I’ve had some of the hardest times and biggest struggles over the last couple of years of my life. But also some of the best times as well. But Covid isn’t really related that much.
In early 2021 my girlfriend and I (now wife/ soul mate) shared a near death experience. We were travelling back from a holiday in our newly converted van which we’d done ourselves. We were travelling along the M6, just before the toll. We were in the third lane, which was to become the slow lane, as the 4 lanes divide in 2 and become separate roads. There was a clunk and a bang, and suddenly a lot of resistance. We came to a stop very quickly. Coasting to the hard shoulder was impossible, we were stranded. We later found out that the drive belt has snapped and then got lodged in all sorts of places it shouldn’t be, and this caused the van to essentially do an emergency stop. In the 15 minutes that followed, vehicles shot past at 70mph either side of us, and those in the same lane, had very little time to see us, and would swerve into another lane at the last second, sometimes leaving the vehicle that was behind them with even less time to see us and react. We were out of the van, running around, waving like mad, generally freaking out but trying to alert people to us being there. My girlfriend called the police while I pondered if a ”frogger” run, to the edge of the road would be possible… It wasn’t, we didn’t. After what seemed like forever, and too many moments to count where we thought; “this is it…”, the highway police arrived on the scene, closed the road, and then towed us to safety. They were incredibly quick to reach us. But 15 minutes is still a long time to be in that situation, physically and mentally.
We were towed to a petrol station 5 minutes up the road, where we arranged the van to be put on the back of a truck, while we got a taxi back home. The van was a dead, but we did manage to get a bit of money for it, as we sold it to a family of mechanics who said they would attempt an engine swap.
Now two years later, the dust has settled, and we have emerged. We have converted a second van, she’s called Betty. We love her very much. She’s bigger and better, and enables us to run our careers as travelling performers/ musicians. But she more importantly helps us to have that freedom that we thought we’d lost… but the truth is we never lost it… ‘cos it was nature all along, and that’s everywhere 😉 We’re absolutely spoilt for beautiful countryside in England.
Life continues to be different to how it was, based on our change in mental state. My wife and I have had a lot of therapy sessions, and have generally been fighting our individual battles with addiction.
We continue to figure out better ways to react when “bad things happen”, rather than reacting from our subconscious behaviour patterns (which we spend our lives doing, walking around in a trance). It’s really hard, but by practicing mindfulness, we’ve been able to slowly make progress. We’re forming new habits, such as exercise, listening to music, speaking to friends more, but above all… guided breath work.
I heard on a podcast someone saying that out of all the various methods he’d tried to release trauma, from drugs to hugging himself (both can be very effective actually if done in the right conscious & controlled manner), but by far THE most effective thing he’d tried was breathwork. He’d done a 3+ hours session on a retreat, and said it had been more profound that Ayahuasca.
Now, my wife and I both daily do at least a 15 – 20 min breathwork session, 30 – 60 mins some days. There’s loads for free on youtube, check them out. It’s been an absolute game changer. It makes meditation so much easier and fun. It can be a quick way to gain some clarify and perspective. Or a real cleanse of more that you’ve been holding on to. Did you know that you breathe both subconsciously, and consciously? Your breath is constantly available for you to pay attention to, and is a pathway to and from your subconscious mind.
I’d like to finish with an idea that I picked up from quite a young age, but I had it explained properly when I started reading about Buddism. There are no bad things. There are also no good things. Things, or occurrences, can have both good and bad aspects to them, and you get to choose which to tune into. Ok, having a near death experience seems like a pretty bad thing!! But I wouldn’t change it for the world. I now feel I have a greater depth to my being. I see glimpses of the mind states, that some of my friends struggle with. And that has made me a more understanding and compassionate human being.
Like I said at the start of this story. In the last couple of years I have experienced some of the biggest lows of my life, but also some of the biggest highs. And it’s been a lot of fun. Life cannot be without opposites. Ying & yang. The duality of absolutely everything.