Mountains. In a past life, I leapt off a cliff. Maybe that’s it? That life was cold, lonely. The moments between leaping and having my chest crushed were the most vital of that life. But then there was the sense of my chest being crushed from the impact… I remembered all of this in a  past life regression–the feeling of my lungs collapsing, my soul springing out and freed, the dawning realization that nothing had been gained in that life but unquenched longing. Like the Devil card in Tarot, I found myself bound, caught, seeking freedom.

Mountains. For five weeks this summer we lived in the mountains. My husband Keith comes alive driving higher and higher. We start talking about altitudes. At 7,000 feet, it starts to get hard to breathe. At first, I think maybe I’m coming down with something. By 10,000 feet I’ve caught on to the effects of thin air and this is when I start pulling out my well-stocked tool kit I have labeled: How to manage anxiety.

On one mountain road there was a warning sign, like the one in the Wizard of Oz pretty much advising, “I’d turn back if I was you.” For nearly two hours we bounced this way and that. I looked down at the steep drop offs and…closed my eyes. Using self-hypnosis, I took myself to my happy place.

There I could hear the sound of the waves, smell the salty air. My breathing slowed. I could feel the calming in-breath, the soothing release of energy in the out-breath.

I opened my eyes and looked again and the drop off was replaced by tall evergreens, slopping meadows filled with purple, orange and yellow wildflowers. Okay, I admit. This is pretty.

My friend Kitty Elder, an expert on crystals and stones, gave me a ritual to do in the mountains, asking the mountain to become a part of me. I embrace this fully, committed to seeing this as a spiritual journey, and to not losing my mind in a place that is continually triggering deep fears and memories.

I can become curious now about the mountain in a new way. Not what it looks like, but how does it seek to connect to me as I seek to connect to it.

I settle in and follow the ritual Kitty gave me. At once I notice that the spire rising up across the mountain stream from our campsite holds the face of a wise grandmother. Her eyes are closed, not in sleep, but in prayer and meditation. She is seeing me, as I am seeing her. I say a prayer and turn three times again and this time I see that not only is there the grandmother, but next to her, captured in stone, is Eagle.

When I see Eagle, I always think of it as a way for Spirit to tell me I’m in the right place.

If I am to die by falling off the side of a cliff, then I guess I can rest assured I was meant to go.

I shed so many tears in those mountains. I’m still grieving the loss of my dear old dog, Pip. I can’t think of him without wanting to cry. I know he is near, but I am struggling to feel him. I’m struggling with grief. I struggle with ancient fears of falling off of steep mountains.

I become curious about the mountain and ask for its power to flow into me and make me stronger, more grounded. I breathe through my nose, exhale in a sigh and my heart rate slows. I think of Thich Nhat Hahn’s words, “Peace is every step.” These words are my mantra.

Learning self-hypnosis is a tool for coping with anxiety, phobias and fears. I’d still rather spend time at the beach than on the side of a cliff, but using these tools has shifted my feelings and my experience in the midst of the majestic and ancient rocks. I feel their power differently now.

I have had success using hypnosis for clients wishing to overcome fears and phobias. I believe in the power of the mind because I’ve experienced the relief myself. I am now free to travel anywhere even if it’s the Rockies.


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