2013 is a year that really sticks in my mind. This is because it is a year during which my life dramatically changed. One cold winters night in February of that year I experienced an end to one very long cycle and, thankfully, the beginning of another, through what some call a spiritual awakening.
I was going to end my life on the particular night in question, unable to live any longer with the hell in my mind I had somehow created. I had the means to do it - to end my life that is. 12 years of 13 hospital admissions and insurmountable amounts of stock piled prescriptive drugs does that!
As I said, I was planning to die that night, and die I did, but not in the way i thought!
Up until then I had unwittingly created a torture chamber in my mind, a living hell of inner seeping wounds, results from me not trusting in my own beingness. Back then God was not my best friend and seen as a scary dude in the sky ready to strike me down with his trident if I so much as breathed! I thought the only way out was to die - may be then i would have peace in my mind. But instead of physically dying, as had been my wayward intention I experienced God answer my agonising laments, and an awakening of my heart. The experience probably lasted a little over an hour where I was pinned to my bed by an unseen loving force, experiencing wave after wave of a growing love as warmth filled my troubled heart. I must have fallen asleep after the experience because the next I knew it was morning and I was not dead!
On waking that morning a knowing, a space, a strength I had not previously know could exist, was with me. My chaotic thoughts were still there; the minds dual nature swinging me this way and that with my thoughts gravitational pull, much like the pendulum tic and toc of an old grandfather clock!
But now there was space.
The night before I was living, breathing and fully believed the stories my mind created. One day later...a different story!
Grace descended on me that night and opened my heart. With that opening I realised the third aspect of my being - space, stillness ie...my soul. I experienced that which exists around, between and is each tic and toc. No longer just my mind and body, but a deeper realising that I really am mind, body AND soul.
With this space came the opportunity for change and transformation.
Learning to trust in my new found innateness, my soft inner guide filled me with strength and a silent knowing. I found myself gradually trusting my inner quietness rather than my mind, This led me to gradually come off all prescriptive drugs, explaining to my children that I no longer knew what was mental illness, what was prescriptive drug side effect and what was 'me'!
Classed as a 'vulnerable adult with a lifelong disability' this was not an easy thing to do. The fear that rippled through my body time and time again was incredibly intense, but my inner guru held me more steady. And with each experience I went through, of feeling and allowing that which had long been suppressed by me, yet another cycle completed creating space for a new one to begin!
The mental health team did not like me trying to do things a different way, so much so they tried to section me the Friday of the week my twin sons turned 18. But I escaped capture, and capture would have, undoubtedly, meant sectioning and a unwanted stint in hospital, with medication forced on me against my will! How did I escape? My son alerted me. He came in to the kitchen that day stating he had something to tell me. When asked what, he said couldn't bare not to tell me. When probed further he went on to explain his older sister had been contacted by the mental health team, as she was down as my next of kin since my divorce years earlier. She was away at University and had been told that doctors and Police would be turning up at 5pm with a search warrant, to come in to the house and take me to hospital. My son went on to say how hard he could see me trying to get better and how he imagined me naively cooking dinner when they turned up.
I was shocked and explained to my son that this meant I had to disappear for a few days, and disappear I did! I was terrified my human rights would be taken away again so easily. I found it hugely unpleasant in the grips of the mental health service, likening it to an analogy of a big cat catching, tormenting and playing with a terrified mouse. If you have ever watched a cat with a mouse you will know what I mean! I had experienced this time and time again with the mental health services, but this time was my last...thank God!
With an advocate speaking up for me the mental health team finally left me alone, though it took another three weeks to convince them. In August 2013, 6 months after my awakeningI had successfully come off all medication, lost a huge amount of weight and was finally discharged after 13 years. My psychiatrists parting words to me were that he thought I had experienced a miracle and was fully recovered. Indeed I had.
An inner yearning pulled me to all things spiritual over the proceeding years, resulting in my training as a spiritual counsellor and Hatha yoga teacher. I spent lengthening periods of time at ashrams in India and in my own reflective and meditative practices. I engaged in a 3 year deeply intensive exploration (Brahmacharya) in to the traditional teachings of Hatha yoga at a yoga school in the UK. I sold the family home to free up my financial situation and get me out the benefit trap. Any maintenance support ended the night my sons turned 18. As a single mum with mental ill health I had struggled to stay in work, though work I had. I used to be on highest rate disability which had been granted to me for life, but I phoned the service to say I was no longer disabled and so had no right to the money.
Following the sale of the house I travelled more, lived quite a nomadic lifestyle at times and was drawn in to my inner world. For a couple of years I lived in a small community of 7 yogi's, most of whom were on the same yoga study. Yoga was our life - practicing together first thing of the day and again each evening. Meals were cooked and eaten together. We practised and played kirtan, devotional music, offering kirtan evenings on a weekly basis. The first time I heard kirtan music I thought WTF, but within 30 minutes I felt its loving pull to stillness. I learnt to play the harmonium a little, I had a go at drumming and played kartal. I sang despite my out of tune voice.
None of this was easy. None of these things would I have ever contemplated, let alone know about, before my awakening. When I started to sing my voice croaked and groaned. I cried my way through many a practice and felt uncomfortable energetic sensations in my face and neck, time and time again. Yet, with each experience I felt old patterns fall away, I felt old story fall away. I felt conditionings and learnt beliefs fall away. I felt myself die to old ways of living again and again and again - cycle after cycle after cycle ending as new, more confident ones began.
The first time I led a kirtan and had a go at letting others hear me sing on my own, my whole body was shaking. My mouth was dry and my fingers struggled to hit each note as they were shaking so much. But as I continued I noticed each negative thought drop away in to stillness. I did it - I had a go. Krishna, my inner teacher - my hear - led the way.
Similar experiences happened through yoga practice, yoga retreats and meditation. My body would sometimes shake and shake for 45mins plus. Yet I somehow knew it was good for me - releasing stuck energies that had held me down for so long.
The yoga mat is like a science laboratory. In fact it is called yoga science! It is a place to go to, day after day to practice asana and pranayam. Through this practice we can grow in awareness of ourselves and gradually let go of limiting patterns and behaviours.
Snd so too I started to draw and paint yantra, sacred geometrical designs used as a meditative tool to deepen in to oneself. From there I went on to paint other pictures, the canvas and paints just like the yoga mat. Each painting has been its own cycle - a journey in itself. Not only of a painting being created, but of a creative process through which I saw more and more of myself that held me back from living my life to its fullest. Unhelpful subtle patterns of behaving, of limiting beliefs, of shifts in energy that tether me to this earthly plain. But each time I sat to paint, and each time I still do, more layers of dust around my diamond core fall away as I face my shadow self.
This is the creative process, life's dance and opportunity to grow in to the truth of who we really are. Letting go of this world's duality - the opposites in this worldly existence of ours, through inner exploration is a gem of all gems, creating more love, more peace, more joy in our lives and in those around us.