The JumpStart programme in August this year was a very powerful experience for me. Early in the week, I’d got talking to another participant about being ‘On Duty’. On Duty for us meant having total control: do it now, do it ourselves, do it perfectly. Through numerous conversations that arose from the dialogue sessions with facilitators Sheila Parmar and David Norris, we were able to see how much we had achieved by being On Duty, but also, and perhaps more importantly, the cost.

The cost for me had been great. I was tired. I was so exhausted of driving, steering, controlling, engineering, prompting, chasing in my life. So tired of trying to get it right. Every day I had a list of a hundred things to do that day. And only then would I allow myself to rest. Even dates with friends and family became another slot in my diary, and some felt like another thing on my ‘To Do’ list. I was also paying the price in my intimate relationships. I wanted to know all the time where things were going, trying to control the outcome, to get what I wanted without being hurt. Needless to say, I was discovering through many, many disappointments that this was not the way I was going to truly connect with someone. There was no space for connection or for the other person’s needs. All I could see were my goals, my desires. And I was done. I was so tired and miserable, struggling to keep a smile on my face; I had to do something about it.

David Norris said one day that the interview process for the JumpStart course was this: Those who are ready will sign up. And that is where I was. I was ready to let go. Ready for change. My fellow On Duty participant and I had discussed whether it was possible to put the uniform on and take it off in my life – I was scared of what would happen if I let go of it completely. He suggested that it was not necessary in any area of my life. I had no idea what that would look or feel like.

But the environment at JumpStart was just what I needed to experience the possibilities. The bodywork facilitators reminded me to listen to my body and not rush, in the kitchen we were guided to take care of our food preparation and work mindfully, and then came the all-important dialogue sessions, which were led and held so compassionately.

One experience in particular had a huge impact on me. We were in the Soft Gazing exercise, and I was unable to achieve a certain part of it at that time. I heard one internal voice say: “There you go, you got it wrong. Not good enough.” And at that exact moment, David said “It doesn’t matter where you are, just try it and see. There’s nowhere to get to. Just be with where you are.” And that was it. I felt an imaginary hand reach into my spine and pull out a huge rod of steel. My On Duty Rod which had been keeping me upright and had held me back from flowing through life as I wanted to. I nearly fell over, and then spent the next hour or so bent over in my chair, only just able to hold the weight of my head.

Something very profound had happened for me not only on a physical but on an emotional level. I felt like I was in my younger self body again. I felt loose, free, energised, happy, open and relaxed. So relaxed! I could feel whenever the On Duty uniform wanted to jump on my back, and I now practice to soften out of it and stay present and flowing.

What I feel now is that I’m having more fun, still achieving lots, but from a place of inspiration and love. I’m taking more time to feel into what I do and do not want to do. I’m choosing more. I feel far more present, free, authentic, and alive. I feel in my body like I haven’t in years, and I’m connecting with others more fully and completely.

Thank you to all who gave me such a powerful experience. JumpStart is a truly unique environment for transformation and I strongly recommend it.

Sue Appleby