For many, intuitive medium Lori Lipten’s readings provide affirmation of an afterlife.
When she was just 8 years old, Lori Lipten already recognized her life’s purpose: teach the world to love more.
Growing up in Huntington Woods, “I always saw angels and energy, and beyond the personality and into the soul of people,” says Lipten, whose family belonged to Temple Emanu-El in Oak Park. “At 17, I began hearing my spiritual guides; by age 27, they were part of my life.”
But it wasn’t until 2003 that Lipten, 51, of Bloomfield Hills began to share her gift with others as her life’s work.
Today, as the founder of Sacred Balance, with an office in Birmingham, she is not only an intuitive medium who “makes spiritual connections with those who have passed on.” She also is a shamanic practitioner, “doing the work of healing souls through soul retrieval and reintegration,” and a life coach and workshop leader who “nurtures healing, spiritual awakening, conscious creation and empowered living” for individuals and businesses — all with the help of Divine guidance from angels and spiritual guides, she says.
Lipten, who studied at the University of Michigan and earned her undergraduate degree at Wayne State University, had worked as a marketing executive and was a stay-at-home mom (daughter Samantha will celebrate her bat mitzvah in November) when she experienced a life-changing moment.
“One day, I was on the treadmill when I saw an angel who told me to turn the channel on the TV,” says Lipten, who — with a ready smile, outgoing personality and quick sense of humor — seems more the-mom-next-door than otherworldly intermediary.
“[Psychic medium] John Edward was on. ‘Just like you, Lori,’ the angel told me.”
But Lipten was skeptical. She was planning to start graduate school soon at the Center for Humanistic Studies (now the Michigan School for Professional Psychology). She pursued that goal, earning a master’s degree in clinical and humanistic (holistic) psychology in 2003, and intended to go on for her Ph.D.
“But my spiritual guides said, ‘Enough; this is what you are here to do.’”
She says it was hard to give up what she had hoped would be a more traditional psychology practice. But when she was guided to reach out to do a reading for an acquaintance’s relative who had lost her teenage son, the experience helped convince her she could achieve her life’s purpose.
Praying to God helped, too, notes Lipten, who says she deeply values her Judaism. “I had a dream for my life. God had a bigger dream. It’s blessed my life so richly.”
Today, 98 percent of Lipten’s practice comprises intuitive readings and soul retrievals. All her work comes through referrals — from psychologists, physicians, grief counselors and clergy (she has done readings for both rabbis and priests) and client word-of-mouth.
“I refer clients to Lori who are feeling a prolonged sense of emptiness,” says a 38-year-old Bloomfield Hills Jewish psychotherapist who prefers not to be named for this article. With a doctorate in clinical psychology, she employs a combination of cognitive, behavioral and humanistic therapy and says she is “intuitive” herself.
“Soul loss” — in which the soul or part of the soul has left the body — can be manifested in depression or anxiety, she explains.
“If I believe clients have experienced soul loss and can achieve a sense of completeness working with Lori in the process of soul retrieval, I can then work with the ongoing reintegration of their soul to help them live their life to the fullest,” she says.
“It’s not for everyone, but if a person is open to the process and exhibits a readiness and willingness, this is one more tool on the way to wellness.”
“The afterlife is universal for all people — regardless of their religion or personal beliefs,” says Lipten.
“What I’ve been taught and experienced [through traveling to higher states of consciousness] is that not everyone experiences the same thing after life,” says Lipten, who defines the soul as “the immutable you without a beginning or an end, with a pure potential for divinity at its essence.”
Some people “go into the light and experience bliss, unconditional love and healing growth,” along with a reunion with loved ones, she says of what many people call “Heaven.”
One person’s bliss may be different from another individual’s. Lipten says her late father has told her of playing a game of golf with her late brother, while a devout Christian woman’s bliss derived from holding the rosary.
There also is a dimension where people “may be trapped in suffering,” she says, not for some kind of punishment but because of negative situations during life (such as being a murderer or a murder victim).
“They may not have noticed the divinity around them and not gone into the light,” she says.
Prayer can help, says Lipten.
“The Kaddish [the Jewish prayer in praise of God recited for up to 11 months after a death], or a similar prayer thinking of the person with love and light, helps elevate the soul.”
What happens immediately after death?
“For a period after death, the spirit undergoes a complete life review as it transitions into a complete ascension into the light,” says Lipten.
During this time, neutral, nonjudgmental, helping spirits aid the departed in deep self-reflection on everything experienced in this life — all the love the person created and all the fear, she says.
This is all part of one’s “Akashic Record,” or “Book of Life” — the record of your soul — everything you’ve experienced (including past lives) and what you are creating, explains Lipten.
During the period of transition, “you’re going to feel the pain of others you’ve hurt,” she adds, “not so much to make you suffer as decide what you are going to do with this information.”
Reincarnation is a choice, she says. “Souls keep evolving, but not all of us come back; some may choose a different path, like being a spiritual guide to help those on Earth or in Divine space.”
During this time of transition, spirits can make karmic corrections (take care of unfinished business), Lipten believes.
For example, “when a loved one shows up at my office, my role is not just delivering messages to demonstrate that life after death exists but is linked to this karmic correction.
“The spirit will come in to reveal messages, like a father who acknowledges never having said ‘I love you’ in life. When receiving the message, the person in my office heals, and the spirit ascends to the light.”
Jackie Sher Stassinopoulos, 45, of Novi, has gone to Lipten for both personal readings and business counsel and says she has heard from all four of her grandparents and a beloved girlfriend who continues to give her advice through Lipten.
“I’ve followed my friend’s advice,” says Stassinopoulos, “and it always works out in a positive way.
“I didn’t have a great relationship with one of my grandmothers,” admits Stassinopoulos, who grew up attending a Conservative synagogue, “but she was able to apologize for her behavior.”
The founder of PB&J Learning, a business that creates flash cards for elementary-age children, Stassinopoulos also takes part in Lipten’s monthly “higher empowerment” meetings, which provide ways to empower one’s self intuitively, she says.
“The lessons I have learned from Lori I will take with me throughout my life,” says Stassinopoulos. “Plus, she is warm and fuzzy — I love that about her!”
A male 50-something creative director of a marketing agency, who prefers not to use his name for this article, agrees with that assessment.
“I immediately liked Lori,” says the Jewish resident of West Bloomfield. “She is a sweet, warm woman.”
He initially saw Lipten because he likes to visit a variety of energy healers and hear their perspective on issues ongoing in his life.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” he says. “Lori allowed me to see what could have been bad news job-wise from a different perspective and was incredibly helpful.”
Plus, the client’s father, who had been dead for 20 years, showed up.
“Through Lori, he related things to me from my childhood and made me aware that he knew things that happened to me since he passed away. It was bizarre — but an incredible gift and incredibly powerful.”
Understanding The Soul
As human beings, we have freedom in choosing our life path, Lipten believes, but there also is a soul path, and souls are essentially compassionate.
“In a world where suffering, pain and cruelty exist, will I still choose love, kindness and compassion?” This, believes Lipten, is the Divine question for those who live human lives.
She cites Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning), a psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor who lost almost his entire family, as one of her heroes.
“In the midst of his horror, he chose love,” she says, just as many Holocaust survivors, who had every reason not to, touched into the pure [soul] essence of who they were.”
As a whole, Lipten believes, “Jews, as a soul group, are part of a much bigger picture than our earthbound egos allow us to see. In alignment with being ‘chosen,’ we are here with the deeper purpose of serving humanity.”
Some individual souls experience “soul loss,” says Lipten, where all or parts of a soul — most often because of some type of physical or emotional trauma — may choose to leave the body and move to a higher spiritual realm to feel secure and protected. Sometimes we “give” our soul to others, or individuals “steal” part of our soul.
Souls may not always be able to reintegrate on their own, says Lipten, even after death. As a shamanic practitioner, Lipten says she “travels to other realms” to both retrieve and help with the reintegration of souls in both this and other dimensions.
Wendy Appleton, 63, of Huntington Woods, is a psychotherapist with a master’s degree in social work. In April, she went on a “soul retrieval retreat” to Costa Rica with 24 other women, led by Lipten and psychotherapist Megan Gunnell.
“We don’t get through life without some of us losing little pieces of ourselves,” says Appleton. “Lori is able to collect those pieces and put them back where they belong.”
Starting at age 7, Appleton, who grew up in Oak Park, had dreams in which her family would disappear.
“I would wander around looking for them,” she recalls, “and I suffered from bad headaches. I managed to function; but although [I was] not clinically depressed, there was sadness.”
Without knowing why, Appleton says she always evaluated people in this way: Would they hide me?
Much later, she read Anne Frank’s The Diary of Young Girl but couldn’t bear to watch plays or movies about the Holocaust. She always had to buy extra food so she could grab it in an emergency.
“When I first met Lori in 2003, she immediately knew I was Jewish and asked me what family members had been in the Holocaust. ‘None,’ I replied. ‘Oh, my God,’ was her answer. ‘You were there.’ She described me as a little boy, separated from my family and beaten to death [by the Nazis].
“All my dreams and fears made sense,” says Appleton. “The heaviness and sadness and fear lifted and haven’t once been back.”
“When you’re aligned with your soul path, you feel peaceful,” says Lipten, so when a soul retrieval and integration is complete, an individual finally has the capacity to move forward and evolve.
Appleton commends Lipten for her “responsibility and integrity” and has gifted each of her three adult children with readings “to try to figure things out” as they travel along their life path.
She also has reconnected with deceased loved ones with Lipten’s help.
“Lori gives you information from Heaven,” Appleton believes. “It’s information no one else knows — sometimes even you — and is then verified. How can you believe that this [life] is all there is?”
By Gail Zimmerman, Arts Editor
Jewish Views of the Afterlife
Throughout the ages, what happens after we die has been a source of discussion, debate and dissertation by persons of all religions and backgrounds throughout the world. Despite the thousands of texts written on the subject, there is no official Jewish position on life after death, although most scholars agree the soul lives on in some form after the physical body dies.
Most Jewish spiritual leaders believe the focus should be on living righteously on Earth rather than putting emphasis on the afterlife.
The idea of life after death, including reincarnation, is supported by many of today’s scholars as well as centuries-old Jewish texts.
In her book Journey to Heaven: Exploring Jewish Views of the Afterlife (Urim Publications; 2011), author and biblical scholar Leila Leah Bronner of Los Angeles writes that the Hebrew word gilgul, which means circularity and refers to the actual transmigration of souls, first appears in the Zohar, the 13th-century foundational literary work on Jewish mysticism. Several passages in the Zohar allude to the idea that one’s conduct on Earth determines his or her fate after death, says Bronner, an early member of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance. The text includes vivid descriptions of a place called Gehinnom (Hell), where all but the most righteous souls go for purification before they can ascend to higher levels.
Well-known spiritual medium Rebecca Rosen helps others by communicating with the spirits of their deceased loved ones. Rosen, who believes the soul lives on after death and that spirits visit Earth to help their loved ones find peace and healing, spent several years in Detroit and regularly returns here for readings.
Rosen, who now lives in Denver and is the author of Spirited: Connecting to the Guides All Around You (Harper; 2010), said in a phone interview that the messages she has received from spirits have led her to believe the afterlife consists of several different levels, and one goes to the level earned on Earth.
“Envision it as a school with grades K-12; none is worse than another,” she said. “Where you go depends on the level of wisdom you achieve.”
The concept of Heaven varies from person to person, she said, just as their lives differed from one another.
“It’s your personal vision of Heaven, depending on what you loved in life and what gave you joy and peace, whether a vacation in Hawaii, work that you loved, golfing — it’s case by case,” explained Rosen, who said her psychic encounters are supported by many Jewish schools of thought, especially Kabbalah, which she has studied for the past year-and-a-half.
“There are so many parallels in the ancient kabbalistic teachings to what I’ve experienced the last 14 years as a medium,” said Rosen.
Rabbi DovBer Pinson is a Brooklyn-based kabbalist, scholar and author in the field of Jewish mysticism and philosophy. A popular lecturer, Pinson spoke in the Journeys in Judaism series sponsored by Seminars for Adult Jewish Enrichment (SAJE) in May at the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield. His books include Reincarnation and Judaism: The Journey of the Soul (Jason Aaronson Inc.; 1999) and Jewish Wisdom on the Afterlife: The Mysteries, the Myths, and the Meanings (Q & A Books; 2006).
According to Pinson, Hell is not a place, but a process.
“It is the journey from individual self to becoming part of the collective memory of God,” he said. Every person has positive and negative dimensions, he explained, and the goal is to express the positive while overcoming the negative.
“Every soul has a specific spark; our task is to articulate our spark,” he said. “What reincarnates? Sparks that were never articulated.”
Like Rosen, Pinson believes souls that have reached higher levels visit those on Earth to help them through challenging times. He also emphasized that what people do on Earth is more important than focusing on the afterlife.
“If we want to experience eternity in the future, we have to experience it in the present. We exist to fulfill our tikkun (to fix or repair, usually referring to deeds that bring a person closer to the Divine spirit),” he said. “Some near-death experiences are because that person is given another tikkun at the last minute.”
Rabbi Aaron Bergman of Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, a Conservative congregation, shared some of his thoughts on the afterlife, stating there is no official Conservative position on the topic.
“I believe our souls are imperishable and that death is a return, not an end. However, just as we change and grow in this world, I do not believe that in the next world we remain unchanging for all eternity, but that we have opportunities for spiritual growth,” he said. “I prefer to think that, ultimately, God and the universe are kind and compassionate and that the details will take care of themselves.”
Scientist and author Dr. Jerry Pollack, who earned his doctorate at the Weizmann Institute in Israel and is a professor emeritus at Stony Brook University in New York, offers a scientific explanation for the existence of God, and the energy that makes it possible for souls to communicate with the living after physical death has occurred, in his latest book, Putting God into Einstein’s Equations: Energy of the Soul (Shechinah Third Temple Inc.; 2012).
Pollack said he wrote the book in collaboration with his late wife, Marcia, after she died from cancer in 2011, using a form of thought-energy telepathy to communicate with her soul.
Pollack weaves his personal story with scientific research to explore issues such as the eternal energy of the soul and how spirits interact with those on Earth. He documents what he learned about his own previous lives through hypnotic past-life regression therapy sessions.
“Soul mates are just that,” Pollack said. “Once united, they can never be put asunder. Not even after death. God and years of scientific research have proven it.”
By Ronelle Grier, Contributing Writer
An Evening with Rebecca Rosen will be held at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the Berman Center for the Performing Arts, 6600 W. Maple Road, in West Bloomfield. (A few tickets remain for her Oct. 25 appearance.) Reserved seating: $30-$60 in advance; $90 at the door based on availability. All proceeds will be donated to purchase video equipment for the theater. Tickets: (248) 661-1900; http://bermancenter//jccdet.org/ticketing/.