Don McLean’s song American Pie, with the words ‘the day the music died’, seemed to sum up the feeling around me in the days following September 11.
I found myself walking through thick air, with a sense of deadness within my soul. I watched the people on the street and noticed a slowness of movement and a blank, confused, and painful look in their eyes. Fear, anger, sadness and lethargy seemed to have found their way into the hearts and minds of most of the people living on the planet.
Time moved forward and we began to heal and recover. But something was different; something had changed on a deeper level within us all. We all knew that life would go on, but never quite like before. The following year, I spent most weekends by my father’s bed as he slowly decomposed with cancer. That year, I really experienced just how close and connected I could feel to another person. That was the year that I really forgot myself and in doing so, I felt that I had come as close as I had ever been to being human. To feel human, I realised, was to acknowledge my own soul, to question mortality and to not fear or resent it.
These 2 events changed me in a way that I could not quite define. I was aware of a lack of energy, a sadness; a pessimism. A shadow had descended onto and into me. Finally I pinpointed it – I had no joy.
Joy: the lightness of being. Joy to me is the quiet nature of happiness. It’s a calm happiness, a sense of feeling right with the world and with myself. Yes, lack of joy is like having your own personal music die. I asked myself if the world had changed so much. Was the world really a bad place? Were people really all hostile and mean spirited? It seemed to me that everywhere I turned and everyone I spoke with bombarded me with messages of fear.
My father’s death had created a sense of vulnerability within me that I had not known before. My foundation became shaky as I realised my personal reality had been permanently changed. My ‘rock’ no longer existed. I’m sure that I would have been fine if I had been able to deal with my grief in my own time. But, with September 11 happening around the same time, it felt like the whole world had changed and all of life had become vulnerable and fearful.
I also wondered if I was becoming too old to enjoy life as I had done in my youth. No, I wasn’t depressed, but I must say I felt like I had become ‘beige’. Beige is a safe colour, but also a bland colour. It never offends, but neither does it inspire. My life was feeling beige, my life had lost its music and I had lost my joy.
I had battled fatigue and rheumatoid arthritis for some years. I finally became so angry at being in pain, feeling tired and lacking joy that I decided it was time to take some aggressive action and turn it around. My quest for the return of my joy had begun.
I thought back over my life and recalled the person I used to be. I wondered how so much time had passed without me realising, how far I had drifted away from the happy, positive, motivated person that I used to be. ‘Insidious – like rust,’ I thought.
Ironically, I used to teach meditation courses, I also ran workshops on self esteem and personal growth. Little by little, I had become involved with other lines of work, new relationships and other responsibilities. I guess I had just
let myself drift away until I ended up in this beige world.
I had previously worked in one of Perth’s most prestigious weight loss clinics. The programme was way ahead of its time and offered nutritional guidance, psychological awareness and stress reduction techniques. I spoke with thousands of overweight people during this time, and had worked with more than a dozen clinical psychologists.
At that time, I became fascinated with how the mind influences behaviour and habits. It was impossible to work in such an environment without looking into my own psychological make up. Although I did not have a weight problem, I certainly related to the fact that what you believe about yourself is what your behaviour reflects. More succinctly, where you are right now is a direct result of your thinking.
You think – you feel – you act. Your actions reinforce your thoughts and there you have your belief cycle. Good nutrition is vital to gaining and maintaining physical health. Self awareness and positive perception is vital to your emotional wellbeing. During those years, something else emerged within me and completely changed my life. I discovered a sense of my spiritual self through meditation.
That was the happiest time of my life. I walked, talked and breathed happiness. Being spiritually connected is not about religious dogma. It provides a sense of belonging, of being right with the world. There is lightness that can only be described as pure love. You do not learn spirituality, you become it and you radiate it. Your mind, body and soul become light. That light touches, heals and lifts everything and everyone you come in contact with. The magic of this is that the more you radiate outward, the more you replenish yourself.
So, getting back to 2002 and the realisation that I had become beige and joyless. My first priority was in getting my health and vitality back. I was determined to get on top of the arthritis thing. A few things were already blatantly obvious and diet headed the list; I eliminated or reduced my consumption of alcohol, sugar, white flour, packaged and processed foods and
saturated fats. I started to graze on food rather than eat large meals. I ate mostly raw foods and my vitality increased as my pain decreased.
I started meditating twice a day. I kept a journal and I wrote affirmations which I repeated throughout the day and prior to falling asleep.
Because I was focused on getting well, I became very aware of the many negative influences around me. Television, radio and newspapers had to go! I could not keep my head clear with the media’s obsession with doom and gloom.
I also had to have a few serious conversations with the people in my life about topics that I would no longer engage in. I needed to discipline my thoughts against entertaining fear, guilt or worry. I remembered a friend of mine who was a connected breath therapist many years earlier. He had put me through a few of his breathing sessions and I experienced absolute bliss for days later. I decided to do 30 minutes of deep breathing each day.
Within a few weeks, I had become pain free and no longer needed medication. My energy level was back to normal, and most days were good days.
In 2003, I was feeling like my old self again, but I was also aware that the world around me still appeared to be thick and joyless. I couldn’t help but feel that the universe needed to be healed. There seemed to be so much negative influence in conversations. People appeared to be expecting the worst of each other. I noticed a great deal of criticism, cynicism and sarcasm. I became concerned that the repetition and exaggeration of negativity would expand and grow.
I had turned my life around. I had reinvented myself and I had reclaimed my joy. I found myself compelled to add this energy into the atmosphere. Change does not come with one giant action. Change comes by one person picking up one other. 2 people pick up 4 and then 4 pick up 16. One act of kindness, a word of encouragement or simply a hug. Too often, we feel we have too little to offer so we do nothing. It only takes one person, one voice or one hand extended to start a chain reaction.
With this understanding, I decided to put a few of my healing techniques and insights onto the internet. I felt at the time it was only a small step, but I believed that if there was anyone out there in need of this information, then surely I should make it available.
Within only a few weeks, I had emails coming in from all over the world. Each one strengthened my belief that people were looking for healing and people wanted to heal others.
I am not alone in wanting peace or in believing that it is possible. I may have started out as only one voice with one hand extended, but there are hands across the world now joining together. We all want health, wealth and happiness. We long to connect and belong. The spirit within will always strive to fly.
I believe that our perception of the world may have changed, but our hearts have not. We all want to feel safe and secure. We need to feel loved and to give love. This is our true nature. We all want to feel safe and secure. We need to feel loved and to give love. This is our true nature.