A major life breakthrough-1976 (31-32)

Trying to figure out my life

I'd been attending some small Branden workshops in New York City, maybe 15-20 students at a time. Dr. Nathaniel Branden would fly in for the weekend from his home in California. I heard about a big upcoming two-day immersive workshop that he was going to be leading.

I didn't want to re-experience the terror I felt in the est training

I was interested but concerned that the immersive workshop might trigger the terror I felt in the est training two years earlier. When I asked him about it, Branden said something like I shouldn’t compare the two. I decided to do Branden’s Intensive, as he called it.

Branden's Intensive and my breakthrough

About 180 of us were in a large New York City hotel ballroom. The Intensive's overall intention was about creating and maintaining more self-esteem.


It was on the second day that I had my breakthrough, by far the biggest breakthrough of my life up until then and ever since (as of December 2021), at least the type of breakthrough that occurs instantly and doesn’t take time to develop and build.

He took us through a guided fantasy

We were instructed to stack the chairs on the side of the room. Then we all lay on our backs on the carpeted floor. The lights were dimmed. 

Branden first instructed us, with continued encouragement, to support ourselves only using our feet and our hands and to push our pelvis off the floor and toward the ceiling as high as we could and maintain that position. For me and I think for most others it was an exhaustive and difficult position to create and maintain. He kept insisting that we maintain this position and finally, after maybe five minutes, he gave us permission to relax, laying flat on our back with our eyes closed. What a relief!

Next, he told us he was going to take us through a guided fantasy...to close our eyes, to listen to his instructions, and do what he said…

I was walking down a country road with beautiful, balmy weather, green fields off to my left and right. Up ahead on my right I saw a large, canopied shade tree. As I got closer, I noticed a child standing under the tree, a boy of five-years-old.

Within fifteen feet of this young boy, I realized, “This is me when I was five.” And he knows that he will be me when he grows up. Branden instructed us to share with this five-year-old what it will be like to grow up and become me.

As I began to speak, I started crying and sobbing, “I’m so sorry life’s going to be so hard for you.” I felt immense compassion and empathy for that little boy, connecting with him more than ever before.

As I continued crying and speaking to him, I suddenly had a revelation, “With whatever wisdom I’ve been able to garner to this point of my life, if I join in partnership with this five-year-old Dwight who has that natural innocent spirit of adventure, freedom, curiosity, and happiness, then life’s going to be damn easy from this moment forward!”

It was true. In comparison to how life seemed before that moment, that revelation and breakthrough lasted. Yes, there have been some rough times since. But I continued and continue to live inside that context and experience of wholeness. I had re-owned my child, my five-year-old Dwight within.

For over three years, I had been seeing a counselor, Ruth Wolfert, originally introduced to me by my former girlfriend, Loretta. Ruth’s training was in Gestalt therapy, created by Fritz Perls. She was pretty good and I had definitely grown through our working together. At my next session with her after Branden’s Intensive, I thanked her for all we had done together and told her I was discontinuing our sessions. Not that I wouldn’t have learned more, but I could clearly tell that I was beyond most of what she had to offer.