Changing careers is common. Returning to school is common. Reevaluating the path you’re winding down is common.
Changing careers from public relations professional to spiritual psychologist isn’t so common.
Neither is returning to school at a campus 1,300 miles away from your home. The same goes for reorienting your life to revolve around the “how” instead of “why.”
Debi Dunbar Mahoney isn’t common. At 48, Mahoney walked across the stage to claim her master’s in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica, Calif., at the Worldwide Center for the Study & Practice of Spiritual Psychology.
Also, she would soon open her own practice in Oklahoma City, With Grace & Ease … Guidance For Your Spirit & Your Life.
Two years earlier, in 2007, she had worked with her husband, Dan, at their public relations consulting business, Mahoney & Mahoney. She had also earned a master’s in education from Oklahoma City University.
In between was a sojourn to her own spiritual awakening. She spent two years crisscrossing the Western United States one weekend a month from her life in Oklahoma to those classes in California.
For those not versed in the world of spiritual psychology, Mahoney, a Yukon native, says her work as a life guide and facilitator in spiritual psychology “is about bringing people back home to themselves.”
“When they come home to themselves, they connect to the source that is in every single person,” she said.
She accomplishes this through weekend retreats, classes and one-on-one consultations in which students are empowered, in her words, to “find what is right in themselves, their loved ones and the world,” moving away from judgment and toward a learning mentality receive the greatest emphasis.
Composed and serene, Mahoney projects the qualities one would expect in a life guide. (And in amending and reframing her thoughts as they spill out — each sentence a composition — it’s clear she could probably still handle your communications needs as well.) Her presence inspires confidence; testimonials for her services brim with words like “grace,” “ease” and “healing.”
Mahoney herself has not always been so confident. Although determined to pursue her journey into spiritual psychology — after being recommended the USM program by her sister and her partner, themselves graduates — she encountered some initial skepticism within her ranks.
She found support in her husband and two daughters. Her mother, Linda Rose Dunbar, actively involved in the Mayflower Congregational Church, also came to embrace Mahoney’s immersion in a nontraditional spiritual field. It was her grandmother, Eloise Rose, one of the first female deacons at Yukon’s Disciples of Christ First Christian Church, who was wary.
“She did ask me ‘Is this Christian?’” Mahoney said. “And I said, ‘Well, one of the most beautiful things about it is that it’s open to all faiths.’ It’s knowing there are many pathways to God.”
Once Rose saw the healing Mahoney underwent through the program, it was all the proof necessary.
“She could tell. She said, ‘You’re doing the work of God,’” Mahoney said.
That didn’t mean she had doubts as to whether her spiritual training would find a home in Oklahoma. But she has come a long way since her first book club, started at Mayflower at her mother’s urging, concerning Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. These days, there is a waiting list to learn from Mahoney. Without a website or advertisements, she attributes the growth to word of mouth.
Words like those of Dianna Matli likely help. By the time she met Mahoney, Matli had served as a Christian minister and speaker at churches of various denominations. But inside herself, she said, there was an “unexpected void.”
“One of the sentences of a worship song we sang frequently is, ‘There must be more than this.’ Out of my emptiness, I kept asking God to to show me the ‘this,’” said Matli, who now works as Mahoney’s administrative assistant. “When I met Debi, I knew she had the ‘this.’” That “this” is a “direct connection with spirit,” Mahoney said, as opposed to going through the conduit of a certain doctrine or organization.
Mahoney would like to help you find “this,” to help you come home.
“The work that I do — the tools that I give them — really just help get the barricades out of the way so that they can come home to who they truly are,” she said.