Learning to meditate really changed my life, and while I know loads of people will roll their eyes at this statement, I still stand by it. Meditating is not for everyone, and while I used to be a jerk that ran around espousing the benefits and miracles provided by achieving mental stillness, I’ve since learned that not everybody needs to follow my path. I’m a bit of an energetic sponge, so it really suits me, but for others it might be time with their family, reading a book, or smashing through a game of tennis. To each their own.
Meditation opened up an entire new world of energetic therapies. Pretty soon I started going to see my friend Clare for pranic healing, and the same centre where I first tried pranic meditation also offered gong bath classes – so I cheerily went along to bi-weekly gong bath meditations led by a gorgeous soul named Gordon. Gordon of the gongs – quite regal, isn’t it?
But the big switch came when I got into a taxi with Jessie Brinton, who at the time was writing for the Sunday Times Style, amongst other things. We were due to meet up for reasons I can’t exactly remember regarding a shopping event we were organising. Jumping in a taxi with Jessie and a member of my team, we made our way towards a party in Notting Hill, where we were going to hobnob, check out designer vintage pieces and down a few champers before dinner. When I met her, she had just come back from a Shamanic retreat.
Wide-eyed and full to the brim with excitement, she told me the ins and out of Shamanic work – talking to her ‘higher self’, working with crystals, and ‘releasing’ energy from her body.
I was a bit bewildered by it all considering I had never even smoked a cigarette before, so couldn’t easily envision myself communing with the divine spirit of a plant – but I was all the same captivated by her experience (which was later featured in Harper’s Bazaar).
Several months went by and the nagging itch to contact Jessie again just didn’t go away. Eventually we met up for coffee where I picked her brain to pieces, asking about her about Shamanism, plant ceremonies, and working with Anna, the Shaman. Soon I was convinced this was something that I could get involved in, and so I contacted Anna.
Working with Anna in a session was much different than anything I had tried before. During my sessions I felt good, bad and everything in between. Sometimes I cried like a baby remembering my grandmother, other times I was choosing a crystal and sitting underneath Anna as she rattled. Sometimes she was leading me through a deep visualisation and helping to interpret the meanings. Anna supported me throughout and reminded me I was just releasing (there was that word again) everything I was holding onto; the mental lows and physical side effects were simply my system purging old stored emotions and energies.
Anna explained that in shamanism, the mind, body and spirit were innately connected; they were one system, and to find imbalance in one area was to mean only that a release of some kind was required to right the ship, so to speak.
I noticed that I started to feel different, albeit slowly. Other therapies certainly made me feel better for a short while, but Anna’s work was deeper, more intense.
Big challenges came that Summer in the form of a new love interest. Having had my hands burned by my last boyfriend and desperate not to repeat the same mistakes, I kept this new guy at distance. He wrote me poetry; I was convinced it was a trick and he was just sending this to every girl he met. A copy/paste job. He was Italian – isn’t that just an Italian thing? Romance us until we start de-robing? A month or so later he was travelling to London and wanted to see me. My genius response was to shoot back a semi-flippant reply, saying I was just SO BUSY, that he would have to tell me when and where to make sure I would be free. Looking back, of course, this was just insecurity rearing its head: Please God, just tell me for sure you’ll see me, because otherwise I can’t take it.
Despite my best efforts, I fell totally and completely in love with him. There was just this one issue: He lived between Italy and the United Arab Emirates. I was in London. And he wanted me to move to Dubai to be with him.
I had done this moving-abroad-for-a-man business before, it was how I had first found myself in London. And that had gone down in flames, quite majestically, If I may so. It was a little bit….Hindenburg. A trauma I very nearly didn’t come back from. Our relationship had ended in divorce: I was depressed, borderline suicidal and somewhat homeless for a few good months. Without the incredible love of a few good friends I would have been completely up the river. I had only just gotten myself patched together: I had friends, a job, a good salary….Could I possibly bring myself to leave London, my home of 7 years, for a man? What would it mean to my tough-girl, type-A persona if I gave everything up to follow my heart?
Working with Anna let me see past all of that. I began to understand how everything that used to make me angry and hurt actually deserved my gratitude. Sure my last relationship was a wash, but that guy was never going to be the partner I really needed. Releasing myself from him meant I had the opportunity to meet someone like Cristiano, who was exactly the kind of man I wanted: sophisticated, travelled, tasteful, emotionally available, solid. The divorce I went through was awful, but didn’t that also mean that I stayed in London, got a job, travelled around the world and met a few clients whom eventually introduced me to Cristiano?
What unknown benefits could be waiting for me in Dubai, if I chose to take the dive?
*Part 4 coming soon*