For many years of my life I struggled to bring the light of love and awareness into the pain and anguish of being devastatingly ill. Perhaps many of you face physical or emotional problems that at times feel hopeless. Do not despair — within you is the power to love and heal yourself. My faith in your ability to heal and grow comes from seeing in my own life what unconditional love can do. Against all odds I completely recovered my health while totally transforming my attitude toward myself and life.
I sincerely hope that my story inspires you to discover an unconquerable love and belief in yourself!.
The pain, sleeplessness and exhaustion were uncontrollable and excruciating and lasted for many years. But even though I was told that there was no cure, the tiniest of voices whispered to me — “Don’t give up. There IS a path to freedom”.
I didn’t understand then, but that whisper of intuition in the darkness was the voice of my own soul. And over the years to come, my soul knew where my healing lay and kept guiding me forward — and inward to the power of love.
The nature of ankylosing spondylitis is that it is an auto-immune disease. Literally there is an inner Civil War, where the immune system turns on and attacks the spine, the joints, and sometimes even the heart and other internal organs. In a misdirected rage the body rejects itself.
Over time I came to realize that this physical “auto-immunity” was being generated by an even deeper layer of my being – an entrenched emotional self-rejection. I grew up in a violent and alcoholic family that shamed and punished the expression of feelings. My family taught me to reject my own true emotions — that is, to reject myself! My anger and sadness, my fear and rage at being beaten and humiliated, my longing to be protected and loved — the overwhelming power of these feelings built up in my body with no release. I internalized my family’s hostility toward emotions and so I came to hate myself. The attitude of self-hatred and the stress of all my stored pain created a disease where the body attacks itself.
I left Stanford, moved to Boston and stayed with friends as I searched for ways to help myself. The first thing I learned was Zen meditation. I practiced it every day, turning my attention inwards. This was supremely difficult due to the overwhelming degree of physical and emotional pain that never let up for a second. But turning within and connecting with yourself opens your eyes to see the next steps on the path. From my meditation practice came my first breakthrough in healing my body.
My physical healing process began when I realized that tensing against and resisting my severe physical pain was itself a form of stress that added to my illness.
I saw this clearly during a meditation session, and I completely trusted it. Therefore I had to do the exact opposite of everything I had ever been taught. In a word, I had to stop fighting and fearing the pain and completely experience it — because you can’t let go of something until you completely have it! That moment of decision — to willingly experience the hell inside me in the name of love — changed everything.
“It hurts …. I can’t stand it! … I have to run from this” wrestled with “Relax… feel your body… hold the pain with love” within my heart and mind. It was literally a struggle of life-feeling-love versus fear-numbness-death. From second to second, from hour to hour, from day to day — for more than twenty years — inch by painful inch I reconnected to my body and released my pain.
This is my true testimony. This is what the human spirit is capable of, in its unquenchable desire to be free. Should you need to call upon it, this same spirit lives in you also.
The word “compassion” comes from the Latin words for “feeling with”. To have compassion for my pain I needed to feel it, embrace it, the way a loving mother tenderly holds a sick child. This was how I first learned to love myself. I soon saw that this was equally true for my emotional pain. It became clear that to survive my loveless and violent childhood I had stored all my anguished feelings deep in my body.
The stress of all that anger, fear and sorrow had disturbed my metabolism and brought on the illness. Slowly, over many years, I learned how to accept and fully express my feelings. The more I did this, the less I hated myself and the more the stress drained from my body. The auto-immune response faded away, and my system was free to heal. And my tenderness and acceptance toward myself was leading the way.
In the process of healing myself I became a Licensed Acupuncturist, Body-Oriented Psychotherapist and Classical Homeopath. The techniques of Natural Medicine were crucial to my recovery, because these methods amplify the body’s ability to repair itself. I specialized in the combined medical and emotional treatment of people with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. I found that in most — if not all! — of my patients there was buried emotional stress that had to be healed for them to completely recover. Thus my own struggle took on a beautiful and added meaning — it enabled me to see the way to a breakthrough for people who were suffering just as I once did.
My journey of healing was a long — and ultimately triumphant — struggle to be reborn. In the process I was challenged to learn the biggest lessons about surrender and trust — trusting myself, my body, and life. I learned to respond to my pain with courage, kindness and compassion. I saw that loving myself meant feeling and expressing myself — deeper and deeper until I was free.
After 20 years of meditation, yoga, careful diet, holistic medicine, and most of all Bioenergetic Psychotherapy — I was able to cure myself completely. I had found the healing power that was deeper than the disease — the place miracles come from. And the core of that power was love. Unconditionally loving myself was the exact opposite of the self-hatred and rejection that had fueled my auto-immunity. Love made my spirit want to live and love brought my body back to life.
Loving myself, releasing my emotional pain and fighting to become MORE ALIVE — as opposed to an approach of fighting AGAINST the illness — was what kept my spirit moving forward and growing through it all and in the end made my physical healing possible.
I wish all of you the miracles you seek, and the courage to look within for them. Most of all I wish you a deep and nurturing love for yourself — the first and greatest miracle of all!
SENDING LOVE , FAITH AND PEACE — BRYAN
A SPIRITUAL ROCKSTAR– My path is bringing together my work as a spiritual teacher and a career as an artist/rock singer in my award-winning band Tribe of Eden. I live in New York City where Tribe of Eden is based and I teach groups and workshops about awakening through the process of self-love, self-discovery and self-empowerment.