by Ben, Bexhill, Australia
I found out about Universal Medicine about four years ago when I was 22 and still going through university. At the time I was living the typical student life of drinking most nights of the week, eating junk food and staying up till 3am with occasional cram sessions so that I wouldn’t fail my classes. I thought I was having fun and doing what we were supposed to do as students, but I was never really happy. As soon as the alcohol wore off, or the thrill of whatever escapade we’d been up to had died down, I was left feeling miserable and lacking any direction. At the worst point I thought life would be so much better if the parts in between drinking didn’t exist.
When I looked around me, everyone I knew was in the same situation. No-one was really sure whether they actually wanted to do what they were studying for, and so we were all constantly looking for any reason we could to escape back into our drunken stupor. It was the only place we didn’t feel that life was a burden, being dragged around by all of these conflicting expectations and pressures coming from us and our families back home.
In my fourth year at university I was lucky enough to have a session with physiotherapist Kate Greenaway because my mum was taking part in her study on the effects of craniosacral therapy. Going into the session I had no idea what to expect. I’d only ever thought that deep tissue massages or painful treatments would bring results, but with the gentle movements and realignment she took me through, I walked out of there feeling lighter and better than I could ever remember feeling. After being able to feel that for myself, I wanted to find out as much as I could about it. I was almost going to drop my studies so I could take up physiotherapy because of the change I felt from that one session.
Soon afterwards I went to my first Universal Medicine course. I was full of anxiety and hesitation about going along to something I had no experience or any background in – it was like preparing to head off to another planet for me. My experiences as a child of sitting in a church room with a dull seminar dragging on around me did not make it easy for me to go, but there was a call inside me from my earlier session that I had to follow and see where it would take me.
The first time I met Serge, he really didn’t make any kind of impression on me – we both said “Hello”, then stood silently together for a little while before he was called away. He was nice, but pretty much just like anyone else.
I still had some doubts as he started presenting, but then he had us do some simple exercises. The ones I remember most were massaging someone’s shoulder in a clockwise direction and then an anti-clockwise direction; then picturing ‘sending’ love to someone versus just breathing gently and being with them. I felt immediately a clear difference between each of these. Serge hadn’t told us what to expect or what to look for, he just asked us to try these movements and see for ourselves what it felt like. After that I thought to myself, how could something so simple have made such a huge difference like that? And how come I’d never heard or known about this from anywhere else?
I’d never really thought that there was anything in life apart from the daily slog of work with those brief reliefs of drunken weekends, so those exercises opened my eyes up to the fact that there was something more in life. I saw that with a focus towards breathing gently, and actually paying attention to what I was doing rather than getting lost in my thoughts, the whole world seemed to change around me. I could feel amazing without the drinking, without the escapes, just by being dedicated towards looking after myself.
After attending only two courses that year I went overseas to complete my studies. A year away was an opportunity for me to go crazy, partying even harder and pushing myself to the limit, but from those few experiences I’d had with UniMed I decided that I wanted to be responsible for my own wellbeing. The simple act of being present with myself, feeling how my actions affected me, and being dedicated to my self-care was what supported me to live in whatever new culture I was immersed in that week. I was moving around a lot, but this was something I could take with me everywhere I went.
The fact that I was caring for myself left me open to meeting everyone and anyone, regardless of their culture, age or background, in equalness. Being from a small country town, I’d never really had much interaction with people from different backgrounds. Travelling around, I was meeting people from every country – and in being myself, there was never any division or difference between any of us. On a basic level we were all the same, and it was such a beautiful experience for me to see that; and to see that it was coming most when I was just being myself as simply as I could be, without trying to pretend to be macho or cool or anything like that.
In my year abroad I had little contact with anyone or anything from Universal Medicine. It was only the principles I had picked up in my brief exposure to them the previous year which helped me make the loving choices that supported me throughout the year I was away. Before coming to Universal Medicine, no-one had ever truly told me it was okay to love and care for yourself, or that honouring yourself is the most natural way we can be. I didn’t realise it could be any other way than the hectic way the world seemed to impose on me, where I’d be constantly exhausting myself just getting through the day. I can’t even begin to imagine how my trip would have ended if I hadn’t come across Serge and UniMed.
After coming back to Australia I’ve been able to attend more of the courses and workshops, and they’ve really allowed me to deepen my understanding of myself and the world. Everything I’ve experienced while travelling, and while living my life back here in Australia, I’ve seen confirmed and explained by what is presented by Serge. It’s as if he knows me as much as I know myself.
I’m now 26, and recently I was offered a job working with a company in France – one of the largest construction companies in the world – representing them in negotiations and business dealings. Although I’ll be moving to the other side of the world, and I’ll be in a completely different culture, speaking a different language and without my friends and family close by to support me, I don’t feel worried about it. What I’ve learnt in the past few years with Serge and Universal Medicine are tools that can be used anywhere and in any situation, that will bring me back to a simple caring for myself that seems to wash away the stress and pressure of work and daily life. I also feel like I can be me with anyone, regardless of their background, because of the deep equality I’ve been able to see in every one of my experiences with Universal Medicine. Because of this, I know there is nothing to be afraid of stepping out into the world, even if it is a million miles away from where I am today.
I’m ever grateful to Serge for loving us enough that he was willing to put himself under the spotlight and share what he knows with us, even when it may be controversial or make him enemies for saying it.
In the end though, it isn’t Serge or even Universal Medicine that keeps me coming back. It is my dedication and commitment to loving myself and others as best as I can which has got me to where I am today. Both Serge and Universal Medicine have always been there to offer me the space and support as I go through the process of relearning this, and they have been the only people I’ve met who offer such a full and complete support and integrity in everything they do. I often sit and think how lucky it is that I’ve been able to find them and to be supported in this way, but I’ve realised the real question should be, why did I ever think it was normal to not be loved and supported like this?