Travelling along my path as a healing arts practitioner and coach, I’ve come to realize how many of us arrived at our calling through our own challenges - physical, emotional and spiritual.
My journey back to my body, my self, and eventually to my true calling, began at one of the lowest points of my life.
I had reached a level of un-wellness that essentially paralyzed me.
How did I get there?!
How could I have collapsed into a complete burnout? I, who had always been so physically strong and active, who was a ballerina as a child and danced my way through my arts high school in a gruelling Fame-like dance program?
I was in my late 20s, juggling a full-time job in one city, and doctoral studies in another; travelling back-and-forth several times a week, not feeding myself properly, not getting enough sleep, not cultivating social relationships, neglecting my basic survival needs. . .
Until my body just quit on me.
It was giving me signs all along, but I was too driven and stubborn to listen.
I rejected anyone who tried to tell me that I needed to slow down and take care of myself and, eventually, that I needed to quit my job if I wanted to give myself a chance to recover. (“Oh yeah?! And who’s going to pay my rent!? “)
As I continued to endure many months of sleepless nights and a chronic cycle of fatigue and lethargy, with barely enough energy for simple daily tasks, Western medicine had nothing to offer except drugs that treat symptoms rather than underlying causes. The shame was intense; very few people knew what I was really going through, or how horribly I was suffering, and that exacerbated my predicament, as I continued to suffer in relative isolation.
One day, I noticed a tiny ad in the paper: a support group for people suffering through burnout, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. Dreading a group setting, and knowing that I would likely have to share my story, and what I was experiencing, in a public and vulnerable way, I also sensed that this was potentially a life-changing moment; that I had been offered an opportunity to possibly emerge from this dark place, and heal.
I had a big choice to make. Though I didn’t really know what to expect, I said Yes. I signed up. I took a concrete step in my journey towards healing, not realizing what a far-reaching step it was, and how it would continue to ripple, impacting my life’s course.
I could barely make it to the space where the meetings took place, but I pushed myself to go, week after week. And that was the beginning of my way out of crisis, allowing me to tune back into my body’s natural capacity for healing and my soul’s true path.
The two-hour meetings began with a group discussion in a big circle, the facilitator encouraging us to share our experiences — what worked, and what sabotaged us. It felt good to be in the presence of people who knew my struggle, who understood and resonated with what I was going through. And because it felt like a safe space, eventually I opened up and offered what I could, feeling a sense of relief as I unburdened myself, and hoping that what I shared might help others.
The second hour was a gentle Tai Chi class. I remember being utterly devastated during the first few weeks, unable to even get up off the floor and do the smallest movements.
What had my life come to?! How could I have let myself come to this??
But I kept showing up, and gradually, I managed to get up on my feet and do a few movements; when my energy ran low, I sat back down. The next week, I was able to do a little bit more. And then a little bit more.
Some of the people in the group continued to sit as we practiced; some continued to drink their afternoon Coca-Cola, the artificial pick-me-upper that was a go-to for many of us, even though some of us knew it would lead to an even bigger energy crash.
Eventually, when the support group meetings ended, I joined my teacher’s school, and began training regularly in Tai Chi, gaining more and more strength, rediscovering my agility and joy in movement.
Luckily, I was able to apply the drive and discipline I had cultivated as a child, and later invested into my work and my studies, into my health and well-being. Dedicated to my recovery, I found a healing arts practitioner who specialized in kinesiology, nutrition and osteopathy, and through dedicated work with her, I began emerging from my chronic state of un-wellness.
I continued practicing Tai Chi, watching the following class — a Kung Fu practice taught by the same teacher — with fascination and envy. I remember asking my teacher to please let me know when he felt I was ready for a more demanding martial arts practice. Months later, his long awaited confirmation arrived: “You are ready.” I was ecstatic.
Following years of dedicated practice, I achieved what had once seemed like a completely unattainable goal: I passed my black belt exam at Kudoki, my kung fu school, where I have been training since 2012.
Firstly, because of the extreme amount of work — study and physical effort — that was required over years & years of practice; and secondly, because of the limiting belief I picked up from the practitioner I had worked with.
Though she meant well, trying to encourage me to be conscious of my energy level and find the right balance for me, she planted in my consciousness the idea that my “gas tank” was now and forever going to be smaller than everybody else’s; that I would always have a limited amount of energy, and would never be able to get back to the levels of vitality and energy I once had.
That thought was extremely depressing, and debilitating, on so many levels.
For years I lived with this belief deeply engrained in me, filling me with fear, and taking over some of the decisions I made about what I could and couldn’t do.
My experience taught me just how wrong this practitioner was, not only in her erroneous assumption about my body’s capabilities, but in her emphatic, almost prophetic forewarning that it would be so – that I would be stuck with this debilitated body for the rest of my life; and this inspired me to dedicate myself to the study and practice of healing arts. I wanted to help others return to themselves, to their innate wellness, vitality, creativity, internal balance and harmony, letting go of old stories, “programs” or “operating systems” that run our lives, sometimes unconsciously, limiting what we think, believe and tell ourselves we can do.
Sharing this story with you has required a great deal of vulnerability; it has not been an easy journey, or an easy one to recount. I’ve shared it with the hope that it will offer a ray of hope for those of you struggling with physical challenges that seem to have no solution; who have limiting beliefs or “operating systems” that are running your lives, dictating what you think you can and cannot do; or who are seeking greater balance, fulfillment, harmony and joy.
I am here to help you find your path - back to wellness, back to your self.
I am here to tell you it is possible.
If you are struggling, and unsure how to make a change, get over the hump, and overcome your challenge,
I invite you to a free 30-minute Clarity Call so that we can begin to figure it out together.
Click here to schedule a free 30-minute Clarity Call
Mark Bercuvitz (remember me?)
1/29/2023 06:12:50 am
Please call me 514 4884852
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