The following paragraph from A Course in Miracles (ACIM) has a great significance for me when it comes to this story:
The acceptance of the Atonement by everyone is only a matter of time. This may appear to contradict free will because of the inevitability of the final decision, but this is not so. You can temporize and you are capable of enormous procrastination, but you cannot depart entirely from your Creator, Who set the limits on your ability to miscreate. An imprisoned will engenders a situation which, in the extreme, becomes altogether intolerable. Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit. Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way. As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a turning point. This ultimately reawakens spiritual vision, simultaneously weakening the investment in physical sight. The alternating investment in the two levels of perception is usually experienced as conflict, which can become very acute. But the outcome is as certain as God.
ACIM T-2. III. 3.
It was on the 19th of October 2011 that I entered the gates of the Insight Training Centre for a Turning Point workshop.
I had stumbled upon the information about the workshop a few years before. Somebody was telling me that a mutual friend had recently died. And whilst in shock at the news as the person reported dead was once very special to me, I asked how she had died; the bearer of the news, thought for a second, then shrugged her shoulders and said: “I don’t have the details but don’t worry she died in a good space … she had done a Turning Point”.
As though by magic, my mind switched off from the rising pain due to the sad news I had just heard and the shock of the death of someone so young and it latched onto “She died in a good space ….. she had done a Turning Point “.
I had never heard anybody say something so profound about anybody’s state in death before. I was a church goer and there were teachings about the state of the dead and how, throughout our lives, each person was supposed to be in a constant preparation for death and resurrection. But still, no one (I knew) who had died was ever referenced with that kind of certainty – “she died in a good space…“.
Having experienced my own relief after that, I knew that I wanted this Turning Point. I pictured my mom and my children receiving news that I had died ……….. I could not go beyond a second longer with that imagination because I quickly got a glimpse of their despair and devastation. I realized that dying in a “good space” was important to me too. I saw it as the best gift to the loved ones I would be leaving behind. I imagined them being told by many people not to worry because I died in a good space ….. this imagination brought a smile to my heart.
The subject of death was one where everybody I knew treaded carefully around. Growing up there was even a superstitious belief that speaking about death was actually an invitation for it to visit you or a member of your family. I never liked the fear I had of something that was that certain to happen to anyone I cared for – including me – I found it really disempowering. It felt like we were all at the mercy of it.
Remember the above quotation has a line that says:
You can temporize and you are capable of enormous procrastination, but you cannot depart entirely from your Creator,
Trust the master procrastinator in me at the time not to have taken any action or even enquire about the Turning Point after that “awakening” until I received another gentle knock about 7 years later. How could I have not acted on the one thing that was important to me knowing that anyone can die any day? I had no doubt, on that day, that this ‘Turning Point’ was perhaps the only thing that would help me deal with a fundamental fear of death and I didn’t make any effort to find out more. Don’t ask me what I was busy with because I won’t be able to tell you.
The gentle knock came again, thank God. This second time, I was having lunch with a friend at a restaurant in East London on a beautiful summer day in September 2010. We had just come back from doing our nails, something that my girlfriend was introducing me to but unfortunately did not succeed. Whilst deep in our chats, I got distracted by a tall handsome gentleman that walked in – alone. He had a calm confidence about him and a friendly face that had no frown. He looked open and inviting, something that was rare among the men in town at the time, I don’t know now because I only stayed for six months and came back to Johannesburg. The man, then, always looked like they had an agenda and never walked simply straight and open into spaces. This man was a breath of fresh air for me. The most intriguing thing was that he did not seem to be self-conscious in any way. It was like he was simply there to enjoy a meal and then leave.
My friend saw my source of distraction and asked if I knew him. I couldn’t believe my ears. The question meant that my friend knew him; why else would she ask if I knew him. In response, I gave her my biggest smile and moved closer to find out more. Since we were both single, there was a bit of spice in our conversation (which I won’t share here 😂). My friend came closer and whispered his name and a high level ‘CV’. East London is a small town, people know each other but I was only a few weeks back from Joburg where I had spent close to 8 years. She told me that the guy was someone highly regarded as a businessman and consultant. She rained praises on this guy, adding that that if there was one person in town that would be able to assist solve all the problems I was sharing with her from my workplace, it would be him. She went further to say that he could “talk on any subject and win hearts”. At this stage my eyes were wide open. This man was becoming too good, he was starting to sound like a Messiah. Then in an even softer voice she sneaked in the following: “he has done a Turning Point“.
At the mentioning of the name “Turning Point”, I nearly jumped up and whatever I was noticing physically about the guy was forgotten; my mind had latched onto “he has done a Turning Point“. I remembered the first time I heard this name. This was a different person from the one who delivered the news about the friend who “died in a good space” before. At this stage my heart was beating very fast and the superstitious part in me was asking myself what the chances were that I was hearing about the Turning Point again for no divinely orchestrated reason. I was, at the same time, asking myself what this workshop was about because I initially thought that it was meant to prepare people for death. Now, here was a handsome guy, very alive and doing things that were leaving people whispering about him. I also could not shake the ‘jealousy’ that perhaps I was the only one who didn’t know about this ‘seeming’ best kept secret.
The one thing I knew, though, was that I wasn’t going to be that girl that tells people about other people who were experiencing breakthroughs in their lives, and in death, after doing a workshop that I have NOT done.
As a result of that decision, taken at that restaurant in East London, a year earlier, there I was, entering the gates to the Insight Training Centre on the 19th of October 2011.
An imprisoned will engenders a situation which, in the extreme, becomes altogether intolerable. Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit. Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way. As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a turning point.
Everything about the place; from the tranquil atmosphere (as though I was not in the usually noisy Johannesburg), the bucks and the rabbits enjoying nature, the lion sculptures welcoming me at the top of the stairs to reception; everything was inviting and intriguing to me. All my senses were heightened, they were almost tantalised; I did not miss anything. To say I was fascinated is an understatement. The value of time was the first gifts I received before even the first session started because everything was done on time and time was respected throughout; and yet nothing was left undone that needed to be done. Wow! I kept asking myself: ‘where am I?’ I had a deep knowing though that I had honoured a divine appointment by being there.
Looking back at my life before that day, I thank God for “setting limits” on my “miscreations”. Yes, I had a high tolerance for pain and I had evidence to show for it and powerful growth lessons learnt, but enough was enough. And God had clearly drawn the line for me. Here I was thinking that I was attending just a workshop; little did I know that I had gone for a much needed healing of my soul.
I realise now that my situation was a little worse off than the other participants (I think), because most came clear that they wanted to attend to or shift a specific problem area in their lives that they were unhappy with. Remember that I did not know anyone close to me to give me any information about the workshop because even the two friends that spoke about it to me, had not done it. I also did not know that there were open evenings where people could go listen to a presentation about the workshop. In retrospect, I am happy I did not know – I suspect that it might have taken some of the mystery I was enjoying away from me. I am happy I saw the trainers for the first time in the training room on the 19th of October 2011.
As far as I was aware, my life was perfect – I had nothing to sort or shift. I had the job of my life as a senior manager in Government and was an international Project Leader who was working with the United Nations in a project at the time. I was a single mother without any “man-stress”, I was fine and capable of raising my two teenagers alone. I was a strong woman who did not need any man. I used to brag that I wouldn’t trade my stress-free life for anything. Yes, I was not in a relationship and had not been for a while; in fact, I could not remember when last I had a long term relationship. I was one of those people to whom even the word sex was taboo. I was a strong advocate of the ’90 days waiting period’ before engaging in sex if you really could not wait until after marriage. Don’t ask me how the teenagers came about if these were my “honest’ values. All that I told myself was that, “my life was perfect” just as it was. I had come to attend the Turning Point workshop, not because I needed to correct anything about my life but so that when I died, I would leave my loved ones with a certainty that I died in a good space. Of course, whilst alive I wanted to be just like the man at the East London restaurant, and “talk on any subject and win hearts”.
I can’t say what I expected but I did have expectations of how the trainers would do their job (I had been to many “workshops” before) and get me to obtain what I wanted out of the workshop. But nothing was as I had expected; from the first time I got out of my car towards reception for registration to when I left at the end of Day 5. I am grateful that I was wise enough to quickly drop my ideas of how things should be done because it would have made my experience difficult unnecessarily. And by the way, when I later reflected on my previous experience in workshops, the fact was that I would not remember anything that was done unless I went back to the notes given. I definitely would not be able to share the details as I am doing now from the 5 days of the Turning Point. I am not as fortunate as some people that have great memories. I probably remember 1% of what I learnt in High School and in University. So, it is a very big deal for me to recount lessons learnt in a workshop I attended seven years ago with such vivid clarity.
I remember sitting in the first row at the start of the session on Day 1 my heart almost bursting with gratitude that I was there; that I made it possible, that the trainers were also talking to me. I knew that there was nothing like that experience anywhere in the world. I also knew that, even though I said I made it possible; I was not there out of my cleverness but God had designed it so.
The first thing I got out of, on Day 1, was the small box I had lived all my “perfect” life in (unaware) and got to appreciate the vast universe that was at my disposal. I could share lessons from each day and each game played but that would require me to write a book and not a blog.
Allow me to simply share highlights of lessons learnt from all the exercises, the engagements, the information sharing and the robust +/- 40 “games” we “played” in the 5 days of the workshop:
- My relationship with my biological father was healed – though he had died some years ago. Prior to attending the workshop, I did not even think that the relationship needed healing. Him not being present in my life was one of those elements of my “perfect” life.
- This also led to a general healing of all my relationship with men which I was not even aware that it needed healing. I just thought that I had devised a great plan of simply not allowing myself to be close to any of those creatures. I told myself that it was just a self-preservation strategy after the many heartbreaks I had suffered. Little did I know that I had actually shut my heart off. And little did I know that the quality of the relationship with my father had a lot to do with my so-called “approach” to men in general.
- I was reconciled with lost childhood memories to a point where I remembered a fundamental decision I took as a child (before age 5) which had ruled my entire life subconsciously. I saw how there was never a chance that I could have ever been married with that consciousness. That day, in that short exercise, every experience I had ever had, what I thought of as painful memories – everything just clicked and I could see just how all of them served me.
- For the first time, I was able to make sense of what is meant by a verse in 1 Thessalonians 5: 18 “be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you..”
- I literally healed a back pain that I had accepted as part of my life the day I got rid of years of the shame I had carried around with me unconsciously for many years.
- I was touched and opened up by a song in Day 4 and the strong woman finally yielded rivers of tears for all the pain I caused myself being so tough when I didn’t need to. I opened up to the beauty and strength of my vulnerability which I had long buried in my quest to survive. I carry that lightness to this day.
- I got in touch with the beautiful childhood qualities in me which I had long forgotten as I dropped them for the tough exterior that I believed the world wanted to see rather. Suddenly, I did not just experience love in my heart, I had become it – I had become love.
- I got in touch with my unique answer to the question: “what do you want?” Knowing what I want has helped me eliminated all sorts of clutter in my life.
- The ultimate gift 🎁 from the workshop was in my answering the question “who are you?” and leaving with the clarity of my life purpose forever.
- Never was the distance between my concept of God and of myself been so shortened as it was by the answer to that question. Deepak is quoted as having said that this is the most important question for any one human to answer for themselves.
As far as dying in peace is concerned, I can confirm that my relationship with death improved a great deal after the workshop because I am now ready to die any day and I have no regrets about the life I have lived in the 7 years since then.
Can I talk on any subject and win hearts?
I, now, am very conscious of speaking from my heart. Thanks to realising, during the TP, that it had been closed for many years. I definitely consciously strive – on a daily basis – to inspire love, healthy living, justice, peace and trust as my Definition of Success. I no longer chase my tail running after things that no longer add any value to me or anybody for that matter. One of the ways I serve from who I am is by telling these stories. Who knows, someone might be needing a Turning Point in their life and may have started the asking for guidance from the Universe and they land here and my experience resonates with them – that’s a heart won.