In May 2012, my husband and I went to a talk by Dr John Demartini in Birmingham. The guy blew my mind away. His intellect and knowledge were sexy. He oozed confidence and his ability to speak about any ‘-ology’ was truly impressive. He studied everything under the sun, and no doubt the sun itself. After the talk, there was an offer: sign up today and you’ll get a big discount. Even with a significant discount we paid a lot of money to do a weekend workshop with this genius. Surely, this guy knew it all – he ought to have all ‘the answers’.
The weekend was in London, and I was eagerly anticipating meeting him again. Within minutes though I realised what a huge mistake we had made. The guy was sexist and rude beyond imaginable. His treatment of women he worked with in front of the group was appalling. It felt humiliating to be in that room, never mind to taste his approach.
Having said that, some of what he offered made good sense – for example, getting clearer about your life purpose. He basically developed a system where you rationally reframed a painful experience by recognising the benefits you got out of it. For example, someone lost a loved one and simultaneously they had new love coming into their lives. We did it over and over again until it clicked in the mind that, oh, that wasn’t so bad. In fact, I appreciate what happened. He didn’t believe in forgiveness. That was pretty much irrelevant, as far as he was concerned. Accept and you shall flourish. No one was to leave the room until they got to that stage.
We sat in that room well beyond midnight. He bullied non-believers into acceptance. Any whingeing or struggling had one mostly sexist response. My husband and I kept a low profile waiting for the torment to be over. We left for our hotel in a state of shock… to only return the next day. After all, we had paid a fortune to be in that room. Surely there was something worthwhile to take away from that weekend. I guess there was – never go anywhere near that guy!
This is one end of the spectrum. Here’s the other end.
There’s a free tai-chi class in my local park. It’s really good, in fresh air, every Thursday at mid-day without a fail. It’s been going for over a year. In the past year, I made it… once by a sheer accident: I took my daughter for a walk where the class took place and joined half-way through. I meant to go every week, but then I always seemed to forget: I double booked myself, I was too lazy on a rainy day, I couldn’t be bothered on some occasions. It was free and it was there. Perhaps, next week… A few weeks ago my husband hustled me out of the door: ‘You’ll enjoy it, go do some tai-chi.’ During the class I found out that the class may stop because not enough people attend it to make it worthwhile. Since then, tai-chi is in my diary every Thursday. I don’t want that class to go away: it’s free, it’s on my doorsteps in day-time with a lovely group. The alternative is to pay for classes running in the evenings, get a babysitter to look after the kids, drag my husband to drop me off and pick me up from the class. So, it’s only the prospect of loosing this opportunity got me attending, and even now, if something else comes up, tai-chi goes out of window. Why? Because it’s free.
People may love freebies but the truth is we don’t always fully appreciate what comes for free. We may not value what we got for a lot of money either. If anything, I’d love to forget my experience with Dr Demartini. But paying all that money made me show up and persevere through the week-end. There was willingness to learn and take something away.
Between these two extremes, I lean towards the second approach. I’ll be honest with you: this whole charging for services thing is really hard for me. I feel what I offer is a true gift, and gifts don’t have price tags. But here are a few things I noticed working with people for free, which nudge me towards the middle way:
- We have a one off session. There’s a meaningful shift. Then life goes on and people forget. The next time something difficult comes up, instead of turning for something that can offer relief and a breakthrough, they continue struggling on alone.
- One-off sessions are great and they work with the issue that comes to the surface. True transformation is achieved over time. We are complex beings. The same issue can have several layers, for example. One-off sessions are like fire-fighting and that’s why I stopped offering them. Personally, if I start working with someone, I do that for years. Because only over the time we can transform at a deeper level, and achieve big results.
- As a facilitator, I give the sessions my all. But the level of commitment that the other party brings to a free session is varied. When we pay for service, we definitely want to see some results. Payment is a form of commitment to transformation, and that’s in itself can set into motion a deeper healing and growth.
So, I’m going to stop cringing while talking about money. Until midnight on 8th March, I’m offering 41% off on a three-month package. This work is not for everyone. It’s deep and transformative. If it’s you, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and prepare yourself for miracles.