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Freda's Memorial

Thursday night December 8th we gathered in Sedona to honor my mother, Freda Morris Belden. I kept the event  casual and simple because that is how she would have wanted it to be. Twelve people came and shared their stories, songs and poems about Freda. Many people who could not attend sent emails to share their thoughts and memories. This picture was taken in June 2005 just before I moved to Sedona.

Here are some of the comments about her.

Freda was playful, fearless, flexible, integral, active, unconventional, multifaceted, ask for what she wanted, made herself at home, a teacher of love and one of the happiest people I have ever known. She loved to garden and had a green thumb.  There were also many comments about how much she loved her body and being in it. She liked to do chin-ups, somersaults, crawling around on the floor, sitting in the lotus position, she never sat on a chair in the normal way, and she  wasn’t afraid to ask to be massaged. She also loved to inspire others to stretch, grow  and expand beyond what was comfortable.

“I was Freda’s second best friend. Marion Pastor was her first best friend. She met her first. She reminded me of that frequently. I considered being her friend, in any position, a privilege. She taught me hypnosis and encouraged me to  launch the career that made me so very happy. She took a hick from New York City and introduced me to a world I had never known: psychic phenomenon, hallucinatory drugs that very much widened my perspective, Ericksonian hypnosis. We sneaked into places like nudist camps together and she taught me how to break silly rules. She was a heretic, the most unique human being I have ever known. When we talked about death, she told me she was looking forward to it as a new adventure and wondered what her next life would be like. I intend remebering that when I am dying. You will always be in my heart, beloved friend. I know you have created a momentous happening wherever you are.” Elaine Chernoff

Dear Cystal,  As you know, I can’t come to Freda’s Memorial, because of my physical condition, but my heart will be with you.  Freda wrote highly of my autobiography, which contained many references to her, particularly a description of her when we first met, when we were both employed at the Neurophychiatic Department of UCLA about 1969:

Wanting therapy ,”I  went to Freda Morris, a new psychologist on staff.  She was a puckish, startlingly uninhibited young woman who attracted me immmediately.  She wore no makeup and her light brown hair was casually short and straight in an era when most women wore makeup and had perrmanents.  She took off her her shoes and tucked her fet under her at meetings.  She expressed unconventional flashes of wisdom in her intrermittant Oklahoma twang, offten enough to make me respect her intelligence. She specialized in hypnosis and her Ph.D dissertaion had been in psychic phenomena.
“She looked me over with wide, sleepy-looking bliueeyes and accepted me as a psychotherapy patient. . . I soon found out just how unconventional she was, at the end of our first meeting that she suggested.that we do hypnotherapy on each other, switching roles each time.”

It was the beginning of more than forty years of friendship.  We both quit UCLA eventually and met again quite by chance a few years later in  San Francisisco.  We shared an apartment, then not.  We have been in and out of each other’s lives ever since.  I can’t say I’ll miss her, because I am now past ninety years of age.  Bon Voyage, Freda.  See you again, soon!.
Blessings,  Marion Pastor

“I was friends with Freda for 16 years after meeting her in a math class at UCSC. Some of my best memories of her are sharing time with her in the beautiful and tasty garden at Garfield Park and preparing and eating meals with her and many people over the years. If one story conveys her unique approach to life it was one of her tactics for meeting new, interesting people: She would take post it notes and write her phone number and “call me if you are interested in discussing this book” and put them in the back of books she liked at Bookshop Santa Cruz. I will miss her and remember her always for enriching my life in many, many ways. Goodbye Freda.” Jean-Paul Cane

I Love You, Freda

By Larry Rosenberg, December 8, 2011


Remember when she walked into a room

Our vitality, joy and love levels went up

She had a glowing presence all her own

You’d feel that your life had a fuller cup.

Her youthful energy belied her long age

With a mind as sharp as a razor’s edge

And a heart so eager to connect and grow

You knew where she stood, firmly with no hedge.

Her eyes had a leprechaun’s playful gleam

Her body more warmth than her small frame

Your time with her was an authentic encounter

If she rode a unicorn, she’d have no greater fame.

What was so magical about her every sharing?

She sure put the fun in life’s fundamentals

With her blending of wit, wonder and wisdom

She’d tap into a source of cosmic elementals.

All that she did made you a lifelong friend

Her aura embraced you as a cherished pal

You were with the high priestess of delight

From beret to toes, what an extraordinary gal.

Do you miss her bright communication style

And her opinions numbering more than a few?

What about her zest for life’s sweet nectar?

With all my being, I admit to you that I do.

You know for sure that she was one of a kind

Her vivid life produced a unique woman of arts

With gratitude to have shared our journeys

Precious memories of dear Freda fill our hearts.

Love, Heartbreak and Cancer

About my Mother, Freda Morris Belden,

At the moment I am immersed in caring for my mother. She is dying of primary brain cancer. I took her to the ER in May for confusion and lethargy and she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She had surgery a few days later and we learned it was a very aggressive form of cancer. She was discharge from the hospital to my house and I have been caring for her ever since.

My mother improved after surgery. She made the choice to not to have radiation or chemo. Treatment would only give her a few months and would have a negative effect on her quality of life. She declared she had lived a good life and wanted to die consciously. She has been interested in Consciousness since the 1960’s.

I introduced her to the Buddhist practice of Phowa , which I was initiated into in May 2006. It is the practice of learning how to live and die consciously. Phowa was created by the Amitabha Buddha. The Buddhist Stupa near my house is dedicated to the Amitabha Buddha and I have developed a deep connection to him since moving to Sedona. I t makes sense now that part of my reason for moving here was to prepare myself for helping my mother cross over.

Almost immediately after getting out of the hospital, my mother began saying her goodbyes to her friends and family. She meditated twice daily. She had a couple of presentations she wanted to do for the local Ken Wilber group she was in. She arranged to do the presentations and they were well received. She kept a journal and considered writing her third book.

In July, about a month after her surgery, I took my to Washington state to visit her oldest-best friend. She spent a week with her. I then took her on a trip around the Olympic Peninsula. We had a great time. She was able to enjoy the sights and even hike a bit. She said it was the first time she took a trip just for fun. The last vacation I had taken with her was more than 40 years ago. I am so grateful I took the time to be with her while she still was relatively healthy.

After we returned to Sedona my sons came to visit. My younger son, Josh was the last person on her list of people she needed to tell goodbye. Eli, my older son, had come to see her with his family shortly after she came home from the hospital. Within days, after they left that she began a gradual decline. In August, my brother and his wife came to visit and care for Mom. I took the opportunity to go back east for 2 weeks to visit my grandson, Zev, in Atlanta and attend a conference in North Carolina. During the time I was gone, I realized how much of my energy was being used to support my mother’s process. It was good for me to have some time on my own.

While I was away, she had a drastic decline, becoming more confused and unable to get out of bed on her own. Since my return August 16th she continues to slip away. She is now bedridden and incontinent. She converses very little but responds occasionally. The good news is she is without pain and is mostly at peace. She likes to listen to relaxing music and talks by Adyashanti, Gangaji and Ekhart Tolle.

This experience has been incredibly humbling for me. It is much harder than I imagined it would be. Watching my mother slowly pass into the formless realm is at times heart breaking. What I know as her, is dissolving a little bit each day. Still, her body still eats, sleeps and breathes. Love and sadness dance in my heart as I sit by her bed and send her blessings.

Conscious Dying

A few days ago I was meditating with my mother.  She was seating with her back to me.  I sat and focused on my breath. All thoughts disappeared and deep peace filled me.  I dissolved into Emptiness.  “Emptiness,” with no up or down, no forward or back, no left or right, empty of form and yet full of Consciousness.

I opened my eyes and looked at my mother’s back. i felt incredible gratitude and appreciation for her being in my life at this powerful time.  I closed my eyes and once again there was only Emptiness.  I recognized that Emptiness doesn’t feel emotions. Only a human form can feel the love of a daughter for her mother.  I became aware of my body’s desire to move, then thoughts came and went. I recognized that Emptiness and form are One, co-existing as this apparent me, called Crystal Dawn.  I saw that life is a meditation. Every inhalation is an opportunity to awaken to the now. Every exhalation is an opportunity to surrender the past. As both Emptiness and form I was free.

My mother, Freda, was diagnosed with brain cancer on May 12th while having during brain surgery. The brain tumor had only been discovered two days earlier when I took her to the ER because she was confused and lethargic. During her week in the hospital, I spent many hours on the internet researching primary brain cancer and glioblastoma multiforma, which is the type of cancer she has.  Friends and family helped in learning about possible treatments, both medical and non-medical.  There is no cure for this type of cancer and the prognosis is poor.

On May 18th Freda was discharged from the hospital and moved in with me. It was the first time we had lived together in 40 years. Post surgery she became clear-headed once again.  Our family came together and talked about the various treatments. Mom was clear that she did not want radiation or chemo. She wanted to die consciously and really be present throughout the experience. She felt all she needed was to eat healthy, meditate several times a day and avoid unnecessary stress.

At 78, she trusts life. She has been amazingly healthy. On entering the hospital I had to explain that she was taking no medications and her last hospitalization was in 1958 when she gave birth to my brother. It is an inspiration the grace that natural surrounds her as she goes about her life. She is surprisingly relaxed and happy. She reads and is creating a journal about her experiences. She is writing a novel based on a short story she wrote several years ago. Friends and family come to visit.

The first couple of weeks  after she moved in I felt called to prepare myself to support my mother in dying consciously. I reread the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and reviewed the Buddhist practice of Phowa , Conscious Dying, that I was initiated into in May 2006.

Knowing that she may be only a few months left to live has made it easy to set aside the business I often get lost in. I have a new appreciation for each moment we share. Being with her at this time of transition is teaching me to slow down and revaluate my life.

The past few weeks are teaching me that birth, death and rebirth are always unfolding. I commonly call it “change.” Change may appear exciting, like a trip to Hawaii or scary, such as being laid off from work. When it is exciting I am attracted to it and want more. When it is scary, I contract. I want to deny, blame or resist what is happening. I find myself saying, “This is not my life.”  Resistance causes me to suffering. Another word for resistance is control. Most of my life, I have believed that if I take charge and stay in control, I’ll be safe and keep my loved one’s safe as well.   Of course this is just a belief. Control is an illusion.

Over the past few days I’ve been noticing when I resist what is. I can clearly see how my ego wants to be in control, to get “my way.” The ego, the ‘’I,” is the cause of the suffering. When I stop and let go of “I’ and recognize the Emptiness that is my true nature, there is no resistance, no fear, no need to change what is. There is peace, joy and love.  My intention is to just stay present and empty and let everything be as it is.

Copyright 2011 Crystal Dawn Morris

Tantra Tip of the Day- Beyond Birth and Death

As I listened to this video this morning I was deeply touched by it. I tasted Truth. Please watch and enjoy! Today allow moments for melting into Oneness and remember your True Face.

Avadhuta Gita – Why do you run? – Mooji – Tiruvannamalai Retreat