There has been some speculation as to my whereabouts and health these last few years. There have even been rumors of my death. The truth is more interesting, though. Here is my story…
In 2002 I started to get about four migraine headaches a week accompanied by constant pain in all the muscles of my body. I would often be curled up in a ball on the floor, rocking back and forth in pain. I became a regular at various hospitals and pain clinics around the country. But nothing seemed to help. In fact, many of the medications I was taking actually seemed to aggravate my condition.
The pleasure center of my brain shut down and the pain center became overactive. My brain started interpreting all stimuli as pain. This condition lasted for two years and tested every fabric of my being.
I started getting migraines around the age of 10. At the age of 13 my parents, in desperation, took me to a doctor who taught self-hypnosis. Being so young I was open to new ideas. I learned to raise and lower my body temperature, change my heart rate, and control pain, to a degree, using various Bio-Feedback and meditation techniques. These experiences opened my mind to the possibilities that lay within me, as well as provided me with pain relief.
At fifteen, I went to India as an exchange student for eight months, which further opened my eyes to spirituality. I meditated quite a bit and became addicted to the bliss that comes with concentration in meditation. I thought I could have a happy life if I could permanently hold the bliss state. I still remember my spiritual teachers commenting on my lack of participation in life. My body was present, but my attention was somewhere else. I was constantly focusing on bliss, or trying to be in bliss.
It is not too surprising that when my illness hit, pleasure was the first thing to go. Not only could I not get to the bliss state anymore, but I couldn’t feel any pleasure at all. I only felt pain.
Soon all medications either stopped working, or were accompanied by horrible side effects. Every spiritual belief I had was tested, and it is quite humbling to admit that 95% of what I believed in didn’t help me in any way. I decided to only believe those things that helped me with the pain I was in. I got very practical.
One day I remember being in so much pain I ran around the house, jogging up and down the stairs, yelling and screaming at the top of my lungs. All this was to distract myself. The pain got so intense I finally gave up. I cried out to God, “enough, I cannot take anymore, I give up!” I surrendered. I then sat down on the couch. I felt as though I was watching from behind my eyes, instead of through them. Amidst all the pain I now felt myself also resting in peace. I was now watching the event more than being trapped by it. In this watching state I felt a deep peace I had not felt before. I had never let myself even recognize such a state existed in my struggle for bliss. I had been too stubborn to hear this truth from the spiritual teachers I had been studying with!
I started to feel a little better so I ventured off to Egypt. I meditated in the Great Pyramids, and accrued some pretty cool experiences. I then traveled to Africa, and finally India. Previously, a friend of mine had shown me a picture of great Indian teacher. I had such a profound experience from seeing the picture that I just had to meet the man. Indeed it was an experience of grace, power, and beauty!
If you have ever heard the expression, ‘be careful what you ask for’. It is true. I asked this teacher to be purified! Immediately following the visit I got very ill again. I felt like I was teetering on the edge of life and death. At times I simply could not even move my body. I remember seeing in black and white and being afraid for my life. I knew I could die at any moment. To me living became simple. I was either alive, or dead!
Nothing I or anyone else was doing was making any difference in my condition. I felt truly helpless. I could barely think straight and physically I had difficulty even walking. Then one day I knew I was about to die if nothing changed. I had a choice to make. I could either be really obnoxious and scream and yell for more help. Or I could be a loving compassionate person, grateful for the help I had gotten, and accept the fact that I would die. I chose to be compassionate and let myself die. I figured I would at least die being the person I truly wanted to be.
In that moment I looked for ways to die while being in service to others. I noticed a car parked in a driveway with its lights on. I used all my energy to knock on the door of the house the car was parked in front of. I told the owners of the car that their car light was on. This small act of service felt wonderful. It was a fantastic shift of my attention off of my fear of dying. This was the first step in my recovery!
After that moment, and to my dismay, I started to get healthier. My wife contacted my spiritual teacher in Colorado and I got her blessed help too. My doctor had a great heart and helped me the best he could, but there just wasn’t much that he could do medically. My illness was still a big mystery.
I have always believed my thoughts could affect my happiness. But now I needed to know if my thoughts controlled my physical well being too. If this was true, then all I needed was to change my thinking, and have faith in my healing. I needed to ask someone I truly believed knew this answer though. So I went to see a great Indian saint well known for performing miracles. I figured someone who could perform such miracles would understand the nature of physical reality.
So I asked him, “is all pain simply a test of faith?” He answered me with one word then got up and left the talk. The word was “YES!” I cried! I realized that at a deep place inside of myself I had chosen this painful experience. I had asked for all this pain in order to learn to be the master of my own life! I knew that by being grateful for my pain, I would heal. Healing was up to me, not the doctors!
Previously I had wanted someone to save me, help me, or cure me. I wanted someone else to fix me! But now I believe we all have the power of the creator within us. I know I can choose health and happiness. All it takes is faith!
I had heard this knowledge before from my spiritual teachers. More recently even in the movie “The Secret”. I even thought I already understood these truths. But until put face to face with my own death, I did not really let it in.
Without the knowledge and support of my spiritual teachers and family I could not have started the healing process. I realize now that I am the one that decides what my life looks like. I am not a victim to anyone, including myself. My teachers, friends, and family are there to support me. Not to run my life, or to fix me. Gratitude has become a cornerstone of my life. Everyone who supports us along the way is a guiding Angel. I pray to continue a life of gratitude!
One day while meditating tears of gratitude welled up in my eyes for all the spiritual help and guidance I had been receiving. Exactly at that moment thunder and lightning struck simultaneously. There was a big boom with a flash of light all around the house. A few moments passed and I looked down into the basement and heard another boom and saw light streamed up from inside the basement. The lightning was hitting the house! I then looked up and called out in huge gratitude once again to all my teachers and BAM, a third time thunder and lightning struck simultaneously. Then it all stopped. That was it. It was over.
The next day a meteorologist came out unannounced and showed us a satellite photo of the storm. Surprisingly the storm had only hit right around our property. He said it had been an odd, tiny storm, located right on-top of us. Another interesting fact is that there was NO damage to the house at all. The only indication of damage was that the tap water turned dark brown after the copper pipes were hit by the lightning strikes. But two days later all the water became crystal clear. The lightening had struck the copper pipes and loosened all the rust and grime in them. Once the rust was flushed from the system, the water became even clearer than it had previously been.
I thought this was a beautiful metaphor to my illness. The lightening is like my pain, which in its own fiery way is flushing the rust out of my system. The end result is I got what asked for. I got purified! It just didn’t happen the way I thought it would.
My health steadily improved ever since then. I weaned myself off the little pain medication I was still on, and went to a rehab center to support myself in staying pain medication free.
I felt incredibly guilty and shameful while being ill. I thought there was something wrong with me. Accepting myself as perfect just the way I am, healthy or ill, has been incredibly healing. I also learned to include myself among those I love. Rather shockingly to me, the knowledge I have gained from being so ill far outweighs the pain. I am grateful for the experience. Life really is that big! A big Thank You to my spiritual teachers, family and friends for supporting me in all the purification and growing that has taken place within me.
I now accept the connection between my physical well-being and my mental well-being. I know there are larger things going on with illness and pain than I understand. The life lessons we all go through are huge. I have compassion for all those who are ill and suffering in the world. My heart goes out to you! I can now imagine at least part of the pain some people live with!
My illness was also quite challenging and illuminating in my marriage. We both discovered more deeply who we are and what we want out of life. When we discovered these things were different, my wife and I chose to get a friendly divorce. Kudos to my X-wife for all the patience, love and support she gave me during the most difficult period of my life.
My attention is now even more firmly rooted and centered in spirituality. Quite simply put, spirituality is what ended up saving my life. Wanne, Inc and Theo Wanne Classic Mouthpieces are now also donating a percentage of all profits to related medical and spiritual charities in the United States and India.