Way back in 2007, I was working long hours in corporate banking and had no idea how my life was about to change. I’d worked in banking for 28 years, since I left school at 16, and always thought that would be me until I retired.
Then, one day, one of my close friends and colleagues who was working similar hours died suddenly of a heart attack… and I woke up.
Suddenly I was questioning everything I thought I wanted from life. I realised that all I was doing was working. I’d stopped doing all the things I used to enjoy, like climbing, hiking and skiing, and was seeing less and less of family and friends.
First steps to a different life
After much soul searching, and over the next couple of years, I left my job and trained in NLP and hypnotherapy. I moved from Edinburgh back to the Scottish Borders where I come from, and where my family still lived, and set up on my own as a hypnotherapist.
Having worked in banking for so long, it probably won’t surprise anyone when I say that I was still in my head a lot. Back then I didn’t realise this; all I knew was that, even though I had made these changes, something still didn’t feel right—and I didn’t know what it was.
Then I went to one of Stephen Gilligan’s workshops in London. I was very new to this world and have to admit I didn’t really understand much of what he was talking about. My body, though, seemed to get it!
This was a very new way of learning for me; normally, I would seek to understand or learn about something first and then go and experience it. My interest was sufficiently piqued for me to want to do more training with Dr Gilligan.
The decision to go to Trance Camp was a big one for me. I wrestled with it for a long time and came up with a big list of reasons why I couldn’t go. Looking back I clearly heard the call (of what, I didn’t know), but it was strong and a bit scary. I think I knew I would be embarking on a journey during which I would reach deep inside myself—and I wasn’t sure what I would find.
As it happened, one by one, all the reasons for not going seemed to get resolved, even the one which seemed insurmountable. I was left with no more excuses. I booked my place.
It is impossible to express in words how wonderful the Trance Camp experience was. It was here that I experienced The Hero’s Journey and it resonated with me from the minute Stephen started to talk about it.
The steps all made sense…
Hear the call: Live your dream
Commit to the call: Take full responsibility for your life
Prepare for the journey: Self training
Cross the threshold: Open beyond the ego
Walk the path: Take creative action
Find guardians/guides: Develop resources
Tame the dragon: Transform negativity
Bring it back home: Pass it on to others
…but it’s clearly not an easy journey. Stephen, though, guided us expertly through the theory and practices with honesty, compassion, gentleness, kindness and playfulness. I found myself immersed in the process.
Many times we held the question ‘What do you want?’ and every time I searched for the right answer, perhaps trying to avoid what I already knew. Finally I had a felt sense of it and I knew this was my calling and I wanted to continue the journey.
At times, it was uncomfortable as I dived deeper within and explored and let go of many of the masks and armour I had been hiding behind. I developed resources I didn’t know I had.
Realisations and discoveries
I realised that my independence, which I always thought was my biggest strength, could also be a weakness as it stopped me accepting or asking for help when needed. With the support and encouragement of everyone in the group, I experienced vulnerability and discovered it wasn’t the weakness I perceived it to be—and that strength and connection with self and others can come from this place.
Most important of all, under all the layers, I found the real me, what I wanted, where I was going and that it’s ok to ask for help. I don’t need to do it all by myself.
Understanding and experiencing the steps of The Hero’s Journey meant that, when I returned home and was working with clients, I could better relate to where they were on their journeys. I discovered I could help guide them in a way I never could before.
I’ve often wondered when my own Hero’s Journey began. Was it when my friend died, when I decided to leave banking, or was it when I decided to go to Stephen’s Trance Camp in San Diego? Or perhaps it was Trance Camp itself or maybe it all started well before any of these. Who knows?
I am still on my own personal Hero’s Journey. It is a journey that lasts a lifetime as we change and grow with life’s experiences and challenges but, thanks to Stephen Gilligan, I can navigate it with much more understanding and confidence than I would have otherwise.
I’m forever grateful
The Hero’s Journey and Trance Camp were truly life-changing experiences for me and I will be forever grateful for having had the opportunity to experience them.
Many, many thanks to Stephen and to everyone who has travelled on this journey with me. I couldn’t have come this far on my own.
To find out more about Stephen Gilligan and the Hero’s Journey in Edinburgh click here