‘Could you do us three thousand words on “wellness”?’ said the voice on the phone.
In an attempt to cure my migraines, I’d tried just about every therapy you could think of. I was becoming something of an expert and made a living writing about complementary health for encyclopaedias and part-works (books issued in magazine-like instalments).
I thought I knew it all. I ate properly and exercised. I relaxed with yoga. I didn’t smoke. I drank alcohol in moderation. I’d spent three years with a counsellor and hypnotherapist sorting out emotions from the past and learning to deal with uncomfortable emotions (like anger) in the present – something no one had ever taught me before. Frog and I were aware that we still had lots to learn about living together but at least we didn’t get stuck in those terrible arguments when all we wanted to do was grab the other one by the throat and strangle them – not quite so often anyway.
It was six months since we’d lost our baby. I’d spent several months crying and then another few months where I’d been taken over by fantasies and veered off in strange directions (another story) but now I was OK again.
I was slightly daunted however by the assignment. The subject was vaguer than I was used to. I decided to start thinking about it by dividing wellness into four categories – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. I then listed under each category what you could do for yourself and what therapies you could use. All well and good until I got to the last category: the spiritual. I realised, to my horror, that while I knew lots about spiritual paths and practices I used absolutely none of them in my daily life. My life appeared to be devoid of a spiritual dimension.
I did nothing about the insight of course and carried on as normal.
Six months later, as I have described in ‘The Fool’ (February), a friend introduced me to Cheryl. Cheryl was sketching aura-portraits and, rather nervously, I agreed to let her do one for me.
The aura, I knew, was the energy field around the body, visible to some people. Some scientific research had been done into the phenomenon but on the whole it was lumped in with telepathy, mediumship, fortune-telling, and all the rest of that psychic nonsense. Not that that was what I thought about auras. I’d seen, heard and felt some strange things myself - but I didn’t know what to make of them.
‘You get headaches,’ said Cheryl, picking up a black crayon and smudging it over one side of the head of the human-figure outline on her paper.
I nodded. I wasn’t that impressed. Most people got headaches.
Then she began smudging black all over the figure’s solar plexus.
‘You’ve got a serious blockage here,’ she said. ‘You must do something about it or you’ll be ill.’
I gulped. ‘What can I do?’
‘Do you meditate?’ she asked.
I shook my head.
Around the top half of the figure she coloured a purple hoop, but around the bottom she did a brown one.
She pointed to the brown.
‘See this,’ she said. ‘This is not good. Your spirituality is not connected to the rest of your life.’
By now I was riveted. She spoke with total certainty. I just knew that she could help me.
‘How do I connect it?’ I asked.
Cheryl thought for a while.
‘Giving,’ she said.
As I have described, that was the beginning of my crash-course in spiritual practice.
A year later Cheryl did me another aura-portrait. It was beautiful. Instead of being restricted to a small area around the body, the colours stretched to the edge of the page. All my favourites were there – pink, purple, emerald green, turquoise. There were still black patches but they had moved. The brown had vanished.
A year after that I wasn’t seeing Cheryl quite so often any more but she agreed to take part in a ‘Day of Healing’ - therapy taster sessions – that a group of us was organising in the village and where I was doing my tarot-reading.
I was meditating every day now and in my meditations I had the sensation that two angels were standing behind me with their hands on my shoulders. They gave me a lot of comfort, and strength.
‘Can I do you an aura-portrait as a warm-up,’ Cheryl asked me, ‘while we wait for people to arrive?’
This time, there were no blockages. Golden-yellow ringed the aura and flared from the figure's back like wings.
‘There’s an angel behind you,’ said Cheryl.
Cheryl unfortunately burnt out (so there's no point ringing the telephone numbers on the aura-portraits). She became very successful very quickly. Everyone wanted her to sort their lives out. People were ringing her day and night. She married, moved away and found a job with the Post Office.
And, yes, I found the aura file eventually, not where I had expected it but under 'C' for Cheryl in the box of material I used when I wrote an autobiography a few years ago.