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  • Writer's pictureDr. Stefan

© 2022 Stefan J. Malecek, Ph. D.

This piece is dedicated to Ajaya Sommers and the Unadorned Transformational Retreat fellowship of August 5-12, 2022.

The idea of dying is quite academic for most people. For others, it is their greatest fear and concern, often so strong that they fail otherwise to live fully. Still others spend their lives attempting to dull or amplify their senses into extraordinary channels in order to feel less or in order to feel more, powerful.

Only very occasionally are certain individuals granted an opportunity to meet with the Spirit of Death Itself—and return to the Land of the Living with senses intact, awareness reformed, memory and personal history cleansed.

I am one such fortunate traveler. I had such an opportunity on August 9th, 2022 at Spencer Beach on the Island of Hawai’i around 2:30 in the afternoon. What I am transcribing here was witnessed, to varying degrees, by the seven magnificent souls who were present with me, and who participated in my recovery in the aftermath.


It had been a while since I had been to visit Mother Ocean. But I felt safe and really wanted to participate with my fellow attendees. As I waded out to below chest depth, I measured the incoming wave and dove under it. When I got my feet under me, I noticed I was standing on a wide band of slippery rocks. As I worked my way around them, the beach gradually got steeper. My memory is that the “sand” felt more like silt, thicker, almost agglutinated.

Most of my life, I have been a good swimmer. I even worked as a lifeguard many years ago at a resort on Maui. Nonetheless, I admit I began to not feel particularly comfortable the further out I ventured. The rest of the group had swum past me when I decided to come back in. I was probably sixty feet from shore and making decent progress. I had gotten to the point at which I could feel the sand under me and attempted to stand and just walk in. But what I believed should have been the firmament kept giving way with each step and I could not get my footing.

Deciding to swim the rest of the way in, I started being pulled to the left of the position toward which I had been aiming. The more strongly I swam, the further away I seemed to get. It took me a moment to realize that I had gotten caught in a small rip tide, strong nonetheless.

I admit that I made an amateur’s mistake and tried to swim through it. As I saw myself being pulled further and further from my destination—and fighting harder and harder to get through it—I reached the point where I realized I might be drowning. It seemed that each successive wave was stronger than the last and I was being pulled down.

Now, really panicking, I was pulled under and started grasping at rocks to keep from being pulled further away, to no avail. I managed several times to get a breath of air though I went under again and again. Finally, I was pushed down with no air in my lungs, and had reached the point where my disorientation was complete. I sucked in a deep mouthful of water. I had absolutely no perception of how ill-informed I had been. In fact, I remember thinking “That wasn’t so bad!”

I must have emptied my lungs, because when it came time to inhale, I breathed in water again. I remember shaking my head again and saying, “That wasn’t so bad!”

The last thing I remember before losing consciousness was a forty-foot long concrete block being lifter off my back and a translucent green light surrounding me.

By this time, I had been flipped over face down, unconscious. The next thing I remember was an older couple standing above me talking about whether I was in trouble or not—and thankfully deciding I was. He had swimming trunks with horseshoes on them.

I was exhausted completely and allowed myself to be pulled from the water. There was a fair number of people gawking and I was asked numerous stupid questions I could not answer. I was totally limp and all I could do was keep vomiting up sea water. Several people from my group were there and I was wrapped in something or other. I cannot remember, just that I felt warm and safe and comforted—and I could not stop crying.

A number of people, no doubt meaning to be helpful, kept saying “Don’t worry! The ambulance is on its way,” to which I kept sputtering “Fuck that! I do not want it!”

I had a tremendous thirst and a terrible headache, and I kept asking for water. I could not get enough. Plus, when I coughed, it seemed that it was flushing up more and more salt water.

I do not remember at which point I spoke with Ajaya. She was sitting beside me, holding me and I blurted out, “It’s gone! It’s all gone!”

“Pardon me! What?”

“My shame and rage! My fears! The terrible loneliness! It’s been...released!” I could not stop crying.

All of those terrible emotions that had been the embedded undercurrent of my entire life, had vanished! I kept having mini-flashbacks and crying. I felt light and clear and free! I kept checking to see if any vestige of all of my old emotional garbage remained. And there was none! I might have babbled about the joy and gratitude I was feeling. (Sometime later, Ajaya reminded me that I had told her, soon after meeting her two weeks earlier, that “something big is coming! I can feel it!”)

The other members of the group helped me walk up off the sand (carried me is more like it), feeding me water, holding me when I cried and just being there for me. It was amazing! I do not believe I have ever felt more connected and loved in my entire life! I was just basking deeply in it—and am to this day.

Ajaya. Andy, Angela. Brendan. David. Ilana. Kate.

You are all in my heart forever.

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  • Writer's pictureDr. Stefan

© 2022

Stefan J. Malecek, Ph. D.

Every creature, including animals, has a built-in critical period, during which certain activities must either be accomplished, or they will never be. Kittens are born blind. If they do not open their eyes within the first nine days, they will be blind for life.

I am proposing that there is a critical period for integrating positive emotional attachment for children. It is well known that learning to self-soothe is one of the most important tasks of early infancy (during the first six months of life). For example, little children will often reach out spontaneously to another child in distress, rubbing the other on the arm. That child is soothing the other’s distress, having learned how to do that from having experienced being soothed (generally from the mother). It may seem “natural” and in-bred, but I do not believe it is. It is a learned behavior, passed on by one who has experienced it.

By copying adults during the crucial first year of growth, one-year-olds learn a vast array of skills, imitation is vital to the development of abilities ranging from language to social skills. While gender identity doesn't usually start to emerge until about age three, mimicry begins at birth. Many newborns copy facial movements such as sticking out their tongue. A one-year-old begins to practice “imitation with intent, "displaying his or her understanding that these actions have a significance. This not only encourages a child’s self-expression, but keeps open the door for further growth, positive self esteem and building a pathway through which the child will continue to progress as he or she gets older.

Conversely, without this very earliest encouragement, there is a strong possibility that the child may internalize a sense of emptiness and regret, especially if the child has received a diet of disrespect, anger, even active abuse—driving the child to fill in the developmental gaps with these negative artifacts upon which to build a developmental stairway. This may create what is called “affect hunger,” a craving or desire for emotional fulfillment (ultimately self-for-self, reflected through the eyes and words of meaningful others). that may ultimately result in any of a number of self-destructive behaviors that are aimed at dampening, even deadening, the terrible, insatiable appetite for emotional comfort and satiation.

Precisely because the need is so primitive and hence basic; and the fact that it was never met in an appropriate way, a child may internalize (or introject) an analog depiction of the antagonist within his or her self who reinforces all that is negative in the perpetrator’s opinions and reproduces them as his or her own—believing them to be their own! The child does not yet have the ability to discriminate between these projected materials and his or her own—and adopts them. Thereafter the child acts as if whatever crimes and continuing punishments (meted against themselves) are justified and appropriate.

I do not have a precise handle on how shame and all of its derivations entered into the constellation of consciousness, but I believe it is intimately related to the initial sense of separation each of us experiences when we realize (shockingly!) we are no longer part of a loving, benevolent whole in which we are universally loved and valued, but are instead condemned to suffer through all of the trials and tribulations of separate identity—until such a time as we, each of us, comes to see, to feel, to be, a living part the grand totality that each of us represents within the context of the eternal Universal Whole from which we all come and are never separated, ever.

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  • Writer's pictureDr. Stefan

I have been being prompted by my ever-new, ever-growing sense of intuition, to post a few lines about what I have been experiencing lately. The reference I am making is not a new one. It is, perhaps, one of the most ancient ones that exists: that of describing the Universe, All Creation, as a holographic.

Within the holograph, any part of the overall whole can describe the whole when light is shined through it, much as the prismatic color display when a light is shown through a diamond. I have recently deepened my work on myself in ways that have allowed me to have a deeper, clearer, more penetrating view and understanding of what "myself" actually means.

Like most of us, for a very long time, I was trapped into believing that the outer circumstances of my life, and all of the conditions of the world were, in fact, "reality." I have, for quite some time, been working with therapy clients around shame and trauma. The more I healed my own shame, the more I came to realize that I had internalized a great deal of it, related especially to my own violent childhood and to experiences in Vietnam in the military.

Through the many years (more than fifty now), I gradually learned to stop blaming others and accept a certain level of personal responsibility (NO! I did not create my own shame or injuries! But how I reacted to them, and kept re-enacting them, was my choice). The more deeply I investigated, the more I came to see the wisdom that all people and all creatures are connected; and affect one another. From that view I have, for the last six months of so, been taking a deeper dive into my own consciousness; and been releasing even more of the old "held objects" of shame and blame, of fear and terror, that I had long been carrying as actual psychic weight within myself.

I have only recently finally made peace with both of my parents for what I consider to have been their participation in my forming a twisted view of myself and the consequent unfoldment of events in my life, including many years of drug addiction (now 39 years clean from cocaine). The more I delved into how I considered myself, and began to consider myself in a totally different light (spawned by work with incredibly radiant healers who helped me release much old, embedded traumatic memory that, in turn has led to daily meditation and yet other deeper work on myself ), the more I have come to see that "reality" is an inner orientation to cultivate; and therefore, I no longer have to "work" to become a better man; or "battle" with Shadow and inner "demons" to work toward a more "perfect" state.

I have come to see that all of my emotional and spiritual "thrashing around," driven by my shame and anxiety, simply created more of the same. And contributed to the abased conditions of the world. I have come to understand that by deepening my awareness of my true Self, the genuine place in the cosmic order that I have always "owned," that I can ONLY improve the world and conditions on Earth by deepening my own sense of peace and belongingness. I can only change the world by changing myself, by freeing myself of old imprints and beliefs. I am now treating the Universe the way I want to be treated.


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