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“Please don’t hang up the phone,” rasped the woman caller “but I’m so afraid I won’t be able to die. Can you help me?”
As I yawned and looked at my watch I thought with grim amusement “I’ll gladly help you to die.” It was 6:30 a.m. …and my day off.
Half an hour later, she was sitting comfortably in my small office and telling me about her life-long fear of suffocation and her fear that she couldn’t die. She’d gone from doctor to doctor around the world unable to find relief from this fear. She also admitted that after 15 years with the same psychiatrist, that he had finally persuaded her to understand that she had an obsession. “And I do understand that now, but I don’t feel any better or different.”
The next decisions were easy: would she spend the next hour sitting on a chair or lying on a couch? I’ve no idea why it is that in my office Canadians prefer to sit and Americans want to lie down. This, however, was an International visitor.
Once she settled…cushioned, blanketed, and all… questions answered, it was time for me to ask her to notice her body sensations while she kept repeating the phrase “I’m so afraid I won’t be able to die.”
Usually, a simple guided visualization is all the induction needed. From there, to a portal into another dimension… All vague enough to keep the conscious mind distracted and bored.
(For those who want more specifics: With eyes shut, step onto a flying carpet which is floating about an inch above the floor. Notice that the carpet, while firm, is not resting on the floor. What do your feet feel? As this carpet was woven for a family of 12, there is plenty of room, so sit down…… By arousing the kinesthetic senses, the client will usually stop trying to “see” something. To the scientific, when eyes are closed “imagine” and “see” are the same thing. To the past-life therapist, “imagine” is for creative nonsense, “see” for the memory. Kinesthetic feelings bridge the two.)
So… back to the early morning caller: Her imagination has taken her out the door on the carpet, floating over the trees and traffic to the Fraser River and beyond, while traveling to August. August, the month of heat and mirages. Within the mirage is a portal in Time. The next kinesthetic experience will bridge her into memory.
Her first alarm was that she couldn’t move her feet — they were confined in something.
I moved her awareness to her hands — more bad news — she can’t move these either. And then she went right into an abreaction: the comatose woman had been pronounced dead, had been buried, and had woken in the coffin.
She was suffocating and panicking and so afraid that she wouldn’t be able to die, that she’d have to keep on suffocating till the end of time… never being able to die. To put a hiatus in the abreaction, I rapidly took her through “death” to the Bardo. Then I explained that we would do it again, only this time she would breathe more comfortably and evenly.
By the time she had done the coffin scene 3 times, she was a pro. She and I both knew she’d never be panicked again… But she was still convinced that she hadn’t died! The abreaction having abated completely, she now needed to discover for herself that she had, and could, die.
For many of us, dying is just a doorway to “Heaven”. While for some others, dying ends everything. So once again we were in the coffin. Comfortably, this time! No way could she be coaxed out of the coffin. I assured her that even though there were no one to rescue her, all she had to do was leave herself. All she could think of doing was to die.
(Liken this to sleep: no one can “go” to sleep, as that is a conscious brain “intention”. The secret is to “surrender” to sleep.)
“I’m told that ghosts often keep breathing even though they have no bodies… It really would be okay for you to float out of here.” Then I reminded her of her early childhood in this life, and going to school, and making friends, of traveling, and having a psychiatrist, and of flying to Canada. “You see, you really did make it, you are not still in that grave”.
She opened her eyes, and smiled.
It isn’t necessary to believe in “past-lives”. They could be metaphors. Time could be happening all at once…. except, this dimension is one of Time and Space. Judging by the last story, I doubt that her imagination invented this horror– “crippling me for most of my adult life,” she told me. It doesn’t matter whether or not clients believe in past-lives, because the unconscious will tell stories anyway… that it stores events and time as though we had many past lives.
The last 2000 clients can tell you about Chelsea the Wonder Cat (a name that some of them gave her). This apparently very ordinary striped ginger cat took her role of therapist very seriously…she sat and sang a typical pussycat song to many of them; she even appeared to some when they were out-of-body; and, she even traveled as far as Florida and the Yukon to appear to astonished (but comforted) people who reported back to me.
After Office Hours, Chelsea had as little patience as I, for my aging mother. You’d think that the cat too had had nearly 70 years of a severely strained relationship.
My mother did not approve of hypnotism and she certainly did not approve of past-life “messing about.” I have to admit that she did not cross her fingers when I walked into the room…but you get the idea!
It seemed ironic that I was useful to so many people who needed a bit of understanding, while my mother was, at the same time, declaring to her lawyer that Diana couldn’t be her Executrix because Di wasn’t a relative…she was “just someone who worked here.” (And I thought this was my house!)
When December 1997 came, Chelsea the Wonder Cat had some seizures and needed to leave us. (In short, she died.) Then, less than a month later, I finally came to my senses and realized that I was carrying this childhood stuff too far…it was long passed time for me to give in and let professionals take over the care of my mother. One can carry this “kid” stuff too far…I can now cringe when I think of my pompous declaration that I would ”care for my mother to the end”…I would never leave her to “strangers.”
For three long months the care professionals taught my mother to “breathe” when she felt the “Sun Downers Syndrome” begin. So many of the Elderly suffer from this panic attack as the “sun goes down” that this feeling even has a name. Her attacks were so disruptive that they asked me to hire a competent soul to sit with her for 3 hours a day.
April came and brought daffodils and my mother’s ninetieth birthday. A week later, the nurses were worried about her uneven breathing. (They could now notice her health since she was no longer yelling for the Press, the police, and a lawyer with which to sue everyone who was molesting her with bath water, nonalcoholic drinks, and other nefarious goings-on.)
The nurses were doing their best to persuade her to die….”Let go,” they all said, “just let go.” while she held onto the bedding (or anyone’s wrist) with white knuckles. And we tried (without success) to encourage her to see any of her late family and friends. Yes, her breathing was awful….so when I spoke to her that afternoon, I began to embed suggestions of being comfortable, and breathing easily, and feeling so very relaxed on this sunny afternoon. And as you know, it wasn’t long before her breathing changed into a rhythmic pattern. I still half-expected her to sit up in bed and cross her fingers and hiss…(well, you know only too well how childhood patterns hang in there!) And there she was in a full hypnotic trance with all its benefits. I truly don’t know what hit me…but I found myself saying “What a beautiful sunny day this is…oh look, here’s Chelsea jumping up on your bed!…oh goodness, how the sunlight makes her stripes shine.” (The therapist in me immediately weighed the benefits of a “Positive Hallucination”….I knew that my mother was psychic, and could probably “see” Chelsea. However, I couldn’t. But I really understand and use hallucinations. As all hypnotists know, “positive” ones are not about “good” things, they are simply about seeing something that isn’t there.)
And so I began my “patter”: “What a beautiful pussycat you are…how the sun makes your stripes sparkle…And your little white boots, how soft they are…Your whiskers are so handsome…” and all the other ridiculous things that one says to a pet….”Oh look,” I said to my mother as I began to include her in the hallucination, “her tail is all wiry…can you feel that? Can you feel her tail against your legs? What a handsome pussycat…..Oh look! (By this time, my mother who had daily unrelentingly turned her eyes away from me, turned her eyes to the “cat”) Chelsea wants to take you somewhere…I wonder where that is? You do feel her wiry tail on your legs, do you not?”
My mother’s eyes are fixed on the “cat”. My patter continues in the same vein for the next 2 or 3 minutes. Then I invite: “I wonder where she wants you to go?…Why don’t you go with her? You could find out where she is going! “
And my mother died, totally unafraid, as she followed the cat…..
“Are past-lives metaphors or real?” she asks.
“I really don’t know, but it usually works, doesn’t it?”
My client is 46 and childless… also husbandless. She twinkles and says “And I’ll marry any man who can make me pregnant.”
It is Monday.
Fifteen minutes later, in a really light trance, she is walking in a field of an isolated European farm. The grasses are damp. This land is theirs. She is thinking about her one and only child, a son of 12. He is so strong and big for his age. Once at home she prepares a hot meal for him… with meat today. He is the man of this family.
“Go to the most significant moment of that life,” I say while snapping my fingers(*) Her face crumples and sobs begin. The local army has swept down on the farm, destroying everything and taking her son.
“Go to a few moments before your death in that life…. what are you experiencing?”
She remembers how she waited and waited for his return; how the tears of loneliness never stopped. And in dying she says to herself “I’ll never have another child. This is too hard.”
“You could make a different decision, could you not?” I encourage.
Friday she phones me with the good news. Thomas is now 4 years old.