German therapist to speak in Natchez

Published 12:03 am Thursday, February 7, 2008

How does a German Baroness go from her father’s lavish estates and Swiss finishing schools to being a healer in a small town in the middle of the New Mexico desert? How do we thrive in distinct communities? Without arriving at a conclusive answer, I know my passion for Eastern philosophy and Christian mysticism were guides in my life of therapeutic service.

I was born Baroness Alexandra Victoria von Diergardt. As a youngster living in an aristocratic world, I was a curious naturalist and became an enthusiastic scholar of Eastern philosophies and Christian mysticism. I have an master’s in Eastern Philiosophy Literature and the Sanskrit language. In 2004 I graduated from the Hypnotherapy Academy of America as a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist.

I left Europe in 1972 and settled in San Francisco, Calif., where I delved into the study of meditation and other esoteric paths under Sufi Master Pir Vilayat Khan, and a variety of Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and shamanic teachers. I immersed myself in various healing modalities, such as Feldenkrais movement, Gestalt therapy and Psychosynthesis.

Email newsletter signup

I was fortunate enough to study with Joseph Campbell, the acclaimed mythologist, and with the Buddhist teacher and great eccentric Alan Watts.

I am currently in private practice in Santa Fe, N.M., and owner of Pranamarga Breathwork, a venue for workshops featuring my own work and that of guest teachers. My greatest satisfaction with my clients is when they report greater serenity, peace and self-confidence.

What is at the heart of what I have learned?

I have discovered that once we are in a positive relationship with ourselves and our actions, we are then able to fully open and extend ourselves to others. I have found that, just as yoga masters claimed six centuries ago, our connection to a greater being can be discovered through breath and awareness. I have found that by sowing the seeds of limitless possibility in ourselves, we harvest an abundant nature. I surmise that since thought is creative, our lives invariably reflect our deepest attitudes and beliefs.

Does a healthy community need to have intents and beliefs in common? Must a community include individuals with the same preferences and activities?

What makes us decide to create kinship, and what naturally evolves between people that brings them together? What does it take for an individual and/or group to have an abiding relationship?

I believe that a sense of belonging is essential in today’s world, and is necessary in a healthy community. Belonging incorporates safety, trust and respect. These latter qualities are products of individual integrity and transverse international boundaries. We can hope to meet there in peace.

I will be in Natchez Feb. 22 to speak on relationships between self, others and community. My lecture is free to the public.

Taj Ali is a therapist from Santa Fe, N.M.