Through a typically strange series of events I found myself last night sitting in a class room at Amity High School in Woodbridge CT with Bernie Siegel. For those of you who may not know, Dr. Bernie Siegel was a pioneer in the medical field 30 years ago. His radical idea? Treating patients like human beings. Talking to them under anesthesia like they were still in the room. Using drawing and imagery. Connecting the Mind and The Body. Radical ideas 30 years ago.
He was reviled by the medical community. Research has proven his ideas to be sound.
In other words the guy is awesome! Every NLP practitioner and Hypnotherapist on the planet owes this Bernie Siegel a huge debt. As do holistic MD’s. If you ever need surgery and the surgeon talks to you and about you while your under as a human being, you owe him.
So I’m sitting there. Bernie asks the 20 of us why we are there.
We each tell our story a little bit. Bernie comments and acknowledges.
- Some are there because their well is dry and they need a shot of Bernie.
- Others are there because they are struggling with illness or the illness of a loved one.
- Others are there because they want to learn more, so they can help others more.
I wasn’t really sure why I was there. I think the healer needed a shot of healing. I’ve been struggling with some big questions in my life. Bernie told story after story that resounded in me.
His mom said all the time. “Do what makes you happy.”
That one hit a nerve. I’ve been working on that one. In spite of old beliefs and well meaning friends who say “Well, if you do something to pay the bills that might make you only a little miserable, then you can do what makes you happy on the weekends…”
His mother said “Do what makes you happy.” My mother said, “You can’t always be happy.” My mother also said, “If at first you don’t succeed, give up!” (she meant it as a joke but my literal ears took it as gospel).
Bernie mentioned a cancer patient of his who said, “My mother’s words are eating away at me.”
For some reason through the 2 hour class my left eye keeps tearing up.
I am on the cutting edge in my life of doing what makes me happy. Writing songs. Recording them. Performing. Teaching NLP. Working with clients. Sometimes there is money. Much of the time there is not.
I keep moving forward anyway. Sometimes pissed off. Sometimes blissful.
I asked myself a big question in December. If I had only 6 months to live what would I be doing? The answer came. Music. Spending time with my family and friends. Simple.
So I’ve recorded all the songs I wrote last year. Learn more about it at MarkShepardSongs.com (Only 30 more volumes to go!) Along the way I discovered that the music business is in a delightful state of disarray. Everything is being reinvented. No one knows how to make a living from music anymore.
Do what makes you happy? How? Oh! I “get” it! It’s a new challenge. A natural Zen Koan for the student to solve.
As I clear each new challenge in my life old patterns bubble up. So I clear them. Next layer. Next layer.
Then a test to see if I can hold the shift…Sometimes I can. Sometimes I can’t. So what? Give it another shot.
We are never done people! NLP and hypnosis and Reiki and EFT and Time Line Therapy and every other approach offers the ability to clear through stuff that may have been holding us down for years. But it is not a magical pill. There is no such thing. You have to do the work.
Abraham Lincoln said: “If I had 8 hours to cut down a tree I would spend 7 sharpening the ax.”
These techniques of change and personal transformation and healing are equivalent to the ax. They are tools. Practicing the techniques is like sharpening the ax. But ultimately we have to get up off our “buts” and swing the damn thing at the problem. We have to take action. Sometimes we get blisters. Sometimes we slip and fall. Get back up. Give it another swing. and another. and another.
We have to put our money where our mouths are.
And that’s why I’m in the class. The coach needs a coach. The healer needs a healer. The teacher needs a teacher. No body is done. No one has all the answers. No one. Not even Bernie Siegel. He asks more questions than anybody.
I’ve been writing songs for 30 years. Couldn’t get them out. I tried back in 1979. Went to Greenwich Village expecting to be “discovered”. No one seemed very impressed. So “programmed” by my mother’s words.(if at first you don’t succeed…give up!) I gave up.
I got a job. I started a family. and ten years went by. When I started feeling like I was going to die. I had to get help. Studied with an Energy Healer named Mearah Marqua. 3 years later I was making a living as a kid performer. Added storytelling. Added Drums.
Another 10 years went by.
7 years ago I started to learn NLP, Hypnosis, Time Line Therapy, EFT, Energy Healing. I made a lot of progress and changes.Learning. Learning. Practicing. Experimenting. Having outcomes that were not what I wanted. We used to call them “failures”. Pulling myself back up from where I fell. Each time a little stronger.
It took some time. Life takes time. But I swung the ax. Now these songs are starting to get out on the internet and through projects like “Letters to Daddy” and “Together We Can Change The World“. I’m performing family concerts at schools.I’m taking action. There are a million more things I could be doing. But I’m taking action. Sometimes I do something and it doesn’t seem to generate any income.
So I get frustrated. I replace the negative failure thoughts with the chant, “Why does it work out better than I can possibly imagine?” I ask the Universe, God, Atman, Allah, All That Is, whatever you want to call it, for help. Help me! Guide me! What do I do next? How can I get this stuff out into the world where it can do some good? How can I be a healer? How can I earn a living doing what makes me happy? Writing songs makes me happy. Singing them makes me happy. Recording them makes me happy. Helping people grow and transform their lives makes me happy.
You think God doesn’t answer prayers? Why then does a friend call me and say “Mark, I signed up for this Bernie Seigel class…oh and BTW I signed you up too.” ?
At the very intersection of our fears, doubts, struggles, wounds, and deepest desires lies healing.
In the next few days I’ll be sharing more thoughts from Bernie’s class.
As I re-read my notes and the handouts, my left eye starts to well up with a tear…One question he asks is this: “If you had only 15 minutes to live what would you do?”
If it’s warm today I will take my guitar and play on the street in Downtown New Haven.
Here are a few questions for you:
What are you going to do today that you’ve been stopping yourself from doing?
What would you do if you knew you could succeed?
Please leave a comment below. I want to know.