BRANDON BAYS and The Journey™ by Pamela Bloom
Bridging the Gap between Spiritual, Emotional and Physical Healing
When I began spiritual practices some three decades ago, I did so because I wanted to heal something physical--the loss of my sing
Bridging the Gap between Spiritual, Emotional and Physical Healing
When I began spiritual practices some three decades ago, I did so because I wanted to heal something physical--the loss of my singing voice. But there was something else I was searching for--a grace-filled life in touch with the very core of existence. Back in the 70s, though, physical healing and spiritual enlightenment seemed to be on decidedly different tracks. If you were practicing Zen or chanting Hindu mantras, for example, it was kind of considered "spiritually gauche" to be directly interested in healing the body. But these days scientists like Bruce Lipton and Candace Pert are leading us to ponder whether spiritual methods such as meditation and guided visualization can radically effect cellular transformation--that is, physically heal us. That's why when I heard about Brandon Bay's work called The Journey™, which was said to produce not only powerful physical effects but also spiritual liberation, I had to check it out.
But first about Brandon. The same questions that Lipton and Pert ponder today have been constants in Bays' rich life of exploration. A spiritual seeker from my same generation, she heard the call early on, becoming a daily meditator by the age of 19. She also pursued alternative healing methods and became accredited as a kinesiologist, medical herbalist, iridologist, nutritionist, therapeutic bodywork, Body Electronics and Neuro Linguistic Programming. A sojourner to many ashrams to offer "seva," (or selfless service), she eventually became a student of H.W.L Poonja (affectionately known as Papaji), an extraordinary satsang teacher based in Lucknow, India who would give spiritual birth to many other famous present-day teachers such as Mooji, Gangaji, Andrew Cohen and others. In Bays' book Freedom Is, she poignantly describes the time she was invited to spend five rare days with Papaji in his home, an intense period of complete ego decineration during which when she was in constant meditation and barely needed to eat.
But her training didn't stop there. In fact, it only intensified after she experienced a jaw-dropping series of catastrophes, beginning with discovering a basketball-size tumor in her abdomen. At the time she was an esteemed trainer in the empowerment workshops of Tony Robbins, who in inimitable fashion encouraged her "to handle it," believing that she, of all people, actually could. After she asked her outraged doctor to delay life-saving surgery for a month, she supported herself with a 100 percent live food diet, then went into isolation to confront the emotional components of her condition through a mixture of massage, radical self-honesty, guided meditation and intense inner journeying. Six weeks later, to her doctor's complete shock, the tumor was gone. But her life challenges had only begun. In the next two years, Bays' Malibu home burned to the ground, her daughter cut off all communication, the tax office froze her income, and her husband of many years walked out on her. For another woman.
It was out of this crucible of experience that Bays developed the processes that have become known worldwide as The Journey™. Twenty years since she first got sick, the work today has been practiced in over 44 countries, offered in prisons, taught in governmental cabinets, presented in indigenous communities in South Africa and Canada, and shared in every walk of life and income level. Basically, it's a guided journey done with the eyes closed and facilitated by a partner whose task is to keep you on the track of a general outline of inner processes. Participants have experienced healing from asthma, cancer, depression, fibromyalgia, skin conditions, alcohol and substance abuse, and much more. Many report profound inner soul shifts. Wildly popular in Australia, Bays is returning to Canada for a workshop in Toronto June 7-9 followed by weekend seminar at Kripalu Yoga Center in Massachusetts, June 13-15.
You might ask, is The Journey™ worth it? Especially if you have already done every workshop on earth.
Last summer I attended The Journey's Level One at Omega in Rhinebeck, New York after being compelled by the warm, straightforward style of Bays' best-selling book The Journey™: A Practical Guide to Healing Your Life and Setting Yourself Free. First off, as far as Papaji's offspring go, there is something very different about Brandon Bays. A born communicator, Bays exudes an unforgettable presence on stage, even though at times you can still see the Tony Robbins influence. With her long blonde hair, white-bright smile, and Indian-luxe attire, she seems to practically shimmer before you. But Bays is anything but inauthentic. At base, she is a magnetic storyteller who can in a whisper, shout, measured purr or breakneck transmission mesmerize an audience into trance. (During that truncated Omega weekend, she wanted at times to move through a lot of material so fast that her speed left me wondering if she wasn't using some kind of NLP technique to transmit information subliminally). At the same time, Bays doesn't shy away from shedding real tears in public, especially when demonstrating her process with a volunteer (in one case, the participant's authentic spontaneous grief upon remembering some deeply forgotten abuse triggered the same empathetic response in nearly everybody.) Unlike some gurus and therapists who hold themselves at a distance, Bays allows herself to be affected by the emotions of others but never gets lost in them. And sometimes group grief changed into group hilarity on a dime. When I think back to the ambiance of that weekend, I might even say Bays was painting a huge landscape with the emotional vibrations of everyone in the room--all for some invisible effect. And her rich alto singing voice is just gorgeous, always a telltale sign that someone is genuinely connecting to both heaven and earth.
The real success of the Journey™ work, however, is tested when people partner off to try the various processes together. Bays precisely gauges the presentation of her various techniques so there is an smart accumulation of knowledge, skill and experience as the weekend progresses; she dearly wants participants to go home with the ability to share the process, even on the most beginning of levels.
To be honest, however, as someone who has worked with people psycho-spiritually for almost three decades and has undergone similar work on myself, I did not find Brandon's work startling new. Guided visualization has become the de rigueur of healing; dialoguing with your younger or older self has by this time even been parodied in mainstream movies. In some ways, parts of the work seem thirty years old, but that doesn't mean it is ineffective. What is defining about The Journey™ is that Bays, buoyed by her pure presence which itself transmits power, offers a very sturdy bridge to cross that no-man's land between emotional/physical healing and spiritual liberation. At the core of her work are extraordinary practices teaching you how to stay in the present moment by diving systematically under multi-layers of emotion; by doing so, you just might uncover and dismantle the symptomatic constrictions imprisoning your free movement. It's as if Eckhart Tolle married Fritz Perls married Jean Houston in a juicy ménage a trois. The result is the birth of tools that allow you to bring your whole emotional self not only to the table of enlightenment but to the very real possibility of physical healing.
Plus, working with Bays' techniques gives you that rare and precious opportunity to actually meditate with someone else inside their head. For instance, supported by my partner's guiding, I was able to move like a deft submarine under each emotional layer I was experiencing and explore what lay underneath. Here's what I experienced: first general pissed-off-ness, then annoyance, then anger, then rage, then fear, then grief, then panic, then indifference and boredom, then panic again, then a kind of nothingness, then fear of nothingness, then the boredom of nothingness, then a sinking underneath that nothingness to finally…a moment of surrender into pure peace. It didn't take place as fast as that, and it took ever-so-delicate sensing, but the final result was a clarity beyond even all-pervading peace. In light of that process, emotions came to be seen as temporary residents, not defining labels. In fact, there was a moment when even the need for labeling completely disappeared.
Why we can't stay in that space of clarity, suggests Brandon, why enlightenment experiences often seem to be transitory, clouded over by the next tsunami of emotion, is because we are all struggling with deep inner emotional patterns that haven't been released from the cellular memory. That's where the gestalt-oriented, inner child work comes in. From your higher awareness you give your wounded inner five-year-old, or twelve-year-old or thirty-three-year-old, exactly the loving words it wanted to hear but didn't. You become your own cheerleader, wise one, guru, analyst, and bottle washer all rolled into one. Dialoguing with these various parts of yourself, you release the past, rewire the memory of your cells, and rewrite the future.
It's very empowering--experiencing that everything you need to heal and liberate yourself is already inside you. And that's exactly how Brandon healed herself. Nothing I could describe, however, could substitute for the actual real-time experience of participating in the process yourself.
I can't say I personally experienced a major healing of my back issues in one Journey™ weekend, but I did leave feeling emotionally lighter and armed with a renewed awe for both the multi-complexity as well as the simplicity of human beings. One of my partners, a young woman in her thirties, was recovering from ovarian cancer and was seeking to work out the last vestiges of her blocks to complete healing. Working in partnership with me using Brandon's processes, she discovered a still-seething guilt about not being able to give her husband children, but she also unearthed her still-fierce desire to fulfill the role of motherhood in other ways. There were moments of tears and anguish, but most importantly, she left the workshop feeling a bolstered confidence in her own ability to connect to that which was strongest in herself: her will to live and the imperative to embrace her wholeness, including her shadow, with non-negotiable compassion.
And all this just by my having read out loud to her, with timed sensitivity, the Journey™ process Brandon had passed out to us. But Bays knows well that the deeper subtleties of this work require much more training than a mere weekend. To that end, she offers numerous levels of the work, including special programs for children and an ancillary workshop called "Stop the Food Fight" that was developed by her present life partner, Kevin Billett. The applications of this work, particularly in the area of peace making, seem endless.
Sahaja Coventry, a certified Journey™ trainer in Perth, Australia, has personally experienced over 100 Journey sessions herself and facilitated over 400 sessions for others, each lasting about 2-3 hours. "After being someone involved in personal growth and the spiritual journey for the last 35 years," she says, "when The Journey came into my life in 2006 I couldn't imagine there was anything I hadn't yet experienced. But this is real transformation, not a Band-Aid. People find it hard to believe that it's possible to complete with an issue that has been hanging around for years, but the root cause of deep patterns can be accessed and furthermore resolved." Among life-changing results Coventry has witnessed in her practice include a young woman able to heal from life-paralyzing grief over her father's death, and another woman in her 50s who was finally to heal from a 20-year guilt that stemmed from not knowing about her daughter's sexual abuse by a family friend. "She went through a box of tissues as she finally was able to find a deep self-forgiveness," says Coventry, "but the results have been amazing--complete disappearance of the depression and all anti-depressive medication became history. Her joy of life returned and her husband was so happy to have his former beloved back after so many years living under a gray blanket."
Says Brandon Bays: "The tumor was my greatest gift, a catalyst for me to get real and start living life from the realization of who I really am. Since then, my life has been an ongoing journey, one of freedom and ever-deepening surrender. I experience life as a gift of grace that allows me to access and realize this divine potential every moment and I have unending, profound gratitude towards it. And I pray that life uses me to help people wake up and find the love, the joy, the peace inside themselves."
In the end, what I most admire about Brandon Bays is that for a spiritual teacher/healer type, she remains fiercely committed to living an authentic, passionate, vital life. Besides the 35-40 seminars she gives per year (plus regular appearances on BrandonBays.tv), she experiences the Journey process herself at least once a week--for "tuneups," she says. She also water skis, scuba dives, swims with whale sharks, pets grown tigers and hangs out with cheetahs. It's the same fearlessness which inspires her to lead "No Ego" retreats, the highlight of which is "Exposure Day"--where she invites participants to fully expose the vulnerability, fear, game-playing and unworthiness tapes that have been running their lives--the avoidance strategies, explains Bays, "that have been driving us to create this painful 'wall' of separation from God, from ourselves, from life..." From one perspective, Exposure Day sounds like a "take no prisoners" workshop--perhaps only for the really tough at heart--but participants say they come out glistening.
For Bays, honest self-exposure and freedom are two wings of the same bird--no longer separate paths to the goal of authenticity. And it's only in exposure, she believes, that true liberation becomes available. "In our process work," she recently wrote on her Facebook page, "we offer the scaffolding of all our ego patterns to the bonfire of Truth. By nightfall we should be soaring in the joy, in the love that is our authentic selves...will keep you posted how it all goes."
© 2012. Pamela Bloom. All rights reserved.
Brandon Bays' official website is: http://www.thejourney.com/
Pamela Bloom is an award-winning journalist, psycho-spiritual healer and author of several spiritual books, including: The Power of Compassion: Stories that Open the Heart, Heal the Soul and Change the World and Heaven Speaks: Intimate Interviews with Illuminated Souls, with Carla Flack. Websites: www.SoulinBloom.net; www.HeavenSpeaksbook.com and Twitter: @pamelabloom.