Barefoot Doctor

“Looking good for nearly 60!” I think looking in the mirror, or “Wow you’re really are an old man now aren’t you!” depending on the light, and how prominent those irksome age spots on the temples are looking, the subtext to which is that ongoing theme in the internal dialogue with myself, have I still got it? Do I have a place in this world? Am I wanted? Am I needed? Am I desirable? Am I worthy? This latter the subtext beneath the subtext – and it’s not actually age-related at all. Am I worthy is the underlying existential question informing us all the way through from the time we first start thinking as an ‘I’. And these so-called mid-life crises people bang on about – I’ve lived my whole life in an existential crisis and it’s a crisis based pretty much entirely on this one question.

I’m not inferring anything negative about it mind you. Crisis, as you’ve probably heard said by every wise guy from here to Timbuktu, means literally cross or crossroads, a juncture at which a choice seems to need to be made – the Chinese character for it means both danger and opportunity. I say seems incidentally because no one knows anything absolutely for sure when it comes to the mysteries of existence – there may be only the appearance of choices while in fact it was all predestined anyway – no one will ever know.

Meanwhile back on earth it implies that at every turn we have a choice between optimizing or minimizing our range and depth of enjoyment of being alive, between being an optimist or pessimist, in other words.

And we know when we pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and don the mantle of optimism things tend to start working it in our favor and to our liking – no need to spell out the opposite.

But it’s a delicate business, this being positive. We don’t want to fake it. Certainly if clocking up 50 or more heliocentric orbits confers any privileges it’s the facility for being authentic. We have to honor rather than deny those fearful voices, yet nonetheless firm up our intention to rise up to life with confidence, courage and beauty.

Stephen Russell - Barefoot Doctor

This may sound slightly quirky at first, the notion of rising up to life with beauty – indeed I’ve no doubt this whole article so far is likely to feel quirky, as quirk is a significant component aspect of my style – but when I use the word beauty, I do so to imply your primordial nature – the beauty of your soul, that aspect of you likely to have been occluded somewhat in all the rough and tumble you’ve inevitably undergone till now in making a face for yourself in the world.

For another thing 50 orbits plus confers, along with the facility for authenticity is the facility for no longer being afraid to be the beautiful soul you really are – and the facility for acknowledging yourself as such. Enough pretending we’re less than we are just to fit in, in other words. This is the time to celebrate being who we are, while we still have time to do so.

And that’s another boon of this ‘phase of life’ – we no longer need waste energy kidding ourselves we’re never going to die. Because unless we’re fully self-deluded, we absolutely know we’re going to die. We just don’t know when. We obviously hope it won’t be for many, many years yet and that we’ll remain in relatively good health to enjoy it, but we don’t know, and we know we don’t know, and that – if we’re awake to it – provides the perfect stimulus to grab this adventure by the horns while we still can, and live it, love it and ride it for all it’s worth.

And that enterprise is what I’m here for, at your service, to help with, if of course help you feel you need at any time.

This NonBeige platform of ours – and I say ours because it is for all us wise elders– we’re a family after all – is the perfect opportunity and context in which to discuss all the hidden issues of aging, to have a conversation about all these utterly fascinating themes that populate all our internal dialogues – have I still got it, how do I deal with my fears, how do I deal with my (amazingly still extant) complexes and hangups, how do I encourage more spontaneity in my choices, how do I stop (even more) being a people-pleaser yet remain well-mannered , how do I access and move from my true levels of personal power without scaring people, how do I communicate honestly without being brutal just because I’m feeling impatient, how do I communicate with and be friends with people of much younger generations, how do I stay current with the latest fashions in music, culture, fashion and so on, when a lot of the time all I’m thinking is ‘they should have seen it 30 years ago – these kids don’t know what they’re doing’, or conversely ‘these kids are so evolved I don’t even speak the same language’, and so on, and all the other various and manifold questions that inevitably crop up in our minds as we wend our merry ways along life’s great thoroughfare to goodness knows where or when.

I’m not suggesting I have the answers but I do have a viable stratagem or schema to use as our template for having an orderly, sensible discussion and arriving at some sort of clarity no matter the issue.

It derives originally from the ancient Taoist template of all things – yes from far back in the mists of time up in the mountains of China. And it’s heavily influenced by a combination on one hand of the teaching of RD Laing, one of, if not the, greatest master of practical psychiatry in human history, and on the other, the earthy and profound wisdom of the Native Americans of New Mexico.

What? I can hear you thinking.

I’m a few months off 60. From 11 to 18 I trained with an elderly Japanese master in Aikido, healing and meditation. I was also a raging hippy. I then trained in the Taoist martial arts, meditation and medicine (acupuncture etc). I also trained with RD Laing. And I lived with the Native Americans. So by the time I was in my late 20s I was a fully paid up member of the (at the time) extraordinarily weird people’s association. But all faux modesty aside. I was one of the first alternative healers and teachers in the UK, am known as doyen or big daddy of the global personal-development movement, have helped millions of people including many famous stars and luminaries as well as ordinary civilians, have written 17 books, many of them international best-sellers, have had a hit TV series, am a respected producer of mood-altering electronic music for dance-floor and private use, was the originator of the ‘conscious clubbing’ movement in Ibiza, where I’ve lived on and off for many years, along now with many other parts of the world, spend my time traveling – in permanent transit in fact – all around the world, making it as beautiful as I can for everyone, sprinkling my Barefoot magic dust as I go, and now I’m here to make it beautiful for you too – from the inside out I mean – and more precisely in fact, to help you make it more beautiful for you and those around you.

Because despite my metaphysical musings it seems we do always have that choice – we can either make it beautiful or we can make it ugly, We need no help with the latter – that seems to be the default. But we all need all the help we can get with the former, simply because we’re not in the habit.

The material I’ll be sharing with you is exactly the same as I deploy at the mental health center where I work with men diagnosed as dangerous psychotics, with whom I’ve been achieving unprecedented breakthroughs – and if it works for them it works for anyone. Indeed if it works on me, it works on anyone. I’m a tough nut to crack myself and I’ve been using these techniques religiously for over 45 years, so I’ll not be talking from theory.

Try the following extremely simple technique as taster for instance and all being well by the next time we meet here, you’ll already be feeling the profound benefits. It’s what’s known as a koan, a question the Zen master would ask you but which you wouldn’t answer – you’d merely allow it to dance round your brain until your subconscious answered it for you by providing you the next level of clarity on your life in general. Ask yourself (but don’t try and answer, just ask and let it hang), ‘If this is the last month of my life, am I living it as I want to be, am I doing what I want to do, am I saying what I want to say?’

Thanks for reading. Your energy is important. Till next time.

Barefoot Doctor