There is a saying, “Life is a journey, not a destination”. This is mine: what I will attempt to do is connect the dots of the events along the route that became the spiritual signposts of my inner growth towards wholeness.
The Symptom: Chest Tightening
Everyone knows the feeling of being unable to breathe easily. Usually it occurs when we are suffering from a chesty cough when combined with some nasal passage restriction.
But what happens when it comes ‘out of the blue’ and you find yourself with a feeling of tight bands around your chest becoming more constrictive and not being able to catch your breath?
When it happened to me in the first few months of 1989, I decided to go to a Hypnotherapist to help me discover what the cause was.
In 1965, our parents’ marriage was having problems. In order to help the eldest of my three younger sisters and myself, our Mom decided to let us (individually) sit in on some Hypnotherapy sessions she was undertaking with a local Pastor. (In Ontario, only medical professionals or ministers were allowed to use hypnosis for therapeutic purposes. In those days, even stage hypnotists were frowned upon by the legal authorities.)
This was done to give us a feeling of calm while the process of a family break-up was on-going. We were not hypnotized directly, but only indirectly, as we sat quietly waiting for our Mom to undergo the session in the same room. I can see now what the purpose was, but then we weren’t given a choice in the matter.
My experience of it was that I went into a slight trance fairly easily, and it was very relaxing. But whether I took on board the post-hypnotic suggestions, I cannot say for certain.
Help with Latin
Later that same year, I started studying Latin. I must have had a stumbling block when it came to that language, because for the first time in my academic career, I almost failed a subject in that first term. I can’t remember who brought the idea up about using hypnosis to aid in my mastering the language, but at the beginning of 1966, my Mom hypnotized me and read me the Latin declensions and conjugations.
What happened during that session was that in the state of relaxation, I began to correct her pronunciation of the words, as if I were an expert in linguistics.
If you want to know if that one session made a difference, the simple answer is, “Yes“: I went on in High School to master Latin and got an 88% mark in Grade 13..
Past Life Regression
By the time I was 32 and living in British Columbia, I recognized that something in us remembers prior life information. In particular, while reading Pierre Radisson‘s story about the Hudson’s Bay Company, I was struck by how much his words seemed familiar to me, so I decided to visit a Regressionist to see if I might have had something to do with fur trading and the discovery of Indian territory.
I suspect, when I was first hypnotized, that I was determined to have been a Coureur de Bois (‘runner of the woods’). because I came up with something that I subsequently used as the opening of a story called Beaver House. It may have been wishful thinking, only.
But the second part of the regression brought unexpected information. It turned out I was a first century Roman Governor of the region of Italy that we now know as Tuscany. In fact, a scene that I replayed that day was of my death by errant stone from the hands of a citizen of Siena. (I was able to locate the spot while scouring maps of Tuscan towns and cities much later.) My slave, who was also my lover, had been unable to prevent my death, and felt devastated by my passing.
In the third part, I found myself in No Man’s Land during a battle in the Great War. There I came across an enemy soldier who had been wounded but not mortally. In halting English, he asked me to shoot him, to put him out of his misery. I didn’t want to do it, but was persuaded by his pitiful pleas.
As soon as I shot the soldier, I realized in the regression that he had been my slave in the Roman times, and that this was in settlement of his debt, as it were. I came back to normal consciousness after that scene, my eyes filled with tears.
Hypnotherapy in 1989
It took several sessions to discover the reasons for my problems in that time frame. I wasn’t sure I liked the process since it was obvious that the Hypnotherapist wanted to communicate with my unconscious self to get at the truth. In my head, I remember thinking, “Over my dead body”…
By session 3, I did a leap back into a prior life, this time as an American soldier in World War II. I went through the recreation of a scene from my childhood dreams of being blown up by a land mine. I wandered around, after my death, in a kind of fog, and when I was brought back to normal awareness, I joked about the fact that I’d just been through my death, so I’ll probably be born during the session that was to follow in a week’s time.
Session 4 (of a scheduled 10 sessions) was a bit of a frustration for the Hypnotherapist, so he tried speaking to my unconscious. There was no way that I was going to let that happen, so when my index finger did not move on his instruction, he quietly asked, “Chris, what’s going on?”
It was at that point that I could hear a muffled conversation going on between my mother and father. They were having an argument, and it suddenly occurred to me that the argument was about me. You see, I was in my mother’s womb, and this was the point when my father refused to be a part of our future. I hadn’t thought it possible to have that memory, but there it was, and it felt real.
Then I got to experience my long, slow, painful and frightening birth. I had been stuck in the birth canal for several hours, and my fear was that I (or Mom) was going to die, even before I was born. Then I broke through, and took my first breath of air. What a glorious feeling that was. I had survived!
After that session (which proved to be my last, since the bands around my chest disappeared), I wrote to Mom and asked her about the incident. Her response is quite telling. She wrote, “I’d hoped you hadn’t heard that. It was the moment that your father left me, and I knew from then on that I would be raising you on my own.”
It must have been the moment that I knew that I wasn’t good enough to be loved, since he didn’t want me. That shadow hung over everything that I tried to accomplish up until 1989. This process took that cloud away forever, and I no longer feel threatened by anyone or anything. May I recommend it to you? You won’t regret it, I promise.
Picture credits: all photos are from my personal collection.