For so long I believed that I had this purpose I had to fulfil…at “all costs”. I really wanted to change the world. It kept me awake day and night and it propelled my life of action and activism.
“A great South African change-agent”, “you don’t meet John McInroy, you experience him”. A model and actor, an ultra endurance runner, head coach and international field hockey player, MBA graduate, TEDx speaker, social activist, humanitarian, social entrepreneur, founder of two global social movements – shoOops! and Unogwaja Charitable Trust, and a sought after public speaker and master of ceremonies. I was “unstoppable!”
What this does not say was how unhappy I was. How much pain I was in, and how little of this pain I could actually feel. How I used intense physical endeavours and achievements including numerous unconscious sexual connections to distract myself from having to feel and face this pain. How much I was crying out for help, but unable to cry or ask for help. How I buried my pain and my feelings so deep that I hoped they wouldn’t ever have to come to the surface.
I knew I had to change. Like fundamentally. And I tried several times in response to ongoing burn out and this constant dull numb feeling to do so, but they were always temporary superficial changes addressing the symptoms and not the source.
I simply could not conceive life or my identity without the organizations I had founded, all the achievements I had gained, the acclaim I had become accustomed to.
What would I be without them? Who would I be?
What would the organizations I started be without me?
People regularly told me how great I was. People looked to me for leadership.
I was destroying myself inside a “golden cage” I created. The door was wide open but still I couldn’t leave or didn’t know how to.
From 2012 to mid 2017 something had to give…I could no longer get it up.
To be clear erectile dysfunction or the dreaded ED for short.
Have you ever thought about how a male erection and our perceived need to be hard and to perform mirrors in the world around us?
It felt as if life without the ability to get a hard penis was not worth living. And that there was no such thing as making love or touch without penetration or ejaculation. No wonder it feels like the end of the world if a man can’t get it up and so many people suffer from this pressure to perform and be strong all the time.
All I could focus on was that it was not working…there is something wrong with me…get it to work before anyone finds out! Symptoms symptoms symptoms. I was stuck in those. And I was doing anything to avoid anyone knowing about me being boner less. Covering up. Creating more layers between me and the possible source. It was living hell.
I managed to “keep up” the illusion of my “manliness” for over 5 years until one day my home and my room was penetrated without invitation and all my communication devices stolen. Through total mental, physical and emotional breakdown I gave up and was forced into submission. And finally let go of the life that was killing me and the secret that was now too heavy to carry.
This was the greatest gift of my life. It allowed me to let go of what I thought could never let go and create space for a new more conscious way of being to emerge.
I realised that my erectile dysfunction was my body working exactly how it was meant to. It was my body’s way to get me to listen to it. To feel. To change my behaviour. To stop abusing it. To stop abusing myself. To stop abusing others. Every time I ignored it. And kept pushing harder. I violated my body. I compromised the most essential trust we can have. The trust with ourselves and our own bodies. A trust and a relationship that defines all the relationships around us without us even knowing it. If we connect to ourselves and listen and respect our own bodies, the same qualities will emerge in the relationships with all beings around us. If we violate ourselves, no matter how seemingly worthy the cause is, we violate all those around us and the cause is no longer worthy or worthwhile.
This awakened the most incredible journey of discovery, healing and transformation which is only just beginning. My entire life and well-being has changed. I never thought I would say how grateful I am my penis stopped getting hard and my room was robbed while I was sleeping in it. But I am.
My body is my greatest teacher and it was there all along.
We are not victims. We are creators of the world around us. It reflects the relationship we have with ourselves. Love yourself and love will be all around you.
It is almost like we have been creating the problems we are then trying to fix and getting accolades for doing so! We cannot fix our own problems by trying to change the world (and we can’t change the world either)! Nor can we change the world by violating ourselves or others. Let’s try to not create the problems in the first place. Philanthropy is not a means to relieve guilt or justify exploitation of another kind. The status quo will remain deeply embedded if that’s the case.
I now believe that the most effective and sustainable form of activism is not to fight against hate and injustice, it is to generate love and awareness.
We have to stop fighting for love. We have to stop fighting. We just have to love.
And it starts with ourselves.
That’s why I became a Jivamukti yoga teacher. Jivamukti yoga is a beautiful form of (spiritual) activism that supports the growth of self-love, self-awareness and compassion for all beings. I’m an 800 hour certified Jivamukti teacher having completed a 6 month apprenticeship in April 2019 at Jivamukti Jersey City, USA under the guidance of Austin Sanderson, having fortuitously met him when I was in New York City promoting Butterfly Man in 2018.
If you are here, you have either met me or someone who knows me, or something has guided you here or a digital miracle has happened! Whichever it is, “trust the stirring in your heart!”
I have been called to teach where my medicine lies and I hope, together with you, we can inspire and support more peaceful and happy humans in the world.
The ultimate kind of activist and revolutionary!
John McInroy. Prem Bodhi. Sipho Ta Sira Tsolekile. Bongi. Butterfly Man.