Finding the Light Within

Finding the Light Within
by Ericka Crawford
From “Journey to Joy

Clean crisp morning air filled my lungs. I breathed rhythmically in and out as oxygen pumped to my legs, and my heart beat in sync with my feet as I pedaled my bike up a long hill near my house. Training for my first hundred-mile bike ride two weeks away, I felt strong and grateful.

Suddenly, a sharp pain in my left knee snapped me out of my rhythm and, when I cranked the pedals again, another sharp pain took my breath away. I clipped out of my pedals quickly and stepped onto the pavement. A rush of fear overwhelmed me.

This can’t be happening! I thought. Not again! Please God, not again! Haven’t I suffered enough? Please don’t take this away from me! My mind flashed back to when I’d experienced this same feeling twelve years before.

The summer before my senior year of college, only twelve feet off from qualifying for the Olympic trials in discus throwing, I was determined to train all summer and qualify my senior year. While on my ten-mile morning run—part of my strict training regimen—I was stopped dead in my tracks on mile three as a sharp pain flashed through my left knee.

I massaged my knee for a while and tried to resume my run. But something kept catching in my knee. How am I going to fix this so I can keep training? I wondered as I walked back home.

“Mom, I think I need surgery on my knee again, something’s not right,” I greeted her as I entered the house. Our eyes met and I remember her expression—compassionate but fearful. I knew she was worried about another surgery and long recovery.

Two days later my orthopedic surgeon confirmed that a piece of my knee’s patella had broken off and said I needed surgery to remove it. I recall the look of despair on his face as he entered the recovery room following my surgery. He explained calmly that all the wear and tear from athletics and two previous knee surgeries had taken their toll on my knee. Only twenty, my knee was similar to that of someone over fifty!

His next sentence changed the course of my life instantly: “Ericka, if you want to preserve your knee enough to be able to walk by the time you’re fifty, you’ll have to stop throwing the discus and never run again…”

I was at a loss for words—my Olympic dream was over! Worse yet, I could no longer run…overcome with fear and sadness, anger rushed over me suddenly as tears streamed down my face.

“I know you’re on an athletic scholarship,” the doctor continued, “and I’ll support you as you finish your senior year of college, but you’ll have to change your training regimen to swimming and a stationary bike—no more running or stair climbing.”

Shattered Dreams

I stood over my bike now and the feeling was eerily similar to the one I’d had lying in that hospital bed twelve years ago. Severe physical pain and emotional anguish filled my days for the next six weeks. I went from riding my bike one hundred and twenty miles a week to walking with a cane. In severe pain, I awaited my surgery. I was told I wouldn’t be able to ride my bike more than fifteen to twenty miles three times a week, or walk on uneven surfaces, including the beach and cobblestone. Nor could I hike or perform tasks on my knees such as gardening, cleaning, etc.

The surgery entailed cutting my tibia in half and re-angling my leg fifteen degrees to take the weight off the inside of my knee. Too young for a knee replacement, the goal of the surgery was to buy me ten years until new technology was available. Although this surgery would allow me to walk again, I was skeptical about the doctor’s predictions, since I’d been through three previous knee surgeries already and worked my way back to a fulfilling physical life.

It turned out this recovery was far more difficult than I’d anticipated—physically, mentally, and emotionally. I went from the best physical shape ever to a life filled with pain and despair. I lived on ibuprofen for the next seven years to help subdue the severe pain and arthritis in my knee. I’m not sure which was worse—the physical pain or the emotional pain, as my sadness, guilt, and anger at not being able to do all the things my partner and I had dreamed about sank in. I couldn’t even walk my dog every day as we’d done together for the past ten years!

I went from being able to walk freely around my workplace and engage with people for any length of time, to standing no more than thirty minutes without severe pain. I remember timing my bathroom breaks. I’d pick something up off the printer and have an ad hoc five minute meeting with co-workers just to limit the time I needed to stand and walk. I remember the despair I felt as I’d take the elevator instead of the stairs to my second floor office. Embarrassed, I wondered what people thought of me for riding the elevator only one floor!

Finally, tired from seven years of pain from my various knee surgeries, stressed from working twelve to fourteen hour days, and having difficulty sleeping, it was clear I’d lost much of my self-confidence and did not feel healthy or happy overall.

The Healing Begins

I was feeling much better about myself that beautiful sunny October day as I entered the Mago Garden Retreat Center in Sedona, where a group of us gathered to reconnect to our inner selves, nature, and each other as citizens of the earth to help create a better world. Although I’d been here before, I hadn’t experienced the full extent of positive power of which my subconscious mind and belief system were capable, but that day forever changed my life.

During the previous eight months I’d learned how to open up my meridian channels, and to meditate and heal my knee through “Life Particles,” a concept created by meditation expert Ilichi Lee to help describe to others the most elemental particles of the universe. I learned methods of self-healing through Dahn Yoga practices, and went from not being able to walk more than thirty minutes or ride my bike more than fifteen miles at a time, to completing a fifty mile bike ride, climbing Mt. Moak in South Korea, and walking our dog whenever I wanted. My knee still hurt and I’d take ibuprofen when it flared up, but I’d made significant strides in my healing process and felt really great about how much I had grown.

I felt some pain and stiffness in my knee as we began that day and in the middle of a training method called “Brain Wave Vibration”—designed to open up our minds and meridian channels—I connected completely with the rhythm of the music and the energy that flowed through my body. I focused on relieving the pain in my left knee, when a sudden rush of sadness and guilt hit me in the pit of my stomach.

I kept going and intensified my movements to discover the origin of these emotions, when my body became enveloped in anger and rage. A sound from deep in my belly rose to my head and I screamed out in anger. Immediately, as if a cloud had moved aside, I saw the origin of my knee pain. Pictures of religious leaders from my childhood appeared before me and shouted: “We are all sinners! You are a sinner if…” They then recited a whole laundry list of sins. “We are not worthy of the kingdom of heaven and the only way to enter is…” their voices continued as the sins they’d listed scrolled through my mind.

Suddenly, calmness drifted over me and an unforgettable clarity emerged. In a flash I realized I’d strived to be the best at everything I did in order to “be good enough and worthy enough!” How could this be?  I wondered in amazement. How could I feel I’m not good enough? I have a loving partner, successful career, a good education, friends and family that love me, and material success!

Then another realization shot through me. I had caused my own physical pain—and the stress in my life—through my continuous need to prove to myself that “I am good enough.” At that instant light filled my body, tears streamed down my face, and the pain in my knee released! I saw with sharp clarity how this one belief, buried deep within my subconscious, had shaped my life’s journey thus far.

The Morning After

I lay on the floor, exhausted from crying and saying “I’m sorry!” and “Please, forgive me!” over and over again to myself for not believing I was good enough, when a voice inside of me said: It’s going to be okay, I’m here now…I’ve always been here—you just couldn’t hear me. It’s time to get up and go create the life you were meant to live—a life of creation, abundance, health, happiness, peace, and joy!

Deep gratitude filled every cell of my body as I rose from the floor and promised to take action every day to create a life of health, happiness, and peace for myself and others. I realized I never understood how storing emotional pain in my body over the course of my life could take such a toll on me. Now that I’d physically experienced the power of the mind and belief, I learned how to travel inside my body with mind-body training and meditation and release negative energy, emotions, and pain. I realized also that I had created every situation—both good and bad—in my life. Everything that had happened so far in my life was to help get me to this day—a day of awakening my soul to its true nature.

Through my healing process—which included taking full responsibility for my physical condition and creating my own happiness—I significantly increased my confidence and stamina, lost fifty pounds to maintain a healthy body weight, and I continue to awaken my brain every day to a fully conscious life.

Today, I help coach others to discover and actualize their infinite potential so they may return to their natural state of health, happiness, peace, love, abundance, and joy, and lead authentically. My own journey to joy propels me forward with purpose and fills me with light, as I guide others to find their own light within.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Transformational leadership and life coach Ericka Crawford teaches individuals how to tap into their infinite potential, and to realize and actualize the life they desire in order to return to their natural state of health, happiness, peace, love, joy, and abundance. Founder of “Light Leadership – Leading from within,” Ericka draws from twelve years experience as a coach, mentor, speaker, inspirer, and author, and eighteen years in diagnostics, medical device, pharmaceutical, and biotech companies. She has served three years on the board of directors for the Southern California Healthcare Business Women’s Association and is a Dahn Master (Energy Principle Yoga and Meditation Instructor).


Ericka Crawford
Light Leadership