A personal-development guru helps a sceptical Suzy Greaves of THE SUNDAY TIMES to SHED THE BURDENS OF A LIFEI sat in a room with 100 people, my face shining. It felt like I had finally let go of a lifetime of pain, anger and hurt. My being felt healed, whole. I had suddenly become aware of colours and sounds in the room. It was as if I were looking at the world through a new set of eyes. I wanted to dance, sing and celebrate, which was most unlike the stressed out cynical hack that I’d come to know and love.
“Yeah, sure, I thought. Here we go, another blonde California personal-development guru with perfect teeth telling us how to live our lives.”
It was the end of the second day of the Journey workshop, run by American mind-and-body expert Brandon Bays, and I’d finally cracked. Throughout the first day I sat resolutely unimpressed, as she explained how we can all free ourselves from past traumas and limiting belief systems and resolve any emotional blocks that restrict our happiness and progress. Yeah, sure, I thought. Here we go, another blonde California personal-development guru with perfect teeth telling us how to live our lives. I sat with my arms folded, determined not to listen to her psychobabble.
It was the people around me that planted the first seeds of doubt in my mind. They were not the usual workshop-junkie crowd trying out the latest therapy so they’d have something to talk about at their next dinner party. They were people from all walks of Life -- from managing directors to the unemployed -- who had simply decided that there had to be something more to life than the routine they were experiencing. Why had they come to this particular workshop? Because the Journey’s mission was to put people in touch with the best part of themselves, they said. No longer willing to wallow in past pain and complain about their lot they wanted to move on and explore their highest potential.
It was their bravery that touched me the most. They were taking a good, honest look at themselves and were willing to delve deep inside to discover what was holding them back. Their openness and courage discomfited me and I spent most of the introductory day popping out to smoke yet another cigarette, snarling at anyone who came in my direction.
On the first day of the workshop, after several meditation exercises, we all paired up and were sent to quiet corners of the room. With a carefully worded script, we were guided through a simple, step-by-step process that Bays claimed would not only free us from repressed emotions, but would also guide us to our “inner wisdom”.
“It is a place of ‘no mind’, Known by a variety of names.” says Bays. “Athletes call it the zone, scholars call it the universal intelligence, quantum physicists call it the quantum soup. It’s who you are at the deepest level. It’s all the same -- and tapping into this is the source of all the answers and all genius.”
“I watched in wonder as I saw him “drop through” intense feelings of anger and pain into what he called a white Light”
I didn’t want to tap into genius, I just wanted to be left alone. I bullied the partner I was paired with into going first. As I read my script and took him through the Journey process, I watched in wonder as I saw him “drop through” intense feelings of anger and pain into what he called a white Light, which he recognised as his true self. He felt safe, he said, for the first time in his life. It was terribly moving.
Bays believes it is also extremely healthy. Through her work, she claims to have helped people let go of debilitating and life-threatening conditions such as tumours, cancers, clinical depression and chronic fatigue. She believes that emotional blocks turn into physical ones and can be stored as “phantom memories” in our bodies, which can then develop into illness and disease.
“I opened my eyes and felt as if I’d been washed from the inside out, as if someone had just wiped me clean”
Bays talks from dramatic personal experience. She was the model of vibrant health and success, with more than 20 years’ experience at the cutting edge of the human growth and potential field, travelling the world and giving seminars to thousands of people, when, five years ago, she discovered that she had a tumour the size of a basketball in her stomach.
Immediate surgery was prescribed as the only course of action. She refused. “I had spent my whole Life working in the field of mind-and-body healing. There was no way I was going to allow a surgeon to cut me open without trying to heal myself first” she says.
Bays hibernated for six weeks, nourishing herself with the best foods, resting completely as she tried to uncover the emotional root of what she believed was causing the disease in her body.
Six weeks after the initial diagnosis she walked back into the Cedars Sinai hospital in California for her follow-up tests. She was pronounced perfectly clear. The tumour had completely disappeared without medicine or surgery, and Bays now teaches her personal healing process in her seminars.
She grimaces at any suggestion that she is a healer. “I’m a facilitator who merely offers people the tools with which they can commence their own healing journey. I don’t want them to feel great for a weekend and then go back to their old ways. I want them to continue their inner transformation. This is a journey, not a sticking plaster.”
After the workshop there ware free monthly follow-up meetings for those who want to use their newly learnt skills to address other issues in their lives in a supportive environment.
During the seminar Bays saw that I was struggling and invited me to work with her on a one-to-one basis. With my best cynical sneer, I agreed. She chatted to me before the process and I found myself warming to her. She seemed funny, intelligent and completely authentic. There was no new-age nonsense with Bays.
Chat over with, it was my turn to do it. Bays led me through a process where I uncovered pain, anger and repressed grief that I thought I’d safely packaged away years ago. My feelings of fury and abandonment over the death of loved ones were so great that I found myself shaking. It was extremely emotional but also very liberating to resolve the grief that I’d nurtured for so long. And I finally reached that place of peace. Mine wasn’t so much a white light, more of a glow that seemed to warm me to my very bones.
“The tumour had completely disappeared without medicine or surgery”
I opened my eyes and felt as if I’d been washed from the inside out, as if someone had just wiped me clean. I had always assumed that cynicism was sophisticate: I had never laid myself open, never allowed myself to be vulnerable. On finishing the process, I didn’t feel exposed or self-indulgent. I didn’t even want a cigarette. I merely felt curiously Light, a little bit shiny and finally free.
Brandon Bays is one of the most dynamic and innovative teachers in the personal growth field today and has appeared on stage with Anthony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and other leading personal development teachers.