While writing more chapters for my book today, which is about training the Ninja that stands guard of your mind and help you control the monkey mind so you can defeat depression and live a life of purpose. I thought I’d share a little excerpt from my book about grief in the hope it may help some of you who may be feeling sad. Namaste.
Grief is a feeling that engulfs the entire body. It feels like our body is made of stone and we are descending into the depth of an abyss that has no end, we feel as though our heart is beating off cadence to life itself and every breath is against our will because we no longer wish to fuel the mind that triggers the memories we are no longer able to share. Grief is anger, hatred, sadness, shock, disbelief, and resentment warped in one heavy cloak that wraps around us and turns seconds into hours. I fully understand this grief and how hard and fierce it can hit. My heart, strength and silent prayers are with any of you who may find yourself wrapped in this devastating cloak.
As you are aware from the first page of this book I was dealt a bad hand indeed. This was back in 1993, way before I had a Mind Ninja standing guard of my mind and long before I had learned how to play this unforgiving game of life. The universe had dealt the hand and I literally threw in the towel.
I found it hard to believe the news that my little Cherie was dead. The two days following her death were framed with magic blue sky’s that made the melting snow glisten and dance on the slopes of Perisher Valley. I was numb and yet strong for the staff of the Sundeck Hotel, where Cherie and I had worked for the past two seasons. My beautiful Mum flew over the moment she found out Cherie was missing, arriving Saturday morning, it must have been a Mothers intuition, a love that knows no time or space, and she just knew I needed her. And I did. As strong as I appeared, it did not stop me from reaching for my desired antidepressant on the top shelf of the bar at the Sundeck Hotel. I had always enjoyed drinking since I was 17 to numb my mind from the madness of the monkeys and to drown the negative messages of ingrained beliefs that always tried to pave my path. But my world took a turn on the 3rd of October 1993, I felt like I was inside one of those little snow cone bubbles and it was being perpetually shaken, and I had no way to escape. I lost clarity and was continually in the eye of the storm. My grief spiked and I felt like I was teetering at the top of a roller coaster when I had to identify Cherie’s body at the morgue in Canberra. Seeing my beautiful 24-year-old fiancé lying lifeless on a cold metal slap in a dull corridor of shitty little building in the middle of nowhere broke my heart for the second time in the same amount of days. I am barely able to write these words as tears stream down my face. Kissing her cold blue lips for the last time on that unforgettable day, I knew my wild ride had begun as I shot off on my first downward spiral. The bar and bottle shop became my daily medicine cabinet, pouring, shaking and stirring concoctions to callus a heart that no longer had a reason to beat.
Grief is a lonely beast and enjoys the company of his own misery. I lost a lot of friends and family as I slowly became an alcoholic. I did not blame them because I too hated myself and my life without the love that made me smile every day. When you lose your smile your mind goes into overdrive and adjusts your whole demeanor. Being smile-less and fuelled with depressed alcohol-aggression is not a characteristic normal people are drawn to. Funny that.
For years I continued this lie, I was coping with day to day life with a fake smile and a flawless facade that masked my private despair. I even got married in 2000. I married Tracey, a beautiful young lady from a fantastic family. I was head over heels in love with Trace. I was a wild partying bad boy on the glitter strip on the Gold Coast following Cherie’s death, Stuntman by day, party animal and stripper by night. Trace came from a family of wealth, grace and poise. I met Trace on a party cruise that I worked on 4 nights a week out of surfers paradise. I think Trace was as broken as I was when we met, from a marriage that had turned toxic after her husband had cheated on her. We became a wobbling crutch for each other. I was great revenge for the life of stability and wealth she once knew and she was the beautiful woman whom I thought could help me pick up the pieces of my broken heart. We had a lot of fun but the masks we both wore on a daily basis hung by the door resembling a changing room of a Cirque du Soleil cast.
Drinking was the major activity we had in common and helped us wash away a past we were unable to share with each other. Our marriage ended with divorce after 12 years. Trace became lonely at home when I started working frequently on cruise ships as a guest entertainer and I had a friend (supposedly) help her out with that.
Crushed, sad and angry I once again found myself back on the edge. I was about to turn 50 and thought, what the fuck; I may as well go out in a blaze of glory. The black dog had a massive smile and invited all my monkeys to a trampoline pity party like you wouldn’t believe. 2012 will always be etched in my mind as a year of madness, mayhem, comedy & chaos, another book maybe.
The reason I share this story of marriage and divorce with you is to emphasize yet another major trigger that can perpetuate grief and feed the mad monkeys of doom and gloom and empathize with you if you find yourself in this crippling position.
Everyone I knew through both these devastating circumstances said to me, “It will take some time to get over this”. My heart was broken now, and this was the last thing I wanted to hear, especially from people who I thought had no right telling me this fable. This was the thought process I had at the time which was being translated by my sad monkey who had all fingers and toes in my ears while trying to hold my heart together with his tail. Having gripped the edge with my fingertips more times than I care to remember I now understand this fact to be true. It does take time to heal a broken heart. When the dark sad monkey of grief rears his head and sits heavy on your shoulders it should not be drowned, drugged or hidden away. These are typical traits used to medicate and manage a broken heart. As said earlier, grief is a heavy cloak that constricts our mind, body, and spirit.
The heart is no different than other muscles that are torn, bruised and broken. Time is the only cure and we need to tread softly, rest and recuperate to bring it back to its peak performance.
I wish to share a word of caution to you that alcohol and drugs do not and will never mend a broken heart. With first-hand knowledge I can share with you it only increases the pain and forges a fire within that will rage uncontrollably with every shot of firewater.
When a loss has happened, be it a loved one, a job, a limb or any circumstance that brings on the darkness in an instant and it rains pain, I suggest you open an umbrella in your mind and shield your grief monkey from the storm that shall soon pass. Once you witness and observe your grief monkey whom you will find usually makes his appearance through the cracks of a broken heart. With your mind’s eye, visualize and dress him in warm soft comfortable clothes, preferably in pale shades of blue, orange or green. Avoid black and dark bland colors, your grief monkey is one of the mad monkeys that deserves a little respect because he represents the most fragile part of your conscious mind. He has no malicious or self-absorbed ego intent. See and feel the grief monkey in the heart, but understand you may also feel him throughout your whole body as though he is crying tears of lead and weighing you down. Acknowledge his sadness but don’t get lost within it. These mad monkeys can have great power and are capable of pulling you into their emotional vortex. This is why our Mind Ninja needs to always be vigilant and ready to respond with tactical precision within a split second. Sit with the grief monkey as you would a wounded wild lion, knowing you are the energy it needs to heal but always aware it may try and consume you.
When we are confronted with a sudden life-changing situation, our escape, healing, and recovery are destined by the choices we assign to the given situation. With this in mind, we must understand that training is necessary to be proficient at dealing with circumstances that may blindside us. A boxer will stand in a ring with headgear on and take countless blows to the head in preparation for a future fight. Armies simulate battles to prep themselves for a war that will hopefully never eventuate. Callouses are formed, muscles are built and minds are transformed in all areas of life to prepare ourselves for an outcome that may never eventuate. So too must we train our Mind Ninja. We must always be preparing for a battle that will hopefully never perpetuate. Preparation is the key to being a powerful Mind Ninja who is equipped and ready for any battle.
Visualization is our training ground. It is in this space we are able to simulate the unforeseen battles ahead and build the shields and weapons necessary to defeat the outside forces that are trying to break us. I mentioned opening an umbrella earlier to shield your grief monkey. This may seem strange but trust me it is an amazing visualization technique I thought of and have put to good use. When you are at home and about to venture out, you sense it may rain, so you grab your favorite umbrella and walk into the world with a piece of mind that you will be protected and Sheltered if need be. Well, with this same thought you can visualize your Ninja with an umbrella. Wow, I just got a collected rush from your thoughts going, Ninja, with an umbrella, what a wuss. Creative Visualization is best achieved when we step outside the box or step outside of the pre-programmed mind in this case. The umbrella visualization is a wonderful exercise that can be used on a daily basis. Your umbrella is like no other, it is an amazing magical masterpiece when in full bloom. Let me explain mine to give you an idea of how cool this simple yet powerful weapon can be. Oh yeah, it’s a weapon. With your mind’s eye, imagine an amazing rainbow-colored umbrella opening up from within your mind. Close your eyes for a couple of seconds right now and really see, feel and hear this magnificent vibrant umbrella unfold and form above you. I know you are smiling right now, how good it feels. This umbrella needs to be vibrant, no black or bland umbrellas, please. Remember we are in training, focus, and practice constantly with your visualizations. This umbrella has the power to block outside conditions that may be trying to soak into your soul. As a normal umbrella, you find yourself dry, protected and secure when standing in the middle of a downpour of rain, snow or hail. Your vibrant umbrella has enormous power shields from its canopy stretching to the ground and surrounds you. Like the force fields of the Death Star, nothing can penetrate this field. No nasty words, no belligerent bullies or negative emotions. Really see and feel this fantastic vibrant and truly amazing umbrella open above you now. Smile at its color and the reflection that dances over you. Try this; bring yourself back to your surroundings now without your umbrella open. Take a couple of deep breaths and feel what you feel. Now with your mind’s eye slowly open your vibrant umbrella, look up and see its canopy click into place above you. Take a couple of deep breaths, now feel what you feel. I know, Wow right, it feels so good.
This umbrella got me through some dark storms and negative battles. In the same way, you may sense bad weather and the need for an umbrella as you venture out into the world, you may also sense an internal emotional storm coming on. Know that you now carry with you at all times this impressive umbrella of protection for your soul, spirit and Mind Ninja. Let it shelter your sad grief monkey on your shoulder knowing that with time and patience your heart will mend and be beating a rhythm of love for life again soon. Without this umbrella and your strong Mind Ninja holding it, your grief monkeys can find themselves perpetually pounded by emotional storms of negative beliefs and keep you shivering with sadness for a long time. As with all umbrellas, we only need them for short amounts of time as all storms will pass. Be kind to yourself under the canopy of your umbrella; understand that you are in the healing mode of a part of you that is broken. Bask in the light that lets you smile and know with certainty that this storm shall to pass.
We are always visualizing, each and every one of us, every day. As humans, we are bombarded with about 80,000 thoughts a day. How we respond to these thoughts comes down to the choices we make. You can choose to think positive thoughts or negative thoughts. Thinking positive can be very hard under certain uncontrollable circumstances like loss, bullying, and bereavement but we must be vigilant in our training. We must repetitively practice and arm our Mind Ninja with the necessary tools and weapons to help us overcome adversity so we can battle another day. It is easy to take the path of least resistance, to cower in a corner and play the victim blame game. Once again, take ownership of your mind, become a visualization expert, see, feel and smell the life you wish to live.