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Meet Maria Ioanna Ashirah of AshirahLIGHT in Huntington Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maria Ioanna Ashirah.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Maria Ioanna. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Being born and raised in Ethiopia during a civil war. I learned to view life’s challenges as opportunities of awakening to a greater truth. These truths were often hard-learned as my family and I left our homeland for safety in Zimbabwe where my mother became ill and later was diagnosed as having mental health issues. We spent two difficult years there before eventually immigrating to the United States with just a hundred US dollars to our name.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been drawn to seeking the truth about life and God. Even before I knew anything about spirituality, something inside of me was always searching for an experience or an understanding of what life was truly about and how I was connected to all of it. I wanted to know God and God’s Love at the deepest level possible because I believed that would help me to make sense of the hardships that I, my family and other people go through. I have always felt called to make sense of my life experiences, find peace inside of myself, and answer a deeper calling of knowing my true essence.

Seeking spiritual knowledge continued through my college years. And the drive for inner peace and freedom led me to the Spiritual Psychology Program at the University of Santa Monica where I received my Masters in Spiritual Psychology with an Emphasis in Consciousness Health and Healing and to the Agape University of Transformational Studies and Leadership where I obtained my certificate for the Spiritual Practitioner Program. I spent the following 15 years exploring the inner terrain of my life and cultivating a deeper relationship with myself. I learned to view life’s challenges as opportunities of awakening to a greater truth. It was my willingness to explore my deepest hurts with loving kindness that opened me up to being able to hold a loving container for others to do to their own healing work.

It was also during this time, I volunteered at the University and Agape where I was able to assist others by holding a sacred space as they learned and practiced the tools of Spiritual Psychology and Universal Principals. This gave me a greater understanding of how we evolve in consciousness individually. I became aware from my studies and volunteering that what I was seeking was not found in the outer world but in my relationship with the Divine. I realize that for there to be peace in this world, each one of us must find that peace within. I am dedicated to being of service on this planet as I am guided internally. This includes offering one-on-one Soul-Centered Practitioner sessions and online group classes.

In addition to a Masters Degree in Spiritual Psychology, I am an ordained Minister in the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness and a candidate for a Masters in Spiritual Science from Peace Theological Seminary and College of Philosophy.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Being on the spiritual path of self-discovery is seldom smooth. It takes a lot of courage and strength of heart to do this work. It takes commitment to grow and learn and follow inner guidance. I personally had to go through many different challenges and experiences in my life to be able to hold a safe and healing space for others.
I had to learn from the many challenging experiences of growing up during a civil war and having a mother that struggled with mental health issues. Additionally, being multi-racial and multi-cultural presented many challenges and were the perfect set up for me to seek peace, love and belonging within my own consciousness. I had to work through any irrational beliefs, self-judgments and limitations to connect to real freedom. Real freedom allows me to be in my truth. It gives me the freedom to be myself, an instrument for peace and love in the world.

My struggles of finding my own value and worth in this world that is constantly changing has helped me develop compassion for the human condition that we all experience. I have learned to be with others by seeing who they truly are and by listening and acknowledging their struggles on their own unique life path. This has allowed me to be able to assist others as they navigate their own journey of awakening.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about AshirahLIGHT – what should we know?
In my one-on-one Soul-Centered Practitioner sessions, I use affirmative prayer, spiritual psychology principles and a variety of other tools to provide a safe and healing container for my clients to explore their inner terrain. We explore what opportunities of awakening are being presented to them and explore what lessons and gifts are available to them in a loving sacred space. I recognize that each person has their own unique path and learning style and I work with clients to organically create the best approach for us to work together whether it be one session or a series of sessions over time.

Besides having personal one on one sessions, I am also a founding faculty for the Institute of Loving’s Emerging as the Light: Principles and Practices for Liberation Program. This dynamic program of activating the wisdom and light that is already within is a seven months on-line course where students are led through different tools, techniques and practices designed to access the wisdom of their heart, heal unresolved issues, and learn creative ways to thrive during these uncertain and challenging times. I am most proud of how this program has helped students change their lives for the better and has allowed them to deepen in their own inner knowing, clear thinking and loving. The most relevant feedback we have received is that doing the class has allowed students to experience an inner connection and freedom they did not know was possible for themselves prior to taking the class.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
No journey is walked alone. My biggest supporter and cheerleader has been my dear friend and founder of The Institute of Loving, Siddiqa Salter. She is a true spiritual warrior on this path of awakening, and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with her to develop the Emerging as the Light Program, it has been a transformational process for me. The work that we do together is uplifting, joyous and deeply meaningful, and makes a positive contribution in the world.

My mentors and biggest teachers on this path, have been Ron and Mary Hulnick, from the University of Santa Monica. They set a safe and loving foundation for me to do my inner work and they showed me how to transform suffering into wisdom. Their teachings, wisdom and love has truly transformed my life and I am profoundly grateful to have been part of the sanctuary of healing they have created.

I would also like to acknowledge the teachings, guidance, and friendships with Brother Ishmael Tetteh founder of the Etherean Mission from Accra, Ghana, Rev. Doreene Hamilton of Conscious Humanity, and Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith, founder of the Agape International Spiritual Center.  As well as my beloved friends Dr. Enrico A. Melson and Christopher Lee Maher of True Body Intelligence, who’s wisdom and teachings have guided me on this journey with so much love and compassion.  These five spiritual giants have had a deep impact and influence on my life. They have helped me deepen in my love for God and for seeing the divinity in all things – which is the very bedrock from which all of my work begins.


  • Ashirah LIGHT- Soul-Centered Practitioner Sessions for Inner Peace $125 per session. Sliding scale available for those in need.
  • Emerging as the Light Online Program: Partial scholarships available for those in need.

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Image Credit:

Monique DeBose

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