Matthew Schmidt, Isha Judd System Facilitator Testimony
Love yourself, love your life – The Isha Judd System
Before learning about the Isha Judd System and embarking upon my own quest for self-acceptance and inner peace, I couldn’t even point out Uruguay on a map. It was down there somewhere with all the other ‘-guays.’ Paraguay, Uruguay…
And yet, despite its relatively unassuming stature on the global stage, Uruguay boasts the huge privilege of being home to Latin America’s preeminent spiritual teacher, Isha Judd, creator of the Isha Judd System and founder of a global NGO designed to deliver her message of unconditional love to all sectors of society.
But why Uruguay, and why Isha?
Isha’s own story is remarkable. At the age of 28 and still living in her native Australia, Isha lost nearly everything dear to her in what was a staggeringly jarring year of her life. Five people close to her died; her mother had a stroke; her fortune collapsed in a stock market crash; and the family property got sold in an unpleasant squabble that no one could resolve. Even her dog croaked. In short, in six months, Isha was left with very little that she had known and had identified with. Abandoned by what had seemed so constant, she was taken hold of by a sudden desire to ‘wake up’. She didn’t want to be dependent on anything outside of her to be happy. It was too fragile, too unpredictable, and given the inevitable winds of change, it could happen to anyone at any moment.
But you don’t have to be Isha to know that. It happens to all of us in some form or another. We wake up one day and our parents have died, or our cat gets sick. The car breaks down or the roof springs a leak. Earthquakes strike, tornadoes blow – no matter where we are on Earth it is an inevitability that we will at some point be struck be change. If we are lucky, we will adapt and life will go on. We may find another partner or another pet or even get a roof that works. But for most of us, there remains a dull ache of malaise beneath each resolution, a cocked eyelid toward the future – wherever it is – wondering: have I saved enough? Will my presentation go as planned? I wonder if I put the right shoes on today or if I should have gone with the red ones instead.
In fact, as Isha so candidly points out, the problem with resolutions that come in the form of outward experiences is that we so often overlook the fact that the person who judges and criticizes us the most is actually ourself!
And it’s true! If you really listen to yourself, really begin to take an inward gaze and start to observe the way you think and act, it’s remarkable how you begin to catch yourself finding thoughts designed to challenge your wellbeing and reinforce this future-minded anxiety. Not to mention our societal obsession with trying to ‘fix’ everything. Everywhere we look there’s a campaign to change, alter, expand, reform and improve.
We all know there’s a problem. We all know things are a bit out of whack. But one of the things that makes Isha so remarkable – aside from her incredible presence and ironic sense of humor – is her enlightened perspective on where the problem lies. Looking at the world you’d think sometimes ‘Dear God, can this be real?’ Millions starving. Wars, fires, droughts and violence. Constant change. A pot-pourri of unknowns. Indeed, I used to live this feeling daily. No matter what I did or where I went, there was always a feeling, deep down, that I wasn’t quite right. That something – something important – was wrong.
As it turns out, I was right. Something was wrong – but it didn’t turn out to be at all what I thought it would be. As it turns out, I’ve been looking in a mirror! Or, as Isha explains, through a window: A window of perception.
When I was in my mid twenties I started to experience increasing unease, despite my obvious privilege. A white male with post-secondary education and great career options ahead of me, I just couldn’t get over a constant sense of worry. Money – I thought – that will do it. But no matter how much money came, I still couldn’t find that peace I needed. Maybe it was the partner – yes, the perfect partner. But In similar order, the partner came, and things were great – for a while. Until I started to worry again. What if he leaves me? What if he cheats on me? What if, what if? It was a scary way to live, doped up on stress and drinking to keep the fears at bay.
Don’t worry – people would tell me. Just relax. Let it go. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t find a space inside of me from which I could observe myself. There was no space – none – and I needed some room to breathe, fast.
Enter a tiny miracle in the form of a short pocket-sized book called ‘Why Walk When You Can Fly?’ I found it – or it found me – in the fall of 2009. Exhausted with feeling constantly at odds with myself, I went to bed one night and sighed. Something moved inside of me. ‘God,’ I said, not knowing where else to look, ‘Please. I’ll do anything. Anything. Just send me something.’
The next day I found myself in the self-help section of a tiny bookstore in Vancouver, British Columbia, holding two books in my hand and scratching my head. One of them was a typical feel-good book that spoke about peace and love. I’d read a billion of these already, and while they provided a bit of relief as I read, I almost always felt an even deeper sense of stress upon completing them – that gripping feeling again that there was something wrong, wrong with me!
The other book was Isha’s – a tiny pocket book with a yellow cover. Why walk when you can fly? it asked me. I flipped it open. It was super simple. About a hundred pages – each of them devoted to detailing the steps and components of Isha’s system.
A system? For what? For loving myself – and others!
Honestly, I don’t know if I really understood what that meant. But I did know that I was drowning and this sudden appearance of Isha’s book felt a bit like a raft. Or more than that – it felt like dry land. It was firm, strong, intensely real. If you do this, said Isha, it will work. I blinked and flipped through the pages. You can’t do it wrong, she wrote. It’s automatic. It’s inevitable. It’s who you really are. I blinked again. Okay, I thought, whoever this woman is I am shocked by how extremely convinced she sounds. I’ve never seen such a confidence before. I loved the book. I loved its energy. I bought it and even before I read it, it felt strong, real, complete. Just like Isha.
While I didn’t know it just yet, what I was already experiencing was my first contact with what Isha calls love-consciousness: the energy that we are.
The book explains the entire system that Isha teaches around the world. Centered in Uruguay but with satellite centers and offices around Latin America, Isha and her foundation are committed to elevating the consciousness of humanity by sharing the can’t-do-it-wrong, will-for-sure-change-your-life Meditative Practice depicted in her books and seminars. They teach in prisons, schools, businesses, orphanages and anywhere there is a need. In addition to this, they offer short and long stay programs at their centers where they offer the most incredible support to human beings everywhere who, like me – and probably you – are ready for more.
More of what? More freedom, more joy, more peace.
In her book, Isha acknowledges in simple eloquence that each of us is meant to fly; we are meant to be the unique greatness of who we are; but our thoughts and our fears hold us back, our concerns about what our family and friends will think, or what God might say on a day of atoning. We are held in a straightjacket of our own design, and to make it feel better we have found the best and most amazing little way to really make it pop: we act like it has nothing to do with us and that all the power is beyond our reach, held in the wealth or beauty or partnership we’ll never quite reach. We are victims sitting on a treasure of unlimited potential.
As I began to work with the system described in the book, I could feel that conviction of Isha’s entering my awareness. I began to unify – the term Isha uses to describe her practice – and I’d never felt better.
There are a million amazing things I could say about Isha Judd and what she is doing for the consciousness of humanity, but none of them would do justice to the true beauty of what she is. I am so thankful to her for giving me a tool that – si o si, as she says in colloquial Spanish (yes or yes) – always works.
Isha shares her wisdom simply and with humor. She laughs and cries with her students. She is playful and at times strong. And what she models for her students is a gem of perfect humanity.
We are meant to be human, she says. We are meant to have feelings – anger, fear, sadness, joy. We are meant to have contrastive experiences, extreme events, devastating changes. We are also meant to live life to the fullest, to challenge ourselves and to play full throttle at self-discovery and growth. We are perfect. And beyond this: everything is perfect.
After 10 years of questing, Isha experienced an intense spiritual awakening and became enlightened. It was this awakening that created her system and that is at its root. What Isha teaches and shares is her absolute experience of love-consciousness, the source of all human experience. It is something internal, something we are. We don’t have to be rich to attain it. We don’t even have to believe in it. The power of love goes well beyond our thoughts and sustains the world we live in. As we use the facets of the Isha system, this experience grows within us, and the world of fear and chaos begins to melt away, replaced by something so incredibly beautiful that the child within us starts to awaken once more. Aware of the unique challenges of the world but fortified in a profound inner experience of love, life transforms into a blissful journey of discovery and joy. We are free to be ourselves. From this place, the mind becomes an ally in our game – rather than an enemy – and we begin to go beyond the victim and into the creator, which is Isha’s ultimate message. None of us is a victim. We only think we are. And as the consciousness of the planet rises, this will become more and more obvious and easier and easier to achieve. Rather than fear in shackles, I am love in action.
Love yourself, love your life – it’s the tagline for this year’s six-month healing retreat at the Isha Judd Center. Hosted every few years at one of her centers, this is the same program that led me to Uruguay in 2013. After four years of working with Isha’s system, I had to find out just how deep this practice could go. Joined in my endeavor by 50 some other participants, I embarked upon the adventure of a life time in Uruguay of all places.
Uruguay. Gorgeous, beachy, blustery, pastoral. It’s the most unlikely place to come across a guru. And yet, excited beyond belief, there I found myself, nestled into the small town of Costa Azul, Canelones, listening to the crash of the waves and the roar of the wind against the shutters at night. And it was there, with the damp Uruguayan air on my skin, that I began the incredible and essential work of loving myself.
The essence of the Isha Judd System is unconditional love of self. Using four simple concentration tools with eyes closed, I begin to connect with the limitless power of love-consciousness that I am. As a result, the rubbish of a lifetime comes to the surface to be felt, embraced and ultimately let go.
All my denials, all my judgments – it all came out. Every fear, every anxiety – I watched them arise from some deep place within me and then I met them, exposed them and, ultimately, let them go. I began the utterly life-transforming process of emptying myself out, of creating room within me for the truth of who I really am. Beyond my losses, my beliefs and my conditioning, I am. Unique, beautiful – a perfect expression of love in human form. And I could breathe again! I could relax! I could laugh! It all came to a crisp clarity, a present moment abundance that has only grown with time and practice.
But Isha’s work is far from done. Staffed by her team of devoted teachers and supported by a network of hundreds of facilitators, her educational foundation is sharing the message of peace with teachers and school administrators across South America, showing them how to heal themselves and their lives. The result? A deep evolution in the way we treat and raise our children. When I heal myself, I heal the world. When a teacher heals herself? She heals a million worlds. When I am at peace with myself, there is space inside me to delight in uniqueness, beauty, joy. And what are children if not that? Aren’t we all that – before the fears of our societies and experiences penetrate our core?
But what if children learned at a young age that inner upkeep was important – that loving ourselves was as essential as all the outward goals and achievements we are so commonly prodded to complete. What if their teachers showed them this by example? What if it really was possible to change the world. What if the world was already changing?
Ultimately, this is the message I want to leave you with today, because I think it’s so important. I think it’s absolutely essential that you know about the work Isha is doubt and that a great movement for true peace, inner peace – the only kind that truly exists – is already well underway. We are what we choose, says Isha, so choose for the love.
Please check out the great work of the Isha foundation and be the change within and without.
All my love,
Matthew Schmidt is an Isha Judd System facilitator living in Vancouver, BC.
Isha Judd is an Australian humanitarian whose system for inner peace is transforming the lives of millions of people around the world. After living a life of extreme contrast, pain and loss, Isha underwent a deep inner process to transcend her fears and limitations and to establish a permanent inner experience of love, peace and freedom. Through her international educational foundation, she now shares her system all over the world, most notably in some of the highest risk parts of society, teaching people how to live in oneness and peace regardless of their circumstances. In 2014, Isha was invited to the United Nations headquarters in New York to speak about her revolutionary vision of education, globalization and sustainable development.
“There is nothing more fulfilling than unconditional love of self, and when we experience it, we can extend that love to every aspect of creation. When we love ourselves unconditionally, all fear disappears, and we experience union with everything. This isn’t a subtle experience; it’s absolute. It is the greatest thing that can happen to any human.”
What is it about her message that reaches beyond all differences, moving so many irrespective of their nationality, age or creed
Isha’s presence reaches beyond the intellect to touch the heart. Her dry sense of humor and down-to-earth personality make her profound wisdom all the more impacting, her words resonating deep within the observer.
Born in Australia, where she lived a wide spectrum of human experiences that shook her structures from the very beginning, Isha was motivated to push the boundaries of life to the limit. After learning of her adoption at a very early age, she found solace in the company of animals. Her great love for horses would eventually lead her to a fulfilling career as a racehorse breaker and trainer. After great personal losses, she developed another facet, as a singer-songwriter of soft rock. But her inner journey was motivated by something greater than external success: by the yearning to break free from the fears that still held her prisoner.
“Although I presented myself as someone who was successful and self assured, deep inside I was increasingly aware that this was just a social pretence. The face I showed to the world around me denied the profound fear of abandonment that shadowed this image.”
Isha began to dive deep within herself, searching for that which she had always desired. Although she did not know exactly what she was looking for, a voice whispered to her, “It’s time to wake up. It’s time to wake up.” Guided by an inner conviction that seemed to speak to her from her heart, Isha integrated a series of components that began bringing her back home to herself, taking her beyond the confusions and preoccupations of the intellect, into an internal state of increasing peace and fullness. As she continued expanding this internal experience, she left behind her addictions, attachments and fears, until reaching enlightenment: the awakening she had so yearned for.
So it was that this experience, often considered in our culture to be almost impossible to achieve – only for the chosen few, and only after many years of abstinence and disconnection from society – today emanates from an impacting, moving being, who is at the same time grounded and modern; someone who lives in the world, not distanced from it.
How can we feel that peace, that wellbeing, in a world of increasing uncertainty and change? Isha assures us that it is absolutely possible, and that it can happen in our own lives: her experience serves as a vibrant example of what we are all capable of achieving. Also, her system has no beliefs. It is not a religion, yet neither does it go against any. Maybe this is why amongst others, she has taught nuns, rabbis and priests, as well as atheists, skeptics and modernists: she quenches a thirst that every human shares, and that unites us beyond all apparent differences: the search for love.
Isha Judd travels constantly, sharing her message with those that are looking for change. The author of several books, Isha has established expansion of consciousness Centers in both Uruguay and Mexico. Many of her students and many seekers from all over the world come to her centers to take a vacation with themselves. These perfect environments are dedicated to helping practitioners of the Isha System deepen their process of internal growth and self-discovery. Isha lives in Uruguay with a team of educators trained in her System, and with a multitude of animals.
In order to help her share her message and her System with those that desire it most, Isha established a constantly diversifying and evolving foundation aimed at reaching the places that need it most. By visiting jails, homes for abandoned children, hospitals and low income communities, this foundation takes Isha Judd´s system to every corner of society.
Isha’s simple tool is being used to eradicate the stress and traumas of an increasing number of individuals; as a consequence, these people are learning to enhance the quality of their lives significantly, as well as the lives of their closest friends and family members and their local communities. In simple words, Isha Judd is teaching people to love themselves.
“We all know we have to love others, but how can I really love someone if I am not capable of loving myself? Self-love is not selfish or arrogant, it is the foundation of a healthy and complete relationship with life and the world”.
This is Isha Judd´s vision of a world united in Peace.