Saturday, November 28, 2009

Beautiful Minds: Stephen Wiltshire

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Barefoot from Africa by Catharina ©

On a recent cold snowy morning, I was visiting a friend who reminded me that as dazzling as the hypnotic snow is, it’s customary to brush the snow from our cars. Moving slowly and not accustomed to the cold; being from a continent of sunshine with no winters, I find snow enchanting. I was even amused when I saw that the bottle of water kept in my car was frozen.


Funny, in my country there is always a lack of freezers. You have to search for ingenious ways to keep things cool; here you are searching for ways to keep things warm. Odd...funny, inside out and upside down, from where I come. -That is, barefoot from Africa.


As I was trodding around my freezing little blue car, which was the color of my

skin after five minutes out of the warmth of his shack; trying to look intelligent and knowing what I am doing in this cold; I noticed the soft inner feather of a bird's wing stuck in the ice of my car's windshield. I called my friend over and we were amazed at the little message. My friend remarked that birds are messengers and the message mesmerized me. I’ve heard an ancient story about four feathers and inquired about this tale, but my friend could not remember it.


However, in the next breath, he pointed way above us in the sky. As the snow was drifting down from the heavens, we observed a flock of wild geese flapping gracefully through the foggy atmosphere, resolutely migrating to warmer regions.


During the day and the rest of my time at the shack, I became shrouded by thoughts and memories from my past. I had been the victim of attempted murder a few years ago, a vicious act that left me temporarily paralyzed from the head down, and without the ability to speak, read or write for a long period, until I won the fight of my life and recovered.


I remember a dream, or rather a time traveling experience six months prior to the attempted murder. I refer to it as a holographic experience. Some said I was nuts at that time, but criticism tends to makes me stronger and gives me more courage; like the little feather. It was not criticism involved this time, but rather the patience of my gentle and courageous friend, from whom I learn how to be patient with myself, and come to terms with saying goodbye to my many silent self-criticisms.


I am freshly barefoot from Africa. During my long spell there, I learned much about the spiritual paths of our many ethnic black cultures and always held those values in high esteem.


As I grew to know my western friend better, I started learning more about American Indian cultures and their sacred spiritual teachings. Much of those lessons correlate with what I learned in Greece about all religions, while working on my Hypnotherapy degree. Combined with what I learned from African ethnocentric cultures, makes this immeasurable; but most remarkable is the line of connections extracted from book knowledge. Combining book knowledge with inner knowledge, drawn with what I learn from my friend makes for a mind-broadening experience.


I was stuck in making one of the most important decisions of my life. Was it time to bail out of the U.S. and return to Africa? -Not an easy decision if you have lost all your earnings, are down and out financially and facing obstacles of a thorny economy. Although I once ‘owned’ many Earthly possessions, rubbed shoulders with ambassadors, and had a private hospital, I also had an unfulfilling marriage that nearly claimed my life. I gave it all up, because I had visions of fulfilling my life purpose.


What would that be? -Some would ask. To help others, some suggest. Others, I’ve met, who have experienced powerful life-directing epiphanies, asked, what makes yours different? Mine is different and so is everyone else’s, Why? Since we all contribute to a Greater Whole, each of us experiences a unique awakening. It certainly keeps things more interesting that way, the same way we all have diverse personalities, fingerprints, facial characteristics, DNA and dreams. The specific tasks for each individual are different, but it all forms a magnanimous whole, even more so, for those of us who have received awakenings at synchronous times.


Which brings me to my insight: When I was on the opposite end of the world facing my near-death experience, my friend on American soil was phoning his office at the same precise time, to explain he was returning nevermore. My understanding is that he did not know what he was going to do to support himself, but he knew if he didn’t quit that day, he would have soon been snared by the golden handcuffs. This is only a part of the synchronicity he will be able to reveal, when he is ready.[i]


I, on African soil had to overcome a limp unresponsive body and almost defy medical history and predictions so readily verbalized by professionals around my bed. All the while on life-support, I was quite aware of their dire forecast. However, I refused to accept this. I wanted to live. My reservoir of inner knowledge told me where I had to escape, but I had no idea where those tall misty mountains were, nor how I was to get there. The visions came and were confusing at times, but from my limp body I kept asking guidance from the Greater Awareness.


Today I am walking, talking, reading, and writing...obviously not very fluent and with the level of artistry as my friend is, but he is the author of my life story as I reveal the path experiences I have walked. My purpose is to share...to help...to encourage...to love...life with compassion as the Greater Divine Awareness is not a God of wrath; but a God of love...deep, deep love. It is only through our veil of tears and moments of intense anger that we view the Greatness as an authority that is punishing us. So let us now lighten up and tell jokes as my friend would say.


The little soft brown feather was a sign for me. I will be homeless soon, not spiritually without a home, but materialistically. I am currently not making enough money to keep my apartment. That is least of my concerns. As I’ve said before, keeping my breath is more important than retaining the roof over my head. It is scary, but there are more frightening things happening to others. And in times of hardship, I think about how the Great Awareness cares for crows during harsh winters. And I know that somehow, I will be ok; how this is, I do not completely understand, but my reliable intuition strongly whispers that I will be ok.


Upon return from visiting my friend, I studied through candlelit hours, the ancient wisdom of the Native Americans. Then I realized a pattern. That was what the little feather told me and the message revealed itself at the sacred Eastern daybreak. Many Native American beliefs maintain that the divine door you open in your life with intent is the spiritual seed that needs fertile ground and nurturing.


The choice is how to accept the role of nurturing, depending on the situation and state of mind. My current overall situation is neither soothing nor securing. Nor is my frantic state of mind.


Facing the south is a challenge. In Native American Tradition, the wisdom lies in knowing when to advance, and when to be passive. I took the option of wearing the War bonnet...meaning: to take advance. Make the most of the choices you have at hand. Choosing the advance position, you might ask whereto? The South expresses where you should place your faith or where a shift in faith has caused you weakness. Somehow, Western psychology teaches us to contain the child within, which I believe -as one who works in counseling fields- is baloney. I believe that our inner child can often sense the truth better, because of its untarnished faith and innocence. With aspects of our inner child’s pure faith and innocence, we can utilize those strengths, cementing them with our adult logic and reasoning to make wise discernable decisions. Our child within, holds the key to our central knowings; the gem we’ve always had, even at a pre-birth stage. It is our life experiences and conditioning by parents, peers and societal rules that influences us to believe we cannot trust our inner child, simply because society believes it is "childish". We lose ourselves, becoming too serious and stiff about being human. We often cut off ‘being a spiritual being’ while having human experiences.


Coming to this realization, I joined the official Native American Council Fire or the West, seeking better inward answers. To reach my goals, I must seek my own truth as to what I desire, how I plan to fulfill that desire, and what my purpose is in meeting that goal. My purpose is to help others, through my hypnotherapy, and writing; and is this when I realized that I neglected the main rule: That is to delegate the part that I cannot be in control of; the writing. That is the part my friend hungers for, in order to make him whole. I have been known as a perfectionist that tried to do it all and be everything. Moreover, this was the main factor that contributed to the breakdown of both of my marriages. Realizing and facing yourself in the mirror might be hard, but this realization has me elated.


I can organize homes, offices, books and set goals, teach, -but to actually write a book...I suck at it. I would read, proofread and edit, but to write I would get so involved in the actual writing just to dismiss it all in the end. And this is where my friend observes the magic in written words. He sees and observes the value, the magical, the imagination the subconscious at its best in every situation, every experience and he does not even have to believe in the myth of Ernest Hemingway that you need to be drunk in order to write a piece that will seize the reader's attention. Some writers seem to forget, that you do not need to grab the full attention of a given audience right now, but that with the right subject, you can grab the attention of audiences later (contingent on the personal growth levels of the various readers).


When readers feel the need to grow, whether it is a spiritual, mental, physical, emotional or auricle level...they will eventually find your book and/or articles. That is what the council revealed to me, I have unlimited vision, but I have to hand over my visions of dreams to the true author that will bring it to life. From my formal training, I have learned there are different types of dreams; often depending on what time you had the dream during the night. More importantly, there is a dream that I refer to as a time-travel. Time travel can happen even while you are wide-awake. It is a kind of hypnosis. A heightened awareness. It is not intuition - it is a psychic awareness... I did not choose this path; it was a part of my life, a gift even at age 5. That was the first time when I came aware of it. I will not go into details, but it saved my life and that of my mother's. Probably has something to do with why she became so hostile towards me afterward. Her attitude towards me does not bother me as much now. I have forgiven her, because I know she does not understand my gift of second sight. She does not need to understand it and nor do I need to explain it. Accepting her and accepting her understanding is no longer an issue for me. I feel relieved that I don’t have to explain myself constantly after so many years.


I love her and respect her. She brought me into this world. I also recognize that this world does not accept dreamers, although in ancient times such visionaries were highly respected. Back then, as still in some indigenous cultures still today, the place of the dreamer was similar to a prophet or healer. These people traveled into the past to bring forward the good into the present. They saw bad addictive behavioral patterns and helped patients overcome seemingly impossible odds, using essences of clear vision and clarity.


This is much different from standard Western Psychology beliefs that addictions are only related to trauma from childhood experiences and genetics. There is more to the story of addictions; it does not matter the genetics and family experiences: I personally believe that a patient or client can be completely healed without a lot a how-to’s, or years of “let's try this or that.” Addicts already know what is best for them. As a Hypnotherapist, I assist patients to be honest within their selves. I do not need to know their answer, they will know instinctively and intuitively how to share the information with me -if they so wish. Until then, I am there for them without judgment and criticism and with unconditional love, because that is something they have seldom experienced. They do not need authoritarian remarks of 'being the best', "are losers" or "will amount to less than what is expected." Such disparaging remarks breed anger and madness within. Sensitive souls will suppress their anger. Suppression can lead to substance abuse and physical destruction.


And coming barefoot from Africa, to standing here in the snow, beneath the behemoth misty mountains, I constantly search for ingenious ways to keep things at the right temperature.



[i] Editor’s note: I did find it particularly interesting to learn that on the same summer solstice day, when I ended my long newspaper career, Catharina was experiencing some seemingly electromagnetic interference in her African hospital room, while trying to send a package of information to her mentor in Greece, which ended up frying two of her computers.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pink Rabbits and Flying Dreams



Last night, I had a fanciful dream that I was back at my old Virginia house. I haven’t lived there for decades, but recently went on Google Maps and flew around the woodsy neighborhood a bit. Something, I’ve admired about my father, is that whenever he bought a house, it was always adjacent to some woods, giving us young rapscallions a healthy place to run around to release our energy.



In the dream, I awoke on Saturday daybreak and went outside, barefoot in my pajamas to collect a Washington Post from our snowy driveway. In reality, we lived on a sleepy dead end, but in the dream, cars could now connect into the forest. In fact, it was a bustling thoroughfare now; some elaborate racecars were speeding into the woods, as one or two old jalopies were pulling out and returning to civilization. Even though it was snowy, I was excited to be back, and thought I would take an encompassing walk around the backyard, while waiting for the newspaper. Still barefoot, I walked to the side yard, to see several children shouting with squeals of glee, preparing to sled down our hill. It was a magnificent morning for sledding, and I thought I would trudge up the hill a way, to be closer to the enjoyment. Halfway to the pinnacle, the children easily maneuvered around me on their toy-sleds. While I reached the top, I saw there were several more houses. The furthest yard was filled with dozens of other children, enjoying some festive event. The first few modern houses were quiet and dim, but the ancient house was where the action was. As I approached, I saw a great cauldron of stew boiling over a fire in the front yard, as the happy children continued to dart about, every which-way. It was a four-story grey house, and I tried to picture it from my past. I remembered it being an old house, even back when I was young. Then in the hub of activity, I spied the property owner. She was somebody, I knew from decades ago, but she hadn’t aged much. She had some wild grey curly hair around the fringes of her head, and everyone there respected her with high regard. Trying to be polite, I asked in a curious voice, above the merry din, “How old is this house?” She was elusive with her answer, but smiled, and then kindly but sternly, grabbed me around the forearms, saying, “I remember your kind; I had to straighten you and your brother out a few times, from some of the trouble you caused out here in the woods.” I thought that this wasn’t necessarily true, but perhaps there was a small element to what she spoke. We briefly conversed some more, then I asked what her name was. She spoke a name so peculiar that I knew instantly that I would be incapable of remembering it. It was as if she had cast a spell upon her obscure name, rendering it impossible to recollect, although, I do remember her long singular name had four “i’s” in it. She released me and I trotted a little further down the wet Virginia clay trail. As the snow melted in the late morning forest sun, I came to two more houses that I remembered from childhood: the last one an old blue Victorian, facing Rabbit Run creek. I vaguely recalled some sort of strange happenings there too, but couldn’t penetrate the decades-old memories to put my finger on it yet.



Suddenly, as I spun around in the wet mud, I realized that I was able to fly again. I was flying feet-first with my bare feet sticking out straight ahead of me. Remarkably, the fact that I was able to fly felt quite natural, as it usually does with such flying dreams. This incubated a thought that I would like to turn my body around and fly like Superman to show the Virginians what their prodigal son had learned, while living twenty years in Idaho woods. They will love this! -I thought in a powerful inner celebration, and they will talk about it for decades! My plan was to fly slow motion past the children’s clamor and their holiday cauldron, giving them the broadest smile I could possibly manage. However, when I tried to spin about, to fly face-first like Superman, there was something off with my inner gyroscope. It led me to a higher altitude, and suddenly I was soaring fast, directly behind four space pilots and four astronauts. Those high-flyers were all relying on spacesuits and other backup technologies, so I laughed at them, as I was flying on mind-power alone. It all felt quite fearless, but for some reason, I was unable to switch my inner gears back down to earth, no matter how hard I tried.



Awakening to present day reality, I lay there motionless for several minutes, lightly buzzing about the powerful flying dream. Then, as the dream partially melted away, it occurred to me that those uncanny houses in the woods were never actually there, but rather had been places imagn’d in my childhood dreams. Vivid places I occasionally revisited over the decades, where many events had taken shape and form – enough to record a small history deep in my subconscious. This made me wonder if this all was merely in my mind, or are our minds potentially much more powerful than what my instructors taught, in our Virginia school of thought? Do we somehow mysteriously connect to otherworldly dimensions, where ongoing ethereal events persist in parallel fashions?



Then I realized that I had been sleeping on a sofa brought home recently as a gift from a friend. The sofa is emblazoned with some cute animals, the most notable of which are some pink rabbits dancing on the pillow, which had been pressing against my dreamy head…

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