Richard’s Personal Story
By Richard Haynes
I include my story here merely to give the reader a flavor of the experiences that led to my understanding. I believe that the information that I teach and found on these pages will stand on its own. I know it can change your life as it has mine and many others.
I began my journey in life a very confused and angry child. I can still remember getting kicked out of my first grade music class. I was always in some kind of trouble from that point on. I was also sicker than most and seemed to have more than my share of accidents. At the age of 20, at the hands of the best western medicine had to offer, I almost died from Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory disease of the large and small intestine. The treatment was removal of my entire large intestine and a portion of my small intestine. The end of what was left of my small intestine was brought through my abdomen. Since that time I have had to wear an appliance to catch intestinal waste. This was very traumatic for me, a young man of only 20 years. I was still very sick. I felt even more out of place than before. As part of my continued treatment I took steroids and other prescribed medications on a regular basis.
Upon returning to college the next year, I was even more rebellious and angry. I turned to illegal drugs. These in combination with the prescribed drugs I was taking took their toll on my studies. I knew I had to change. It was then that I learned TM (Transcendental Meditation). I had a very profound experience the first time I meditated. For the first time in my life, I got a glimpse of the beauty and wonder of life and I wanted more. Thus began my journey into alternative medicine and healing. I quit school and traveled first to California, then to Europe to be with Maharishi. I became a teacher of TM in the spring of 1973. By then I had given up drugs, focused on diet, with periods of being vegetarian.
The next 15 years saw me in denial of my medical problems. I thought all I had to do was meditate to get better. I found myself on and off prescription drugs and in and out of the hospital.
During this time I also tried my best to fit into regular life. I got married. I went back to school and graduated with a degree in Math Education. I taught High School and Jr. High for a short period. My wife gave birth to a wonderful daughter, Stephanie, who eventually graduated from High School as Valedictorian of her class and graduated from College in 2000. I owned a construction company, building houses and commercial buildings. I started a successful Real Estate Brokerage and at one time had 15 people working for me.
All this despite the fact that I was still sick and suffered from lack of energy much of the time. I had more abdominal surgeries. Each surgery took its toll on my health and strength. The crowning blow came in 1981 in a near fatal accident when I crashed a small plane in the mountains of Eastern Oregon. Among other things, both of my lungs collapsed causing permanent damage and leaving me short of breath. This along with my other medical problems left me unable to work. My health continued to deteriorate and more surgeries followed.
During this time I never gave up my search, and I often remembered my first experience with meditation. I continued to search for the peace I felt with that meditation. I went on long meditation courses at every opportunity. Each time I returned feeling better, but the improvement did not last when I resumed my regular life activities.
In the early 80ï¿½s Deepak Chopra made his public debut inside the TM organization. I saw him several times and like many others to follow, I fell in love with this person and what he was saying. Ayurveda was a new idea to me and I was very interested in it., I listened to Deepakï¿½s first tape set (1985) many times. Sensible though it sounded, I could not understand how to apply this knowledge to my life.
Deepakï¿½s first book came out in 1987. I read this book several times but, in 1988, I again ended up in the hospital for what was to be my final abdominal surgery. In all I had five complete abdominal surgeries and had spent more than a year of my life in hospitals.
The turning point came in the spring of 1989 when I went to Deepakï¿½s Ayurvedic Clinic in Lancaster, Massachusetts. I went through 7 days of a very powerful healing treatment called Panchakarma. At that time Chopra was at the clinic every day as was Dr. John Douillard who later ran the Clinic when Chopra left in 1993.
Thinking back, this was a most wonderful precious time in history. Deepak was bringing a direct experience of Ayurveda and its healing potential to the West and everyone involved was feeling the excitement. At the Clinic I met celebrities and people that Forbeï¿½s Magazine listed among the ten richest people in the world.
Excitement was everywhere. On my flight home from Boston I watched a story about Deepak Chopra and his Lancaster healing center. I was told that this short news item was played on every United Airlines flight that month (April ï¿½89). It was easy to believe that everyone everywhere would soon be embracing this rediscovered knowledge.
I was overwhelmed with emotion. I felt at that moment undescribable gratitude. I was to learn later that feeling gratitude is the hallmark of real healing (see Therapeutic Experience). It was only the Grace of God enable me to have this insight. How wonderful that my life had brought me to this point of exquisite gratitude. At that moment, everything was absolutely perfect and my life was perfect in spite of all the sickness, pain and confusion. It was as if all my life had been leading to this beautiful, precious, wonderful experience I was having.
The flight ended, and I was back in my other world. I was 40 years old, unable to work, and living with my parents. Despite the deep love and desire to support me, my parents were not capable of understanding my experience. They did not share even 1% of my gratitude to this tradition so foreign to our western way of thinking. To them, I was their sick child who needed their care to make it in the world. Within a very short time, I was back feeling angry, hurt and misunderstood. The feeling of lightness and vibrant health was replaced with one of dis-ease and tiredness.
Alas I was in the exact same place I was 20 years ago when I learned to meditate. I was given a glimpse of what life could be but had no way to make this experience a regular part of my life. To make matters worse, I was also incapable of explaining my experience to my family or peers.
I did not give up trying. The next two years I went through Panchakarma 7 times. I also completed some very deep psychological counseling. I read every book I could find on Ayurveda, this wonderful rediscovered science of life that seemed to have so much promise to deliver physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing.
Since that spring in 1989, I have not been sick. I have not been on any medications or in any hospital. Thatï¿½s quite a change from my previous 40 years when I could not count two complete years when I was not hospitalized for some illness or injury.
I still felt vulnerable. I knew what I was looking for was stability or balance. To always be comfortable with myself, no matter what was happening. I had achieved a degree of this balance. Even so, I was barely holding on to the balance I had achieved, I was always short of breath, and had very unpredictable energy. I needed something to help me fully integrate and stabilize this new balance into my 24 hour day.
In 1992, John Douillard came out with his first tape set, Invincible Athletics. I knew John already from TM and Lancaster, so I am sure I bought one of the first tape sets sold on the west coast. I began using the breathing techniques and following the exercise program as much as I could understand. John teaches that exercise in easy and joyful. It is very hard for westerners to think of exercise as something easy, simple and joyful, we even call it a “workout”.
The more I listened to the tapes, used the breathing techniques and followed the program in my daily life, the more balanced I became, and the easier it was for me to breathe. Today I am able to do most activities despite my damaged lungs.
The longer I did this program the more everything in my life began to get better. I began teaching what I had learned to my friends, I astounded both them and myself with incredible benefits of applying these simple principles. More and more people came to me. I continued to learn and to teach what I was learning.
It is always more difficult to learn from what is written than from a teacher. However some will learn (by the Grace of God of course) and then teach others. It is my sincere hope the day will come when everyone will just naturally know how to live life in the permanent state of comfort, balance and joy. This I believe can happen if we can understand and apply the basic principles of Ayurveda.