I was raised in the 1970s alongside an older sister and brother amidst the beautiful countryside of the Midlands in the UK. Our father was the local village bobby and our mother had previously worked in the civil service before finishing to take on the role of dedicated full-time mother.
The countryside suited our parents. Dad was a city boy who craved nature. It complimented his love of bird watching, beetles and painting and our mother was a country lass who had worked in the city but wanted to raise a family where she felt at home.
We lived in medium-sized, detached house with a very large garden that surrounded us on all sides. We looked out onto miles of meadowland and with quite remote neighbours, our house (and garden) was the centre of our world.
We were not a religious family or village. The church stood disused, high up on a hill, miles away from the village centre and out of sight. Neither Jesus nor God were ever mentioned other than in the odd blasphemy. Common sense and the law of the land prevailed in our household.
We shared a lot of time together as a family, eating, playing games and keeping the house and vegetable garden. Our parents went to great lengths to input a wide and varied selection of activities, day trips and camping holidays into our childhood. They were quietly supportive of our personal freedoms, within a safe environment and day to day, they left us very much to our own devices as we explored nature and stretched our boundaries.
As I reached my teens, my father shifted his job from walking the beat to forensic science and we moved from the village into the local city. It was an exciting time as I mixed with many more people than I ever had before and although I was average at academia generally, I excelled at sport, English and music and took to songwriting like a duck to water. I achieved many sporting accolades locally and played bass and then guitar and sang in several local bands before “knuckling down” for my final exams at school at which I managed to get reasonable results.
I joined the British Army at 17. The Army ticked a few boxes for me. Travel, independence, sport and a decent wage. I enjoyed the physical aspects of the life but as I trained as an Aircraft Technician in the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, I knew it was not going to work out as a career. The Army considered me far too opinionated, rebellious and inquisitive and I ended up being granted a permanent voluntary release after three years.
I headed back to the Midlands and immediately formed a band with an old mate and went back into education, eventually enrolling at University to study for a degree in Biology and Sports Science. University life was very slow and dull for me and I quickly became disappointed by the quality of the course I was studying and left after just three months.
Our band was getting good and we loved it. I spent a lot of time writing songs, practising and playing gigs locally, and although we had built up a decent fan base, it was a costly hobby and I needed a day job. I tried a few things before being “grabbed” and mentored by two local businessmen who saw potential and they used me to oversee the day to day running of several of their office-based businesses. I rented a bachelor pad in Birmingham city centre and over the next two years, earned more money than I knew was possible and fell in love with a beautiful and very real young woman whose femininity intrigued me. For her, I represented freedom of expression.
It was an amazing and eye-opening time and while I really lived it with totality and enjoyed it fully, I found the activity of business solely to make money unfulfilling, insincere and sometimes rather devious. I felt it was not important enough a reason for me to spend so much of my time doing it.
The band had begun to get noticed. We had rented a permanent rehearsal room and were practising most nights and playing out at least once a week, when out of the blue, the guitarist announced that he had had enough and left. We were devastated although we understood and after a month of auditioning new lead guitarists, our producer kind of fell into the role. The formula worked straight away and it quickly became a very exciting time. Over the coming months, we wrote a bunch of new songs, recorded a couple of demos and got immediate interest from several record labels.
Meanwhile, my beloved and I rented a farmhouse in the countryside and moved in together for the first time. Talks with the record companies led to an offer and I was on top of the world, I thought my life was just about to take off in a big way.
Just about one week before we were to sign a contract with a great label, I was trying to hit a note that was far too high for my voice and I ripped my vocal chords on the right hand side. I had been singing incorrectly and screaming far too much for far too long and I knew, as soon as it happened that it was the end of my singing career and as it turned out, I was unable to sing properly for about three years. The band was forced to split and it felt to me like I was losing three wives and a career all at the same time, I was devastated.
My partner and I both decided to leave our jobs and take three months off. I enjoyed a summer of relaxing, recouping and taking stock and it was during these months that I had my first spiritual realisation.
“I was very in love and so it made sense to me to become a great lover.”
I had heard of tantra and associated it with sex, so somehow I managed to obtain some recordings of a Western tantric teacher. I don’t remember his name but he was a mature guy, very wise and open and he talked and instructed men about sex and lifestyle.
The first thing he pointed out was that men are not present with their partners when they are having sex. He said they tend to get lost in mental imagery or physical sensation during the act. That night I tested it out and I was shocked and a little disgusted to find out that he was completely right. He had been describing me. I shared a bed with a woman I loved more than anyone before and yet I was not even there with her properly when we made love.
This not only showed me that I was a poor lover, it showed me mind. The power of the feminine and my love for it illuminated my consciousness for long enough for me to really become aware for the first time of the permanent narration inside my head that was clearly not me, but was in control of my life.
I decided to make a move to London and my partner was all too happy to come too. We had both become bored with what Birmingham had to offer and with my new lust for life, born of the realisation of the mad monkey mind inside my head, London seemed like the obvious choice. I got a decent job and moved into a hotel while I looked for somewhere to rent for my partner and I and eventually, when I had found the right place, we moved into a beautiful little apartment, full of colour and light with a cute walled garden, right next to Hampstead Heath.
With no wish for a career or to chase after money, my focus was on this mad narration inside my head. My mother had dabbled with yoga and used it to teach me to relax when I was young so naturally, I started a yoga class and began to learn that the older Eastern countries knew all about this stuff already.
I enrolled on a 14-week chakra course with a lovely French lady called Soizic Aimee https://sites.google.com/site/soizicaimee/ and learnt an invaluable chanting technique that I practised daily. After about three months, it led to an experience of the kundalini awakening. At the time I had no idea what I was going through, it was intense and while fear was tempting me to stop it, I managed to relax and go with it as it shook me to the core, blew my mind and left me with more humility than I had ever had before. The whole experience lasted about an hour and I became very hungry for higher spiritual experiences.
Around the same time I had another unusual incident during the meditation that followed the chanting, when I was “taken over” by a benevolent force. With my eyes closed, in a conscious but trance-like state that I could have stopped if I had wished, I allowed the force to enter my body completely and take up a pen and paper and write through me.
I/we wrote for half an hour before it left me and I had a chance to review what was said. There were many interesting observations and some practical advice and I regret to say that over the years I lost those sheets of paper and the only thing I remember was the advice that was most important to me at the time, which said.
“Aliens exist, they are among us, but this is not your concern.”
I had been reading about UFOs and aliens for years. I had been subscribing to UFO magazine and Nexus and I was very curious about all that stuff, even seeing a few unexplainable phenomenon for myself while I had been skywatching at night.
The friendly force which possessed me that day stopped me from getting further involved or distracted with this subject and instead I redirected my attention inwardly, to meditation practise.
Around this time, my beloved was diagnosed with breast cancer. She decided straight away that she wanted to cure it alternatively and I understood. I would have supported whatever she chose to do, but with our view of Western treatments and pharmaceuticals being so low, she felt she was left with no choice.
All I could do was be supportive, I was ill-equipped to help beyond this. The internet was still practically unheard of and the information was not as easily available as it is today and we had to go looking on foot. We moved to West Sussex and back to the countryside while she tried every alternative treatment we could find. We even visited Mother Meera http://www.mothermeera.com in Germany to sit Dharshan with her for five days. Above everything she tried, she warmed especially to Brandon Bays who facilitated “The Journey Workshops” http://www.thejourney.com. Thankfully, she persuaded me to attend a weekend workshop with her and Brandon became an inspiration to both of us in very different ways.
The Journey Workshops are fundamentally psychotherapy and can be extremely beneficial to those with troubled minds and physical problems. I didn’t really have anything so “wrong” with me at the time but I excelled at administering the processes that Brandon had discovered for the benefit of others.
We both attended Brandons advanced workshops and the No Ego retreat, which introduced us to the sacred enneagram and showed how it applies it to the various personalities in play within maya. We identified our types of mind and I was shocked that reading about the type of mind I have, from a book, felt like an autobiography.
At this moment I really realised that I was not special! Up to then I had labelled myself in many egotistical ways that I believed were original but the enneagram destroyed these ideas in me, because I could see that they had already been written down by someone else as being expected of someone running my mind type and were thus entirely predictable. Ouch!
Although it was a shock, I loved truth more than my ego and the experience drove me to increase meditation practise to get control of the mind. I became a head trainer for The Journey Workshops in the UK and I worked at the office that ran Brandons bookings.
We were a small team of five and I was the office manager. During my time here, I got to talk with other publically-known Western teachers including Anthony Robbins and Wayne Dyer and authors like James Redfield and Leslie Kenton and our experiences culminated with an event at the old Hammersmith Apollo in London, where around three thousand people turned out for an evening with Dr’s Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra.
Mainly because of my musical background I was elected to be the stage manager for the event and I believe that this was the first time Deepak had given a public talk in the UK.
“Meditation begins where psychotherapy ends.” Osho
After about a year, even though I loved Brandon and her team and saw first-hand the results of her amazing self-discoveries, I had started to get disillusioned with the method as a “fix-all” answer to every problem. Bearing in mind that I was helping my partner look for a cure for cancer, as a head trainer, I always ended up working on very ill or disturbed people during the workshops and sometimes my heart told me that this method just wouldn’t heal them. This left me in a difficult position and although for months after I continued to see The Journey Workshops achieving miracles for many, it still niggled me.
I had been attending a Tibetan Buddhist centre in Central London for a few months when a Lama visited to carry out some teachings. He had good English and I was blessed to be able to speak with him personally during his stay and I told him what I was doing and asked him why I felt the way I did. He said simply, “The methods do not take the Karma of the individual into account.” His truth penetrated me like an arrow and I left The Journey Workshops that day to pursue my deeper truth.
My partners health was up and down. We had met a spiritual man through a friend of ours and she wanted to spend more time with him. We related very maturely at this stage and I understood that she needed to be by herself to address her issues fully and we released one another from our “relationship”.
We were left with a completely honest, unquestionable and very brotherly/sisterly kind of love and as we mixed in the same circles, it was easy to stay close and in touch with one another no matter where we were around the world until finally she died just before the millennium.
As I grieved over the next year, I continued to visit the Buddhist Centre and made friends with many like-minded individuals also searching for liberation from the mind. We were all clean-living, organic eating vegetarians and it was so helpful to find others that lived similarly and identified with the same fundamental problems as me. I had discovered Osho (formerly known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) through his books after his photograph flew out at me in a bookstore one time and his words were like an elixir to me. Unfortunately he had died almost a decade before so I never got to feel his spiritual presence in person.
I was introduced to Dr. Shyam Singha http://secretsofnaturalhealth.com through friends and visited him weekly to share lunch with him and thirty or so others who gathered to be with him. A former friend of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh from the early days in India and a teacher in his own right, Shyam was the most wonderful natural doctor I ever met.
With over 30,000 patients, his clients included royalty, celebrities and sports stars from all around the world. Shyam saw patients constantly in London, Norfolk and at his hospital in India and was graceful enough to teach us and allow us to hang with him for a couple of hours each week when he was in London. He was also a Master Chef and taught us how to use our food as medicine. Shyam always used to say,
“Learning how to cook properly is the greatest gift you can give to yourself”.
Spiritual teachers are notoriously spontaneous and I had to walk out of quite a few jobs to be with him over the years, but no job was worth more to me than five minutes in the company of Shyam. Without him, none of us spiritually-flailing Western disciple-types would have had a clue how to live our lives.
By the early 2000’s, I had been through enough, read enough and seen enough to know that I needed a teacher if I was going to get passed the persistence of the mind. Mind is tricky and capable of making one believe almost anything and what’s more, the more one challenges it’s authority, the more cunning it gets. At this stage of my development I figured that it would be easy to miss the target because I don’t know what it looks like.
I knew who I would choose, I had suspected he was enlightened from the start, but how to ask? I reached out by ringing him and asking him what he thought about me going to India for a while, to which he immediately replied, “Yeah, let’s go!” Five days later we were getting visas for India and Nepal and two weeks later we were there.
My teacher was also a Westerner, who did not belong to any organisation but was very connected within spiritual circles. He will remain anonymous because he may still be with us and will certainly not be looking for clients! The real thing tends to be reluctant and as Western teachers have no umbrella to work under, they are even more exposed to the dangers of attack from purveyors of the normal ego, and I don’t wish to add to the ignorance.
Over the next seven or eight years, I travelled extensively with him and visited many of the greatest spiritual men and women of our times. I was often blessed with a special access as an assistant to my teacher, who was always invited into the inner sanctums.
Amongst many others, during this period I visited and spent time with;
HH The Sakya Trizin – http://www.hhthesakyatrizin.org
Gangaji – http://www.gangaji.org
HH Gyalwang Drukchen Rinpoche – http://www.drukpa.org
Sadgurudev Rahuleshwaranandji – http://supremeyogi.org/wordpress/
Srinivas Yogi Arka – http://srinivasarka.org
Pilot Baba – http://www.pilotbaba.org/
Yogmata Keiko Aikawa – http://www.yogmata.org
Dr. Akong Rinpoche – http://www.samyeling.org
Over the last 18 years I have been assisting individuals establish or re-establish good health and balance and introducing groups to useful and powerful tools to transform their own lives into everything they want it to be.
Guest writer for; Wellness Warriors, Wake Up World, Society Magazine, David Icke, Uplift Connect