What Made me Change my Professional Work and What Did I Learn from the Process?
I have often been asked why I left my previous career in academia in the UK to do the work I currently do as an energy therapist.
My immediate answer is simple: I would have gotten really sick and depressed had I remained. Although I had a promising academic career ahead of me, I was constantly anxious, very stressed, suffered from a growing host of stress-related health issues including chronic insomnia, worked 12-hour days 6 days a week and felt deeply unfulfilled by what I was doing in what I considered to be an archaic system. This is not to discount in any way my former academic colleagues who are incredibly dedicated and brilliant.
So why was I attracted to an academic job? My greatest worries after completing my PhD from the University of Cambridge were that I would be without direction, unable to find a job and without an income. Academic jobs in the social sciences are rare to secure and so when I had the privilege of landing such an opportunity to live and work in the UK – a peaceful, secure country – and make my parents proud, I seized it. I also deeply believed I could positively impact the world by teaching at the university, researching and publishing articles in academic journals. However, after experiencing the rat race of academia, the endless meetings, the ridiculous deadlines, the lack of transparency for promotions, the work-life imbalance, and observing how these were negatively impacting the wellbeing and behaviour of myself and colleagues, I started to feel flashes of disappointment and disconnection but continued to ignore my feelings. Then suddenly one morning I woke up with a very severe stiff neck where I could hardly move or do anything without being in excruciating pain including looking at any of my electronic devices or lifting a glass of water to drink. This torture lasted for five whole days and sleepless nights. Mostly immobilized, all I could do was lie in my bed and stare into thin air. I was being forced to pause and face myself; I realized it was a moment of truth for me. I wondered, “Was this the kind of professional and personal life I wanted to live? If I died tomorrow, would I be happy and satisfied?” My answer to both of these was HELL NO. I felt I was living someone else’s life.
After working with a brilliant Scottish acupuncturist who helped me start to heal the underlying emotional condition that was causing the stiff neck, I was able to better hear my heart’s deep calling to make a 180 degree change in my life. The calling was to leave academia and move to Beirut, Lebanon no matter how illogical that might have seemed at the time in 2016 due to the volatile political and economic situation of the country. As a Palestinian-Lebanese who was raised in Europe, I had briefly worked in Lebanon as a schoolteacher many years before. Even though I had no idea what I would be doing, my intuitive heart was calling for me to move to Lebanon as my mission was somehow there.
Initially I was very worried about my family’s reaction. However, when I did the self-work to align with my inner knowing, to release fears of the unknown and to trust my path, what quickly followed my parents’ initial freak out, was their sensing of my calm, centered, empowered and faith-filled energy. This was my first insight: when you are in tune with your authentic self, open to your higher guidance and release fears of uncertainty, people feel it and respect it.
My transition to Lebanon was actually very smooth but I had to deal with having neglected myself for a long time that had resulted in an intense burnout and a pattern of running away from uncomfortable emotions. My healing tools at this point included being in nature, bathing in the Mediterranean Sea, rediscovering the beauty of Lebanon through new eyes, meditating daily and working with multi-disciplined energy therapists. As I started to feel more whole, I decided to focus on what I enjoyed which was teaching energetic and spiritual workshops for free to people through a French energy school that I had been a part of for some years.
My incredible healing journey inspired me to discover my true calling which was to help people transform their own emotional-mental blockages that stem from unresolved past often traumatic experiences and open to their own spiritual awakening.
Every day I wake up grateful for what I do and the amazing people I engage with. My work fills me with joy, inspiration and a love for life. I also never thought I would one day develop my own business where I organise my own time, there is no ceiling to my diverse streams of income, and where I creatively bring together my diverse talents. This meant I had new skills, knowledge and ways of interacting to learn – all of which I believe should be taught to young people in school. I also had a lot to de-programme in my subconsciousness because somewhere along the way I absorbed several limiting beliefs including as a [Arab] woman I am not capable of handling money, making financial decisions and should just marry a man who can take care of me or remain dependent on my parents. I also often encountered people at workshops, activities, casual gatherings who often expressed to me that people in the personal growth or healing field cannot make enough money to survive, let alone thrive. Confronting these lies and slowly transforming them has been incredibly empowering for me and all the women and men I work with.