OUT OF THE BOX: A SOUL’S SURPRISING JOURNEY
Barbara Lucerne Woolley
Barbara Lucerne Woolley
CURE FOR SMOKING
Guillermo the curandero had wanted to give me a Mother Mary prayer. I grew up in the Methodist Church, not the Catholic Church. Mary was Catholic. Protestant church brings Mary out for Christmas and again at Easter. The rest of the year, it is as though she does not exist. Consequently, I did not know to call upon her for healing. For many years, I had unsuccessfully tried to stop smoking. There were long periods of abstinence but no permanent extinction of the habit. Suddenly, in 1993, each time I lit up I’d feel immobilized, dizzy, nauseated to the extreme, and then would have to put the cigarette out. I couldn’t have smoked. It was impossible. Somehow, I just knew that Mother Mary was present to help me. I did not see her. I did not hear her. I had no known prior experience with her yet I just knew she was there and that she was helping me. The cure, a form of inter-dimensional aversion therapy, has been lasting. Mother Mary literally reached through the veils to help me. My mother died in 1987 from metastatic lung cancer caused by a lifetime of heavy smoking. I believe that Mary saved me from a similar fate.
Despite the 1985 heart-healing experience with my mother and Mother Mary’s cure of my smoking addiction in 1993, I apparently needed further healing. Call it thought field transfer, call it environmental modeling, call it what you like, the reason I even smoked in the first place remained unanswered. Full understanding came during two days of training in a psychotherapeutic method called EMDR, the acronym for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. This is a powerful healing modality developed by Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., for her work with Vietnam veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Deep reaching, this total sensory/cognitive method unlocked the secret behind the addictive behavior even though I had chosen a seemingly unrelated incident from kindergarten to work on, one that had repeatedly come into my consciousness since childhood for no apparent reason. I had no intent going into the session to receive more healing related to my mother and our addiction to cigarettes.
Five years old, I was just back to Kindergarten after having had my tonsils and adenoids removed. Full of the surgical experience, I returned to school with the puppet the hospital staff gave me. Eager to tell all after a week of painful post-surgical silence, I was so chatty that the teacher separated me from the rest of the class. She put me in a punishment chair away from my classmates. The EMDR kicked in at this point, showed me how traumatic to my innately effervescent innocent self the separation from my classmates was. I saw that after this event I began to shut down. I lost self-confidence. Eventually, one event piled on top of the other and I avoided speaking at all in the classroom. I did not conquer this fear of speaking until my second year of graduate school—twenty-three years later. I loved my Kindergarten teacher. I do not think she intended to wound my spirit. The session really helped make sense of a critical childhood event that had been perplexing in its periodic tweaking of my memory, no explanation given. How very tender is the heart of the child.
The EMDR next propelled me straight out of the Kindergarten classroom into a state of co-conscious awareness of my self, as spirit, watching my mother smoke during her pregnancy with me. I observed from outside the physical body that I was to merge with at birth. I saw and smelled my mother smoking. Spirit me interpreted that she did not care enough to stop smoking to take proper care of the little body growing inside her. Next came a moment of epiphany. In a flash of insight, I understood why I’d begun to smoke when I became a teenager: it was my attempt to understand why my mother smoked. During the EMDR session, I complained to the team that was working with me about smelling cigarette smoke in the room. Irritated, I asked why the workshop leaders would ever permit anyone to smoke in the conference room. The next day, when my session was completed, the team said that no one had been smoking in the training room. Only I smelled cigarette smoke. The smell of smoke was in my memory.
EMDR and other psychotherapeutic modalities that have emerged over the past twenty years have proven to be excellent vehicles to get at what’s really cooking below the surface. My experience demonstrated the phenomenon called chaining: certain events connecting together like links of chain. In that instance, the entry point of the hurt caused by the kindergarten teacher/mother figure helped me to access the original pre-natal hurt by my birth mother. Deep lasting healing requires getting to the original injury and, as in good wound care, cleaning the pus out from the point of origin. The rebirth experience triggered during Dr. Whitfield’s workshop had gifted me threefold. I learned about the consciousness of the spirit that was about to be born, that what is experienced during this gestational time is recorded and has lasting impact throughout one’s life. The rift between my mother and me from lack of birth bonding acknowledged and partially healed, Mother Mary’s divine intervention cured me of the physical smoking addiction. The waving red flag school memory guided me to complete this particular body of work.
My soul was driving this process. All that was required was that I follow the clues. I had not consciously called any of the healing experiences forward. The healings with my mother and then with my father flowed seamlessly into the development of a surprising relationship with Mother Mary. The Great Mother, Queen of Heaven, Mother to All, Supreme Goddess, Mother of Many Names stepped forward to help me heal my wounded soul. Her intervention was proof of her availability to every one of us, regardless of our religious or spiritual affiliation. Grateful, I gave my heart to Mary and vowed to serve The Mother from that time forward.
In July 1994, I drove through upstate New York, once again on my way to grown-up camp in northern Ontario, Canada, this time to co-lead a seven-day women’s wilderness canoe trip. My snazzy tan and white Chevy Blazer and I headed towards yet another great adventure. I sang “Silent Night” in sync with a favorite Christmas carol tape after having listened to Deepak Chopra’s excellent audiocassette, Magical Mind, Magical Body. Dr. Chopra’s discussion about quantum physics in relation to health was intriguing. I had not previously considered the idea that the body is not the solid mass that we believe it to be, that there is actually space between the cells. Through the process of cellular shedding and the creation of new cells, our bodies are continually renewed. This same shedding process offers opportunities to effect changes in the body.
Deep in contemplation, I was excited to learn about the potential for physical renewal through the purposeful shifting of thought. In this place of delicious consideration, something happened. The quantum physics of my mind shifted to allow a startling idea to enter. In a moment of transcendence, I understood in my bones the true meaning of the Immaculate Conception. The insight simply dropped in and settled itself within me. With unprecedented clarity, without prior deliberation, I just absolutely understood that every single one of us is the Immaculate Conception. We are pure spirit, innocent gifts from God who come down to enter into the physical body created by our parents to hold us. Awestruck by this revelation, I saw the whole process. We spiral down from Godhead to enter into the container called body. We are anchored in the body by the soul that is created at the moment of birth. We remain in the physical body until the physical life is complete and then we lift up and out of the physical body at the moment of death. We are spirit that comes and goes. We are not the body. The body is the sacred temple that holds us while we are here. I was stunned. This idea made more sense than did anything I ever heard in church. The concept of original sin dissolved. We are not bad. We are not born automatically tainted. We are beautiful emanations come down from God.
Just in case I had any doubt about what happened during that car ride, and I did not, Mother Mary sent a gift through a friend who had spent her summer in Greece. When I returned home from the wilderness adventure, my friend presented me with a beautiful icon of Mary holding baby Jesus.
You need to understand that I did not have any conceptual framework for these experiences. Discussions about the Immaculate Conception, the world of saints and of Mary apparitions were just not part of my religious upbringing. Previously I had known and felt the presence of God only while singing hymns. I had despaired of finding what I intuitively knew existed. I could not find “it” with any consistency in church. There were not even words to describe what I was looking for. I just knew there was more than what was taught in Sunday school or from the pulpit.
Over the next few years, I would better understand the dance between spirit, soul, and body. Our spirit hovers close to the body until the time of actual birth. Then, the soul manifests instantaneously to anchor our spirit in the physical body. We live our lives. When we have completed the reasons for incarnating, the body dies. As soul and spirit, we cross back over into the spiritual realms at the time of death for more healing and learning. When it is time for another round of Earth School, the soul and spirit return together. The returning soul does not come back identical to how it was when it left the body at the end of the prior incarnation. This is because of the healing and teachings it has received during the out-of-body time. Each re-entry into the physical body produces another layer of soul around our spirit. The soul carries the load of the karmic, unfinished business from each time of embodiment. When all debts—unfinished business—are satisfactorily concluded, the spirit is set free from the wheel of karma. Further need for incarnation becomes unnecessary and the housing called soul dissolves. The spirit then has the choice to continue to serve humanity as bodhisattva, like White Waters, or to move on.
Many authors have written on matters pertaining to soul. I especially appreciate the books authored by Brazil’s most famous and highly respected medium, Francisco Candido Xavier. Nicknamed Chico, his life was devoted to bringing through messages about life in the spiritual realms. A good place to begin is with the book, Nosso Lar, which is the first in a collection of teachings told in story form by the spirit named Andre Luis. The material in Xavier’s books has consistently corroborated and expanded what I have been learning through experience. Chico Xavier’s books are excellent in helping people to understand the interface between the physical and spiritual realms, what happens when we “die,” where we go and what we do when we are on the other side.
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