Yesterday I was humbled and blown away by something a client shared with me, and it made me remember why we are here on planet earth, and why I do what I do as a vocation. It also prompts me to share something I have told very few people, because it’s very personal.
First of all I need to give some background to put this story into perspective…
In 2000 I met a very great spiritual teacher – Amma – who is also known as the ‘hugging saint’. I think to date Amma has given spiritual ‘hugs’ to around 30 million people. She is beyond a saint and in spiritual terms known as an ‘avatar’ or great being who comes to the world in times of great need.
I met Amma on my trip around the world in 1999 while I was searching for answers to the illness which had keep me virtually housebound for 5 years – chronic fatigue syndrome.
I had set off around the world on ‘one last trip’ because after 5 years unable to work or barely function, I was on the edge of giving up hope of getting well again. So I set off round the world while I was still able to walk, to do ‘one last trip’ in case I got worse and could no longer do anything.
After 11 months I had still not found answers even after trying multiple therapies, and finding myself incapacitated on many occasion for weeks at a time, and this is when my path crossed with Amma.
Being in her presence the first time was an extraordinary experience and one I will never forget. The deep peace I felt after her first hug left me in a state of satori (bliss) for hours. I had never experienced anything like it. My mind stopped, there were no more thoughts, and I was immediately transformed forever. I accepted her as my teacher (or rather she accepted me as her student).
During her 3 day retreat in Dallas I was given a mantra (a phrase repeated to aid concentration in meditation), which is carefully chose for each student, and I left the workshop to practice it daily,
It was a week after her retreat that I met the first person who ever really helped me understand the connection between suppressed emotions and illness, and from that day everything changed, and I started to get better. It was another 6 years of putting the emotional clearing practices I learnt into place on a daily basis before I felt well enough to work again.
I discovered 10 years after meeting Amma that she visits Australia every 2 or 3 years. On discovering this I met with her for the second time in 2010. This time I asked for a spiritual name, which one is able to do when it is the right time.
The point of a spiritual name from a ‘guru’ or teacher (guru literally means ‘dispeller of darkness’) is that it describes a trait or series of abilities one is to ‘live up to’ or fulfil in this lifetime. It is a guiding post showing one one’s purpose in life, and in particular one’s purpose for being of service to the world and humanity.
I was told ‘no, it’s not your time to have a spiritual name… ask again next time’. I left the retreat and continued practicing my mantra daily, and returned 3 years later in 2012, when I asked again for a spiritual name. This time she said yes.
Each spiritual name is always absolutely unique and personal for each person. It is a word which comes from their Soul and has deep deep meaning.
The name Amma gave me was ‘PRANADA’ which translates as ‘bestower of life’. As soon as I was told it’s meaning, I knew what it meant for me and why it had been given. It felt like a huge responsibility and I didn’t share it with anyone for quite some time.
At this stage in my life I had already been working for 6 years as a therapist helping people get well from debilitating illnesses which most doctors tend to say are incurable, or at least unmanageable without medication, things like chronic fatigue, ME, fibromyalgia, IBS, depression and more. I knew I was already helping to ‘give people their life’ back.
But it wasn’t until yesterday that I realised just how much this is the truth:
I checked in with a client who had just had her parents to visit for a week.
Now for many people this may not be a big deal, but for this client it was.
When she first came to see me she was beyond collapse. She was barely able to look after herself or her children or function in any normal capacity due to beyond extreme fatigue and pain.
In our first breakthrough session, where we identified the true reason her symptoms had been created, we discovered she had spent her whole life holding all her feelings inside, afraid of speaking her truth with her friends, parents, husband… She had held everything inside for fear of being judged, scorned, invalidated, misunderstood, criticised, humiliated or even punished.
She had driven her body to exhaustion by constantly overdoing it in an unconscious effort to get love and attention from people in her life as a result of not feeling completely loved as a child.
I have to say that this issue sits at the root of every client I have ever worked with for the past 11 years. Not feeling good enough, worthy enough, clever enough, or just plain ‘enough’, is the root cause issue of the beliefs, thoughts, feelings and behaviours we then create which later down the track lead us to feeling either desperately unhappy or ill. Illness is just a furtherance of the hidden unhappiness.
As a teenager this deep sense of unworthiness had led this client to experience an eating disorder, anxiety and depression. Later this led to exhaustion and severe fatigue / pain symptoms.
So the anticipation of having her parents come to visit was a big deal, because it triggered her body right back into the fear and stress response she had experienced as a child.
Before her parents arrived, we made a plan of action, in particular around ‘boundaries’ and what she needed to set in place to make the visit work for her. We planned how she would put herself first and make herself a priority. We practised how she was going to say this with her parents so she felt confident to speak her truth without fear of rejection or reprisal.
And then she did it. She took the action, even though in her words ‘she shook for 10 minutes’ after telling her parents what she needed to make the visit a success and ok for her.
She had never spoken to her parents like this… ever.
She had never stood up for herself in this way, or believed that she had a right to do so. She told me after they left that it had made the world of difference. She put herself first, and even her husband noticed a dramatic difference in how she had been so much more empowered.
When I asked her what would have happened if we had not met, and she had NOT been taught the self-help tools she had learnt to look after herself during her parents’ visit, her response blew me away, and reminded me of the name Amma has given me to live up to:
“If I hadn’t known what I have learnt with you, I would have considered ending my life before they arrived. Instead I am powerful and I now know I am not wrong to feel my emotions, or feel frustrated with others. I just was never taught to speak my truth or communicate my feelings, but now I can”.
I was blown away, because she was absolutely serious about how bad she felt before learning these life changing tools, and what she might have done had she not learnt them.
In just 2 months this is the transformation she has already created for herself as a result of having new tools to manage her everyday life, and to value and love herself enough to believe she has the right to make herself her number one priority in her life.
This is what I LOVE about the work I do: I don’t do anything FOR clients – I teach them how to do it for themselves, and as a result their body self-heals on every level: emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically. To me this is true healthcare, and is the future of healthcare – showing people how to transform their health and life without external intervention such as medication. This is what excites me!
As the saying goes ‘give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime’.
So thank you Amma for being my guiding light. Thank you for giving me the strength to keep going myself when things are tough, so that I have the strength to share these amazing life-changing skills with others.