One of the greatest fears humans hold, is the fear of death. Though it is nothing more than another doorway to soul, the human mind, with help from culture, religion, media, etc, has made death into something much larger, something to be dreaded, and never discussed.
To understand what happens when we die, there are many excellent books available, a new one, written by Stephanie Riseley, Love From Both Sides – A True Story of Soul Survival and Sacred Sexuality,will give you a wonderful perspective. It is a down-to-earth account of loss and renewal. Stephanie brings death into focus, love into focus, and even suicide into clearer perspective. Written in an engaging style, you will instantly find yourself a part of Stephanie's life, and the amazing transformation she experiences after her husband dies.
Today, I had the pleasure to interview Stephanie about her profession as a hypnotherapist, and about her new book Love From Both Sides.
Hi Stephanie, my first question; one of your quotes that I found interesting is you married at the age of 42 after being as you called it, Terminally single.' Did you actually use that language before finding your husband? Or did you change it shortly before you connected.
‘Terminally single’ is just a phrase I used in Love From Both Sides – A True Story of Soul Survival and Sacred Sexuality. In reality when I was 42, I was too busy to worry about it.I was in UCLA’s graduate film school, surrounded by darling, sexy young men, (some of them successful now!), worked 20 hours a week in the production store, had another job with Eve Arden. I barely had time to eat, let alone date! What I did do, however, was organize a group of girlfriends and we used what would now be called “The Laws of Attraction” to visualize our best future. I called what we did “Goddess Ceremonies,” and I was Head Goddess. It was so fun! On the full moon, we’d head out to the beach, sit in a circle and conjure our best future. I would essentially put everyone in a state of focused concentration (hypnosis) and then each “goddess” would visualize and verbalize her “Perfect Day” while the rest of us sent the intentions soaring skyward. And amazingly so much as what we visualized came true!
I have so many incredible turn abouts! I teach my clients how to reprogram their brains, and rid themselves of the negative self-talk and sabotaging behaviors and, because of that, everything in their lives changes for the better! I love what I do.Hypnotherapy opens the mind to all the powers of the subconscious, which I believe makes the hypnotherapist a prime candidate to hear and perhaps see dis-incarnate spirits. Did you have any experiences with beings not in physical bodies before your contacts with your husband?
Great question! Here’s exactly what happened to me directly from Love From Both Sides:
.... Dan’s dying was not my first experience with the “In Between.” I’d had others, but since I desperately wanted to be normal, I chose to ignore them. My first happened when I was 19. I had pericarditis with bilateral lung effusions, or in English, the sack around my heart, the pericardium, got inflamed and both my lungs filled with fluid. As one doctor would say, “You’ve got a literally weeping heart. It’s actually very poetic.” Poetic perhaps, but it made it so painful to breathe that I couldn’t lie down flat.
My parents had no interest in my health or anything besides their own passionate dance of destruction; so consequently, I sat alone and upright in a darkened room for almost two weeks.
When one of my mother’s friends opened my door, looked in and saw me, it was almost too late. They rushed me to the hospital, but after the nurses got me settled into bed, I simply wanted “out.” I remember closing my eyes, and it felt as if my hands were holding onto a bar just overhead, then I simply let go. Like magic, I slid easily down toward a warm, amber light. I knew exactly what was happening; I was dying and I felt relieved. But then out of nowhere, something grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and yanked me back. It felt as if my body screamed, “Hey, wait just a damned minute! You’re nineteen. You may not want to live, but all of us hundred-twenty trillion cells do! So get a grip, Girl!”
As it turns out, according to “Dan,” it wasn’t just my body, it was my “over soul” and my “guides.” It didn’t matter to me who or what brought me back, because there I was, in searing pain, and knowing that I would live, which at the time was not good news.
That was in April of 1967, long before Elisabeth Kübler-Ross published her book on death and dying, so like many people, I kept that experience to myself. But it changed me; it gave me the courage to ignore the doctors who told me I had five years to live. So I had systemic lupus? So what? People got over worse things, and somehow I knew I’d get over this. The following March, I managed to get myself into UC Berkeley, which still amazes me, since I’d barely bothered to show up at Hollywood High. After three years in Berkeley, I moved to New York City to study acting. I lived there eleven years, moved back to LA for seven, then back to Berkeley to finish up my degree in 1988, so UCLA would be kind enough to let me into their graduate school of film.
In the twenty years in between, I flirted with the alternative world, but kept my distance. It seemed too flaky, airy-fairy and filled with far too many spiritually smug people. Although, to be honest, Jane Roberts’s channeled books, Seth Speaks and The Nature of Personal Reality changed my life. Her books not only gave me doable exercises that helped me heal my damaged body; they also gave me a dynamically different perspective on day-to-day living.
Looking back on it now, I was connected to the alternative realm whether I wanted to be or not. For instance, while I still lived in New York, I heard a man on the radio talk about past life regressions. So I sat right down, followed his instructions, and wham! I saw myself as a nun – an ugly, French nun – sitting in my little cell, writing, and looking out onto a beautiful garden. I knew the time period – late Middle Ages – I saw her life, but I didn’t take it seriously.
Besides, I was too busy supporting my acting addiction, so I drove a taxi weekend nights to pay for the acting, dancing and singing classes that went along with it. One snowy, slippery night, when I got home at three a.m., completely exhausted, I put Beethoven’s Ninth on the stereo and curled up on the couch to unwind. I was still in my twenties, so I sat there wondering: What was life all about? What was its purpose? To do good work? Be a success? Find happiness?
When suddenly my whole insides filled up with that same radiant, amber light. Only this time a voice – a distinctly male voice -- boomed out, “Life is to be loved.” Implicit in that message was the realization, the deep understanding, that life wasn’t to be figured out or fretted over (my own unending “inner monologue”) -- life was simply to be loved. Since I come from a background steeped in American Protestant self-denial, “life is to be loved” was real news to me. I thought life was simply to be suffered through. I assumed my ability to stoically withstand pain was the path to spiritual redemption. It’s the “Brownie Points in Heaven” view of reality that most good little Christian girls are taught. Did the “Life is to be loved” message solve any problems? Did I pay attention? No, I had more important things to worry about. I studied acting with the amazing Stella Adler, and so I only asked the Big Questions, the questions that mattered -- What is Art? Truth? Beauty?
Life goes on (unless, of course, it doesn’t) and mine continued for years without any more nudges from the “In Between.” Then in June of 1988, my baby sister Gheri-Llynn committed suicide. She was eleven years younger and only twenty-nine. During her downward spiral into despair, I tried desperately to get her help. I finally managed to get her into UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute (NPI), where I’d worked for four years, but all they could do was drug her into a shaky-handed stupidity. She hated how that made her feel and consequently, she was determined to do what she wanted. And she wanted “out.”
The month before she died, while I still lived in Berkeley, finishing off twenty-eight units of undergraduate work, Gheri-Llynn drove up to say good-bye. It was my birthday and she handed me a beautiful pair of blue teardrop earrings and said, “These stones are three million years old. Some things last and some things don’t.”
I’m five-foot-eight and she was just barely five-three; I grabbed her by the shoulders, looked down into her deep brown eyes and said, “Gheri-Llynn, if you do this, I will never forgive you. I swear, I will hunt you down in the afterlife. I’m serious. You cannot do this.” She looked away, hugged me and kissed me good-bye.
The night before I was due to drive back down to L.A., (where I was going to try to get more help for her) my father called at one a.m. All he said was, “Steph?” and I knew she was dead. I threw the phone across the room and started screaming, “My baby! My baby! My baby!” I screamed for five hours.
I drove back to Los Angeles and stayed in a friend’s guest house the next night. As I lay there in the stunned disbelief that goes along with death, I turned and looked through two tall French glass doors out into the darkness. Suddenly, amorphous, scary figures of black men began to sail through the doors toward me. One held a knife, the next one held a gun, the next a rope, but they evaporated just before they reached me. Each one looked so real, so threatening; they were very specific people. I knew they weren’t real -- I knew it, yet I didn’t know it.
I’m not afraid of black men. As I said, I drove a cab in New York City for seven years, and since I was just out of Berkeley, I drove with my belief system in tact. Which means that I was one of the few taxi drivers who would pick up black people – black men in particular -- and take them to more challenging areas of the city -- to Harlem, the South Bronx, Bed-Sty, East New York -- to the places where many African American people lived. And believe me, in the late ‘70s at the height of the drug epidemic, those were dangerous destinations. But I drove in and out of these places all the time, so fear of black men was not an issue for me.
Gheri-Llynn, on the other hand, had been raped by a black man. She was only twenty-one when he climbed through her bedroom window at three a.m., then he held a knife to her throat while he raped her.
As I continued to watch these flying black men, I wondered what the hell they could be. Since I did field research evaluating the incidence of mental illness in the population at large when I worked at NPI, I knew that one of the key indicators of schizophrenia was seeing things that aren’t there. I kept my eye on these black phantoms, these threatening men, trying to think clinically, unemotionally. “Well, this is interesting. This must be what it’s like to be crazy.” Until finally it hit me. I’d finally broken. I was crazy. Then I filled with fear. I would be like Lily Tomlin’s Trudy -- one of the crazy people who roam the streets, chatting to the phantoms who keep them company.
And that’s when the leaping stream of black men stopped. They simply evaporated.
Then Gheri-Llynn “came through.” In real life, she was a tiny, determined, fireball of energy with a wicked sense of humor, and it was Gheri-Llynn, all right. “Wow!This is nothing like what I expected. You were right, damn it! That was so stupid of me. Nothing to do about it now. But those black guys? I just needed you to experience my reality. I needed you to understand why I couldn’t go on living. I was too scared -- all the time.” This happened in a flash, not in words, but in images and feeling tones. I tried to ask her what the Other Side was like, but she couldn’t tell me. Too complicated, she said. This was all she could do now.
Then she wanted to be held. I was lying still, my arms at my sides, and yet it felt as if I held my chubby, cuddly three-year-old baby sister. I hugged her and she hugged me. My body filled to the brim with so much love that I felt throbbing love-tingles in my fingernails, and then she was gone. ....
Everyone’s experience is different. For me? It took me four months of chest beating mourning, before Dan could “break through” the heaviness of painful emotion. Recognizing the different ways that “spirits” can communicate might be helpful.
According to many sources, spirits can turn lights on and off. According to medium Lisa Williams, for instance, spirits communicate though pennies – so look for pennies. Clocks break. When I think back on it, my watch broke immediately and so I was “compelled” to put on my newly dead husband’s watch, filled with his energy. When I started channeling, the energy came through the hand that his watch was on – my left. And what’s funny, or weird? This last May 9th, which would have been Dan’s birthday, I could “feel” him near me – I knew he was around, because I missed him so much… again. And then everywhere I went, there were pennies all over! It was literally pennies from heaven! Isn’t that funny?
I’ll quote from Love From Both Sides again, because it was a moment that explained our entire relationship:
.... Dan urged me to keep reading Journey of Souls by Michael Newton, the hypnotherapist who regresses clients to recall their In Between memories. A few clients told him about the “making of objects,” (an In Between activity) and about the “hierarchy of souls” by colors. They said that “Baby Souls” are white. Then there’s a progression that goes from off-white with yellow or gold flecks, on to gold. Then gold with blue flecks or streaks, to blue with yellow flecks, then to pure blue. Then the blues go on to purples in the same sort of progression.
I read over these sections and wanted to see what Dan had to say.
Sunday, May 26, 2002 -- 8:30 p.m.
Dan the man here – you sweet thing. I had a busy day. The making of objects took almost all my attention – what you just read was no coincidence.What color are you now?
White with flecks of yellow.How about Enoch?White with flecks of yellow. I am Enoch – Enoch is me. But that’s why I write “Dan the man.” It’s my Dan-ness you remember. It’s my Dan-ness you miss.
I began to cry, and when I cried, he couldn’t get through my emotion. I felt his annoyance.
It’s 5 months today, Dan. I still find it weird that 1) you’re gone and 2) you’re back. Of course, I doubt this every so often. And yet this is so real to me.
It’s real to me – but not at all weird. The weird thing seems to be your life now. (All I did was go to work, go to yoga, and come home. Period.)
But as I said, your body is still in shock and that’s why you’re tired. But you’re in bed and that’s good. Did you listen to those “History of Philosophy” tapes?
Some. Nietzsche was/is destructive garbage. Wish I’d never read him. Glad you didn’t.
The philosophers I think people on this plane think the most of are Emerson, Dostoyevsky and Blake.
Dostoyevsky especially – Prince Mishkin was always a favorite of mine and yours too. But I don’t think we ever discussed The Idiot.
That was so odd. Because he was right – I loved Dostoyevsky – I loved The Idiot, yet we’d never talked about it.
Hey! Wait. Have you seen Bea?
Just at her arrival. She’s busy with Arch and Steve.Yellow with flecks of blue – like you. You’re blue with flecks of yellow.
(Her husband and son.)
What color was she?
I could feel his energy pull back, as if his face scrunched up – just like in life when he had to admit I was right about something. I smiled.
Yes. You are more advanced than me. That’s why I had such a bad time adjusting. I “came in” with a teacher – you – then refused to be taught.
We both sat with that, and silently acknowledged how much that one sentence explained the dynamics of our relationship. In our life together, I felt compelled to share what I knew – what I had learned -- but he simply refused to listen. Since there was no fixing it now, I just sighed and changed the subject.
If I’ve been in training for 30 years, training for what?
To do the job of opening more the door of awareness.And I do that with my book?
Oh, great! I filled with frustration because I was having such a tough time writing it. First off, I was a screenwriter. What did I know about writing a book? Not one thing. Second, writing a book about sacred sex and marriage was a real challenge, considering I’d only recently discovered that my own marriage had almost killed me.
So I changed the subject again. ....
Through your experiences connecting with your husband from the other side, how have you changed?
Everything has changed! Nothing’s at all like it was. I now live in a completely magical universe where every moment is filled with joy – and appreciation! It’s what I teach my clients!
Are you now open to love again, or have you fallen in love again?
Oh, yes – I’m open to love but in a completely different way. I love everything now – I love my clients, I love my friends – I love the winds in the trees. But if you’re talking romantic love, I’ve changed there, too. I have no expectations about men, because I have so many male clients. Men are so fragile. But I appreciate what the universe offers in terms of physical closeness – and yes, I have someone who appreciates me.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
If anyone had told me five years ago that I would be where I sit today, proprietor of my own business with a book published, I wouldn’t have believed them. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been in my life. So in the next five years, if I can just keep doing the work I’m meant to do, which is to help get the word out that death is not an ending. No one ever dies. Death is actually a beginning of sorts, or just another stop on the soul’s journey in learning how to love. And if I can do that, then when I die in this lifetime, I will have fulfilled my own purpose.
Is there anything else you want to share with our readers?
Enjoy your life now! Look at what brings you joy and go out and do it – that’s “soul work,” believe it or not!Love From Both Sides - A True Story of Soul Suvival and Sacred Sexuality
Bless you all, and I hope you buy my book! You’ll like it – it’s fun, really! And if you have questions, write me: Stephanie @ StephanieRiseley.com
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Learn more about Stephanie by visiting her website at StephanieRiseley.com
Below you can listen to an excellent interview with Michael Newton, hypnotherapist and author of Journey of Souls. He will explain how, through work with clients, he discovered what people experience in death, and what they do after they die. If you listen and embrace what he says, you will never be afraid of death again.
Here is a segment from Seth Speaks regarding: death, dying, incarnations, astral travel, out of body experience, and life after death.
To listen to more of the Seth audio/video series click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m58P9t3PNEE&NR=1