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"Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind." Emerson In second grade, my best friend Marcia and I had two passions-roller skating and Brownie Scouts. Our mothers took turns giving us rides to both. Just my size and very pretty, Marcia had long blond curls with a ribbon. I wore a bow on black hair. New Year's Eve, instead of going skating as we had planned, Marcia visited relatives with her aunt and uncle. In those days before seat belts, she lay asleep in the backseat on the way home to Pendleton late on a snowy Indiana night. A car driven by a drunk driver hit them. On impact Marcia flew out the back window. All her major bones broke, and her skull fractured. Two days later, Marcia lay in a casket lined with pink rosebuds for the viewing in her family's living room. Her pasted together body wore a brown uniform of the beginner scout. I gazed at her, horrified, imagining all the broken bones I couldn't see. Her mother sobbed beside Mother and me. Others sat about, whispering and crying, including Marcia's two little sisters and several neighbors. Because Marcia couldn't, I vowed that day never to go through the ceremony that conferred the right to wear the green uniform of a full-fledged Girl Scout. At the funeral in the stone-walled Methodist church, I refused to go down to the altar to look at her again. The organist played the ugly strains of Brahms' Lullaby. The stench of hothouse gladiolas and roses combined with carpet soggy from snow boots. Nauseated, I sat on a wooden pew and cried. In the weeks that followed, Mother encouraged me to play with other children, but I missed Marcia and kept to myself. One sunny day, warm enough that the ground had thawed and started to green, I lay in my backyard, watching soft, white clouds move across a gray sky. The scent of first cherry blossoms carried on the air. Suddenly Marcia appeared on a large cloud. Her curls bobbed over the side as she leaned down and grinned at me. Funny, she didn't wear a hair bow, but the impish voice sounded just like her. "Hi." I scrambled up and shouted, "Marcia, is that you?" "Yes, this is a good place. I'm having fun here." Marcia turned away from me and disappeared into the cloud. I went tearing into the house. "Mommy, Mommy?" I found her shelling peas in the kitchen. "I saw Marcia. She's alive up in heaven, and she said she's all right!" 'Now, Toby," Mother said as she set down the colander, her pretty face set with determination, "you know Marcia can't talk to you. You're just imagining that." Her words didn't make sense. How could I see Marcia if she wasn't there? How could I hear her? Mother's pale green eyes clouded with some emotion I didn't understand. "Why don't you go see if some other kids can play?" I trudged outside and started up the gravel alley to find new playmates. Mother had said I did not


see Marcia, and so I must be wrong. The way Marcia looked on the cloud didn't seem the same as when I pulled my hair over my eyes and pranced around like Veronica Lake. Or played doctor and put pretend bandages on my teddy bear. Those imaginings created hazy pictures in my mind, not the clear and real appearance Marcia had on the cloud. But it must be the same. Mother told me so, and I believed her. If I ever saw Marcia again, I would know it was my mind playing a trick on me. I'd make her go away, and I would definitely never tell anyone. When people are dead, they are gone forever. This early denial of my perceptions, along with others, set up the struggle to learn to trust myself. Like Shrek says in the movie, "Ogres have layers." It's taken years for this ogre to undo the layers of fear and self-doubt to get out of the psychic closet I put myself into. My experience is all too common. If you as a child had psychic experiences denied by others or ones as an adult that you denied yourself, it's important to remember that you are not alone. Thirty-eight percent of the American public believes in ghosts, according to a Gallup Poll conducted in 2001. Add to that twenty-five percent who are uncertain, and you've got a lot of citizens who've heard of or thought they've seen a ghost at some time or another. Similar numbers resulted when the pollsters asked about related fields, such as spiritual healing, extrasensory perception, devil possession, telepathy, extraterrestrials, clairvoyance, mediumship, astrology, witches, reincarnation, and channeling. Many who profess not to believe may be hiding their own psychic experiences from their family and friends or, worse, from themselves. I did. At times I denied and repressed my experiences. At other times I admitted they were happening but imagined I was probably crazy or getting that way fast. At last I realized that, in every other way, my life went along well. I held down a job, married, and helped my sons go to college. I maintained a social life and fulfilled my responsibilities to friends and family. In none of the other areas of my life did I have concerns about my sanity. It seemed illogical to think of myself as crazy in this one aspect and sane in the rest. I decided I had to trust myself. Even though I couldn't understand the source of the psychic experiences, they were valid, kind, and intelligent. Coming to accept the uncertainty finally helped me put the issues behind me. You're not crazy. Psychic experiences are a part of life. If you have trouble convincing yourself of that fact, maybe this acronym will serve you, as it has served me. TRUST, The Five Ways Out of the Psychic Closet T. Track your dreams R. Repel ridicule U. Use it or lose it S. See your ability as a divine gift T. Trust yourself Track Your Dreams A direct route to your psychic self, dreams surface while the rational, analytical layer of consciousness sleeps. Focusing on psychic experiences that happen in sleep, such as precognition and encounters with departed loved ones, entices them to occur. You can track your dreams by recording them each morning in a dream journal. You dream about five times per night.


Assuming you sleep every night, that's more than eighteen hundred dreams per year. In thirty years of journal keeping, I managed to write down approximately one hundred dreams per year. That means at least seventeen hundred went out of memory, unrecorded. No wonder the sages say we go through life like automatons, using only a tiny portion of our brain's ability. After you've attained the habit of writing down your dreams, read back through the dream journal at the end of each year and mark the dreams that have come true. If you're like me, you'll average four to twelve percent per year, the number of precognitive dreams found in research. You'll also receive other benefits from tracking dreams, such as help in dealing with emotions, problem solving, self-understanding, and experiencing lucidity. All contribute to a better life and spiritual growth. Repel Ridicule Scoffers come in two varieties: ones you can ignore or leave without looking back and ones you can't. Tolerating ridicule from those with whom you have work, family, or love bonds can be difficult. Like my mother, they may react out of their own fear rather than out of any desire to hurt you. Also, people deride psychic experiences, yours or anyone else's, out of ignorance or in an attempt to deny their own. You can't change anyone except yourself, but you can work to discover why your loved ones mock you. Explain to them what you are experiencing and ask them to respect you even if they don't understand. It's not easy to keep the fears of others from invading you, but encountering the situation with your loved ones invokes personal growth and builds selfesteem because you are honoring your experiences and your perceptions. Use It or Lose It Psychic experiences, especially angel visitations or intuition, often come at critical moments to save our lives or give us insights. Unchecked self-doubt can deter positive outcomes if you're not careful. I wish I'd come to this conclusion earlier. I wasted a lot of time. Once I had a horrible dream where someone I loved died in a car wreck. Because a few dreams with minor implications came true, I feared this one would also. I called the person and described the dream. Nothing bad happened to him in a car, but something bad happened to me. I took on myself awful responsibility by confusing awareness of the future with control over it. For a long time afterward, I couldn't dream true. Because I repressed the episode with Marcia, fifty years passed before I saw another ghost. For a while I practiced automatic writing. Two spirit guides spoke to me and through me. They gave some excellent insights on life. I rejected those wonderful entities out of fears for my sanity so I also lost the ability to do automatic writing. No one knows better than I that, if you don't use your psychic ability, you lose it. And if you fear it, it sometimes goes away. See Your Ability As a Gift You understand synchronicity if you've ever picked up the phone to call someone, only to find that person on the other end having just called you. Or, you're trying to remember the name of the actor who played in an old movie, then he appears on the TV screen, narrating a documentary. Some coincidences are bound to happen by the law of averages. Synchronicities are those that have such special meaning that they seem to have been designed. They let you know you are in the flow. Impulses can save your life. One morning I changed my route to school for no apparent reason then learned from the radio that two wrecks had happened on my regular route at precisely


the time I would have been there. My teaching buddy Betty bore six children. Before the birth of one she had a premonition that there was something wrong. That baby was born with a defect that eventually caused his early death. Like all bereaved mothers, Betty grieved, but in her heart she'd known all along to expect the worst. Premonitions can help you face bad situations that happen in everyone's lifetime. Considering the variety of psychic experiences, this list could go on and on. Trust Yourself Parapsychologists have already proven ESP exists with clairvoyance, psychokinesis, telepathy, and more. Now they're trying to figure out how it works. As increased funding becomes available, more scientific proof will aid people in accepting this fragile facet of their being. The mystics have always known that psychic experiences can set a person on the path of spiritual growth that leads to lucidity and cosmic consciousness. Self-esteem grows when you honor your psychic experiences. Allowing rather than forcing helps them to occur. William James said it only takes one white crow to prove they're not all black. One genuine psychic experience, if we're honest with ourselves, is all it takes. Out of the Psychic Closet: The Quest to Trust My True Nature by Toby Fesler Heathcotte is available at many bookstores.

A former high school and college instructor, Toby Fesler Heathcotte also wrote the Alma Chronicles, a series about reincarnation, and Program Building: A Practical Guide for High School Speech and Drama Teachers. She now serves as president of Arizona Authors Association. http://www.azauthors.com http://www.tobyheathcotte.com

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