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A Painful Journey
by Tim Custis
One of the most important things I have learned over the years is that pain and fear can be used as a guide for personal change and growth. My painful journey began at the age of sixteen when I started to drink heavily, to the point of becoming an alcoholic. As a teenager I also hurt my back seriously while stacking cement blocks. For the next fourteen years, I experienced tremendous physical, emotional, and spiritual pain, but what I didn't know at that time was that ultimately these adverse circumstances would lead me to reconnect with my spirit.
In my early twenties, I had another severe injury while moving a refrigerator. This time I ended up in the hospital for ten days. I saw all kinds of specialists including an orthopedic surgeon, neurologist, and a rheumatologist. Not one of these specialists could identify the specific problem or offer me a cure. I was not able to work for several months and spent most of my time lying on the floor watching television. I had a very limited range of motion and my body became hard and rigid. This physical manifestation was expressed in my personality and way of life. I was short tempered and carried a lot of anger.
After having many trigger point injections of cortisone and several epidural injections I finally was able to function. Although I returned to work, my body was still in pain twenty-fours a day. Moreover, as my mobility increased, so did my drinking.
A few years later, with the development of MRI technology, I was diagnosed with multiple protrusions on four of my five lumbar vertebra disks. Yet, after years of probing, shots and pills, the doctors told me nothing could be done. They said surgery was not an option and I would have to live in pain the rest of my life. At that very moment, I heard an inner voice saying, "You will find help."
From that point on, I left the traditional medical model and began exploring alternative medicine. At the time, I did not know it but I was being guided to a spiritual path that would not only free me from pain, but would change my life forever. By the time I was thirty, I had tried many things such as massage, acupuncture and chiropractic care. They helped a little but I knew intuitively that there was something even more powerful for me. My chiropractor suggested I try something called BioSync, a deep-tissue type of bodywork. I had never heard of this work but decided to give it a try. I knew immediately it would help me.
Over the next six months, I continued to improve and I stopped drinking. I even quit smoking. I totally changed my life in all areas. I began to eat differently, get more rest and exercise, and I also started meditating every day. One time, during a meditation, everything became still. I had no thoughts—just pure peace and joy. During that meditation, I was introduced to one of my spiritual guides. It was an amazing experience.
I started to follow my intuition more and listen to that inner voice we often choose to ignore or discount. One afternoon in Laguna Beach, California, I was walking by a bookstore. I heard the voice encouraging me to find a book that I needed. I walked inside not knowing what I was looking for. I turned the corner and headed down a row of books and there at eye level was a stack of books placed horizontally on the shelf. I picked up one book and began to read it. I connected with the words on the page, but when I looked at the price, I decided I could not afford to buy it and so I put it back. As I walked towards the door, the thought came: "Is twenty-five dollars too much to change my life?" "Of course not!" was the answer. So, I turned around and bought it. The book was A Course in Miracles. And it truly did change my life.
As I look back on my past I have learned many lessons. It takes more than one book, or bodywork, or meditation to change a life, but in the end these tools helped me understand that the body is an expression of our truest spiritual self; if you change the body, you change all things on all levels. Furthermore, your thoughts, words and intentions can create or devastate. At sixteen I followed a path of devastation. Today, I realize there is one constant in life and that is change—and to live fully you must embrace change. If you want to change the world, you have to begin with yourself.
The author, Tim Custis, may be contacted via email at email@example.com.
All contents of this page Copyright © 2003 by the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). Materials may be excerpted, reprinted, or republished only with the express written consent of IONS.