate everything.

As ever, a loving mother

Virginia’s tireless devotion was given day after day, year after year, on behalf of each and every one of us, whom she holds dearly in her heart and memory, regardless of whether she will ever connect again with those she taught so many years ago.

She loves each of us the same. As I reconnected with her, I have been amazed at the soft and elegant grace she holds as her way of being. Do not be fooled by stories that would do less than revere her powerful contribution to your freedom, as you release and become freer and happier. She is the love at the core of this releasing work, and those of us who studied with her had the privilege to receive hers in every course.  

Humility is the key, and our ticket to freedom:

I have only profound gratitude for the Grace of these two people, Lester and Virginia, being manifested in this life. I support, and encourage, anyone who wants to be free to learn how to release, to let go, and to love. Wherever you learn to release it is a blessing, but only if it is given from love.

As teachers, regardless of our approach, discipline, or ‘way’ of serving others to open to their own heart, we must respect that very soul and heart that is before us, wanting to be free. The privilege I have had to offer this powerful, yet gentle ‘ticket to freedom’, which was born from the heart of Virginia, is what I acknowledge more than any other aspect.

Seeds of love and simplicity

I often tell my classes that the way to move from our head to our heart is through our knees…through humility. I believe that humility and active gratitude are the two knees that act as that delicate bridge. It is often the longest journey of our lifetime.

I am humbled by the simplicity, the brilliance, the devotion, and the resilience of this very strong, but shy woman. I remember bringing her to the Inside Edge mastermind group in Los Angeles, in the early 1980s, and how her sensitivity and sweetness filled the room. Now, decades later, many of the people who sat around my breakfast table at those mastermind gatherings have taken releasing courses. All of them have sprung from the ‘seed’ of Virginia’s original work.

At the end of her tenure, in the early 1990s, much misunderstanding, and many accusations and untruths were perpetuated by many people.

Unfortunately, these myths continue to remain in the minds and voices of some individuals.

Bridging a legacy of love

It is my intention to bridge this gaping hole in history, to restore Virginia Lloyd to her rightful place as the developer of this work, in a legacy which has so powerfully transformed hearts and lives around the world.

Silence does not obscure the truth. The truth is always revealed. There have been many long years of silence: hers, and many others. People, over the years, have wondered, “Whatever happened to Virginia?” Of course they would. They know so deeply that what she developed profoundly liberated their lives. It makes one wonder how she could so long be denied the acknowledgment she truly deserves.

I have seen the very heart and core of this work, which, by Lester’s own admission over the years, he did not ‘create’ for he couldn’t. Without Virginia, it would not have existed. Yet those who know this to be true have omitted this truth by design. This is no longer acceptable to my heart. Although she would resist such a description, Virginia is quite possibly the most important and profoundly influential woman in the field of transformation that has lived in the past century. Her work has positively impacted and uplifted consciousness, expanding awareness, as evidenced by those who speak glowingly of this work.

Simplicity opens hearts

Virginia made this work simple, understandable, doable, practical, and profound, all in the same moment. This is living art from the heart—a ‘living teaching’—for never is one moment repeated in the experience of releasing. We are ever-new every time we let go, and are naturally returned to our heart.  

If anyone truly believes that repeating a ‘rote’ pattern, or series of questions, is ‘this work’, you are mistaken. And if anyone’s in their head, looking at this heart-work from an intellectual point of view, that’s a mistake, as well. This is a living experience, ever-changing, every moment alive. It is NOT a method, which I discovered many years ago in my own unfolding.

In truth, it is well past any method, technique, or system, for it is eventually discovered to be your very own Self, peeking through with every release. That is what I am honoring.

You can learn to return to your heart, to inquire and find the answers within. That inner wisdom comes through discrimination, or ‘Viveka’, a name bestowed upon me by Adyashanti many years ago. Through discrimination, you will find the living answer within yourself. You will know the truth.

We are all ‘Viveka’ (Crown Jewel of Wisdom) and ‘Adya-shanti’ (Primordial Peace)

Viveka’s meaning in Sanskrit is ‘discrimination’, or as Vivekananda would say, the ‘Crown Jewel of Wisdom’. It is our full surrender into the awakened heart of wisdom and love, for this heart-wisdom is accessed through ones ability to see clearly, to discern what is true from what is false. That is true discrimination.

Each truth-seeking soul is tender-hearted, trusting, and willing to be vulnerable in the face of finding the very answer every heart is seeking. To find that answer, we must turn squarely around and come back to ourselves, right where we are.

Loving is our heart’s desire

All hearts want only to love. We want to lay down our battle, our doubt, our fear, and our indifference, in order to be free. If you are learning in an environment of safety, respect, love, and honor, then you have the greatest opportunity to have this work powerfully transform your life. If these essential qualities are not present, however, then run and find a safe haven in which to learn what your heart is seeking—only love.

Eventually we all must come to love. Virginia is happy, healthy, doing fine, writing, enjoying her life, and is not looking for any accolades or honors, for she is a humble woman. I am simply taking a role in actively recognizing her contribution. As a longtime teacher of her original work, I am also bringing this knowledge forth for others who revere its simplicity, and to acknowledge it openly, for I have seen there is much confusion and only ‘half of the story’ has been told.

Her presence is the rest of it. There are many that have heard her voice and felt her sweetness on the Valentine’s Eve call, whose hearts are already responding and softening, knowing that this work was really developed as heart-work, and not as head-work. This is the truth.

There are many people teaching this work, some of whom Virginia personally trained many years ago, yet why is she not mentioned as the architect of such a profound body of work? It is a good question.

Purely original simplicity goes deep

There has been a lot of change, complexity, and altering of this original work, taking it away from its core simplicity, and leaving a gap for the teaching that we are now making available. This gap, which has been increasing over time, is now being closed by what she and I are once again offering…clear, simple, heart-centered training. Effortless releasing from the heart.

All are offering their understanding

Whatever anyone is teaching is fine, for as Virginia would say, “they are offering their work from their own understanding.” Now there is a choice which hasn’t been available for over 17 years! It fills me with such joy to know that her heart’s work is alive and well, and that she has asked me to carry forth her original teaching. Sometimes we’ll work together, and sometimes we’ll work separately, for I have taught her work for many years in a very quiet way.

Our courses will again be small, intimate, and in the original 4-day, two-weekend format that she designed, and Lester insisted upon. This is for a student’s optimal experience in returning to their natural ability to ‘effortlessly let go’, which has so long been suppressed.

Release in safety and you will bloom

Please do be tender with yourself. Learn how to release in an environment which supports your opening, rather than in one that causes you to close down in self-protection at a time when you’re attempting to be open-hearted and receptive. This inner conflict causes confusion and resistance.

Only you can discern for yourself which environment is right for your style of learning. Harsh, brash, confronting, intellectual, and heady teaching is not Virginia’s original work. Her work is loving. Teaching this work requires sensitivity, and an empathic heart. Without that, it becomes an intellectual waste of time.

This work has come from the love of both Lester and Virginia’s hearts, and their desire for all to be free. Although it was inspired by Lester, ‘who’ actually created it always seems to be left out of the story, whenever I read about this work. No more. The true creator is alive, well, and loving all of you, still only wanting for you, your true freedom.

My wish for all who read this

Give yourself the gift of love you are always looking for, which is right within yourself. Learn ‘how to let go’. Do this in a gentle and loving way, for that is how we learn best, and how we open to the beloved within ourselves. We are all like simple children, trapped under the learned and crusty programming that pretends to protect our innocent heart from harm.

Honor yourself, and your own unique and sacred journey toward truth. It is closer than you would ever imagine. Your true discrimination is wise. May it be open, alert and guide you, like the true loving compass it is, as you make your safe passage home to your own awakened heart. 

I am making this pure, original work available to you again from Awakened Heart and HeartWisdom™ Seminars. All are welcome, for anyone who comes to a HeartWisdom™ Seminar will simply expand and deepen more. This expansion is due to returning to the simplicity of the original work. I have seen this happen with many students over the past few years, in small private courses. Recently, long-time releasers—who’ve taken several courses and retreats—have joined me to open even more deeply to that ‘silence of the heart’, and have left testimonials for you on the website. Enjoy them, and know that you are welcome.

A sincere heart and a desire to be free—frees you

Come with a clean heart, and a quiet open-mind, and experience the profound and brilliant simplicity of how this work was designed to touch, and return you to, your heart. Your sincere desire to be free is the most powerful key there is to opening your own heart. This original releasing work was intended to respond to, and answer, that deep desire within everyone. I now offer this work to you, from my overflowing heart.

This is truly ‘effortless releasing’ at its best. Releasing is natural, but we have a choice to hold on or to let go. Holding on is the hard work.

No one can make us release, shame us into releasing, confuse or trick us into letting go, and if we are guided in an incorrect way, we can get very entangled and caught in our mind, 'thinking we are releasing', and wondering why nothing is dissolving.

Over the years, I have had many of those students in my classes, and there is great relief when they begin releasing-from-the-heart and truly 'feeling their feelings' rather than being perched up in their head.

Releasing is not confusing, our mind is confusing. Our heart is clear, and we already ‘know’ what to do.

The master key that unlocks all doors

It only matters that you do let go, for no one’s ‘story’ causes you to be free…you must come to that alone. I fully realize that this revelation, and the re-introduction of Virginia Lloyd into the mix of the existing pond of releasing teachers is unexpected, strong, perhaps shocking, unsettling, challenging, upsetting, and for some, embarrassing. I have no way of knowing its impact. That is none of my business. It’s not up to me how it ripples out to others.

I know the truth of those who release with simplicity, and I know how people learn best—from love. I know the impact of truth in my own life, as well as other people’s lives, and it is all good; although sometimes that ‘good’ can take a while.  Change is often uncomfortable, as is ‘knowing truth’, for it shatters untruth.

People will respond to this letter as they do—but it is given on behalf of the love of all beings who wish to be free.

As R. Buckminster Fuller would say, “our responsibility is to say and share what we know from truth, and from our own heart, whatever, and anything that will serve humanity” and for me to give this work again, with Virginia, in the way it was intended and that Lester insisted upon, over four full days and two consecutive weekends, is that destiny.

We take responsibility—and if we do, it is truly joyful

No one can ‘take credit’ for our freedom, or for the path of love that is designed for our life and destiny.  It is all perfect, every step of the way. Love is all we are, and love heals all wounds of the body, heart, mind, and spirit. ‘Only love’ removes all the imagined separation we suffer through in this life. We each choose to walk in whatever way we do, yet our soul and heart is always calling us home to that love.

I have lived a very, very lucky life, and I can never have enough gratitude for all I have been given, including the pain and loss. Though we may stray, make circles, fall into holes, miss the signs, go a way that ends up being a dead-end or box canyon, or stay one-pointed, and steadfast toward our true goal…freedom, only we know.

But we can give our thanks, and appreciation, to those who provide a solid pathway which can lead us to our heart’s opening, and I intend to do that. I, for one, thank God for Virginia Lloyd.

If you want to personally express your gratitude for this wonderful life-changing releasing work, please visit: www.ThankVirginiaLloyd.com and leave a comment or testimonial.

With sincerity and love for Lester and Virginia, equally,

Jeannie Fitzsimmons

Founder of Awakened Heart International, LLC, offering HeartWisdom™ Seminars and Effortless Releasing….teaching the ‘art of surrender’ and dedicated to your freedom and to Awareness awakening to Itself.


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