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It was dark and cold, the end of a long day, and I hoped as I left my office that I'd make it home before the approaching storm arrived. I was saying good night to my staff when I noticed that my assistant Michael was on a call that was clearly troubling him. He looked at me, mouthed the name of a client I remembered fondly from a few years back, and pantomimed that she was crying. I stepped back into my office, closed the door, and picked up the phone, barely noticing the low rumble of thunder that shook the window beside me. “Robin, it's Sylvia.”
“Oh, Sylvia, thank God I got through to you. You're my last hope. Or should I say our last hope. It's about my husband.” I could hear the fear in her voice as a disturbing story spilled out of her. It seems that one day four years earlier her husband, Rick, a successful landscape architect, had headed out for a routine trip to the grocery store, returned without groceries a half hour later in an absolute panic, shut himself in their bedroom, and had essentially refused to leave the house ever since. He couldn't explain this sudden, desperate agoraphobia to himself, let alone to her or to the battery of doctors and psychiatrists she'd begged him to see, and after thousands of dollars worth of treatment and medication, he wasn't one bit better. His terror of leaving the house had naturally cost him his clientele and his career; they were on the verge of bankruptcy. As much as she'd loved the man she'd married ten years ago, Robin wasn't sure she could go on living with this frightened recluse she seemed unable to help. “Please, Sylvia,” she pleaded through her tears, “I can't take this anymore, and neither can he. In fact, if this goes on much longer, I'm afraid he might try to take his own life. You know I trust you, so just tell me what to do and I'll do it.”
“Can you get him to come here?” I asked.
“Forget 'can,' I will,” she told me. “When?”
“Now. Right away. I'll wait for you.”
Three hours later Rick and I were alone in my office while a hard rain fell outside. He was shockingly pale, with the gaunt look of someone whose once healthy body had taken on more stress than it could handle, and his gray eyes looked haunted by a dark, soul-wrenching fear. Like most clients who genuinely want to be helped, he let me lead him easily into a deep hypnotic trance and take him back to the grocery store trip four years earlier that seemed to have triggered his breakdown. It sounded unremarkable until he frowned slightly and added, “Oh, and there was this little boy in the produce department.”
I asked what the little boy was doing.
“He took an apple and started to bite into it. But his father ran over to him yelling, 'Don't eat that without washing it, it might poison you!'”
Poison. A potentially traumatic word. I jotted it on my notepad while calmly asking, “And did that mean something special to you?”
There was a long silence before he realized, “I'd forgotten about this, but yes, it did. I was four years old, and my family was on a vacation in Mexico. There were some kids playing beside the water in a drainage ditch, or sewage ditch or something, and I went over to play with them, but suddenly my dad grabbed me and hollered at the top of his lungs, 'Don't touch that water, it's poison!' I remember it scared me to death at the time.”
Poison again. Twice in one lifetime. And a father and young son as well. I didn't have to be psychic, or even all that bright, to link those two events. But a parent's admonition to a four-year-old, no matter how loud and dramatic, doesn't necessarily frighten the child that deeply. So I repeated, “And did that mean something special to you? Let yourself go farther back, see if you can step past the veil of this life and tell me what if anything happens.” As strongly as I felt that something else was buried in his spirit's memory, I couldn't help him by leading him to it. He had to find it on his own.
“My skin,” he finally said.
“What about your skin, Rick?”
“It's brown. Golden brown.”
“Are you male, or female?”
“I'm male. Tall. Very muscular. My hair is long and black, and I have large brown eyes.”
“Where are you?”
“South America. Near the coast. On a high hilltop. I can see the ocean in the distance from the courtyard of my house where I'm sitting.”
“What's the year?”
Without hesitation he answered, “Fourteen hundred eleven.”
“Are you alone?”
He shook his head. “My advisers are with me. I'm Aztec. A ruler. Royalty. We're being served a meal. There's tension. A lot of tension. No one's speaking. The only sound is all of us eating. I can hear our metal goblets on the stone table.”
Suddenly, without warning, he grabbed his throat and began choking violently, convulsing.
“Rick, what is it?”
“It's like my throat is on fire! Something in the food! Oh, God, I've been poisoned! I'm dying! These men have killed me!”
I sat forward and raised my voice to penetrate his panic. “It's not happening now. You're just observing it, you're just watching a moment from a life a very long time ago. You're safe. You're perfectly safe. That's a whole other life, not this one, and you have nothing to be afraid of. In this life you're living now, you're never going to be poisoned, not ever again.” I kept up a firm, reassuring monologue until Rick's choking subsided, his convulsions stopped and, wringing wet, he went limp on the sofa. His breathing slowed and became peaceful. He didn't bother to wipe away the tears that were streaming down his face, and I thought what a relief those tears must be.
Rick's wife, Robin, stared when he emerged from my office, and she saw that he was smiling. It was obviously his first smile in a very long time, and it lit her eyes with hope as they hugged. She called me a few weeks later to report that Rick was healthy, happy, and back at work, not a trace left of the panic that had held him captive for so long.
“Rick's psychiatrist can't believe it,” she added. “And you should have seen the look on his face when I told him Rick was cured by a psychic.”
“Let me guess.” I laughed, having been through this before. “The psychiatrist claims I cured Rick with nothing but a posthypnotic suggestion.”
“That's exactly what he said,” she told me.
“Robin, if all Rick needed was a posthypnotic suggestion, why didn't his psychiatrist give him one?”
She chuckled. “Good question. I'll pass that along.”
“Better yet,” I said, “tell him I'm working on a book that will explain how and why Rick was healed, and all he has to do is read it with an open mind.”
To Rick's psychiatrist, and to all of you, welcome to the blessed healing power of cell memory.
Reprinted from Past Lives, Future Healing by Sylvia Browne with Lindsay Harrison by permission of Dutton, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © Sylvia Browne, 2001. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced without permission.