Dr. Smith gently guides me, “You are walking on a path in the woods…. Notice the sounds you hear, the smells, anything that you may find on or near the path …” I pace through the forest in my imagination, passing a good sized granite rock. I hear the shifting of leaves and see warm glowing shafts of light through the forest leaves. “Around the next bend in the path you see a clearing, a safe place, warmly lit by sunlight. You arrive there ….”
As I enter the clearing in the woods, I step into a very hot, dusty yard between two huts made of sticks. An aboriginal Australian woman in her 50s crouches in the reddish dirt. She is unclothed except for a leather skirt. Her hair is matted with mud. Creases score her leathery skin from her wide nostrils to the corners of her lips. She is holding a leather pouch of herbs, and offers it to me from her crouching position. Without spoken words, I understand that she is my Internal Healer.
Back in Seattle, I report the encounter to Dr. Smith. We were near the end of a dozen or so counseling sessions for treatment of anxiety and panic attacks. I shake my head; I’ve never been to Australia, or even wanted to visit, and I pride myself as one of the most practical, down-to-earth people I know. An Australian herb woman making an appearance in my waking dreams doesn’t fit my world view.