01.10.2006

Taking off the Lampshade

Say The Journeyand many thousands of people around the world will immediatelyvisualise healer Brandon Bays. Here, she speaks withNicola Silva about her latest release, Freedom Is.
Australia is undeniably one of the most free countriesin the world. We can worship at any church or temple,or not; we can vote for any
political party; we can go about our daily lives withoutfear of war or bombs. Forget the prophets of doom -the reality is we live in a
land of peace. And yet, most of us know what it is tobe imprisoned by ill health, negative emotions or lifecircumstances.

The poet Hartley Coleridge wrote, "But what isFreedom? Rightly understood/ A universal licence tobe good".

In her latest book, inspirational spiritual teacherBrandon Bays proposes that freedom really is a universallicence to feel good.
"Each moment you have an invitation from life tostop - just stop, breathe and open.

Everything will slow down and you can allow what's hereto be here. In the beginning you choose freedom, andit's a conscious choice. After a while freedom fallsin love with you, it chooses you," Brandon saysin her soft, measured voice.

Brandon is in the UK where her day is just beginning,the same day that is ending for me in Sydney. Yet it'sas if intercontinental distance is nothing as she conveysher ideas, truth and inner peace graciously and effortlessly.She has the rare gift of focusing her entire attentionon whomever is before her in the moment, even this humbleinterviewer half a world away, and making them feelvalued.

Brandon is most famous for her first book, The Journey.An international bestseller, it tells the miraculousstory of how Brandon cured herself of a football-sizedtumour, without surgery or conventional medicine, insix and a half weeks. Since then, she has developeda healing process called "Journeywork" whichhas helped tens of thousands to recover from cancer,arthritis, asthma, allergies, acne, Crohn's diseaseand more. It has also been successful in healing fromgrief, loss, trauma, depression, anxiety and addiction."

I always say that what this work really does is takethe lampshade off the light," Brandon explains."You already are this pure joy, light and freedom.All the Journey does is steal away the veils and obscuration.It takes the lampshade off so that the natural potentialof love and joy can shine through."

Her latest book, and one that's certain to follow thesame bestseller path, Freedom Is, presents practicalways of living and healing with guided meditations foropening into awareness and gratitude for what each momentbrings."The book teaches us in a very real wayto notice how we effort, how we struggle, how we uselesslystrive. It teaches us how our unforgiveness holds usback, how our lack of honouring of life keeps us fromexperiencing the gifts of life," she says. "Whenwe have a heart that's full of resentment instead ofgratitude, we get a cup that's half full. The book isvery simple but has very deep process work you coulddo to meet the normal issues all of us face."

This is not an airy-fairy notion because Brandon isabundantly aware of the challenges life brings. Shehas experienced, in addition to her life-threateningillness, the loss of her home in a bushfire and theending of a cherished 20 year marriage. Most recently,she broke her ankle in Africa. Her foot is in a castas we speak, and healing naturally, Brandon assuresme. She tells me the story of this injury to illustratehow we can stay in present-moment awareness even duringa crisis. She was at a Journey accreditation programin Africa, attended by people from all walks of lifeincluding doctors, teachers, alternative practitioners,lawyers and bankers. It was night time and Brandon wasmoving around greeting people."I was swimming ina bath of joy and peace," she recalls. A friendcalled out to her from a distance and Brandon steppedout to meet her and "stepped into air". Shelanded heavily and, hearing a crack, knew instantlythat her ankle had been broken."There's a situationthat you'd imagine would be stressful," she says,laughing, if rather ruefully. "But I've spent mylife being very present. So when I hit (the ground)I was fully aware that this had happened. I don't sayit wasn't painful, but I didn't shut it down.

I didn't start making up a story about what had happened,I just allowed and quietly called for a doctor."Thedoctor confirmed that, yes, indeed, her ankle was broken,but Brandon nevertheless wanted to carry on with theprogram."I was in pain but not so much pain thatI couldn't get to satsang. I said I would like to beginthe seminar session. It would give me the chance topray, to meditate, and to open together." She wascarried into the seminar where she told everyone whathad happened and invited healing from the audience.

"While we were praying I could feel the bonerealign itself; it twitched inside my leg." Lateron at the hospital the doctor commented that althoughthe foot was fractured, it was lined up perfectly.
Remarkably, (or perhaps not considering her past selfhealing) she managed to carry on with her teaching schedule.When the pain became too much she would rest. "Ina way it's like acknowledging the truth - okay, fearis here, pain is here, anger's here - the sheer recognitionthat it's a natural part of life and being present toit."

Freedom Is affirms throughout that allowing ourselvesto feel our emotions naturally, as children do, is thegateway to health and healing. Many of us, though, havebeen taught to present a stiff upper lip and carry onas if our sadness, anger, frustration or any other emotionperceived as negative simply does not exist."Notonly are we afraid of (our emotions) we fight them,don't we?" says Brandon.  "We see somethinghorrible and don't know how to deal with it so we shutit down. We run from ourselves and usually, when strongemotions happen, we run into activity."

I agree, thinking of all the times I've begun cleaningmadly in order to avoid facing some unpleasant emotion.Thisdenial, Brandon explains, may have lasting consequenceson our health and wellbeing. "Science has foundthat when you feel strong emotions and you repress them,it releases a quantifiable biochemistry into the bloodstreamthat goes to the cell receptors and blocks them. Thecells literally become unable to communicate with therest of the body. If over time the cells remain blocked,and if disease is going to happen, it usually happensto a part of the body where the cells are blocked."

Equally, scientists have observed that when emotionsare felt openly our cell receptors stay open. Brandonexplains it further: "If you stay still at thecore of an emotion and really go into the very cellcore, you will start going down through layers - deeperand deeper emotions - and ultimately you will open intovast peace beyond your wildest imagination."

While a transformative book such as Freedom Is helpsyou to experience this peace, deeper healing usuallycomes from accessing and releasing suppressed memories.The enormous international success of her own Journeyworkprocess bears testimony to her suggestion that it "allowsyou to get in touch with your soul and clear the emotionalblocks of your body and be healed".While individualshave benefited greatly from the process, quite phenomenalresults have been achieved in the outreach work thatis taking place worldwide, including a schools' programin Newcastle and another involving Aboriginal childrenand adults in Ceduna,South Australia.

But it's in South Africa that the Journeywork hasachieved shining success.  The process has beenintroduced in 232 schools in the Eastern Cape - andit all began with a schoolteacher named Jaysheree Mannie.She had been diagnosed with adult acne and had triedboth conventional medicine and alternative treatmentswithout success."

It was so bad it was eating up her face. You mightthink it's not a big thing but to her it was a big issue.She's Hindu and in the Hindu tradition the woman isthe embodiment of the goddess. She felt shewas a shameto her own family."Jaysheree read The Journey andused the process to free the exact cell memory thathad contributed to her illness. She went back to thetime when her father had died suddenly, leaving herin charge of a big family."She didn't have timeto grieve and she did what many of us do - just shutdown - and took care of her family. She had so muchsuppressed grief and rage. The Journey process givesyou the ability to free the memory, come to understanding,come to forgiveness, and she did. Her acne cleared up."

Brandon tells me that Jaysheree began using Journeyworkwith her students, some of whom had attention deficitdisorders, with fantastic results. She then got in touchwith the organisation's Australian offices, and Brandonsponsored her through the year-long accreditation program."Atthe end of it I said to her, 'Jaysheree, I want youto go to Africa and give this work away.' She took meat my word."At the end of a year's work, the averagepass rate of the children who were offered Journeyworkevery week was 91-93 per cent. The children who receivedit occasionally were averaging a pass rate of 76 percent and those who and no involvement were averaging66 per cent.

Today, the Journeywork operates under the auspicesof the Kwa-Zulu Natal Education Department and is beingmonitored by the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal.But thebest part, says Brandon, is that this work has broughthealing into individual lives. When the Journey teamvisited one of the pilot schools, the deputy principalintroduced them to some of the children. 'This boy watchedhis dad being shot dead in front of him,' he said, 'Thisgirl was raped when she was nine,' 'These twins arehomeless'.

Wherever she goes, whether it's Australia, SouthernIreland or Botswana, says Brandon, people turn up intheir hundreds. She explains the work's apparently universalappeal as, "the world is longing to find somethingtrue and real inside."Although Brandon is awedand humbled by the worldwide appeal of her work, sheattributes it all to surrendering to grace."Prayersgo out daily that people find awakening, find wholeness,and find healing. If you're attached to the result,everything starts closing down. It's only the ego that'sdesperate to see results. But if you'resurrendered,in truth, life guides you.

At the end when results happen, you realiseyou didn't do anything - you showed up and you've beenblessed with grace."

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