Life Changed When I Met Serge Benhayon

Throughout my life I have always felt that things didn’t quite add up, that there had to be more to it than you are born, you live, you die and that’s it. It seems to me to be a whole lot of effort to put in if that’s all there is.

As a young child I felt very connected to all that was around me, sensitive to what I felt or sensed and knew there was more than only that which I could tangibly touch or experience with my other senses. Life seemed so much grander and more expansive and I loved the feeling of being a part of it all.

Growing older it was like I turned down this ability, as often the harshness of the world was too much to bear and for me it was easier to dull it down with food, sport, studying and being more in my thoughts and less in my feelings. This coping mechanism served me well up to a point, even though I was aware that it wasn’t the answer I invested heavily in it so as to not acknowledge that I was a delicate and fragile soul who knew there was more than meets the eye. In fact I became very good at pretending that life was just what my five senses and my intellect told me, yet the angst and tension of not living what was naturally there as a child gnawed away at me like a termite with a voracious appetite munching through wood.

All the while the tension would surface reminding me that I was so much more than this automaton I had created. To achieve this I would push and drive myself harder at work and in sport, would eat massive volumes of food and drink coffee and alcohol like it was going out of fashion. Yet as time went on it seemed there was nothing I could do to stop that feeling that something wasn’t right, something was missing.

I started to explore this feeling and in this began my quest for answers, for something that would bring relief . . . But everything I tried from yoga to meditation, self-help books and so forth didn’t touch the sides and just left me feeling more lost and furious that the world wasn’t right.

Everything changed when I met Serge Benhayon the founder of Universal Medicine in 2004 at a workshop where he presented about life being all about energy, that we are all more than physical beings and that we are in fact innately Divine. He spoke of things that I knew to be true yet couldn’t quite grasp as first with my mind, but what I felt in my body resonated so strongly I simply had to admit that this was it – And that I had known this all along, that the termite-like gnawing angst was simply a reminder that I wasn’t living true to what I knew.

Through working with Serge Benhayon I have been able to redevelop more of how I was as a child, honouring that I feel very connected to all that is around me, am sensitive to what I feel or sense and know there is more than only that which I can tangibly touch or experience with my other senses.

 Life is so much grander and more expansive and I love the feeling of being a part of it all.

 

Birth Of A Woman

A few years ago a small group of Brisbane women inspired by the work of Serge Benhayon and Natalie Benhayon began meeting approximately every 6 weeks to talk about and raise awareness of women’s health.

These meetings commenced by exploring that despite advances in healthcare and preventive medicine, women’s health was actually worsening, with ever increasing cases of breast lumps, breast cancer, hormonal problems, fibroids, endometriosis, problem periods and fertility issues.

This initial discussion gave rise to an interesting but very exposing concept that women’s health issues may stem from the way we are choosing to live our lives, and how we are as women. But what did that mean, and what did it look like?

Over the following meetings the women started to share how busy our lives were, the pressures we felt to be everything to everyone, how we had become mothers and wives, how we took on more than we could manage, how we felt we had to be strong and tough and how we didn’t have time to care for ourselves as we were too consumed with caring for everyone else.

This paved the way for us to talk about self care, nurturing, our cycles and periods, role models, and so much more about the issues that surround women today.

These topics were shared with hesitation and reservation at first: it took time for some of the women to be comfortable opening up to one another out of fear of judgment or criticism. This, in and of itself, exposed how as women we have been in competition with one another, how we judge ourselves and each other, or carry lack of self worth or self loathing, and how we felt we didn’t fit the ideal of what a perfect woman should be, act, dress and look like.

Over the months that followed the group grew not only in numbers, but in trust, love and support for one another. As the women began to express openly and honestly, a beauty from within began to shine out from the women attending.

Little by little the women started to truly express themselves; this was reflected in the way they dressed, their hairstyles, the way they moved, but most of all by the look in their eyes… which seemed to sparkle with love and a deep tenderness that I had never experienced in such a large group.

I want to say thank you and express my appreciation to all the women in the group who have offered their voice and support and the space for us to be who we are, without reservation, judgment and criticism, or even advice or solutions. These women are strong, delicate, tender and compassionate, come from all walks of life and in many shapes and sizes. And yet they have come together, blossomed and allowed their beauty to shine from the love they feel deep within.

Over the years I feel I have witnessed what I can only describe as the ‘Birth of a Woman’ as I observe these women flourish, grow and allow themselves to be the true women that they are.

And now when I look – and I mean really look – at myself in the mirror, I see that love and deep tenderness in my own eyes. I see a delicate but strong woman gazing back at me… and I know that this is really me.

What Did We Really Learn at Uni?

When I graduated dental school, I should have been fresh faced, bright eyed, and full of enthusiasm and optimism about my future, instead I was jaded, exhausted, turned off from learning and in debt up to my eyeballs. Despite the fact that I needed to be earning some cash I decided to take a couple of months break before looking for work as I was so worn out after the pressures of over 5 years of intense study that is required getting a dental degree.

Its sad to look back and see myself so flat when this should have been a pinnacle of achievement, after all I had wanted to be a dentist since I was 13 years old and here I was fulfilling my dream, yet I could only feel relieved that I had made it through and that Uni was now behind me.

When I started my degree I was just 18, healthy, fit, and full of life. I would describe myself as happy-go-lucky and fairly at ease with life, I didn’t smoke, would have the occasional drink, ate well and didn’t really like coffee and generally took good care of myself. By the end of my first term at dental school, however, I was already struggling to cope with the volume of learning, the constant exams, the competitive nature of my fellow students and living away from home fending for myself while trying to manage a meagre budget. My health was starting to suffer, I was tired and stressed, eating on the run and drinking way too much coffee and alcohol, my body was breaking out in boils and I seemed to have a constant cold.

The pressure was relentless, exams every 6 weeks that you had to pass or you were gone. More learning than there seemed hours in the day and then from second year patients to see and treat which brought a whole new level of responsibility to deal with. Add to that only 6 weeks holiday a year (no luxury of long University breaks for us medical and dental students) and the never-ending battle to complete the required number of procedures before the end of 5th year so that you would be allowed to go on to take your final exams and you had a recipe for disaster.

The only way I could cope was to push myself beyond my limits, drinking excessive coffee during the day and alcohol at night to “manage” my stress levels and unwind after a tough day. Tired, I would find myself eating doughnuts at my breaks (the ladies at the dental school coffee bar would even put my doughnut supply to one side so as not run out when I came for a coffee – that’s how bad it had gotten!) and a family pack of biscuits after dinner while I did a few hours study before going the pub and drinking myself to oblivion so I could get some sleep and do it all again the next day.

If you complained about the intensity, you were told to suck it up, as if you couldn’t cope here you would never make it in the real world. And so was the attitude of the teaching staff, not really supportive or offering a way in which to better deal with the requirements of the course or come to think of it life beyond it.

It comes then as no surprise then that upon graduation many dentists and doctors continue on in the same vein, pushing themselves hard to complete their workload of patients and administrative tasks, competing with their colleagues instead of reaching out for support, advice and guidance, coping with stress and exhaustion with caffeine and alcohol and neglecting themselves and their own health. And sadly we are somehow expected to be super-human and be able to deal with all this as we have the cursory title Doctor before our names.

But what gets forgotten and overlooked is that first and foremost we are people, many of us very sensitive and deeply caring individuals, who also need support and nurturing and to be shown how we can not only deliver what we need for our patients but most crucially also for ourselves. For if we don’t truly know how to care for ourselves and maintain that happy-go-lucky fresh faced enthusiasm and love of what we do and the people we are supposedly caring for then what quality of service are we truly offering? What type of role model do we become when our words are empty, tainted by the do as I say not as I do energy that comes from delivering words that are not lived and shown by example, after-all who is going to take advice from an overweight worn out doctor, that would be like getting financial advice from a bankrupt.

Sure, there are many Universities and continuing education courses on offer now that provide teachings in self care, espousing the importance of looking after our wellbeing and whilst this is a welcome step in the right direction I can but only wonder if it goes far enough – are we simply putting a Band-Aid over a wound rather than preventing the wound from developing in the first place.

The fault here lies not in the Universities, the course curriculums, or even, that as doctors people don’t always see us as people, but that life and our education system do not equip us to know how to genuinely care for ourselves on a deeper level. A level that supports us to connect to ourselves and know who we are, to be able to value and care for ourselves naturally and lovingly so and thus live in a way that provides a quality of vitality and energy that supports us to be less affected by life.

Ironic

Isn’t it ironic – you set out to achieve something and when you get there you realise that you have grown and evolved so much as a person that it is no longer what you yearn for. It then takes courage to admit this, take stock and reflect on what is important to you, what you need and what needs to shift or change. This is not a failure, it is simply that you now see your life differently and that what fulfilled you at the outset no longer serves you in the way it once did.

Growth comes from acknowledging that life is not static, it is a constant flow, a movement that brings you back to who you are deep within as you unfold and let go of that which no longer is who you thought you were – the you that shaped what you set out to achieve and the you that reached that point ironically no longer exists as it once did because as you have grown and are now experiencing life from a different perspective. And this feeds an illusion that we have been unable to achieve success or happiness and that we have to strive and drive to get somewhere when in fact it is always inside us all the time just waiting to be connected to and lived in full.

Dentistry IS Stressful

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It is true – being a dentist is stressful. Most patients dislike coming and are themselves stressed or anxious and this often comes across as rudeness, aggression and irrational behaviour. Everyone has high and often unrealistic expectations of what you can do with their teeth and hence the results you can achieve. No one seems to appreciate or understand how hard it is to fix a tooth when you are leaning over craning your neck, ruining your posture and straining your eyes just to be able to see it. Add to that battling a sea of saliva and tongues and lips that seem to develop superhuman strength as soon as you come anywhere near them and the process becomes near on impossible.

Many patients do not want to take your advice and simply think they know best despite the level of knowledge, experience and expertise you have. Many complain about the bill, are constant worriers and blow things out of proportion, ask the same question over and over even though you spent forever explaining it and even drew them a picture. The challenging patients all seem to be booked in on the busiest and most demanding of days when you are already overwhelmed, pushed for time and frazzled by the constant bickering and the inability of your team to think or organise anything for themselves. Add to that you are running late, the tax is due and the bookkeeper needs to ask you a million questions, stock needs ordering and the most vital piece of equipment you need to run your business has just blown up and yes…. you’d be stressed too.

So how do dental school and university prepare the fresh-faced young and eager dentist to be able to cope with the pressures they will face once graduated and working in dental practice? In a nutshell it doesn’t, what it does do is put you under enormous amounts of pressure to learn, to achieve, and to come up to standard, pass exams every six weeks and see patients on clinic at the same time. And what happens if you complain? You are told, “if you can’t handle it here you’ll never cope in the real world.” Not entirely helpful or supportive. What it fosters is the suck it up and get on with it mentality, you dare not show you are fragile and not handling the work load as that simply doesn’t cut it. There is a massive culture of consuming caffeine, pastries, and sugary snacks and even taking speed to cope with how tired you are from the demands of studying day and night and using alcohol to unwind and party and let off steam.

So no wonder once we do graduate that we then rely on the same coping mechanisms to get by and handle the demands of daily practice, demands that we vent at our staff, patients, families and friends and use to beat ourselves up with. Eventually we get sick, develop musculoskeletal problems, anxiety and depression, become de-motivated, resent our job, our staff and our patients and suffer from professional burnout and a higher than average rate of divorce, drug and alcohol addiction and suicide.

The statistics speak for themselves; in a study from the British Dental Journal July 2004, 90% of dentists said they drank alcohol regularly (with 1 in 7 dentists having an alcohol problem), 10% smoked and 35% were overweight. 62% suffered from heartburn, wind or indigestion, 60% reported being nervy, tense or depressed, 58% reported headache, 48% reported difficulty in sleeping and 48% reported feeling tired for no apparent reason.

Results also indicated that levels of minor psychiatric symptoms were high at 32%, similar to doctors at 27% and higher than the general population, which has been reported at 18%.

It is obvious from the studies that dentists do encounter numerous sources of professional stress which can impact negatively on their personal and professional lives, a process that begins in dental school. Because of this dentists are prone to professional burnout, anxiety disorders and clinical depression and must be made aware of the importance of maintaining good physical and mental health to enjoy satisfying professional and personal lives.

Anecdotally, health professionals do not seek help for their own stress and personal frailty readily and instead are likely to put on a brave face and pretend they have the situation under control. Many often refuse to seek help for fear they will be stigmatised or lose their job whilst many others remain in denial.

Would it not then be sensible and beneficial to teach dental students, dentists and other health care professionals a different way of managing stress and caring for themselves so they would be better equipped to deal with life once they graduated? Would it not be healthier to find ways so as not feel so stressed in the first place and make that a part of their training? What if we could show them and dentists already in practice how to live in a way that supports them to deal with their issues and stresses and thus be able maintain their own health and remain fit and healthy both physically and mentally?

The philosophies and modalities of Esoteric Healing as taught by Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine present a way of living that can provide this level of self-care and support. They are not airy-fairy mumbo jumbo nor are they difficult to apply. What Serge Benhayon presents in reality is a simple common sense approach to health and vitality that encourages you to care for and respect your body, an approach that is being supported by science and research studies.

Some of these philosophies and approaches to self-care include:

Eat to Support the Body

By assessing how the body reacts to foods (and situations) we can see what is beneficial and what to avoid such as gluten, dairy, sugar, caffeine and alcohol as these can cause harm to the body or may make you feel unwell. It is also a well-known fact that what we eat can affect our mood and wellbeing.

Sleep Quality

Go to bed early after unwinding from your day to support you to get plenty of good quality sleep. Wake when your body feels to, not when the clock or society says you should, which may be earlier than you are used to. Once you establish a healthy sleep pattern you awake less exhausted and full of energy.

Be in Control of Your Choices

Every choice we make affects and contributes to what happens in our life. These choices can either be caring and nurturing of self or not. The body constantly communicates with us about how those choices impact on it. If we override or ignore those messages instead of addressing them (e.g. every time I get frustrated I get a headache) then eventually the body will suffer aches and pains, digestive problems, emotional fluctuations, stress, tension etc and illness can result.

Gentle Exercise

Exercise gently to keep the body fit, strong and supple. This assists us to be physically healthy without over-stressing the body, causing muscle tears or injury and producing excess lactic acid build up which can cause pain and stiffness.

Focusing the Mind

The constant chatter of our mind and thinking about other things and situations instead of the task at hand is draining and stressful. It is like a computer trying to run several programs at once, it uses up a lot of energy and drains the batteries. By remaining more present and focusing the mind to what is occurring in each moment we save energy and reduce stress levels. By switching off the incessant brain chatter it is easier to connect to the body and how we feel and thus remain calm.

Meditation, Breath and Body Awareness

The Gentle Breath Meditation can help to calm and de-stress the body and provide a moment to stop and reflect on how we are. Being aware of our breath allows us to feel when we are stressed or holding tension. By breathing gently we can slow the heart rate, reduce our blood pressure and let go of tension in our body. By tuning in with our body we can feel where we are tight and holding tension; e.g. if our jaw is clenched, shoulders are up around our ears, our breath is laboured or whether our movements are rigid, tense and rushed or not; and then choose to let that tension go and allow the body to relax.

If the body is sore, stiff or painful then choose an appropriate modality or practitioner of body-work to assist with the release of tension and address musculoskeletal imbalances.

Seek Support

Sometimes our issues and the pressures that we face are too much for us to handle alone. It is important that we realise that everyone at some point in their life finds it hard to cope and that it is perfectly acceptable to seek support and ask for help.

By developing self-honesty and bringing awareness to the body we can be more connected to ourselves and listen to the feedback the body is sending us. We then have the choice to modify our posture, level of tension, breath, eating habits, thought patterns and emotions all of which can impact positively or negatively on our stress levels. We can then deal with our stress from moment to moment rather than waiting for it to build and build until we get sick, before we listen and make adjustments to the way that we live.

In this way we are able to foster the ability to look after ourselves from moment to moment during the day and employ real self-care and thus it becomes easier to reduce stress rather than simply having to manage it. Having less stress in our lives certainly must be a better approach to our health and our daily way of living.

I know personally from my years within dentistry that my coping mechanisms in the past were to turn to alcohol, heavy exercise, food and caffeine and that my moods, sleep patterns and levels of tiredness and exhaustion fluctuated wildly making me short-tempered, prone to outbursts of rage, with difficulty concentrating and a total disconnection to the people I was working with. I was in constant pain with neck, back and muscular issues but never sought help until it affected my ability to work. And then most of what I tried only offered short-term relief without actually addressing the underlying issues.

It was only after attending a workshop with Serge Benhayon in 2004 that my situation and health really began to change. Since then I have employed the methods of self-care as presented by Universal Medicine and found them to be more beneficial than other avenues that I had pursued. I am now a better, healthier and happier dentist able to share what I live with my patients and staff so as to foster an environment of true care within my dental practice in which not only do I feel calm and at ease but so also do my patients and staff.

Self-care is an integral and essential part of having a long and healthy dental career and should be incorporated into the undergraduate curriculum and be offered as part of our continuing professional development education. By equipping people with the tools of self-care that they can carry throughout their career, ill health and the need to use sugar, caffeine and alcohol or drugs as coping mechanisms could be reduced and avoided. In this way our health care providers would be a living example to those that they are caring for, treating and educating on wellbeing.

Resources

http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v197/n2/full/4811476a.html dentistry is stressful

http://ada.org.au/App_CmsLib/Media/Lib/0610/M29041_v1_632973937559660000.pdf  dentists and alcohol

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1268417/Stress-driving-doctors-dentists-drink-addiction.html

http://www.dentistry.co.uk/news/4834-Stress-in-dentistry-qhyphen-a-study

http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v200/n8/abs/4813463a.html stress in dental practice

http://ukpmc.ac.uk/abstract/MED/17449973 general health of dentists

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.2044-8325.1993.tb00524.x/abstract stress and mental health dentists

http://occmed.oxfordjournals.org/content/58/4/275.full job stressors of dentists and coping mechanisms

http://jada.info/content/135/6/788.short stress burnout and anxiety dentists

http://www.jdentaled.org/content/74/2/95.full stress in dental students

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1034/j.1600-0579.2002.060105.x/abstract dental students mental stress

http://www.jdentaled.org/content/71/2/197.full emotional intelligence and stress dental students

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6920/9/61/ EI and stress healthcare students

Stress In Dentistry — It Could Kill You!

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It would come as no surprise if I were to tell you that dentistry is a stressful profession and that dentists are renowned for having a higher than average suicide rate. But why is that and how can we as dentists learn to deal with our stresses better rather than simply accepting it as a fact of life.

Dentists are subject to a variety of stress-related problems, including a high incidence of cardiovascular disease, peptic ulcers, colitis, high blood pressure, lower back pain, eye strain, marital disharmony, alcoholism, drug addiction, mental depression and suicide.

* The suicide rate of dentists is more than twice the rate of the general population and almost three times higher than that of other white-collar workers.

* Emotional illness ranks third in order of frequency of health problems amongst dentists, while in the general population it ranks tenth.

* Coronary disease and high blood pressure are over 25% more prevalent among dentists than in the general population.

* Dentists suffer psycho-neurotic disorders at a rate of 2 1/2 times greater than physicians.

* The number 1 killer of dentists is stress-related cardiovascular disease.

CAUSES OF STRESS

Why is our profession so prone to stress and the physical, mental and social problems that go with it? Can we find ways to support ourselves to deal with the pressures we face and hopefully live longer and happier?

As a dentist we spend most of our working life confined to a small, sometimes windowless, 2m by 3m treatment room, which is smaller than the average prison cell. The work we do is intricate and meticulous and is performed in a small, restricted space called the mouth filled with saliva and moving pink bits called cheeks and tongues, which is attached to an often-anxious human being. The procedures are both physically and mentally taxing and as a result, muscular strain, back troubles, circulatory disorders and fatigue are common. It is relatively easy, over a period of time, for a dentist to become both physically and emotionally burned-out.

As most dentists practice alone we do not have the opportunity to share and solve problems with our colleagues the way other professional groups do through peer support. This problem of isolation is compounded by the fact that we tend to be competitive with one another, a trait that is unfortunately a bi-product of our competitive dental school training. This is then reinforced after graduation by the intense competition created by the surplus of dentists that now exists in many cities and large metropolitan areas.

Dentists suffer from a relentless pursuit of perfection whilst attempting to create permanent solutions to dental disease in an inhospitable oral environment. The stress of perfection is instilled in us in dental school, creating a major cause of stress and frustration as we strive for that perfect restoration that will ultimately be rendered imperfect by time and patient neglect, despite the our best efforts.

In dentistry we face a unique position of being both the business owner, manager and producer of income which means we wear several hats all the time and can not be everywhere in our dental office, often having to trust others to work unsupervised to provide our patients and business with the level of service and care required for our office to be successful and profitable. The typical dentist is paying off huge loans to cover the cost of dental school and the cost of setting up a private practice. Economic pressures forces us to work long hours, take limited holidays, work when we are sick and even work through our lunch.

When a dentist is absent from the office, the income totally stops, but the high overhead expenses continue to accrue. The dentist who works all the time and never takes time off might seemingly make a few dollars more, but there is a high price to pay — BURNOUT! And when dentists burnout, we become emotionally and mentally exhausted, develop a negative, indifferent or cynical attitude towards our patients and our staff and are negative and self-critical. The more burn out we suffer the more our ability to produce quality dentistry and bring in that much needed income falters.

When it comes to holidays and taking a break, ask yourself who would you rather see, a dentist who needs a holiday or takes one? Ironically the dentist who takes holidays is often more productive as they are less stressed and exhausted!

Oh and if these pressures weren’t enough, what happens when we factor in time and attempting to stay on schedule in a busy dental practice. Dentistry, unfortunately, seems to be governed by if any thing can go wrong, it will go wrong and usually at the worst possible time and as we all know, once we are behind schedule it is almost impossible to catch up and as our time ticks away our stress levels rise at an inversely proportional rate.

We spend four to five years in dental school learning perfection and “ideal” treatment for our patients. Yet the realities of private practice are that many patients, due to financial restraints, poor insurance plans or low appreciation of quality dental care, will not accept “ideal” treatment plans. The result is that we are continually forced to compromise treatment and are left frustrated at not being able to reach our ideal treatment goals, always doing compromised work that inevitably fails leading to stress and tension with the patient who can’t or is unwilling to accept that the treatment failed because they forced us in to offering substandard treatment in the first place.

Consequently, the dentist is often forced to operate a “fix-and-repair” business, providing compromised treatment for patients who refuse the best of dental care. The dentist then ends up emotionally carrying the responsibility for less than ideal results while the patient continues to express unrealistic expectations.

The stress of working with apprehensive and fearful patients can be devastating to the dental practitioner. There is now considerable evidence that dentists experience patterns of physiological stress responses (increased heart rate, high blood pressure, sweating, etc.) that parallel the patient’s responses when performing dental procedures that evoke patient fear and anxiety. Wouldn’t it be great if we could work in a way where we can observe the patient’s anxiety and fear but not take it on ourselves, instead staying calm and focused whilst we do our work in a way that is supportive and reassuring to our patient? That would do wonders for our stress levels and for everyone else involved too.

Whilst it is easy to blame all these outside influences for our stress, at the end of the day there is actually no such thing as stress only our reactions to life and situations which cause us to feel stressed. With that being said how we choose to feel and deal with our jobs will have a massive impact on our perception of stress and being able to cope. Sadly the personality traits that make for a good dentist are also traits that predispose us to depression in mid-life, drug and alcohol abuse and the attendant risk of suicide. How many of us would recognise these in ourselves: compulsive attention to detail, extreme conscientiousness, careful control of emotions, unrealistic expectations of self and others, needing recognition for individual performance and prestige.

MANAGING STRESS

Stress can never be totally eliminated from dental practice. However, it must be minimised as much as possible in order to avoid the many problems that it causes. And this is where taking control of what we can control is important for example we can improve the working environment at the office, reach out to others to share problems and seek support with fellow dentists, work more sensible hours and take time each day for a leisurely lunch break, take holidays whenever the pressures of practice start to build, learn how to better handle patient anxiety and hostility, adopt a program of physical exercise and self-care and most importantly, start being kinder to ourself and be less critical and demanding of our efforts.

In dental practice we devote so much of our time and study to caring for our patient’s health, what about dedicating some time to yourself, your health and your future.

 

I Was A Closet Guitarist

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6 weeks ago I was a closet guitarist.

I grew up loving music, but was not what I would describe as musical, so rather than being a player I was a listener with 100’s of CD’s, music magazines and attendances at gigs seeing as many bands as I could muster.

I admit I was quite in love with the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and in my 20’s played guitar on and off, never progressing very far as I gave up in frustration at trying to teach myself from books and audio CD’s. With guitar lessons a few years later I had gotten the basics down and even passed a couple of music exams but would still have classed myself as a beginner.

Moving to Australia 16 years ago bringing my guitars with me, I never felt compelled to play them and rather than have them languishing in the corner collecting dust I sold them online. And that I believed was that; the end of my rock star aspirations . . . until recently that is.

My son is very musical and by age 6 was having piano and guitar lessons – and well that was it, seeing his enjoyment made me want to play again, so I started having guitar lessons two years ago.

After a 15-year break it was like being a beginner again, yes I remembered some chords and techniques but putting them together required patience and practice and being able to really tune in to my body.

What struck me was I could play the pieces quite well at home yet when it came time to play in my lesson I would be struck with anxiety and would mess it up playing below par, as I was painfully aware if feeling judged by my teacher. I swapped teachers soon after that and now have one who is very supportive and encouraging which has helped me let go of the need to be perfect and hence the anxiety.

Watching Michael Benhayon of Glorious music play has also inspired me. Michael is self-taught, playing in a way that is not about him being the star or wallowing in emotional angst, his music carries depth and meaning and the quality that comes with it that allows you to simply be who you are.

Anyway back to the start of this story . . . 6 weeks ago I was a closet guitarist. I had never played in front of anyone but my family and my teacher and the thought of playing for anyone else brought me out in a heart racing cold sweat. It was time to come out so I attended a local jam session held with a view to form bands that would put on a gig at the end of November.

Now bear in mind this was a huge leap of faith, as I have never played in a band, with other musicians or even standing up!

So I found myself in a bar with a music stage with over 25 complete strangers, who all looked as nervous as I was feeling. When I got chatting to them it was obvious they had way more experience than me and I must admit I was more than a little tense by this point and wondering what I’d let myself in for.

Randomly people formed ‘bands’ on stage, picking from the songbook to play a couple of numbers. The first band played really well and I was heading for the door, when I thought why not give it a go you’re here now. So when the time came around I took my turn and you know what the moment I stood on stage my nerves left and I felt very at ease. Although I didn’t know the songs and was making up some of the chords it sounded pretty good. As the evening panned out I ended up playing 3 sets and had an absolute hoot getting to know people and jamming together.

What followed was 4 intense weeks getting to know and play with my new band mates, learning 12 songs, which I taught myself with the help of YouTube and my music teacher, 4 weekly rehearsals of 2 hours in proper recording studios with a music coach and great support from the rest of my band and my family.

As the night of the big gig approached I would wake up in the middle of the night feeling sick and anxious, guitar chords running through my head and all the songs muddled up. Terrified I would mess up, freeze or let the band down, I simply reminded myself this was about getting out of my comfort zone and having some fun on the way.

The day of the gig arrives and I am like a cat on a hot tin roof, last minute practice, checking my strings, packing and repacking my kit several times. I could hardly eat and felt dreadful – what was I thinking? Too late to back out now!

When the time came to leave for the gig and I felt myself drop into my body as my nerves and anxiousness melted away, my whole being became calm and I felt totally at ease knowing this was exactly what I needed to be doing and that everything would be just perfect.

It’s our turn to play, I remember standing on stage, guitar on shoulder, bright lights shining in my eyes and a microphone in my face. Knowing I had the support of friends and family in the crowd I struck the first chord of the opening number, my guitar rang loud and clear through the amps and we rocked out our 45 minute set, hardly missing a beat and enjoying every moment of it.

In what seemed like a matter of minutes the crowd where cheering and asking for more and I couldn’t wait to do it all over again . . . No more closet guitarist for me . . .

As a teenager I would dream of playing guitar with my favourite bands and last night my dream came true when I was asked to come up on stage and jam along with Michael Benhayon and Road Gloria at the Universal Medicine end of year celebration in front of 100’s of my friends both in the building and on broadcast live via webcast all over the world. Rock ‘n’ Roll!