KAPAA — Flying overseas to her new home on Kauai in 2014, Debra Valentina found herself in search of a spiritual awakening.
“I asked my spirit when I was on the plane over to Kauai to find a spiritual home and within 24 hours of being on island, I found it,” Valentina told The Garden Island.
Valentina found herself at the doorstep of the Center for Spiritual Living and hasn’t looked back since.
“I find the philosophy at the center so aligned with mine — that we are all loved and we are all one and we essentially want to be kind and good to one another,” she said. “I have only missed two services since I moved on island two and half years ago, which is a record for me.”
Community, a zest for life and connecting with others help form the philosophy of the Center for Spiritual Living, which had an open house Friday.
“The purpose of this really is to re-introduce the Center for Spiritual Living to the island and spread the word that we’re here,” said Rita Andriello, spiritual director at CSL with Patrick Feren.
“A lot of people are curious or don’t know exactly what the Center for Spiritual Living is,” Feren said. “But it really is what it sounds like: It’s a center for spiritual living.”
The Centers for Spiritual Living organization has about 400 recognized spiritual communities around the world, like the CSL on Kauai. Those that attended Friday’s open house enjoyed food and drinks and live music and learned how to “discover the secret behind how to manifest successful relationships, optimum health and a prosperous and a creative life.”
The philosophy and movement was founded by Ernest Holmes, born in 1887 in Maine. The foundation of the modern–thought viewpoints are outlined in his 1926 book, “The Science of Mind.”
“It wasn’t a religion when it first started. He (Holmes) never wanted that,” Andriello said. “He was a philosopher that took everything that was common in all philosophies and religions and found that common thread, which was love.”
Love is what brought Jivan Hertzog to the center and keeps him there. Not only does he appreciate the community of people that frequently gather to empower themselves, but he also immerses himself in the center’s teachings.
“The community that comes together is a very loving community. It’s very open-minded,” Hertzog said. “Everyone is very nice, there is a really nice energy there that’s really uplifting. It’s everything from healing and feeling your own body and mind and helping others. It gives you a happier perspective on the world that appears to be full of a lot of trouble.”
The other piece of the CSL’s philosophy is that there is something divine and a source that powers all things. That source, the CSL philosophy says, is within every person.
“In new thought, they believe that the source is within us, so when I’m looking at you, I’m looking at the source,” Andriello said.
The CSL philosophy also teaches that the intentions and ideas of people flow through a field of consciousness, or the source, which physically affects the world around us.
People from different backgrounds and religions visit the Kapaa center, Feren said. About 80 people show up for 9 a.m. Sunday services at 4-1579 Kuhio Highway.
“People say they come to the services for the message and for the community,” Feren said. “Rita and I, we both take equal time delivering the message, so there’s balance.”
CSL offers classes that address addiction and spiritual counseling, and classes that train people to work in ministry.
CSL Kauai is working toward children and youth groups.
“We’re cultivating a group of young families so that they’ve got a place to gather and have community as well,” Feren said.
CSL also puts on events like the musical, “Love Notes Cabaret,” set for July.
“We both have a background in theater, too, so we like to put on all kinds of productions,” Andriello said. “We completely transform this place with tables and lights.”
The goal, they said, is to create a place where people of all backgrounds can come together as a community and recharge so they can live potent and vibrant lives, as well as positively affect the world around them.
“We appreciate the integrity of the center because it’s open to people of all religions,” said RoseAnne Jones, a regular at CSL. “Everyone, from any religion, comes to the services because they get so much out of it. It’s for anyone who’s a human with a spiritual side. It helps a person recognize the spirit and strengthen it so that it can help guide our lives.”
The center is open for anyone who keeps an open mind with love in their heart. Learning to value one’s life and respect others is what keeps Valentine going every day.
“The world is full of goodness, and I believe it no matter what’s going on in the world right now,” she said. “Faith usually means religion, but I’ve never been religious. But I have faith in that I will be provided for, that we are all good and that we are doing our best.”