Lean In EP#02 Rick Pursell

When you feel that all is lost, hope can be that little glimpse of light in the darkness. As we navigate this consistently turbulent world, the sense of hopelessness and anxiety seems to feature heavily in all of us.

When we’re carrying around trauma, sorrow, pain or grief – whatever that may look like, how can we change course and heal?

I invited Rick Pursell to tell his fascinating story on a recent episode of Lean In. Rick’s openness and candour allowed me to explore his story of personal transformation.  It’s a story fraught with fear, inner turmoil but also purpose, wisdom and above all, hope.

Releasing The Charge of Grief – Ricks story of hope

Grief is usually the face of hopelessness and it can be a heavy burden to carry. You have a choice, however – let it sit deep within or let it go so you can lean into a newer, more curious world of hope.

After returning home from the Vietnam War, Rick was a broken man. 

“I was hopeful that I would have the guts to pull the trigger on my rifle and blow my brains away,” this shook me to my core. How could this man, now so full of love and wisdom, want to take his own life?

“I was carrying a lot of pain. It was foreboding; it was on every minute of every day,” he recounted. The war lay heavily within Rick, and even upon his return back to Australia, he couldn’t escape its horrors and what it had left behind.

Like a record on a loop, Rick relived the traumatic events within his head, and he was losing hope – would this be his life forever?

In order to move on, he had to relinquish his ties with grief and upon his father’s request, he returned to England to spend time alone in the coastal county of Cornwall. While living out of a bright orange, hand-painted combi van covered in kangaroos and bright stickers – he took refuge by a cliff’s edge. It was here that he went through a profound spontaneous healing. 

“Just all of the stuff came out, the flashbacks, the pain, the suffering, the grief the anger – releasing all of that.”

Within five days, miraculously it was all gone. “Through the moments of pain, I would have this stillness. These moments of quiet,” explains Rick “it was in the moments of clarity that started the spark of hope that fanned into a raging bushfire that it is today.” 

When I asked what that release looked like, his beautiful reply was that it resembled an erupting volcano. The deep pressure within that eventually spews out, to the point he was feeling such deep intense grief that he would often hyperventilate. 

From lobbing rocks at seagulls – and missing, of course – to kicking the van’s tires while screaming and crying, he pushed the pain out of his body. However, the intense outpours were always met with stillness and calm.

“It made me feel safe when I got into these moments of clarity and stillness. That was hope, that maybe this is how it will finish up.” 

“Five days later, I woke up in my bunk,” he remembers, “the realisation that it’s all gone.”

“The emotions and the mental pain had gone, so that had left just the physical body. There was no pain there,” he explained, “I just had a detox, and I’d some modicum of mastery over my physical body, my emotional body, my mental body and my spiritual body. It had catapulted me to another level of understanding of who I was.”

People can heal from trauma, and there is wisdom to come from our wounds. When you find and set that intention to heal, you can begin to move through trauma, grief and hopelessness. 

Create An Intention of Hope

An intention is the seed of something you want to manifest in your life, so by setting an intention of hope, that can be the catalyst that brings it into your life. 

During a quiet moment, ask yourself “What can I be hopeful for today?”  These thoughts can surround certain trivial aspects of your life, like “I hope I get that interview,” “I hope I get the job.” 

Or, you can move into a deeper space to set your intention, planting the seed of “I hope I can move past this fear,” “I hope I can love myself and move through this trauma.”

Meditate on this thought and take a few deep breaths in and out. 

By sitting with this hope and putting out this clear intention, you’re allowing it to resonate out into the world. Allow the intention to come alive in your mind, body and spirit. 

We are only here for a short time, and every single day is so precious to us. It’s up to you to decide what you want to fill your life with. Personally, I don’t want to carry around the baggage of my past traumas, and I’m sure you don’t either.  In order to do that maybe we should all lean into life, and get busy living.

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