Hello, my name's Tom
And here is my story.
I don't like talking about myself nearly as much as I used to, but I was convinced by a friend that to share this would be a good for other people, so here it is:
I'm originally from North Yorkshire. After studying film and Media production at York college I took a year out to travel the world. This would prove to be pivotal.
I came back to the UK and went to London Metropolitan University to continue my study in Film and media production. The course was too slow and I was less than inspired. One year in, I decided to drop out and move to the Philippines with my high school friend to start a business in financial trading and sports betting. It was based around the idea of geo-arbitrage ~ Earning passive income in one country, and spending it in another (cheaper, sunnier) one. This was just before "The Four Hour Work Week" by Tim Ferris, a book that would later be of great influence to me, had hit the shelves.
Exactly One year later we returned to the UK having failed to sustain an income. 10 months after that we went back out to Cebu City to try again.
This time it was moderately successful. We began to work with a foundation for street children and shortly after sunk some money into a small cocktail bar/restaurant as another muse. This was a disaster. It was entertaining and educational for a while but financially quite the liability.
We sold it for barely the price we bought it and were in search of capital again. We began a private English tuition service with the worst name in the history of English tuition services - Royal London English. We were still based in the Philippines teaching Japanese and Korean ESL Students. This quickly expanded into operating ESL tours to the neighbouring island of Bohol.
Around this time I took up Philippine kickboxing and Brazilian jiujitsu. It was about a year before I was fighting mixed martial arts in the ring and getting paid. With these skills I also took work as a bouncer and doing events security in Cebu.
I was running a Muay Thai class for beginners and through that met long time friend Sebastiaan Van Der Scrier. Having also had a long time interest in personal development, Through him I began an introduction to the world of Energy Psychology, Neuro linguistic programming (NLP) and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) for sports performance.
We then began to move our ESL clients online and uprooted to move to Chiang Mai, Thailand, via a spell in Kuala lumpur and Penang.
After two years In Chiang Mai doing bits and pieces of freelance eco building, web and graphic design work, A Breathwork session facilitated a life changing experience for me. I split with my business partner and moved back to the UK temporarily to re-evaluate my life.
After some MMA training and further fights in the UK, I moved back to the Philippines to live in an Eco village/detox retreat centre in Palawan for the beginning of a completely new chapter.
I leaned how to build mud houses and facilitate the spiritual practice of "Inner dance" through the Bahay Kalipay IDES (Inner Dance Energy School).
In 2012 after 5 months I left the Philippines to begin a new life in Taipei. I was now beginning to take on my own coaching clients in Energy Psychology, working with emotional processing and holding workshops around South East Asia. I'd noticed the beneficial effects of using breathwork and boxing to help people get in touch with extreme emotions, and began to develop my own style of emotional release work.
I'd began to put together a string of Airbnb rental apartments in Taipei to subsidise my further study of energy psychology. I worked for a gym there and got back into training and fighting. Apparently this was no longer my calling and didn't go well. My Airbnb apartments were doing well though and allowed me to continue my self inquiry, which included attending Vipassana meditation retreats and a month long 1800km bike ride, camping along the way from Santander, Northern Spain to Ravenna on the east coast of Italy.
My friend Sebastiaan Invited me to work with him in the Philippines after typhoon Yolanda together with - some of the founding masters of EFT and Provocative Energy techniques (PET); Steve wells, Dr David Lake, Rehana Webster, Tania Prince, Sue Beer and Emma Roberts, well known practitioner Gene Monterastelli and Malgorzata Szumska . It was a mission that shifted me in many ways when observing the profound effect this work can have on people in need. I learnt a phenomenal amount.
Another year on and I was invited to Nepal to do similar work after the earthquake there. With a good friend we continued working with gentle trauma softening techniques, based on the model we'd developed in the Tacloban after Typhoon Yolanda, art therapy and inner dance to help people overcome PTSD
I felt the call to Leave Taiwan in mid 2015 and put my life into a backpack again. Through a string of hyper real coincidences found myself with a ticket to burning man. I returned to Europe for a while then on to America with the intent to understand as much as I could about the place and myself in it. I wasn't disappointed.
I returned to Asia to meet my parents and show them my old turf without much of a plan beyond that, by this point I was seriously drifting. I had thought I would be WOOFing (working on organic farms) instead I ended up moving back to the Philippines to work in the Bahay Kalipay retreat centre with my then partner doing classes in Inner Dance, breathwork, Non Violent Communication and EFT amongst other things, this was the place where IDB would be further honed and tested under the name "mana breathing".
After a few months I moved up the road to Maia eco village and played a role in organising a large convergence of people who gathered to discuss all things permaculture to eco politics to healing and therapy. After that I moved to Bali. In Bali I further developed this site and my work, came back to Taiwan to close the lid on my final Airbnb place, and returned to Europe.
I returned to London for a period of rest and regrouping, I took on a simple job, working as a chef at a cafe in a maker space with a view to taking some time out from the building pressure in my mind and reconnecting with long forgotten roots.
Pretty soon the job reached a natural ceiling (apparently there's only so many times you can flip potato cakes before the soul craves something with a deeper sense of purpose) and the work began again with festivals in Portugal (Being gathering) and Corfu (Sound and silence) being the first to incorporate inner dance breathwork into their lineups.
These were much larger groups than I'd ever facilitated, 100-200 people in a session, and this is where things really began to make more sense. To feel the magic that made itself present during the sessions was like nothing I've experienced before. It was deeply moving recieved wonderful feedback and helped reiterate that there was really something special happening here.
And it was at one of these festivals the opportunity to come and help build an Energy school in Switzerland presented itself.
This is where you'll mostly find me now, hard at work constructing things out of wood. The vision for the centre is a place where people can practice authentic living, self inquiry, and communion with one another and themselves. The chalet is rustic and large. We have a yoga hall, dorm and private rooms, a sauna, and a very cold lake. All coming this summer.
I've neglected to write this for quite some time, but people near to me convinced me to put it up that others might draw from it, and now I have I feel a sense of shape to these arbitrary moments in time, a shape that in some way represents what Joseph Campbell might call my hero's journey.
I'm not a hero, I'm absolutely very human, and have been the villain too. Its fair to say my life has been a fortunate one, filled with more peoples support than I could mention here. There's no way I could have done half of what I've done here without that. So as both a relief and disappointment, I'm subject to the same pains and hurts, struggles with anxiety, shame and guilt, envy, attachment, anger and depression and remorse as everyone else. There are plenty of times I wish I'd have been able to handle things better than I have. The point is not to compare, judge or compete, but find the common thread that links this story to all the others ~ the underlying feelings and needs that have driven it. And to recognise that although on the surface it might look quite unique, the fact is that when I reflect on it, I wonder where I was for half of it. It certainly wasn't in the moment. It was restless, uneasy, nervous and tense, filled with self loathing and striving for some such other place to exist, anywhere but right where I was. Like everyone else I've been grappling to find a sense of self, beneath the layers of what I think I should be, that feels genuine and authentic to whoever I am.
Much of this journey into the cage fights of South East Asia, the financial gambling, the psychotherapy, alternative lifestyles, sexuality, alcoholism and drugs, spiritual mud houses, hippy stuff and everything else has been driven by a slight lunacy of attempts to fill a deep void - something I'd been educated to believe could be patched from the outside, with achievements, things, people, money and notoriety - and deep lack of self worth. For a long time I thought I was searching for happiness, when what I really craved was meaning, to find whats real and alive inside each moment and to give it expression.
But I think I want to put this out there to give you a sense of permission to be as weird, if that's your thing. This isn't a story with a happy ending but rather ending with the beginnings of happiness, a work in progress thats starting to recognise an inner benevolence who could never aspire to avoid pain, search for silver bullets, request somewhere permanent to rest its head, and could give up the fight for the light over the darkness. Shadows are rich, deep and give definition to life, without these opposites we simply couldn't be. Please remind me of this next time I fall off the wagon. I've pondered lately if death could be the thing that gives meaning to life. The fact that one day this little self will be gone, bringing an urgency to love now, not tomorrow. If you figure this out before I do, maybe you can teach me how.
Reality on its own can be pretty magnificent when seen for what it is with the right kind of eyes, but everybody loves a good story. So I hope you find something in me sharing mine.
Thank you for your time!