Physical improvement and self-empowerment. This is why I do what I do. My journey as a neuro-linguistic programming coach, strength athlete and martial artist took place on a road littered with potholes, bumps and broken signs. But I grew to realise it was my navigation skills that would make all the difference.
My brothers and I grew up on a diet of poorly dubbed Kung Fu films. Although we were underage, my father would allow us to sneak into the living room to watch them. We were struck with awe as we watched the mystic athleticism of the 7 Shaolin Bodyguards, The Drunken Master and a host of other eastern supermen.
Our roots were stained with eastern mysticism and martial arts. It didn’t take long for us to dive head first into various martial arts classes over the years. None of the teachers resonated with us, and we didn’t last long. It wasn’t until my teenage years that I discovered the art of boxing through a childhood friend.
As a young boy my world had been shattered by domestic violence. I was angry. I was rebellious. I was strong. Boxing gave me the structure that I needed. The family I had wanted. The chance to channel my energy constructively and be rewarded for it.
Curiously, boxing also provided me with an opportunity for personal development. I began to question my motives. I became aware of my emotions and how I would let them govern me. I began writing poetry and kept a diary of thoughts, dismantling my beliefs and emotions, so that they served me rather than worked against me. After all, I needed to have a clear head when competing.
It was around that time when I found poets such as Rumi and classical texts such as the Tao Te Ching, Mushashi’s 5 Rings, the I Ching, The Art of War and then on to Dr. Martin Luther King, Marcus Aurelius, Plato and others. The combination of physical training and self-exploration empowered me. I began to see a change in myself and in my personal life too.
Physical training became my spiritual practice. My form of meditation. The anger had subsided. Competition in combat sports no longer appealed to me. Decades passed, and at this point I was studying the Korean martial art of Hapkido while coaching others on how to find tools to break free of their limits.
Little did I know that the foundation set in my earlier years would prove vital for my survival, when my grandmother was killed in December 2000. Then in 2003 my brother was diagnosed with cancer. He was to die three years later, in 2006, on Valentine’s Day.
I was broken. I fell. And although I was able to fall on the inner resources I had fortified over the years, I was still coming up short. Losing a loved one is an earth-shattering experience. The pain can be relentless. The fact that my brother, Lynden David Hall, was a musician in the public eye, made our bereavement all the more challenging.
After a while I became bored of the pain and hurt. I became curious. I asked myself, “For what purpose do we experience grief?” and I let the answers come. I once thought grief was something that just “happened” to us, something we had no influence over. I began to respectfully challenge the grief of family members and friends. And I especially challenged my own.
As I did, I began to notice that the foundations of my grief were shaky. Of course I’d loved the people who had died, but it appeared that the suffering and unresolved issues were in part my own making. Suddenly it dawned on me: as the architect I have the power to change things.
I researched death, grieving, bereavement. I went to courses, talked to people, hosted focus groups and ran interviews, and used what I found to develop practical steps to transform my bereavement. Excited by what I had created, I began to share it with a select few and had good results. No, it wasn’t for everyone, but many were able to dismantle their grief, clear a space and transform their bereavement. It was powerful.
I allowed the program to give me new purpose. I created the Dialogue on Death program to help others transform their bereavement. My aim was and still is to provide practical solutions for loss and bereavement that can be utilised by those with or without a religious faith.
How often do we get the opportunity to explore the death of a loved one in a safe environment? One that provides practical solutions? If in this way the program can provide physical improvement and self-empowerment to others, then it’s honouring the memory of my loved ones, and yours.
This is my fight these days:
Image credit: Wikipedia