Approach to Making Life Changes
One of the major
inspirations I received from the Edgar Cayce readings has to do with
making changes in one's life to get closer to living one's ideal day. The
basic idea is to take some little step in the right direction, and expect
that it will lead to the next, even if you don't know at first how you
will eventually reach your goal. In my story of how I received a
transformation from my dreams I shared how this principle came true
for me in a very profound manner. Later, when I expected that I could move
beyond my habit of smoking cigarettes through the same magical method, I
was mistaken. Instead, I had to come to understand Cayce's principle in a
very deliberate manner. From that experience, in fact, I came away with a
program of "trailblazing" that I have used to help many people
make desired changes in their lives, through the "Dream Quest"
and through the use of Hypnosis to channel guidance from the Higher Self.
The story that follows shows
you how the deliberate seeking of intuitive guidance for a first step, and
a next step, can lead to blazing a trail into a new life. If you have any
questions, don't hesitate to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Edgar Cayce Center
is presenting a conference on Trailblazing in September, 2002. http://www.edgarcayce.org/conferences/clickthru/092702/index.html
From Smoker to Intuitive: A Follow‑up Reflection on Exceptional
The events described in the above account (Henry's
story) occurred in a five-year period, between my 23rd and 28th years. As I write
the following story now, 30 more years have transpired. I learned more,
healed more in the subsequent years. There is one facet of this additional
development and learning which I would like to share. It may have bearing
on other people's stories of exceptional healing. It also relates to a
coda to my initiatory dream, which I did not share in that first story.
It is tempting to take an experience, and, when we have learned
from it, to apply it as a rule or principle to later situations. That
seems only natural and also appropriate to this process we call science.
But if life is actually more than a machine, then we cannot always derive
predictable laws from our experiences, even as much as we have learned
from them. In my exceptional healing experience, I learned something about
the power of helplessness, the power of surrender, and about the value of
letting go of control to higher power. As true and valuable as those
lessons were, they proved to be inadequate when confronting another major
issue in my life. It was a similar problem of addiction, smoking
cigarettes, but I could not use my alcoholism recovery experience to help
me. I had the knowledge of the existence of a higher power to guide me,
but I had to create a new path of collaboration with this higher power in
order to receive the healing I needed with regard to my nicotine
I started smoking when I was 14, and by the time I was in my 40s,
the symptoms were getting worrisome and hard to deny: the coughing,
breathing constriction, and circulation problems were scaring me, but I
felt helpless to stop. I had quit so many times before, only to resume
smoking within 24 hours or less after my declaration of intent. I no
longer had any credibility with myself. Although the feeling of
helplessness about quitting was similar to the critical juncture I had
reached with alcoholism, which had led to an important stage in the
ultimate process of recovery, it didn't work the same way with cigarettes.
I had declared myself to be a
hopeless smoker, but even recognizing my powerless to control my
smoking and appealing to a higher power, as much as that has worked with
the drinking, it was not working with the cigarettes. What worked, as it
turned out, was something different, something that built upon what I had
learned from my dreams and drinking experience, but different in
To create a recovery program from smoking cigarettes, I used
hypnosis. I didn't use it in the way people generally think of using
hypnosis for smoking cessation, for example, to plant suggestions on
quitting or being smoke-free. Instead I used hypnosis to contact or create
a higher consciousness from which I sought and received guidance on how to
go about quitting. Here's how it happened.
I had been practicing being hypnotized. While under hypnosis, I
would endeavor to generate creative ideas, for example, about writing or
research projects. I wrote about some of this work, conducted with Henry
Bolduc acting as hypnotist, in my book Channeling
Your Higher Self (Reed, 1990). At times the subject of smoking would
come up, both as a block to my fuller creativity and as a challenge to
higher creativity. So I asked the hypnotist to pose this question to me:
How will I ever quit smoking? The answer was that I would FINISH smoking
once I had completed certain tasks. The first task was to replace my
feeling of helplessness with a feeling of mastery. Unlike the healing
experience that led to a recovery from alcoholism, which was dependent
upon the acknowledgment of helplessness, in the case of smoking I had to
begin with the reverse, to assert some control. How could I assert
control? the hypnotist asked me. The answer I gave was to start with a
very small step, to count my cigarettes.
I accepted this guidance, but to implement it I had to develop a
plan that would be easy to follow. I invented a system that enabled me to
count my cigarettes effortlessly. I got a cigarette case and vowed to only
smoke cigarettes that I took from this case. I would stock the case with
five cigarettes each morning, and restock it whenever needed, five
cigarettes at a time. Although I always carried a pack of cigarettes with
me, I never smoked a cigarette directly from the pack. I always loaded
five cigarettes into the case, then took a cigarette from the case. It was
a simple matter to notice when I smoked the sixth cigarette of the day,
for example, by noting when I had to restock the case, and then load it up
again. My spirits were pleased and my confidence increased as I saw that I
could keep my vow. I achieved that first step of mastery. I continued this
procedure for the approximately three years that it took me to
“finish” smoking. Although three years may seem like a long time, had
I not started the process, I might still be smoking today.
Twice a year I would go under hypnosis with Bolduc. I would review
my progress and receive further guidance. I would give myself discourses
on the meaning of my smoking and provide further procedures to follow to
move closer to the goal of finishing smoking. A major procedural idea was
to practice being a non‑smoker for short periods of time at critical
junctures during the day. One such juncture was after the evening meal. My
higher self instructed me to postpone my after dinner cigarette by going
for a walk first, then smoking all I wanted when I returned home from my
walk. The prediction was confirmed that many times when I returned from my
walk I would “forget” to smoke for as long as an hour. Also as
predicted, I made many useful observations about the nature of my craving
In the hypnosis sessions, I received, besides these specific
procedures for practicing being a non-smoker, diagnostic and explanatory
discourse on the meaning and purpose of my smoking. One of the major
themes of these discussions was that I used smoking to create a wall
around my feelings and to shield myself from others. Part of my task in
finishing smoking was to learn to be comfortable with my feelings, to be
more sensitive in detecting them, and to develop the capacity to
experience other people's feelings without being lost in them, or
confusing them as my own. As it happened, this theme of emotional
sensitivity and contagion came up just as I was writing about and
investigating the role of intimacy, and the fear of it, in psychic
functioning (Reed, 1994). My higher self seemed to be saying that smoking
had been guarding the gate to my taking conscious responsibility for my
psychic ability and the implications of that ability.
I realized later
that I was learning to deal face to face with the process of
deconstructing an addiction by reconstructing the ego for which the
absence of the addiction was a compensation. In the case of my alcoholism,
I did not analyze the attachment until it had passed, not did I
consciously experience the withdrawal of the attachment; it simply
disappeared, literally overnight. But I couldn't use this same formula for
dealing with the smoking problem. I had to face it directly and had to
experience and understand all the aspects. This process included
experimenting with Nicorette gum to learn that any problem dealing with
nicotine withdrawal could easily be handled by the gum.
The last hypnosis session contained a surprise encounter that was
very emotional. In an earlier session I gave a discourse on how I, like
many other teenagers, had formed impressions, from advertising and other
sources, that formed a self-image of myself as a smoker. I had rejected
this diagnosis, but came to realize that I had associated smoking with
meditation, and was influenced by Native American images of tobacco. I had
some books on tobacco pipes and knew some of the mythology, and had made a
cult of a self-image surrounding smoking. Then in this final
session, I sensed the presence of some other individuals.
I looked more closely at that feeling and sensed that it was a
Native American, someone who reminded me of the Indian on the TV
commercial who has a tear flowing down his cheek. He said that he was sad
that I, as a brother sprit, was having to let go of tobacco. At that
statement, I saw behind him a large chorus line of Indians, and they were
all crying for me. What is an Indian, they wailed, without his tobacco? In
fact, I had in my collection, several valuable tobacco pipes and some
beautiful books, including some about the mythology of tobacco among
Native Americans. Then the Indian spokesman said that the group knew I was
doing this project for a good cause, and they wanted to support me because
it was in the greater interest of the spirit. The Indians stood aside,
parted their line and revealed behind them a large tobacco field. It was
bright green and in the sunlight, the leaves glowed. They said they had a
present for me. And from among the tobacco plants jumped up a moving
figure which I first identified as a ball of energy. Then as it came
closer I realized, or the Indian explained, that it was a tobacco plant
spirit. The Indian explained that the tobacco spirit was sacrificing
itself willingly to be with me to keep me company on this sacred journey I
was about take. The spirit jumped across the top of the tobacco leaves and
dove into my chest. When it entered my body I felt a big rush akin to a
nicotine hit when you have a cigarette after a long absence. I also felt a
real sense of being loved, as well as having received a sacred blessing.
It wasn't too long after that experience that the final day came.
It wasn't planned, but it happened spontaneously. I went to interview a
psychic, Ray Stanford, as part of a research project. In our discussion,
the subject of smoking came up. I mentioned that I had been at work on a
project to “finish” smoking by embracing psychic ability. He asked if
I wished him to ask the Holy Spirit to help me finish. I said OK. After
the interview, we stood up and held hands in a brief moment of silent
prayer. As I walked out of the interview room, I realized I was now free
of cigarettes if I was willing to walk away from them. I never smoked a
Practicing the skills I had learned, I used Nicorette gum for
and then moved on to regular gum, and then occasional mints. I
walked more, hugged more people more often, and became more intimate with
my feelings, and those of others. I went on to publish my work on intimacy
(Reed, 1996a, 1996b).
The healing of the drinking occurred outside my awareness. I made
no conscious effort, nor did I consciously go through any withdrawal
process. It all occurred magically in my dreams and indirectly through my
suffering. Quitting smoking was different. I couldn't apply the events
from the first as a formula or technique. Instead I had to invent anew. I
had to put out some effort. I drew upon the higher power for guidance, and
I developed a plan and kept with it. Working on that plan developed new
qualities within me. It opened me up more inward listening, or intuition.
One disturbing component of the symptoms of smoking had been a
concern for my heart, as in heart disease. Hugging
people—enthusiastically—experiencing feelings, being closer to other
people's feelings, were all qualities or capacities that came into blossom
as I quit smoking. My heart was opening. I came to develop a theory of the
Intuitive Heart as a means of resolving the paradox of acknowledging the
existence of psychic ability and the attempt to maintain personal
boundaries. This philosophical and existential dilemma had been a
pre‑existing personal problem for me, one deeper than I had
realized, for it had been prefigured in my dream.
The initiatory dream I wrote about had a coda, an added segment
that I had
not written about. One day, as I was contemplating the connection
between having traded in cigarette smoking for conscious psychic
I realized that I was making a great deal of progress responding to
the challenge of that final part of the dream.
In the dream, after I leave the barnyard of the Wise Old Man, I
head back into the forest, where I have my tent. On my way through the
woods, I spy a family of bears. I realize that if they see me, they will
eat me for dinner. No sooner do I think that thought than they do see me.
Mama bear chases me. To avoid her, I climb up a tree. I am way out upon a
limb when I turn around and see that the bear is climbing right up after
me. With that realization, that bears can climb trees too! I awaken.
From this dream predicament there is no exit. I once painted a
picture to dramatize the situation. I am out on a limb, and I can't go any
farther out without falling off. Unless I can fly I have to face the bear-some
choice. If I try to back down the tree, then the bear will devour me. The
dream coda is somewhat like a Zen koan.
In retrospect, having finished smoking and embraced psychic
intimacy instead, I realized I had responded to this koan by dancing with
the bear. Not only was this an actual image from a later dream, it also
meant an acceptance of the transpersonal feminine. As a symbol of the
goddess, the mother bear shows her two sides, being both lovingly
protective and capable of turning on her young in anger. Fear of the
devouring bear is fear of surrendering to the chaos of life. How can the
personal “I' survive the devouring onslaught of psychic information
shattering all personal boundaries? By embracing all experience in a
spirit of love, my heart expands to identify with all of life. It was just
this image of the transpersonal qualities of the heart, of love, that gave
me my solution to the paradox of the psychically expanded self-concept. My
research then showed that making a caring, loving connection with another
person, to find the other person in our own heart, was a way both to have
intuitive, empathic insights about that person, but also to expand the
domain of our own self-knowledge (Reed, 1996c). This expanded self is the
interconnected self, the relational self that is the basis of the feminist
paradigm of the ego. Thus my transformation went from moving me from power
to surrender to a higher power, and then from self as a bounded entity to
that of a relational phenomenon, adding both psychic and spiritual
components to my experience of being.
Becoming a recovering alcoholic was my
initiation into higher consciousness
(see Henry's story)
Becoming a recovering smoker provided me with an initiation into psychic
awareness. Now, for my next exceptional human experience, I am now
becoming a recovering intellectual, letting go of the protective
attachment to rationality to explore what lies beyond. In terms of my
dream, I am going on a journey to find the flying goat, last seen
disappearing into the Old Man's barn!
C. G. (1974).”To William G. Wilson.” In G. Adler, G. (Ed.), C.
G. Jung: Letters, Vol. 2 (pp. 623-625).
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
C. (195). Asklepios. New York:
C. A. (1967). Ancient Incubation and
Modern Psychotherapy. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
H. (1976). The art of remembering dreams. Quadrant,
H. (1973). Learning to remember dreams. Journal
of Humanistic Psychology, 13(3),
H. (1976). Dream incubation: A reconstruction of a ritual in contemporary
form. Journal of Humanistic
Psychology, 16(4), 53-70.
H. Channeling Your Higher Self.
New York: Warner Books, 1990.
H. (1994). Intimacy and psi: A preliminary exploration.
Journal of the American Society of Psychical Research, 88, 327-360.
H. (1996a). Close encounters in the liminal zone: Experiments in imaginal
communication, Part I. Journal of
Analytical Psychology, 41,
H. (1996b). Close encounters in the liminal zone: Experiments in imaginal
communication, Part II. Journal of
Analytical Psychology, 41,
H. (1996c, January-February). Rituals of the intuitive heart. Intuition, No. 9, 54-56.
All the above articles by Henry Reed noted above can be viewed at