WELCOME

What is Resonance?

On the Same Wavelength

This Web Site




Add your email address to our list for future updates.
Stories of Collective Resonance
Dying (and Healing) with Collective Resonance

Interview with Cathy Prins Muscular Therapist and Energy Healer January 13, 2003

Collective resonance can be helpful in our final, inevitable, transition…death. Four years ago Cathy Prins learned that her friend Mary Kaye had been diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Mary Kaye invited Cathy, a muscular therapist and energy healer, to help her facilitate a “conscious dying process” that would involve and, hopefully, help to heal her large Irish Catholic family. Mary Kaye died just after Thanksgiving in 2002 but not without achieving what she and her family most needed. In this interview with Renee Levi, part of Renee’s doctoral dissertation research, Cathy generously shares the four year process with its teachings, its inspiration, and, ultimately, its peace. RAL: So, Cathy, please all tell me all about the situation. Draw me into it.

CP: Okay, well, basically it’s about a friend of mine, Mary Kaye, who I’ve known for four years. She comes from an Irish Catholic family, the oldest of six children, one sister, Jane, and four brothers. Everyone has dealt with their Catholic upbringing in very different ways. Mary Kaye has always had a specific idea about how she wants to live her life, I think. It was very important to her that she and her children live from an authentic place. The rest of her family did not always embrace this. Also, she lost her husband six years ago, to cancer as well, and it was very clear in her mind that her children needed a male role model and she kind of muscled her brothers into being the male role models and there was a lot of resistance. I met her three years ago. It was shortly before she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and the two of us just hooked together on a spiritual level. I felt like she really honored my experience with my spirituality and my understanding of energy work and that sort of thing. A dear friend of mine introduced us. And so, over the three years that she knew me we talked a lot about why she thought she might be ill, what she thought she needed to do. A lot of what came up was that she needed to let go and not try to control everything in her life. And that was very difficult because she had very clear ideas about what she wanted to do. So, early on when she was first diagnosed, she organized a healing evening on the beach with her closest friends, those she felt would understand this concept. She felt strongly about the power of a group, so on one level she began this process of having group energy together back then. We blindfolded her, we carried her down to the beach. She did nothing, she just received. We sang songs to her, we put cream on her, we had smells that she could sort of relish in, we brushed her hair. We were on the beach, which is one of her favorite places.

RAL: So, she initiated this. She brought you together?

CP: She brought us together, yes. There were probably eight or nine women. So in addition to that healing group on the beach, we also went back to her house, brainstormed, figured out what she needed to do in terms of her work because she’s a single mom. We helped her get together a schedule for her children to be watched while she was doing her therapy, and that part in itself was very magical. Here these eight women bustling around. We had all our children with us. There was no arguing between the children. They would all go off and play together. I mean, there were all these little mini experiences of what the climax was on Thanksgiving when she actually died. So this was…it set the tone, and there were several other situations where we gathered together like this. The next point was when I met her in the hospital, just a few weeks before she died. She was leaving the hospital to go home and then she was going to tell her kids, ages 10 and 13, that she was terminal. At this point, when I came in, she sort of connected with me right away, despite how weak and ill she was and told me that she really wanted me to keep track of things, that she wanted to stay as conscious as possible about this process. She wanted everybody to know that she was dying. She didn’t want to be left out of the circuit in terms of hearing about things. She didn’t want things to be decided for her, she wanted to be present for important conversations like conversations about her children. So she wanted the collective to start already at that point. This was probably the second week in November, almost four years had passed since the time we brainstormed with her. And we had similar times over the years. It continued. Yeah, I mean, she’d gone through the whole cycle of “I’m gonna get better. I’m not getting better. I should be getting…”, you know, “This is gonna take longer than I thought.”

RAL: So up and down for, like, four years.

CP: Yeah, and the struggles with depression. “What have I done wrong?” All of this stuff. And I think there was one point where we finally had a discussion about that healing isn’t necessarily getting rid of your symptoms. That maybe the healing process really involves her death and that it’s beyond, you know, how do you preserve but how do you allow the process to continue? And the healing is bigger than just her ridding herself of this illness. And that took awhile. I guess I would say somewhere in the fall I got the sense that she had that awareness, that maybe it wasn’t about physically getting better but that it was about healing a bigger system. And I think that bigger system was her family.

RAL: Oh…so that was the purpose of this.

CP: I really think so. That’s what it feels like to me. I would say over that four-year period many of the family members weren’t on the best of terms, there was a lot of anger and resentment. Mary Kaye had her own ideas about how children should be raised and her children were, I don’t know how to explain it, just undisciplined, and you know, when you focus on the process of the authentic self, it doesn’t always come in a nice, neat package. They had their own opinions, they were struggling with the loss of their father – two young kids – and Mary Kaye just felt that that process was important to allow them to go through it.

RAL: So it might be about healing a bigger system and her healing was not necessarily only about her, so again it’s a collective thing.

CP: Yeah. Absolutely. And what I have found, actually, is that for some reason I have drawn a lot of Irish Catholic women into my healing practice and so I’ve been very conscious that I think this is a generation of women who are really determined to end the unconscious cycles that are in their families, whether it’s sexual abuse or alcoholism, or whatever those pieces are. And they’re saying, “I’m not going to pass this on.” And so Mary Kay was definitely one of those people. I mean she had alcoholism in her family. She was very vocal about that, that it wasn’t something that was healthy. She still has brothers who are struggling with that. I think that especially in the Irish Catholic…in a lot of the heritages, but especially with the Irish…the drinking is just part of…it’s normal, you know? And it’s normal because it’s a piece that’s helped to cope with the pain in that culture. And having several drinks every day is, with us, not a drinking problem, that’s just what we do. But that’s also the collective, “This is what we do.” And then, there’s a lot of women in this generation who are saying, “That’s not how I’m going to continue to raise my family.” And it’s creating a lot of rift.

RAL: The word sacrifice comes up for me when I think about Mary Kay. Is that how you think of her?

CP: You know, I do, and it feels almost like who am I to say that? But it does feel like that. It feels like two things. It feels like a sacrifice in the sense that she was…first of all she left this earth at a time where she’s going to always be in this glorified image for her children. I think that in itself is very surreal almost. The bubble of your parents doesn’t start to burst until you start hitting adolescence, you know, and I think to myself here are these two kids who are really going to have sort of a saintly image of their mother and, in some ways, Mary Kay really was like that. And the other piece is that I’ve observed her…every person…what did her brother say in his eulogy?…I always thought I was the favorite until I sat in this group of people and I realized that we were all her favorites. And that when you spoke with her, the energy that she expended to be with you… it wasn’t in a martyr type way, it was she just really wanted to connect 100% with everyone who was in her life and our human bodies aren’t designed to just give like, you know, and so from a soul place, she’s now in a place where she can do that. You know? And, I don’t know, that sounds so…it sounds so literal or something, but I really do feel like that’s a piece. I think we all have the assumption that we go through our life from beginning to end and have a long and healthy life and end it, you know, in our eighties or nineties and that if it’s cut short from that, then what went wrong? But I really feel that there was a part of her that, you know, her life felt complete to me. That’s the feeling that I get from that.

RAL: Now, to me, it sounds a little different from the sacrifice thing because I think oftentimes women in particular do sacrifice themselves with illness and with sort of absorbing these dysfunctions of people around them. But I think what feels really different about Mary Kay is that she was conscious of it all the way and she was conscious of putting the energy back in the group and healing the group before she left rather than simply absorbing it…and dying.

CP: And you know…that’s a very…I just tingle on that one. That’s very true.

RAL: She had an awareness. She was a beacon for the rest of the people on a very conscious level…

CP: Yes.

RAL: …not just, “Oh by the way, now I’ve learned the lesson afterwards, but it seems she knew it right from the beginning.

CP: Yes. Absolutely. And she did. And that was the profound piece of it. How, even when she was unconscious…it seemed to be unconscious, because a lot of the time I felt that she was there but she wasn’t communicating with us, she was sort of out of it…but even then…and even now. When you get a group of people together now who know her, there’s just…there’s a compassion and there’s an honoring, and you stop and you say…you know, you don’t get into your “wa, wa, wa, wa”. You’re like, oh, you know, and you start to have an awareness of other people’s issues. The egos just sort of slip out of the way. And I think that is really the profound part about it. Yeah, and so, in the collective, while I helped to facilitate it, I think that Mary Kaye definitely appointed me to that position. And then it was really her that facilitated that collective consciousness or resonance that you’re talking about.

RAL: So, back to the hospital room, so she appointed you, really, in that place when you visited her…?

CP: I think that’s when she introduced me to the other players of the game. I connected with her sister Jane the year before, briefly, but we got close quickly. In the hospital I met her mother for the first time. That’s when I was introduced to several of her brothers for the first time. The first person who entered the room after I had gotten there was her mother…and Mary Kaye had me sitting right next to her and she started to explain to her mother how important I was to her, that I was like her best friend and a sister to Jane, so, you know, she started to say, “Look, this person is very important to me.” I mean a lot of times I would think that if a friend comes into the hospital room and is sitting there and then a mother walks in, it’s almost, “Mother come here, sit next to my side.”… but she didn’t do that. She really had me sort of scootch closer to her, invited her mother in, but really made that very clear, that this was going on.

RAL: So this was a kind of anointment or appointment?

CP: It definitely feels like it. And then she would keep looking at me as different people started walking into the room. She would sort of look at me and she would give me signals…like her brother came in at one point and it was the first time her brother had seen her in several weeks, so she looked dramatically different and I felt the wave of shock sort of hit him. And she sort of looked at me and she sort of motioned to me, “You guys go, I’m gonna be here for my brother.” And it was before the words came out, the energy…I saw the connection between her and her brother. She sort of swirled us out of the room, and I got it, you know. And later she sort of like, “Oh my God, what did I just do? I just whooshed you out. Are you okay?” And I said, “No, I totally got it”, you know, and I kept trying to explain to her each step of the way that I got what was going on.

RAL: So it wasn’t always verbal?

CP: It wasn’t always verbal.

RAL: Sometimes it was, but sometimes it was really on an energetic, on a feel level?

CP: Yes. And that’s how I operate. And I think that…again, she sensed that early on in our relationship. She saw how I operated in different groups and how I just trust that energy without getting my ego into it and going, “Oh, well, what about this and what about that?” You know, I just…there was that understanding, that nonverbal understanding with her on that. The other sort of striking moment was at the end of the day that day I got there…I got there on Friday and I guess she was going home on Saturday. So Friday night her sister, who is six years younger than her, and her brother Peter and myself – the four of us – were in the hospital room and we were trying to figure out how we were going to coordinate telling her children that she was terminal, how we were going to deal with all of the people who were going to find out that she was terminal…anticipating a wave of people who would want to talk to her and say goodbye to her. And she was just sort of going through the people who were important to say goodbye to and then she said that she just had to say that everybody else will have to live with not personally saying goodbye to me. So we were trying to figure out a phone system where she could find out…like a caller ID so she could see who it was. If she wanted to talk, if she didn’t want to talk… We got into this, again, this very literal, logistic thing. And so the four of us were sitting on the bed telling stories about the family and the energy around Mary Kaye kept sort of morphing, like, from age three to age twenty to age fourteen to age ninety. I mean, I was sitting the furthest away from her and you could just really start to see her energy slipping out of this concrete realm that we’re in.

RAL: Because of the stories?

CP: I think because of the stories. The stories were about her. Yeah, sometimes they coordinated with the stories. I think there was a point where she was imagining herself older and I guess actually before this she was starting to slip in…you know she would start to go in…the closest I can describe it is like lucid dreaming. And she would sort of slip out and I would see her go and she’d come back and she would like report some stuff to me. And she went there, and she said, “Oh, I just gave you a gift, this box.” And I was like, “Well tell me about it.” And, you know, some people would think it was the morphine but it was really that she was sort of slipping into…uh, I don’t know how to explain it…

RAL: You think of it as really different realms?

CP: Yeah! Yeah.

RAL: Not the right now physical plane, here and now, time and space?

CP: Well, the best way I can describe it is in a theater when you are trying to portray different time frames, you have scrims up. So when the light is shining flat on the scrim, it looks opaque. And then depending on where you put the light…you can have several scrims in a row.

RAL: What’s a scrim?

CP: A scrim is just a big woven piece of fabric that, depending on how the light passes through it, you can see through it or not see through it. So, it can sort of create a dream scene or you can have a scrim where the light is shining on it and then it can go up and then the next scene is behind it, or it can stay down, just depending on how you illuminate it. I feel like all of those scrims are always there in our lives. And then, depending on where the light passes through, that’s what you see. And whether it’s future or past or whatever, it’s not a linear thing. It’s that all of those things are happening all at once. And I think that when you are hovering on that transition of death, all of the future is just as available to you as the past and it all starts to sort of blur together. But it was interesting, I think, to watch somebody who’s dying. Not only does that stage have a scrim, but the person herself starts to become more fluid. And, again, I’m sitting there observing this. Her brother and sister weren’t really that aware of it but I was just noticing how this energy was really just starting to become holographic, almost.

RAL: Did you say something to the group about that?

CP: I did! What I first did is I was sort of noticing it and…again, this is a first-time experience for me…so I said, “Mary Kaye, how old are you right now? You feel like you’re about seventeen.” And she said, “Sixteen”. She was totally with me on what I was saying.

RAL: So specific. Like sixteen, not seventeen!

CP: And that’s Mary Kaye, very detail-oriented. And I explained to her, I said I sort of felt her going back and forth. I said, “I even experienced you as a ninety-year-old woman.” And she was sort of nodding and agreeing. And when I was telling Jane and Peter about it, they weren’t shocked by it. They were sort of fascinated by it. So I think on some level…I mean, part of it is that they trust me and they trust Mary Kay…but I think the space, again, allowed for them to entertain the idea without putting the judgment in. I think it’s the judgment of a situation that prevents the collective resonance to happen. I think that the collective resonance wants to happen always and then, depending on how strong the resistance is, I think that’s what prevents us from feeling it.

RAL: The judgment in a situation prevents the collective resonance.

CP: Yeah. And the lack of safety. So…fear. I guess fear, judgment… And so, somehow I had the ability to sort of facilitate less fear – lower the fear – in the group, whether it was in a group that was intellectually on the same level like in the spiritual healing group on the beach or a small family unit. You know I had Mary Kaye’s trust. On some level I had Jane’s trust because we connected before. With Peter I think there was just an innocent relationship he had with Mary Kaye. I think he was probably the sibling who had the least amount of mother/child relationship with an older sister. I think older sisters sometimes become mother figures for a lot of the younger kids. And for some reason, Peter did not ever feel that way, so they had a very pure sibling relationship. So just me observing that and talking about my observations allowed him to say, “Oh, she gets me. I can trust her.” And, again, I think that’s how I’ve been able to lower the resistance factor in that.

RAL: So lowering of the fear was about trust.

CP: I think it’s about trust. I think it’s about speaking the truth. And when you hear the truth, you relax. And if somebody says something to you and it doesn’t feel like the truth to you, whether it’s conscious or unconscious, you say, “We’re not on the same playing field here.” You know, I think that when you grow up in a family and the family is saying one thing and your gut is telling you something else. If those things don’t match, then there’s no trust. And then you either buy into that, you rebel against it, whatever, but I think children either - whether there’s chaos in the family or whether there’s harmony in a family - if the child’s perception of what’s happening and what’s actually happening match, then there’s health. So it’s not about making it perfect so that your kids are happy, it’s about making it real. You know, if you’re going through a trauma, then your kids need to know you’re going through a trauma.

RAL: That really touches me.

CP: Doesn’t that make sense?

RAL: It feels right, right now.

CP: Yeah.

RAL: So, you were in that group with Mary Kaye speaking the truth. The two of you were speaking the truth about what was happening for her. And you, probably, would also…I’m just imagining this…you were also speaking the truth about what was happening in the group.

CP: Yes.

RAL: So you were a mirror. You were reflecting back…

CP: Exactly what I was.

RAL: …what was happening for them…because of the trust level…

CP: Yes.

RAL: …and the lack of fear. So their ability to absorb it and accept it…

CP: Yes.

RAL: You were simply reflecting back what was their own truth.

CP: Exactly. That’s exactly right. I felt like a mirror. That’s exactly what I felt like. Yup. And because it happened in pieces…so there was history. There were family members who I think Mary Kaye felt would get it, and then we slowly worked toward the ones who were a little more reluctant to allow the process, you know?

RAL: So in a way it was concentric circles. Maybe that’s not a good image but you were, it seems, expanding…

CP: Yeah, we were expanding the space. We were allowing the safety to become stronger as it spread out. And then I think the next piece, again because Mary Kaye orchestrated it, we told her children that she was terminal. That was just with Jane and myself and her two kids. The way Mary Kaye wanted it set up was she wanted Jane and I nearby but she didn’t want us anywhere within earshot of how she told her children. So she wanted that to be private, just between the three of them. She had us leave the house and she signaled us when she wanted us to come back so, you know, I think she really wanted her children to feel the one-on-one, that they were really special, and they were hearing it from her and it wasn’t modified for anybody else’s ears. It was just for them. And then we were brought in sort of as the support, to absorb the aftermath of hearing that because, you know, she’s very weak and sick. And so we came back. So then there were the five of us together experiencing the collective loss. And there was comfort in that…relief. So that piece, she orchestrated too. Then over the next two weeks she organized all of her household things and what she was going to get rid of, what she was going to save. They ended up moving her to her sister’s house where her kids were going to live and where she was going to die. They did hospice at her sister’s house. And Thanksgiving was just…I mean, how do you get a family together who’s not really completely in synch? You know, the timing was perfect. Thanksgiving meal at her sister’s house, which could accommodate her whole family. Their sister is sick. You know, you just make plans to be there.

And then that’s where Jane really sort of picked up…you know Mary Kaye had always been the one to say, “You know, we’re having a family meeting, we have to get together” or whatever and Mary Kaye wasn’t in that position anymore. So really Jane, with my support from the outside, had the strength and the courage, basically, to say, “We need to have a prayer circle for Mary Kaye”, which was kind of untraditional for their family to do but she knew that…it was very clear that Mary Kaye would have expected it or wanted it. And then to tie it in she also had a priest come to the house. The first run was a little more traditional, a priest led it. We were all holding hands, and we sang a little Latin prayer about peace. That was Thanksgiving morning. And then Thanksgiving afternoon… It was after dinner and we all gathered together in her room and that’s when we had the larger prayer circle and we started off similar to the one with the priest. We sang the song of peace and then we had a talking stick that we passed around. And there were probably twelve children there between ages five and eighteen, along with all of the adults, and we all sort of all started off…you know, a couple people said what are we thankful for, what it is about Mary Kaye that we like, that touched us, or whatever. Everyone was sort of safe and I kind of blast in with my (laughter) deep heartfelt story that brought everyone to tears, which was basically that I felt that Mary Kaye had incredible courage. As much as she hated anytime anyone said she had courage. She said, “I’m just living my life!” So she didn’t see it as a courageous thing but that she allowed us all to be together with her. I said, you know, all of the relatives in my family in the past were diagnosed with lung cancer or whatever and, basically, disappeared for three years until they died. I mean, we weren’t allowed to see them…and I said, “And I basically wanted to reflect what an amazing gift Mary Kaye was allowing us all to share in by being present as participants in this process.” And then slowly everyone started to get a little deeper with his or her comments. I mean everyone’s sort of in the room feeling like they’re going to be on the spot, and then when they found out everyone was just going to speak if they wanted to… But by the end every single person in the room had spoken. Except for one brother, her brother who was born right after her. Physically he had taken on the flu and he was in there for a few minutes and then he left. He was there for a very short amount of time. And even at the funeral he was resisting the process. And, you know, it affected him physically and emotionally. But everyone else, her mother, her father who had Alzheimer’s and was taken out of the hospital and brought there…and he was rubbing her arm. One of the brothers said later that she had to know it was him because he always did that, he always sort of rubbed the kids’ arms. And then…the most profound collectiveness, the resonance that you saw was amongst the children. One child would say something and then another would say a similar thing but each time a child spoke - maybe two or three times - each time they said the words, even if they were words that were already said, you could just feel it becoming their own. You know, it wasn’t necessarily that the words organically came out of them, but once the words were heard then they could speak them and they were their words. Does that make sense?

RAL: Well, it feels to me like progressively they were putting more of themselves into the circle.

CP: Exactly.

RAL: The words weren’t important, they were the vehicle…

CP: Yes! That’s exactly right. That’s exactly what I’m saying. And then even…you could feel where the resistance was. There were a few people on the outskirts who weren’t going to speak and then there was this really precious moment when the five-year-old daughter of Jane’s noticed that one of her uncles hadn’t said anything and she just walked up to him and handed him the stick. It’s like how do you refuse a five-year-old? It was almost like that was the courage that he needed to participate in that group. And, so yeah, in that sense it wasn’t always easy to get that collective, but by the end, it was amazing.

RAL: What did it feel like to you, physically or energetically, when that happened? If you had to describe a particular area of the body that you were sensing more than others…?

CP: Well, I guess the first thing that I felt was the energy was sort of hovering up…like in the head, you know, sort of high up. And even in the room I would say that the energy was sort of…it wasn’t grounded…it was all sort of bouncing off the walls a little bit and, from an emotional standpoint, it was probably not directed. Sort of buzzing around…up. And then each time somebody had sort of dropped into their…really speaking a truth and getting a little bit more connected with Mary Kaye…then you sort of sensed that everyone hooked into that. And then it would come down a notch. And at the end we ended up singing again. Ali, her daughter, wanted to sing Silent Night for her, which was one of her favorite songs. It’s something that we all know, especially in an Irish Catholic family, it’s something that you’ve sung over and over again. And then to speak to words mother and child, you know, all of a sudden it just became palpably connected to her. So I think the place I felt it the most, when all of us were speaking and things were sort of flowing, was right through my heart and out my arms. So it all sort of hovered. Maybe like my heart and my solar plexus. Like that’s the area that I really felt that we all connected. I think that the concentrated area for everybody in the room was really through their heart and solar plexus.

RAL: Were there any other comments afterward?

CP: No, that was just my own sense.

RAL: So that’s where you were connected with one another and her.

CP: Yes.

RAL: So it was this sense of ‘coming down’. Maybe like authenticity. When you drop to that level of the heart that’s…that’s real in a certain way…?

CP: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.

RAL: And you’re kind of dropping down… It’s interesting. Did the voices sound different to you in the beginning and at the end…closer to the end? Did they actually lower in pitch?

CP: (Pause) Lower in pitch? Probably slower in delivery…you know? Just like there was more time. There wasn’t a feeling of it getting rushed out like, you know, there it is. Like you could actually allow yourself to have the experience and then share it as opposed to like going [sound and gesture]…here it is.

RAL: There was more silence then…slower…

CP: Mm-hmm…

RAL: And more space in between…?

CP: Yes!

RAL: More silence. And probably people were more comfortable with the silence as time went on.

CP: Yes, and I mean at the very beginning people were thinking, “Well, we’re in here, but we may have to leave shortly”. But by the end I think that everyone lost track of time. I think people didn’t know whether they’d been in there for twenty minutes or they’d been in there for two hours…but the urgency of people needing to leave totally diminished. Everyone just sort of lingered at the end.

RAL: Mary Kaye was involved in this? Was she was present there, or was she in and out again?

CP: She was there. My experience with her was that she was feeling it, receiving it. At that point she was not interacting with us at all. Her eyes were virtually closed, yeah, and there wasn’t a lot of response. At the very end – not at the end of this but the end of the night, cause people sort of trickled out after this - one of her brothers came up to her and said goodbye to her and that’s when she… I think the word goodbye must have triggered something in her and she opened her eyes and she really tried to connect with everybody. And then everybody who was still in the house came back to her and we sang to her again and she hummed along with us. But I think while all of us were in the room she really received. And we had talked about this before she died, that this whole process really needed to be about her receiving, and I think the only way that she really received was to not engage, you know? She often overextended herself.

RAL: So you really gave her, ultimately, what she needed in life. You gave her the ability to receive and she really did.

CP: She

This site offers four main portals.

WELCOME

STORY

RESEARCH

PRACTICE

Contact Us
Executive Summary
Publications
Collective Wisdom
   Initiative
Profiles
Ordering
Mission
Audio Excerpts
About Us
Site Map

© 2005, The Resonance Project ™ All rights reserved.
Collective Resonance is a trademark of The Resonance Project