Last December, Brugh Joy passed away. Brugh originally had been a doctor. He'd interned at Johns Hopkins and finished his training at the Mayo Clinic. He was a practicing physician until a bout of pancreatitis steered him toward alternative medicine. Brugh dove into energy healing, Jungian work, and dreams. He left his medical career and began leading self-development workshops. Michael Crichton wrote about his experience at one of Brugh's seminars in his book Travels.
My wife and I do dreamwork once a month with a couple of friends who are students of Brugh's. In 2008, they got me into one of his weekend workshops, in Chicago. It was an amazing experience! At the first meeting, he led a heart-centered ritual that inducted everyone into the work for the weekend. I was amazed at how this one 80-something man could work with all 25 of us, taking each of us deep into the work.
In the evening, after the last session of the day, Brugh was chatting with me, when he casually put his right hand on my chest and his left on my back. I felt intense energy flow through my chest, blowing my heart open. Every morning, we'd do dreamwork. He'd call for dreams, and he'd go around the circle and got right into the meat of each dream immediately. And the dreams I had while I was there were very big, very vivid, as if Brugh's presence had evoked powerful forces from my subconscious.
This turned out to be my only chance to work with Brugh in person. Brugh had had pancreatic cancer sometime in the 1990s and had fully recovered. He was in such good health that he went on a pilgrimage to Mount Kailash in Tibet a couple of years ago. But in 2009, he was diagnosed with a recurrence of his pancreatic cancer, his third experience with pancreatic health issues. This time, there was no recovery.
The way Brugh worked with treatment for his cancer, and the way he approached his death, was a lesson in itself. He treated chemotherapy as if it were a holy sacrament. He was totally open to whatever happened, and he met his own death with a sense of wonder and curiosity.
Most of the people in the Chicago group had known Brugh for several years, some for a couple of decades, so I was surprised and grateful when I received email inviting me to a celebration of Brugh's life with the rest of the group. I went with my friends to Chicago last Sunday, and we all gathered again. We sat in a circle, conducted a Brugh heart ritual, and shared stories. Brugh was certainly there in spirit.
I'm grateful to have had the chance to work with Brugh. He helped me come to terms with my chronic pain condition. He showed me that working with the physical body is a valid spiritual path. His advice to find some type of body movement practice, such as dance or martial arts, led me to tai chi, which has been very good for me on a number of levels. So even though I knew Brugh for just a little while, I'm going to miss him.