It often takes a crisis before we discover our inner strength. What a pity that this quality so often lies dormant for years and is only activated when our backs are well and truly to the wall. This has certainly been true in my case.
So that you will understand how I have come to this position I would like to take some time to share some things with you about my life, my own journey. None of the things I will tell you is for the purpose of blowing my own trumpet, or engaging in self pity, or in seeking sympathy. The purpose is so that, as you continue reading this, you will know exactly where I am coming from, and by understanding my journey you will be able to see that I am not just repeating things that I have read in text books. I have really experienced the power of my subconscious mind and I would like to share that understanding with you.
In the 1980s something happened which caused me to realise that scientific advances, particularly in medicine for example, were not necessarily providing all the answers we wanted.
During this time I faced a family problem involving my son. Andrew had suffered the effects of asthma for fifteen of his seventeen years. It had always been a problem and it seemed that the conventional way of treating it didn't really work. Andrew's attacks became worse and worse until his bouts with asthma required hospitalisation and treatment with a cortisone drip in his arm. The worst thing was that there seemed to be no medical prognosis for Andrew's recovery. In army terms, all we were doing with Andrew was fighting a delaying battle with no real possibility of winning. There had to be a better way, a way in which we could win the battle against asthma. I took Andrew to another doctor who taught him how to relax and release stress quickly during the actual asthma attack. It really helped. One of the problems of asthma is that, once a bout commences, it is not unusual for the victim to become frightened and panic a little. This panic causes more difficulty in breathing, the difficulty in breathing causes more panic, and so a dangerous spiral pattern of cause and effect sets in. Relaxation can break this pattern and Andrew was mastering it, taking control of it. His deliberate use of mental persuasion over his body was more powerful than the latest drugs. What an interesting insight that was!
Then Andrew and his motorbike had an argument with a bus and lost. His leg was badly broken below the knee; it was a ghastly mess with shattered bone sticking out. For a time there was every chance that Andrew might lose his leg. He was advised that cortisone, which he needed to keep the infection under control (nothing else would work), inhibited the growth of bone marrow, so the best solution was to amputate the leg. I called back the same doctor who had previously helped Andrew control asthma. He said he could help Andrew control his infection and that Andrew could also help to direct his own healing. Andrew undertook the mental discipline of directing his own healing and at the same time he was able to reduce the cortisone - the doctor then did the operation. The next thing I saw was my son recovering with his leg healing and his asthma getting better, both at the same time. A Miracle completely foreign to me!
To understand my background, I'm a military guy, a retired Colonel. I went through Duntroon, the Royal Military College in Canberra and graduated from there in 1960. When I was still a young officer the army sent me to Sydney University where I completed a degree in Civil Engineering. Then I worked as an army engineer, building roads and bridges and other field constructions. I commanded engineers in Vietnam and was awarded a Military Cross for bravery in tunnel conflicts. Believe me, you cannot get a more analytical, logical, prove-it-to-me, black/white person than the combination of a military guy and an engineer, and I valued the concepts of logical thought, meticulous planning and careful analysis above the ideas of intuition, emotion and dreaming. However, there was something going on in Andrew's subconscious mind that I couldn't understand. I said "Hey Andrew, it's so powerful, teach me". And so he did.
I proved to myself that there was such a thing as a powerful subconscious mind. Within six months I released 22 kilograms of weight using only my mental powers to do so. I was able to bring down my blood pressure by 20 points standing right in front of the doctor . I could also reduce the strength of my pulse at will. I was excited. Proof! I devoured every book I could possibly find on the subject. I was off on a new journey.
Then, on 23rd January 1987, I had a devastating experience. Three of my daughters and one of their friends were shotgun murdered in the safety of their own home where they lived with their mother (I was remarried with two young chidren). For me it was just disbelief, total disbelief and then shock. Vietnam hadn't prepared me for this.
It was when I was in this dazed condition that the wife of an old friend from my Duntroon days reached out to help me and encouraged me to participate in some seminars where I was encouraged to release my grief. By talking about the event, by talking about the girls, by doing as much of the natural grief process as is possible, I did not get the chance to bottle up my emotions .... and for this I'm forever grateful. I've now learned that pushing down emotions, not expressing them, having a "stiff upper lip", and not talking about events, goes a long way to causing post traumatic stress.
Andrew had already shown me how, in meditation, to go into my own mind and seek answers to questions. Gradually I got to the stage of working with my passion for revenge, the anger that raged inside me and the hatred that I felt toward the person who had killed my daughters. In the process of going into my mind I dealt with all the bitter questions of "Why me?" and "What have I done to deserve this?" Well, if you ask the wrong question, what do you get? That's right - the wrong answer. For me the question brought up guilt. Feeling guilty does not serve a purpose. The sorts of questions that came up for me were "Could I have been a better father?" and "Could I have somehow prevented this? Somehow? Somehow? Somehow?" I've found that a quick way through that guilty feeling is saying something like "I did the best I could do with the tools that I had at the time", or "I accept what I've done and now that I know, I'll do better next time."
I disciplined myself to meditate each day and, like an athlete in training, attempted short sessions at first but built up to longer periods later on. I was in meditation for 20 minutes at a time, then for 30 minutes and then for an hour a day just sitting quietly in my room with all sorts of questions (and answers) coming to me.
When it came to issues like anger, hate and revenge I also had to handle that inside my mind in a meditative process. I gradually got the message that to be hateful, to be revengeful, to want to hurt the person who killed my children, would only make me be the same type of person. I could become lost for the rest of my life in a quagmire of hatred and bitterness - in other words I would be another victim - and who did it to me? Yes I would have done it to myself. I valued my life too much to allow that to happen and I had the personal responsibility of my family. For me to let go of the inclination to hate, was the process that I knew I needed to go through. It wasn't an easy process but I quite clearly got the message after meditating. The message went like this, "Hey if you're going to be hateful, if you're going to be angry, if you're going to be revengeful, if you're going to think these thoughts about the guy who did this or anything else, then you'll end up the same way."
And what was my major obstacle? Myself, my mind, my subconscious mind. Our patterns - our belief patterns, the way we think, the way we've been brought up, they are major obstacles and they're not easy to handle. Sometimes there are things that we've just got to let come up, let them work out and let them go. It is important to learn how to do this in a deliberate way. In meditation I replaced the "habits" of hatred, anger and revengeful thoughts with acceptance, cooperation, unconditional love and forgiveness.
I then went on to learn more about the incredible power of the subconscious mind and in particular how it can be applied in other areas especially, education. I found that I could triple my learning rate and take on new challenges without stress, and I taught my two young children the techniques which they use to read at 600 to 800 words per minute and touch type 35 to 50 words per minute.
It has all been an amazing journey of self-discovery, a journey where I discovered the potential of the human mind and spirit to overcome great pain and distress. I became aware of the existence of an entire portion of our world that had hardly been touched upon in my formal education and career experience. I became aware of my own inner strength, and by knowing about this created an incredible power in my life. Now my work is dedicated to helping others use their inner strength and power.
Post Script. I have learned much about post traumatic stress. I mentioned above that that talking about events instead of pushing them down will help to prevent this disorder from taking hold - I firmly believe that by my friends encouraging me to talk about the murder of my daughters, coupled with meditation, prevented post traumatic stress from becoming a reality. As I progress through my life I realised that I was in denial about PTSD caused through my Vietnam experiences, however all the signs were there. I am really pleased to be able to say that I now manage this PTSD. How? With exercise, nutritional supplementation, meditation, goals and a positive outlook on life. There is always hope - which is the "live message" for the body.