A Lesson Twenty-Eight Years In The Making.

Rhys Jack's Trek along the Kokoda Trail. Walking across man made bridge in Papua New Guinea.

What the hell is a Saturn return? I thought to myself, listening as my girlfriend tried to explain a cosmic theory so far-fetched it might actually be entertaining to hear her try to explain it a little further.

“A Saturn return” she began, “is a huge turning point in your life. It happens every twenty-eight-or-so years when the planet Saturn completes a full revolution of the Sun and returns to the exact position it was in at the time you were born.”

I waited for the punch line…

“It’s a time when you discover who you are as a person, and It’s a time of huge growth in all aspects of your life.”

I listened, and recognising that the tone in her voice revealed this was indeed no joke, decided to put my scepticism aside for a moment and delve deeper into the legitimacy of her theory.

I’m twenty-eight now, so according to her theory my Saturn return had to be pretty close by, I decided I needed to figure out exactly when my particular return date was.

A quick google search and entering of my birthday soon revealed that the planet Saturn was actually in the same position it was in when I was born, and it would be there for roughly the next ten months!

It was time to take a closer look at my life as I transitioned through this cosmic right of passage.

I reflected and realised that, yes, the past twelve months had been particularly eventful and actually very positive for me. 

I had recently become engaged to my girlfriend (now my fiancée), I felt like I’d never been fitter or healthier physically, my work was very fulfilling, I was really enjoying things like writing and Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu and generally, the vast majority of things in my life were on the right path.

A big tick for the planet Saturn.

And then, the more I thought about it, the more I began to piece together that the previous twenty-four months were also very positive as well. I had done things like travel to different parts of the world, gain some great work experience and meet my future fiancée at a random salsa night.

I noticed that this period was in direct contrast to my early and mid twenties which were not so fondly remembered.

For me, this time – from about eighteen to twenty-five – was a time of incredible uncertainty and a consistent sense of negativity.

I started to really analyse why these changes had occurred. What was it that snapped me out of a difficult period in my early twenties, and led me to where I am now – a relatively positive place?

Surely this couldn’t be the sole function of a planet one billion kilometres away.

The more I thought about it, the more I remembered the moments and people in that time frame who have been very helpful in shaping my life for the better. And while there have been many, I landed on one event in particular that stood out for me because of the way it impacted my view of myself and my life over this time frame.

The actual event was a very interesting personal development workshop I attended a few years ago – again this was at my fiancée’s recommendation, and again, this was something I wouldn’t usually have agreed to explore –  I’m noticing a distinct pattern here.

The workshop I signed up for was a two-day personal development seminar created by Dr John Demartini titled ‘The Breakthrough Experience’. A close friend of ours had organised it and was running the event, so I eventually agreed to join in.

Now, I’m a person who keeps my cards fairly close to my chest at the best of times, I usually try to figure things out for myself first, and then, with some feedback from a few trusted individuals, I'll come to what I feel is a very measured solution for any problems I have.

So attending a workshop full of strangers with someone explaining what was holding me back in life was in itself a breakthrough moment.

Without delving too far into the finer details of the event, the course was indeed what I would define as a life-altering moment; it was exceptionally challenging and mentally exhausting at times, but filled with insights and new ways of looking at life which has influenced my philosophy in the years since.

I was helped to dig deep into thoughts and memories from times in my life that I didn’t realise I still held onto. I was also helped to explore what was attracting me toward these experiences and to look closely at the different emotions they stirred up.

The whole seminar was an incredibly deep and philosophical one, delving into different aspects of science, spirituality, physiology, and psychology, and helping all of the attendees gain a new viewpoint of what may have been holding us back. I was surprised at the end of it at just how much of my past I had looked into over the two days.

And so after completing the event, I went back to my day-to-day life, feeling reasonably happy with myself, a little lighter and a little refreshed mentally and emotionally.

Then things began to get a little more interesting.

Over the next few months, without really noticing, I started to make small positive steps which have in retrospect led to some substantial life changes.

I started writing my blog – which I’ve been building up steadily and consistently for the past year and a half.

Because I had developed this new blog, I decided to dedicate more time to writing and publishing articles – something I love doing and which I have found immensely beneficial to my life. (I’ve now been published in a number of widely read newspapers and magazines.)

I quit my job and went to work at a new company in a role that was more suited to what I wanted to do with my career, and which also paid me better than my previous role (I’m still there, and still loving it.)

With my new workmates at my new job I started a morning gym crew –  we soon became addicted to the positive feeling we got from training together at the gym before work and have remained consistent to a morning routine since we started.

As a result of this new gym group, I gained a new circle of like-minded friends who I was able to train with, learn from and support every day.

And because of how much better I felt physically, I started to train and compete again in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – a sport I love but hadn’t had the desire or time to actively compete in over the previous few years.

And lastly, to top it all off I proposed to my girlfriend at the end of last year (and after a drawn-out two and half minutes of shock she finally agreed and said yes.)

Rhys Jack enjoying himself in fiji with his partner.

In light of all of these positives, I realised I could actually trace back many of the seeds that led to them eventuating to what I had discovered at the two-day Breakthrough course.

The more I thought about it, the more I realised much of this ‘positivity’ was largely underpinned by one important realisation that the course had taught me.

I had learned at the breakthrough to understand the role emotions had played in my life up until that point. How they had influenced my decisions, relationships and experiences in what I viewed as a ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ way.

When I spent the time learning how to accept, neutralize and view those emotions objectively I was able to focus on where the underlying positives were for myself and the people around me. Every ‘negative’ I had been through in my early twenties had at least an equal positive which I wasn’t necessarily aware of.

Once I came to that realisation, literally every aspect of my life; mental, spiritual, vocational, financial, familial, social, and physical benefitted in some way, because I was now focussed on and aware of finding the underlying good in any ‘negative’ situation or event. 

I realised that emotions are such a vitally important driving force in all of our lives, that they can cloud our judgment, ruin what could potentially be great moments and lead us up and down the rollercoaster of life feeling like we are out of control.

From that point on things changed for the better.

Bruce Lee once wrote in one of his diaries, ‘realizing that my emotions are both positive and negative, I will form daily habits which will encourage the development of the positive emotions and aid me in converting the negative emotions into some form of useful action.’

I really like this idea. Bruce Lee realised the same important lesson early in his life and made it a daily habit to convert any perceived negative emotion into a useful action for good. I really believe being aware of this was the key to the lasting positive legacy that he left on the world in so many areas.

Eckhart Tolle also wrote about the relationship between emotions and reality in his book ‘A New Earth’. He wrote, ‘unconscious assumptions create emotions in the body which in turn generate mind activity and/or instant reactions. In this way, they create your personal reality.’ 

Sometimes we aren’t aware of emotions and the way they are literally colouring the way we interpret and are viewed in the world.

I certainly wasn’t aware of the way I was using past emotion to influence my reality in my teens and twenties, but once I realised that this relationship exists, and that I have responsibility for it, it made a huge difference in my mindset and life. From feeling out of control to being aware of the connection between emotion, reaction and the real world.

I continued to think, about the past few years, about how things have changed and about how an adjustment in philosophy can have such a profound impact on our reality.

I then returned to thinking about Saturn, and my fiancée’s cosmic theory. Did this planet on the other side of the solar system have anything to do with any of this? Was it in some way responsible for this convenient realisation that occurred around my twenty-eighth birthday?

I suspect I will never really know for sure, but I feel as if a large part of the responsibility for starting to make these positive changes rests at the feet of the individual in question.  Perhaps it will all be revealed at my next Saturn return in another twenty-eight years!

Either way, I feel it’s an important lesson worth sharing ‑ understand your emotions and the impact they have on your life.