How loving what I hated got me in a room of 9,000 people, plus Tony Robbins, and left me strumming a
As I stood impatiently in line with other choleric passengers waiting to board a delayed flight from Miami to London, I stood in awe of myself and the world. This was the end of a life-changing trip to America, one that a few years ago I never thought I'd make. The primary purpose of my visit was to attend a seminar – titled Unleash The Power Within – with the undisputed King of motivation, Tony Robbins.
Not that many years ago I was in a place of distress and angst, where I was unhappy with life, and contemplated cutting my wrist – I tried using a hobby knife, but it was a futile effort. I strived to get the body I desired – which I thought would make me happy – through intensive slogging in the gym. Regardless of how many hours I spent lifting weights or increasing my heart-rate, I still felt dead inside. My personal trainer at the time – Simon Lovell – suggested to me that I acquire a CD package called Personal Power by a man named, Tony Robbins. I purchased said CD box-set and attempted to listen to and digest the information. The abbreviated version of what followed is I could not bear the hyped-up tones of this guy's voice. The sheer passion in his words repulsed me and I was like, 'poor me, I want to be that hyped but woe me, I'm too depressed and tired to get that excited about anything.' So the CD box-set got one listen and ended up collecting dust under my bed for years to come.
The unfolding events in the years that followed lead me on to discovering a connection to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) – which I was suffering from – and then to me writing a book about it: How To Heal From Trauma And PTSD. I changed my life by changing my perception, otherwise known as mind-set, or 'state'.
Since working on my book and conducting research I had come across this man, Tony Robbins, again during reading an online review of something. I saw that Tony had a live event coming up in London called Unleash The Power Within (UPW) and I was intrigued. I made contact with Tony's office and had a call from a man who said that UPW was going to be held in Florida in March, before the London date. As I have friends in Florida I made an excuse to go to UPW in Palm Beach and combine it with a visit to see my friends.
I had no pre-conceived idea of what to expect from UPW, but I was unprepared for what transpired once I got to the Palm Beach Convention Centre to register and collect my badge. My brain was questioning why you were advised to register the night before the seminar rather than the morning you arrived. However I arrived the night before with hundreds of other people eager to get their event passes. I wasn't anticipating such a crowd. I overheard a crew member organising the lines that they were expecting close to nine thousand people.
Sure enough thousands of people rolled up on the morning of the event – which had the atmosphere of a pop concert, not a life coaching symposium.
Dancers erupted on to the stage performing a choreographed routine to infections music, beckoning the nine thousand strong crowd to join in to lift up the energy before the man himself took the podium. As I had not anticipated such a massive audience, it was all a bit overwhelming for me and I questioned my purpose for attending; how did I get there, from events a few years ago of ending my own life?
When Tony came out on stage the music was booming, he clapped with so much enthusiasm, it looked painful. Everybody was jumping and applauding whilst I looked on in bewilderment – I was panicking I was going to be unable to put up with four days of this. By halfway through the second day I was in my element, and loving it. The sheer electric buzz in the building was unlike anything I had ever been a part of. Everything was building up to the Firewalk which was billed as the 'main' event of mind-over-matter, and getting the experience that you can accomplish walking on fire into your nervous system, thus proving anything is possible. No wonder Day 1, was titled Turn Fear Into Power. Tony was adamant that if you're in the right state, you can accomplish anything you want. And the Firewalk was to prove that – it was not part of a cult initiation as my brother insinuated when I told him what was happening via text message.
By far the biggest game-changer for me was learning the power of changing your state – mind-set/state-of-mind – this is what all the jumping up and down was to do with. Changing you physiology changes your mood. Tony demonstrated the power of physiology by asking the crowd how a depressed person would look; their shoulders would be down, their head would be down, and generally, they would feel down, he continued. A happy person would have their chin up, their shoulders up and back, and there physiology and body language would be different. Seems pretty straight-forward once you know. I had encountered this philosophy before from a life coach who encourages the Power Pose, where you stand like Superman and feel all strong and powerful in your stance.
I looked around to the back of the venue hall to see nine thousand people, from 72 countries all loving and sharing the experience of being alive. The music was loud and lifted the mood and we all danced until late at night in-between Tony sharing advice on creating a Powerful life. Everyone was given a 182 page A4 book full of invaluable information, with space to write answers to questions. It's hard to capture in words the experience of UPW without actually being there. It's like nothing you could dream up; no wonder Oprah loved it too – Oprah said she intended only to attend for a couple of hours, but ended up staying for 12! Tony has coached many top athletes and elites of the world – including Hugh Jackman – so to be getting a part of that sort of vibe, was truly something to take home and cherish.
Much of the information shared over the four days is probably available from Tony's myriad CDs and books, but as he teaches, the power of immersion is key, I never understood this concept of immersion fully, until UPW and I was immersed in a hall of nine thousand people jumping and cheering to the chorus of the song, Welcome To The New Age. Being immersed in the moment really brings things home to you, much more than an online course can.
On the third day Tony employed his powerful NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) technique, he calls , The Dickens Process, to banish self-limiting beliefs. I admit that I felt VERY uncomfortable with this but it has obviously had an impact on me as I feel different than before going through the programme.
The fourth day was perhaps my most anticipated day as it was focused on The Power Of Energy, which comes through nutrition and lifestyle. I studied nutrition after reaching a plateau with physiotherapy, it was like the next step if you will. This along with the second day was presented by Joseph McClendon III – Tony's number 1 Performance Coach – with video presentation interludes from Tony himself. Due to throat issues Tony is required to rest his voice between days of presenting, and I'm not surprised as he delivers speeches with such vibrancy and passion in his voice that my throat would strain, even if I delivered half as much as he brings to the party. At one point Joseph had the audience bring one hand to their naval and raise the other hand in the air, as demonstrated, and rock out on air guitar – blimey, this was the first time I had ever strummed an air guitar, so much fun!
By the end of the last day I had come to embrace what, on Day 1, I was bewildered by, and it was all because I had changed my state, a bit like, if you can't beat them, join in, sort of thing. The difference is I had learnt how to join in and be part of something amazing.
Now back home in England I hold the memories of the Power from UPW. I retrieved the Personal Power CDs and listened to them with new ears and excitement about what the future holds. It took me many steps to get here, but I am here nonetheless. Living with passion and vitality.
I share in my book regarding PTSD information about the Stress Response, and how living in a state of fear can hold people back from living the life they want. It's clear to me now that in order to have embraced UPW and Personal Power, I had to change my state. That's what PTSD is, being stuck in the wrong state – the wrong state to perceive the good from life. Had I not elicited the end of the state-of-fear I was stuck in I'd never have been able to jump up and down with nine thousand people from 72 countries and Tony Robbins. Welcome to a new age.
It's been two weeks since attending Unleash The Power Within, I feel my self-esteem level has sky-rocketed compared to before heading to Florida. Results may vary, depending on you.
Check out Tony on Oprah's Lifeclass below which shows scenes from UPW.