During the time in my life after the symptoms began, I was torn wide open looking for tools to explore the mystery inside myself and how it was manifesting. In my quest to open places that had become silenced, I found a few friends who practiced Holotropic breathwork. This is a form of transpersonal psychology developed by Stanislav Grof, a psychiatrist from Prague who was brought to the United States to study altered states of consciousness in the 60s. He was a contemporary of Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, et al, and he developed a mode of psychology that would have profound healing capabilities. This became my spiritual practice for over fifteen years. This theory would shape my professional practice as a psychotherapist as well as my own development of consciousness. Holotropic breathwork opened me to uncharted places in my psyche as well as opening up huge areas of creativity I had never explored.

Many times a year, I would travel to New Mexico to participate in group and individual retreats. During one such adventure I was invited to share a personal retreat with a very dear friend. The typical ritual involved eight to ten consecutive days of two or more hour long breathwork sessions. There was a certain progression throughout the week that crescendoed in the final session that seemed to bring all the work together. Letting go was a necessary part of the process and not something I was comfortable with. Usually, with the final session, something greater than my ego was revealed that informed the entire process, I felt comforted.

As this particular final session ended, I was left with a very unusual storyline. I had had a vision of an old, disabled woman who lived in a community where other women  took care of her. They brought her food every day and only knew she had died one day because the food was not eaten. I was pretty shaken after the session, which usually was an  indication that something profound had been revealed. At this point I had no context for integrating the vision. Nearly a decade later, I found myself living in a community divorced and disabled with women cooking for me and I was struck by the synchronicity and knowing that IT WAS NOT AN ACCIDENT.

Advertisements