My educational background is in Pastoral Counseling and in the late 90’s I wanted to add the modality of clinical hypnotherapy to my skills as a counselor. Therefore, I enrolled in an intensive program for psychologists and counselors.

During this course, one of the requirements was that each participant personally experience hypnosis on two separate occasions. My first session went beautifully and I was able relax quite well. However, that evening in my motel room, I began to experience some chest pain. It would come and go. I had been diagnosed with heart disease and had experienced similar pain on many occasions so I didn’t pay too much attention to it.

The next morning, I was still in some discomfort but attended the day’s session anyway. During the beginning of my second session, while we were in the initial relaxation phase, the pain in the center of my chest got worse and I felt like a ton of weight was resting on my chest. The pain was unbearable. I told the therapist in the room that I wanted to stop the session because I was having some chest pain. The pain quickly intensified to the point where I felt I couldn’t stand another second and still remain conscious. I was convinced I was going to die of a heart attack and in that instant I heard a loud sound like the clapping of hands and then a “whoosh” sound and I was out of my body. The pain was instantly gone and I found myself away from my physical body, above it and to the left of it. All of this happened quickly. There appeared a long thin swirling dark purple vortex – much like a tornado – with the small end attached to my forehead and the long end winding out as far as I could see.

I do not recall ever being in that tunnel or vortex but I next found myself in complete peaceful, gentle silence in the presence of a brilliant white/blue light. Every attempt I have ever made to describe this scene has failed because I cannot find the right words. After each explanation, I find myself inwardly saying, “No, that’s not exactly how it was.” But there are no words to do a better job that I can find. The light was totally and completely filled with love and acceptance. I had the urge to give up my own thoughts and ego and merge into the Light. I wanted to be one with that Light more than I wanted anything else in the world. I wanted to stay forever in that place of warm love, acceptance and kindness.

Several years prior to this experience, I had undergone a very painful divorce. I had tried everything within my power to save my marriage and I had failed. Many nights found me sobbing and praying that God would somehow show me how to make my marriage work. My chief sorrow was the fact that I had two daughters, 14 and 5 years old and I would be breaking up their home and destroying their security. I love them more than anything on earth and I wanted to keep their world safe and intact.

On the day my wife told me that either I must leave or she would leave with the kids, I felt it would be best for my kids if I left so they could stay in their home and their lives not be completely uprooted. My oldest daughter was old enough to grasp the situation although she took upon herself a lot of guilt and blame for something she had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with. She was a wonderful daughter in every way. My youngest daughter, however, clearly did not understand what was going on in her life. She was only five years old and I loved her with all my heart. She was my precious baby. I was her Daddy . . . her protector . . . her provider. She came into the bedroom as I was packing my suitcase to leave. She was a proud little angel and she did not cry in front of others. She choked back the tears as she tugged gently at my shirt sleeve and spoke just above a whisper with a tiny quivering voice, "But Daddy, I don’t want us to not be a family anymore..." There are no words to tell you how much sorrow filled my heart in that moment. I swept both my daughters into a single embrace and shook with sobs as I told them how sorry I was. And I would carry that grief and sorrow in my soul for many, many painful years.

Now back to my experience. As I stood before this loving light of complete love, the light spoke to me though there were no audible words. It was clear and distinct but it was entirely through telepathy. The voice said, “Give me your grief.” The words were loving and tender but very clear.

At this point, so that you can understand my story, I need to say that when I was a little boy my father verbally and physically abused me. The verbal abuse left me feeling completely worthless and unlovable and the physical abuse was painful. I wanted more than anything in the world for my Dad to love me and be proud of me, but it was not to be. The worst part of the abuse however, was the feeling of complete and total helplessness and out-of-control powerlessness. And the instant this loving Light said, “Give me your grief.” I saw myself again as a six-year old boy standing before a tall shelf. Way up on the top shelf was a container marked, “Grief.” I began to reach for it and stretch as much as I could. It was no use. I just couldn’t reach it. I hung my head in complete defeat and tearfully told the Light, “I can’t reach it...I can’t reach it...” Tears were running down my cheek and I felt that same sense of helplessness I had felt as an abused, helpless, unlovable little boy years earlier.

The Light gently spoke again. It merely said, “I can!” Then two long rays of light flowed out of the Light and swept down and took my grief and stroked my head and cheek and embraced me completely and totally. Over and over these two rays of wonderful loving light hugged me and caressed me and stroked me and filled me with all the love and acceptance I so desperately craved as a little boy. It was the most intensely powerful emotional experience I have ever had. I am filled with tearful wonder and joy every time I think about it.

At no time during this experience did I ever stop breathing. Later tests would reveal that I did not have a heart attack. The chest pain had vanished during my experience and I had never felt better in my life. Eventually I would have 3 heart stents and a pacemaker put in my heart, but there was no more pain that day. When the student therapist in the room saw the look of complete peace and wonder on my face she did not call an ambulance or bring additional help into the room. She was very intuitive and felt that I was undergoing a spiritual experience of some kind. She was in complete awe and later told me that I lay on the floor with my face shining, gracefully reaching for the sky with tears running down my face. There was a teddy bear lying on the floor and at some point I had picked up the teddy bear and was stroking it gently and crying softly. That must have been a sight, a big grown man – all 220 pounds – lying on the floor loving a little teddy bear! During this period with the teddy bear, the clinical psychologist who directed the seminar walked into the room and she too was mesmerized by my appearance and actions. She was so emotionally moved by what she saw that she insisted I take the teddy bear home with me...a memento that I have to this day.

This experience completely changed my life. A few days later, I was back home driving down the Interstate highway pondering this amazing event when I asked myself, “I wonder what it all means and what I am supposed to do now?” I no sooner got the words out of my mouth than I heard the same telepathic voice I had heard from the Light a few days earlier. It simply said, “Grow!” There was a slight pause and again the single word, “Grow!” spoken louder than before followed by a third and final commanding “GROW!!!” spoken so emphatically that I physically jerked in my seat. And so I have.

I have changed so much since that day. I was involved in a fundamentalist conservative religion that was adamant about who would and who would not go to heaven. Now I have a Universalistic view of religion and can find no organized religion where I am completely comfortable. I try to accept others as they are rather than how I think they ought to be. I have absolutely no fear of death whatsoever. I gave most of my clothes away and now dress simply. I am not concerned with materialistic things. I try to help others when I can. I still don’t understand what happened to me that day in 1999 but it was clearly a pivotal and defining point in my life. I know few things with certainty anymore, but of this I am absolutely sure: Death is not a life threatening condition!