At an elegant private home in San Francisco, Ricky and I attended a Mind Dynamics Institute lecture. MDI was billed as “a most spectacular mind expansion program, featuring extraordinary demonstrations and intensive training in memory feats, enhancement of psychic powers, ESP, precognition, psychic diagnosis and healing, with a wide range of techniques drawing on hypnosis.”
What I didn’t learn until much later was that the techniques were ripped off from several disciplines: the famous Texas natural psychic Edgar Cayce; Jose Silva, founder of Silva Mind Control; Rosicrucianism, Theosophy, and others, without any credit given.
Werner Erhard, an attractive, charismatic man in his thirties, led the introductory event. Werner asked the audience to fill out a card about someone we each knew with an illness. He wanted name, age, city where they lived, and a short description of their illness. He explained that his demonstrator would be guided into an alpha state of mind. Once in this state the demonstrator was told all the information from the card except the person’s illness. The demonstrator then described the illness, all the while keeping her eyes closed. When she finished examining and diagnosing the distant person’s physical problems, she described how she was going to help heal the person. For this case she said she would shower the person in golden light. She received feedback from Werner that her diagnosis was correct. The audience was amazed.
Ricky and I were amazed. For $150 I could learn how to do the same in two weekends. I was really attracted to this course that would teach me how to diagnose and help heal people. Ricky and I were living on food stamps with no way to get $150 unless Dad paid for it. I invited him to a free seminar and he signed up for the course immediately. By the second day of the course, to my delight, he signed us all up. My father was a frugal man. The fee was an astonishing amount of money for someone who dried out dental floss to reuse the next day by hanging it over a light bulb.
Our Mind Dynamics Course was Werner’s fourth class as instructor, with 160 people attending. He began, “This is our agreement. For the next two weekends, no one is permitted to leave the room, to use the bathroom except at the break. We are going on a roller coaster ride and, baby, it’s uphill and downhill and anyone here in this room who feels he cannot handle it better get up and leave now.” Everyone was stunned to silence, but no one left.
My brothers, Ricky, and I were the only hippie kids attending the course. Everyone else was white middle class America — no Asians, African Americans, or minorities of any kind. When it was time to do a case, I had a guide who had taken the course before. She had the card and started guiding me to my alpha state of mind.
“Sit in your chair and relax. Close your eyes and pretend, imagine, be childlike and visualize a cat in your lap. Stroke the pet, notice all the features: texture, color, the softness of the fur, the weight on your lap. Now I am going to count you down from the number seven…six… You are now at level one, the deepest level.”
“What colors do you see?”
“I know we are supposed to see color – but I feel like I can’t move, like I am paralyzed. I think this may be a woman who has had a stroke.”
When I came out of my levels the guide had a look of surprise on her face. “I can’t believe how accurate you are on your first case. The woman did suffer from a stroke.”
After that, I believed I was helping people heal and I believed in the way I was doing it. In completing the Mind Dynamics course, I was excited and wanted to share my feeling of accomplishment with everyone. I was a graduate. I still have the first case card as a reminder of those times.
The more of these cases I did, the sharper I got. In one case I diagnosed emphysema when I saw the person’s air passageways were almost totally closed. Years later on a tour through the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, I saw a real pair of emphysema lungs, and they looked exactly like the lungs I had seen in that case. Seeing with my eyes what I had once seen with only inner vision was extremely validating.
Before I finished scanning the body I already knew a lot about the person’s illness. Medical information would start popping up. Getting such details surprised me. Shaking vials of blood in my mind gave me accurate pharmaceutical names. My developing abilities astounded me, especially since, at sixteen, I had no medical experience. My readings started to expand from just looking inside the body, to seeing the person’s appearance — tall, short, hair color, etc. Sometimes I could describe the inside of their home. No wonder thirty-five years later it was so easy to say what was in the bag at the Mind and Matter Conference. Without knowing any official labels, such as remote viewing, I had experienced these abilities all along.
We learned many different exercises: a relaxation technique to help people sleep at night, how to remember dreams, and how to wake up without the help of an alarm clock. There was even a perfect one for my mother — an exercise to help relieve headache pain that gave her some relief.
Everyone I knew wanted me to do a case for them. I could see different operations or problems they had in the past. I wondered if maybe I was reading the mind of the person holding the information rather than the actual distant sick person. While visiting in New York, my childhood friend Esther tested my skills without anything written down. Esther suggested we do a case on her mother, who was away at the time. Scanning her body I was drawn to her arm and said, “Your Mom once had a broken arm.” “No, my mother never broke her arm.” The next day Selma confirmed that she indeed once had broken her arm, long before Esther was born. Reading the thoughts in the mind of the person sitting next to me was a feat in itself, but I was amazed to realize that I was actually reading accurately at a distance as well.
Working on healing a person was a serious task. I received phone calls from friends saying I had really helped them. Some didn’t know how — just that things were better. I was starting to feel this kind of healing might be one of my talents.
During this time, a new instructor asked me if I would be a demonstrator for him at a conference. I was thrilled. While driving to the large hotel, he asked me to close my eyes and project a room full of people with all the seats filled. I was at a loss.
“Jose, I am trying very hard and I want there to be a filled room for you. All I can see are empty seats. The room is full of chairs but there are no people sitting in them. I’m sorry, but that’s what I see.”
We pulled up to the main entrance of the hotel and Jose headed to the reception desk. The receptionist looked puzzled.
“There seems to be a misunderstanding. Yes, I do have your event scheduled in our main conference room. If you look at our announcement board you see it will be held here tomorrow at seven p.m. Would you like to see the room that has already been set up for you?”
When we looked in the room it was exactly what I had envisioned: rows of empty chairs.
Werner Erhard was already establishing a prominent name for himself, so I was thrilled when he asked me to be a demonstrator for him as well. One event was at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco: a live videotaping session with three hundred people in attendance. Instead of doing a case with me, Werner surprised me by announcing he was going to do something called regression. Suddenly I felt like The Chosen One. Always hungry for attention, I never felt intimidated with the large camera lens pointing directly at me. In fact, after that day’s demonstration, I looked in the hotel’s bathroom mirror and saw such a beautiful face, I could hardly believe it was me. I was blossoming from all the attention I was receiving.
The regression felt like what I assumed hypnosis to be. Werner guided me into a state of deep relaxation.
“Gail, you are sixteen years old now but we are going to go back, further back in time to when you were ten years old, now five years old and feel how small you are at two years old.”
“There is something very important that happened in 1957 that seems so important in my life.” I was speaking in a soft voice.
My father was seated in the audience, shocked to hear those words. During the next year Dad finally admitted to me that in 1957 he had gone to prison for stealing cars. I was two years old at that time.
My mind was expanding in so many positive ways because of the Mind Dynamics course and the training I received. I was not worrying as much about money because I came to believe everything would come in time. My feelings toward other people were clearer to me. I was riding the high that comes with increased self-awareness. Dad and I had been part of Werner’s original core group. We were his devoted students. Dad seemed proud of me for being selected so often to do cases and work in the office, all unpaid service. He was so entangled with Werner that he called me one day to say, “Gail, I was in the toilet taking a piss when I saw Werner’s face floating in front of me.” Werner used to say, “I am wherever you are,” but Dad took the meaning a little too far.
In 1972 Werner had a special dinner announcing his departure from Mind Dynamics to form his own company, Erhard Seminars Training: EST. Werner had invited my Dad to a few private meetings. “We could make millions with EST!” Werner had said. Within the next few years, before his exile into scandal, he became known as the founder of one of America’s most successful mass marketed self-awareness programs, gleaning more than $430 million from more than one million customers around the world. By 1974, three years after Ricky, my Dad and I had graduated the Mind Dynamics course, Werner Erhard had gone from a man who could hardly get his funky car across the Golden Gate Bridge, to having enough money to give Stanford Research Institute a $50,000 grant for a scientific study of remote viewing, the ability to produce accurate information about a person, place, or thing located elsewhere in time and space.
At EST everything was highly structured. Cards were posted at the seminars with Werner’s quotes on them:
“The other side of What is Really So is really So What?”
“Remember, it’s all perfect.”
The more it didn’t make sense, I think, the more we went for it.
By the time I had been involved for a year and a half with MDI, then EST, volunteering and doing cases, I had done hundreds of them. Mentally, I would invite my tall, thin (unlike me) guides to assist in helping find out the person’s problem, and to help heal that person.
The last case I did was a young man dying of emphysema. His dying energy stayed with me. I told Werner and his staff about the presence I had been feeling, as if something were trying to take over my body. No one offered any help. I was so afraid and unable to sleep that I made Ricky sit on the edge of the bath tub while I used the toilet so I did not have to be alone. By that time, Ricky and I had found our own place to live. We had more room and were happier not sleeping in Dad’s camper. That night, I did not feel safe enough even to pee by myself. If alone, I feared the dark negative energy might possess me.
I needed to talk to Werner but no one at his office seemed to care. “Hello, this is Gail Schneider, I’ve been volunteering for Werner for the last year. Since I have been doing these cases very scary things are happening to me and I need to speak to him. Could you please have him return my call ASAP?” I called and repeated my plea to the secretary many times.
A few days later I saw Werner at a meeting. His answer to all my troubles: “You create your own space.” What was that supposed to mean?
I called my Dad for his advice. He had a reputation now as the Guru of Guerneville because he had helped many hippies repair their cars, had delivered a few babies, and gave spiritual guidance in everyday life situations.
“Dad, I’m having some problems and I need to know what to do. I have done hundreds of these cases and now it seems like something is coming after me. It is so weird, like if I don’t keep up my guard to protect myself this entity is going to take over my body. Dad, I’m really scared.”
He told me I had to face it. “Gail, what do you think when you’re doing work with sick people and sending them healing? There’s the law of opposites, like black and white, dark and light, good spirits and bad spirits. You’ve picked up some kind of negative entity that’s trying to possess you. You have to be strong and say get out of my body!”
His response was all the input I had, so I decided to try it. That night I must have been partially awake because I saw my cat running in circles as if she was responding to the weird energy I was feeling. Falling into sleep, I kept repeating in my head “Whoever you are, you have to get out of me.” I had an intense lifelike nightmare where I looked at my arms and saw blood pouring out of holes everywhere. I felt raw liver in my mouth; I could smell and taste blood. I saw a pale, shriveled man in the distance. As my blood continued to pour out, he started to become more alive. Turning to the man, I yelled, “You can’t have my body, you have to go!” There was a strange electric flash.
I opened my eyes as the electric energy suddenly ceased and at the same time my cat stopped circling the room. The negative energy and presence was gone from my body and I was exhausted. I knew that everything was going to be OK.
This was the first time I had ever experienced all my senses in the dream world. I was unable to separate what was real from what was a dream. I had been doing these cases to help people, but not to give them my life. Many years later I learned that psychics or healers are supposed to protect themselves before doing healing. It’s very simple to imagine a blanket-like covering of white light, or being attached to a long cable anchored to the center of the earth. The choice of images can be personal, as long as the person creates protection before doing healing work.
I felt abandoned by Werner. Finding no one to help me during that time made me reevaluate my involvement with his organization. I was really angry for some time. Instead of feeling like I was the Chosen One, I now felt like I had been used as a shill. I learned a valuable lesson. After putting Werner on a pedestal as the guru, the almighty, I vowed never again to put another person in that position of power over me. Having learned from my disappointing experience, I avoided the other organizations my friends were joining like the Hare Krishnas, Rajneesh and the many other consciousness movement possibilities that where sprouting up everywhere in the seventies.
From my adult perspective, I have gradually recognized that I had my own gifts when I joined MDI. The course helped develop those gifts, which the team then recognized and exploited to sell their seminars. As it happens, the $50,000 grant that Werner had made to SRI funded the remote viewing research by Russell Targ and his colleagues, who helped me further understand and develop those gifts decades later.
Unexpected Psychic Magic
“Close your eyes and visualize the object in the bag. See the shape, the color, and then describe your first impression…
This is a peek at a larger memoir. The other stories already on Medium can be found here. If you enjoy what you’ve read, clap generously! Feel free to contact me at ghayssen at sonic.net.