We all know the disastrous impact an HIV diagnosis can have on someone’s life. Many tales of isolation, addiction, destructiveness, anxiety and depression can be linked back to that fateful moment at the sexual health clinic. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, when people are given the understanding, tools, space and time to explore the deep beliefs and emotions that get triggered, it can lead to incredible transformation.
When I was diagnosed nearly 8 years ago, I clearly remember that precise moment: the room slowing down, my blood racing, my mind going a million miles an hour. Until a little voice inside my chest whispered to me that I would be alright. With a lot of hindsight and personal development work, I’ve come to understand that that little voice was my intuition. Unbeknown to my conscious self, my diagnosis had awakened something inside me.
Of course, it also brought a lot of pain, suffering and confusion. An HIV diagnosis hits us at the heart of our being, triggering all our conditioned beliefs and wounds around our sexuality, intimacy and self-love. All our most uncomfortable thoughts and feelings suddenly rise to the surface, just like throwing a stone to the bottom of a muddy pond. Some deny these emotions, some push them down. Few dive into them and face them with an open heart.
From my own journey and running the Thrive Programme for people living with HIV over the past 2 1/2 years, it’s become crystal clear to me that as painful as it may be, an HIV diagnosis is also an incredible opportunity for growth: it triggers all the dormant and denied parts of our being. And when we can find the courage and commitment to place our focus and awareness into observing, listening and loving these layers, massive change occurs.
We believe that an HIV diagnosis can be an ‘awakener’, i.e. a catalyst for change. This is the underlying understanding of our whole approach. We offer a new path in dealing with HIV, an alternative model to complement existing medical and clinical services. Not by rejecting and fighting it, but by accepting and listening to it. We offer a loving and safe space for people to express and move through the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that arise from their diagnosis, and reconnect with their heart, body, intuition and others on a similar journey.
This may sound far-fetched to some, but we know it works. By combining innovative alternative practices like movement work, meditation/mindfulness, spiritual and intuitive mentoring and even shamanism, we’ve so far had a massive impact on our users’ mental and emotional health. Our Thrive Journey offers users a series of workshops and activities to work through the impact of their diagnosis and create a truly authentic and thriving life.
Our door is open. If our approach resonates with you, we would love to connect and meet you. If you want to find out more for yourself, you can go to our website www.thrivefoundation.org.uk. You’ll find there some meditations, a Thrive Quiz and access to our Getting Started pack, full of links to online resources to kickstart your journey. You’ll also find our calendar of events so you can come and meet us in person, either at the next Open Day workshop on the 17th of June, or at our first Open Mic & Stage night on the 22nd (and further dates throughout the year). And you can of course become part of our ever-growing community.
The truth is, we’re only just getting started. In the coming months we plan to launch an online section with events and courses, a series for newly-diagnosed individuals and a section for health professionals. And we’re now reaching out beyond London to collaborate and share with fellow organisations in the UK, Europe and Africa.
Dealing with an HIV diagnosis does not have to be a lonely, confusing and frightening path. Living a happy and thriving life with HIV starts with a choice: the choice to say yes to everything life brings your way, even the most seemingly painful situations and emotions. Because behind these always lies the biggest opportunities for transformation. So… are you ready?
Find out more here.