Artikel in "ISH Newsletter"
Ernie Rossi Along the Numinous Coast of Eternal Exploration with Betty Blue and Erika Chovanec
Betty: Fascinated by the entrancing elements of therapeutic playfulness that have been correlated with emotional, spiritual, and physiological well-being, I watched Dr. Ernest Rossi from across crowded conference halls for many years. His wisdom as an author, an intellectual and a shining star of hope and wonder would amaze me so much that he seemed far beyond any vision I could have had of him as a colleague or a friend: As if I had been blinded by the light of his brilliance. Yet, I often found myself referring to his book on The Psychobiology of Mind-body Healing, as a reference tool.
After meeting and becoming like a sister to my dear Slovakian born colleague and friend, Erika Chovanec, I found myself agreeing to accompany her to a workshop that was to be given by Ernest and Kathryn Rossi. Erika was devoutly involved with Ericksonian hypnotherapy and the study of both “Being Motivation” and “peak experiences” and was excited not only to attend the training, but to personally study with Ernest Rossi. Since she was traveling by plane to an airport close to my home in Southern California from her home and private practice in Vienna, Austria, I felt that the least I could do was to drive the two of us the rest of the four hundred kilometer distance to the Rossi training in Morro Bay on the central coast of California.
Before our weekend training began I was able to have an internet conversation with Kathryn Rossi, who was registering participants for the workshop. During our conversation I briefly described some of my own conference presentation offerings and discoveries about therapeutic and healing playfulness. I instantly felt at ease with Kathryn but was expecting to feel intimidated by the impressive Dr. Ernest Rossi. The training was held in a room with large windows overlooking a beautiful and calm bay. The room, the friendly participants, and most of all, the down to earth attitude of our main teacher allowed my sense of intimidation to begin to blow away with the ocean breeze.
After the weekend workshop was over and the other participants had left, Kathryn knew that Erika would be spending the next day having private mentoring experiences with her husband. To my delight, Kathryn spent that day with me openly sharing inspiring stories of the personal healing challenges that she and Ernest had overcome as she playfully escorted me through the beautiful inland wine country.
The following day Ernest Rossi and Erika invited me to join them as a training session subject while Erika observed our interactions. That morning, as Erika and I walked the short distance from our hotel room to the Rossi’s home office, I found myself singing the words to a song to Erika, “We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz”. Erika laughed.
By early afternoon, our ”in-home-office” training ended. As we walked outside the Rossi’s home, Dr. Rossi asked me if I knew how to visit “Montana de Oro”. I looked around the area in confusion trying to picture a mountain of gold. “Someone must have used the ‘confusion technique’ on my GPS system”, I replied, adding, “My car doesn’t know how to get anywhere in this area”. Our teacher responded back by looking at both of us and saying, “Come with me”. He put on his “hoodie” jacket, handed us our jackets, and we walked to his SUV.
We will now switch to Erika’s perceptions of the experience that we shared as we use our memories to go back in time:
You never know what is right around the next curve
Erika: Betty and I are now sitting in Dr. Rossi’s car. He is driving us along the coast of Los Osos on an excursion into the unknown. It is a crisp, cool, and beautiful day in April of 2008. On our left side we can see the typical Californian landscape, on our right side the Pacific Ocean appears to be producing a wind that is growing cooler and wetter with every kilometer. From the car the three of us can clearly see the immense vastness of the ocean. Betty and I are just starting a new journey of creative development. Dr. Rossi’s hands hold the steering wheel in a self-assured manner. Gentle music of “Kitaro” accompanies the continuing curves along the path we are on. It almost feels as if we are being rocked in a cradle, while I notice my fingers making light movements to the rhythm of the music.
Betty and I have no idea what to expect. When I ask Dr. Rossi where he is taking us, he answers: “You will see”. It makes us both very curious. He is enhancing our human attraction to novelty. None of us are talking but we are in what he could have described as “Stage one of the creative process”.
Stage two: Incubation
We are confused about any purpose or goal for this excursion and why this ambitious man is giving us so much of his time, but our guide and driver simply says, “We never know what is around the next curve”. The knowledge of what might be there becomes less important than the experience of being and quietly absorbing what is happening. We are feeling a sense of meaning by becoming one with the experience itself.
Dr. Rossi stops the car at a magnificent look out point above the cliffs and the crashing waves. The three of us get out of the car and walk one after the other into the unknown. The wind is blowing strongly. Just as we quietly say to ourselves, “This is why we came here and It is so beautiful.”, Ernest Rossi repeats, ”This is just the beginning and you never know what might come next.” In front of us we see an open ocean of new experiences.
Then Dr. Rossi brings us closer to the edge of a cliff. On the right side near the ocean is a sign: “Danger!...Don’t go behind the point.” He looks at the sign and then looks back at us saying, “It’s important to pay attention to the signs along the way, but sometimes when you have a guide that knows the territory you can go further than you thought you could”: He gently and carefully leads us past the sign and with an assuring smile shows us that he knows the landscape well enough to safely take us further “beyond the boundaries”, closer to the edge of the cliff, and into the supposed, “danger zone” where he knows the territory.
Stage three: The Illumination
We look out over the ocean and it seems as if we are seeing the curvature of the planet. After a few more meters, we are also experiencing a magnificent symphony of wind and crashing waves. We both look around and continue to be amazed at the beauty that surrounds us, and as we repeat, “This is wonderful!” our host replies, "There is more to come". We are awestruck by how the powerful intensity of the sound of the crashing waves and the height of their wet windy spray seem to be increasing with every 200 meters. We could not have imagined such a rugged and wild ocean exhibition. As the waves continue to grow even stronger and the cliffs continue to grow even more impressive, Dr. Rossi continues to repeat: "This is wonderful, but you never know what may come next.”
Soon we have now driven past additional curves in the road and the car stops at another lookout point. As we once again walk by the sea, everything is like one organic trance. It feels as if we are sharing a “peak experience” or the stage three of Illumination. It is one of those lovely moments of pure happiness. Such experiences in life are, indeed, numinous. They are the glorious payments for the other more difficult experiences that we have known. We can sense the beauty we share in our bodies and souls but with an unspoken eloquence that defies words.
These images, the beauty of the ocean, the movement of the waves, and the organic feeling of all of us being together at this moment in time reminds us of how short and precious life is and how blessed we are to be sharing beauty with one another. We feel as if we are all totally alive and that each of us is more alive because of one another. We pose for a picture arm and arm and linger for a moment as if we do not want the moment to end.
That evening in the Rossi’s dining room, we warm up by sampling Kathryn’s delicious hot soup. We laugh while telling our hosts that, earlier in the day, while walking to their home, Betty had quietly sung: “We’re off to see the wizard.” Ernest knowing the song replies, “Me a wizard, why I’m just Ernie”.
Stage four: We are back at our homes: One of us in Vienna, Austria, the other in Southern California.
Betty now states: I can’t help but quote the words of the famous American, Benjamin Franklin, who said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
As the years passed we continued to see Dr. Ernest Rossi as “Ernie”, and as an ingenious mentor, but more importantly, as a non-judgmental, accepting, and loving guide, a role model of humble actualization, and a dear friend.
We played together with Ernie and Kathryn Rossi in “General Waking Trance States”: States that we often return to. Who knows how many times we have now repeated to clients, to loved ones, to colleagues and to ourselves, “You never know what is right around the next curve in the road. You never know what amazing experience or adventure may come next ”.
Following the 2008 central coast experience that Erika and I shared, my husband, Michael, and I met casually with Kathryn and Ernie on a couple of occasions. During our last visit the four of us were in lounge chairs on the patio of the hotel room that Michael and I were sharing. The patio overlooked a garden and beyond it was a calm and serene portion of Pismo Beach, California. As the four of us daydreamed while looking out over the glistening water, I began to quietly say, “And you never know what’s coming next”. Just then a man who was parasailing swooped down, almost landed on our patio, then swooped right back up into the air and disappeared. We all laughed but then silently basked in the novelty of the experience. Those surprisingly beautiful experiences, so spiritually uplifting that we might call them “numinous”, can be endless, but our eyes, our minds, and our hearts need to be open to experience them.
Twelve years have now passed since our initial coastal excursion and so has Ernie. Erika and I skype after having heard of Ernie’s death.
Erika comments: “We now experience Ernie as having chosen a place on the coast of eternity”. We take a few moments to cry together, we send our love to Kathryn, we comfort one another, and we also smile with gratitude at our memories. We know that the well-known Dr. Rossi, the teacher who spoke less but said a lot, lives on in the thoughts and work of his students.
Betty adds: Yes, Ernie’s genius along with his hopes and ambitions will live on through the work of Kathryn, through his audiences, in those who have read and studied his books and in others who are contributing to his research.
We will forever feel privileged for having experienced the essence of our brilliant, gentle, playful, and supportive friend, “Ernie”, and his awe-inspiring nature will live on in our hearts, beyond boundaries, and along the numinous coast of eternal exploration.
Thank you for everything the best teacher ever.