A New Level of Healing

I’ve always enjoyed looking for life coaching challenges out on the fringes of human experience, and I’ve always been optimistic about what coaching can do for people. This last month I reached new levels on both these counts. After spending several glorious days watching the wildebeest on land that was once “healed” by the same Team members I met in South Africa, I found myself in Rwanda, wandering through the genocide memorial and looking into thousands of the saddest faces I have ever seen. I am not easily daunted, but from a life coaching perspective, Rwanda officially daunted me.

In the most densely populated country in Africa, I don’t remember seeing a single happy face. The genocide might as well have happened yesterday. As someone whose corporate mission statement is “to eliminate unnecessary suffering” I didn’t feel I could take this lying down. I’ve left Rwanda, but Rwanda has not left me. As I’ve reached deeper than ever before to think of methods that could heal such horrible wounds, I’ve been growing as a coach by leaps and bounds.

Like the magical helpers in the classic hero’s saga, some truly blessed things arrived to help me as I considered Rwanda’s plight. First and foremost was the presence of three awesome coaches: Ashley Jansen, Susan Baghdadi, and Cindy Leech. These incredible women maintained such a tangible level of calm and love that I came to believe we could, in time, begin to heal even the darkest wounds humans have inflicted on each other. Another was a wonderful family who invited me into their home and allowed me to participate in their calm, loving, completely untroubled daily lives. The family consisted of one silverback male, two ladies who could have ripped off my arms, and several small, extremely furry babies. Standing and watching wild mountain gorillas, looking out through a forest similar to the movie Avatar, I could feel that wherever love for nature and for other beings arises, all things begin to heal.

Before we left Africa, the other coaches and I were already dreaming up an intensive “life coaching pellet” which could be taught to health care providers anywhere in the third world and left to ripple outward into the population at large. We’re already hard at work on this new life coaching product. I am up at night scheming for a way to get back to the most difficult place I have ever been.

Passion can take you to some frightening places. It can leave you facing seemingly insoluble problems. But it also brings friends, magical experiences and a range of understanding that just continues to increase. The world needs you to follow your passion – NOW!

23 replies
  1. Marie Miller
    Marie Miller says:

    Dear Martha,

    I would love it if you could answer this in your video blog:

    What do you do when your passion leads you to something that seems very harmful to you?

    I fell in love with Nepal ten years ago. I would love to be spending much time in this magical place. However, Nepal has been in the middle of a violent civil war, I believe their turbulence will continue for many years. Also I am 50, have no savings/retirement, no family to take care of me when I’m old and this fourth poorest country in the world isn’t a place to start saving for upcoming elder years.

    I love and want to take care of myself. I haven’t followed this passion because I feel it could be physically dangerous at times, emotionally tumultous and just plain bad for me since I need to take care of myself in my upcoming elder years. Also, just living part there, just having a toe in or being half committed to two places / people / lives, doesn’t feel healthy to me either.

    Still, Nepal harks at me. The minute anything about Nepal crosses my path, I feel as if I just came across a photo of a departed loved one.

    I’m torn between a love and protecting and taking care of myself.


    • Diane
      Diane says:

      Life is short. Go to Nepal,if your heart is pulling you there. Logical thinking isn’t always the best way to truly live your authentic life!
      Just go.
      Tell us what happens next!
      Diane E.

  2. Susan
    Susan says:

    Martha & company: Thank you for taking on the challenge of helping to heal Rwandans, daunting though it be– I wish you wings in your endeavor!

    Also I wish that in this situation you could share the benefit of Emergency Trauma Solution from Perelandra-ltd.com. Even science now knows that our bodies use complex electrical patterns– and I’ve learned that in traumatic situations (physical or emotional) some of our electrical patterns are often blown, or short-circuit. We’ve probably all experienced this through some degree of being “in shock”. This ETS product I mention holds electrical patterns that our bodies can use for speedy, efficient repairs– you may need to experience it for yourself to recognise how powerfully effective is it! Of course it sounds off-the-wall to most, so a little background: Machaelle Small Wright, founder of Perelandra, Nature Research Center in Virginia (and author of several fascinating memoirs, starting with “Behaving as if the God in all Life Matters”) worked directly with Nature Intelligence to develop it (among other things). It’s very easy to use for people, and with some self-education, a similar product and other processes can be used to help heal the land as well– as I’m sure the land itself in Rwanda is saturated with pain. Check it out!

  3. dawn kotzer
    dawn kotzer says:

    I’m one of those Canadians who loves to listen to CBC Radio. I remember the overwhelming feelings sweeping through me as I listened to one interview after another brought to light by Canadian journalists in the early days of the Rwandan genocide. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Each new story, new plea for assistance brought a fresh wave of gut wrenching shock and tears. Standing in the kitchen, weeping into my sink full or soapy hot water, attempting to do the dishes, the water would be cold and I would be wrung out by the end of each interview. The worst interviews…or best, depending upon CBC’s goal, was listening to Major Romeo Dallaire…I was stunned. I listened to this man reveal aspects of horror raining down upon the Rwandans…what did he mean…’noboby wanted to believe him.’
    I am not surprised that there is so little joy to be seen. Commander Dallaire, who defied UN orders to withdraw from Rwanda, suffered numerous breakdowns and health crises himself in his attempts to find some help for this atrocity…800,000 deaths later, I believe the world started listening… How can it be for those who had to live through the slaughter…and it was just that…a slaughter. Martha, your story fills me deeply profound appreciation for what you hope to do but oh, all these years later; just reading your post and I can still feel fear rising up within me for the plight of this country. If anyone wants to know more about the genocide, please watch Commander Dallaire’s story..’Shake Hands with the Devil” Directed by Roger Spottiswoode. Starring Roy Dupuis, James Gallanders, Jean-Hugues Anglade. The story of General Romeo Dallaire’s frustrated efforts to stop the madness of the Rwandan Genocide, despite the complete indifference of …www.imdb.com/title/tt0472562/ Thanks for your courage in this, Martha and Ashely, Susan, Cindy. This is huge. You have my heart on this one.

  4. Terri Wingham
    Terri Wingham says:

    Martha – I love this post. It is especially poignant for me as I am a Canadian sitting in Heathrow Airport about to board my flight to South Africa. I am heading overseas for 10 weeks of volunteering and traveling. After getting diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30, I finally understand how precious life is. Now, that the worst is behind me, I have quit my job and am headed overseas to spend time serving others and experiencing the wonder of Africa. Life is short, the world is big and the problems of the Third World are overwhelming. But, there is healing to be found everywhere and I know I will get so much more of this experience than I could possible give! I look forward to hearing how you continue to heal others with your stories and advice. All the best and keep the great posts coming!

  5. Simone Dale
    Simone Dale says:

    Dear Martha, this is exactly what we need! I work for an NGO working towards environmental and social change. One of our initiatives ‘Sustainable C
    ommunities’ works with over 4000 individuals, helping them improve their livelihoods. We teach people to grow indigenous trees which they then trade back for food, clothes, bicycles, education, building materials and other goods. They are also rewarded with environmental excusions. I want to lift this amazing project another level by providing these ‘tree-preneurs’ with the kind of life guidance you’ve given me over the years through your books and columns! But it requires a new language, a different form of communication to how your other teaching is structured. I chatted to Boyd Varty about it recently (we met over another conservation initiative) and he mentioned that you were working on this – I am determined to find a progamme that works! I would really love to discuss this further with you. Please contact me on +27 82 421 4418 or on my e-mail above. I would love to work together with your team on developing a program of this nature. Find out more about the programme on our website. Thanks you for all the incredible work you do! Simone Dale, Wildlands Conservation Trust, South Africa.

  6. Terry Doland
    Terry Doland says:

    Martha Beck, you are one of my heroines. I am a poster woman for your process. Thank You.

    I am applying for the Peace Corps and read a lot of developing world stories and information. One was the book Tell Them You’re One of Them. The 5 stories are told from a child’s point of view, in one, a Rwandan child during the genocide. Powerful. What can I or anyone do to help heal this? was one of my reactions.

    I have no idea where I may be assigned, or if I will even “pass muster” for the Peace Corps, but this is a place, the Peace Corps, where your “life coaching pellet” could be useful, for both the PCVolunteer and the villages and people they are there to help. Where ever they are, even in Eastern Europe, Asia or Latin America, as well as Africa.

  7. Manal
    Manal says:

    Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    I, too, have dreamed of helping overseas, specifically in Africa. I believe EFT/meridian psychotherapy will be the future. It is easy, free, and very, very effective.

    I have 4 little ones right now, so I’m holding off on a big trip there just yet, but I hope to spread the word, because we have to give whatever we have. Collectively we can ease human suffering and leave the world better than we left it, for the generations to come. And I am so passionate about that.

    Lovely post, thank you again.

  8. Becky
    Becky says:

    Hi Martha,

    Thank you for your message, I so needed to hear that today. Love hearing about the life coaching pellet for health care workers…just plain awesome.
    I am always so moved by your words and your voice. Thank you for doing your work and reminding me that I need to continue to do mine.

    With warmest gratitude,

  9. James Vernon
    James Vernon says:

    Dear Martha,
    Previous posters have mentioned ETS and EFT.
    In terms of your required coaching pellet, the energy interventions such as these are one extremely effective way to go.
    Please Google “Emotional Freedom Technique”, an offshoot of this is SET or “Simple Energy Technique”.
    What sounds similar to ETS is TRE “Trauma Release Exercise” and then of course there is “BodyTalk”
    All are easy to learn with truly amazing results.
    Be well.

  10. Iwacu
    Iwacu says:

    Hello Martha,
    I just love love to read your work.
    You have helped me naviguate through my entangled emotional “stuff”.
    I read your book “finding your own North Star” and many (all?) of your articles on Oprah.com..
    I love the sense of humour you use when explaining things..lightens things up while making a lot of sense to me…lol!
    I read this article with special interest because it talks about my region of origin and somewhat my personal experience.

    I’m from Burundi (south of Rwanda).now living in Canada.
    ( and on a side note, I’m gay!)

    I was working for the World Food Program (WFP) at the time of the genocide in 1994 as a radio-operator (monitoring food trucks convoys in the region by radio), so some of the craziness was live on radio for me….even if at that time I couldn’t grasp the full extent/magnitude of the horror…Also, in Burundi we were experiencing a similar situation on a bit smaller scale…

    My point here is to say that life coaching is imperative in the region. It should ABSOLUTELY be taken seriously as is basic health-care because the emotional wounds run deep. I know for a fact that when people are struggling to put food on the table ..the emotional well-being is not a priority!

    I personaly be able to help in healing.

    Bravo for the project!

    Much love

  11. Stacey Moore
    Stacey Moore says:

    OMG Martha, My name is Stacey Moore, I’ve followed you through the O magazine for a few years now. I would read your column, feel transformed on a very personal level but in just a short while I would forget the transformation and return to business as usual until the next issue of O arrived and we would start again. Recently, I felt compelled to find you away from O. I found your website and WOW! You have a voice that is really and truly healing to my heart. Your truth is so welcome to reside in me. I have looked and read a lot of coach’s blogs and books but your voice is the one I can hear long after I look away from the monitor. Thank you for your passionate life. Thank you for your strength and your courage and thank you for your bountiful advice. I hope that one day on some level, I will prove to be the blessing and inspiration to others that you are to me. Live Long & Rock On you amazing Human Being.

  12. Ken Jaques
    Ken Jaques says:


    I love this post. I have been a regular reader and follower since I was introduced to you on one of Lissa Rankin’s teleconferences. I have long felt part of the Team, and while my story does not involve Rwanda, it’s a lot closer to home. I continue to be amazed at how little the large organizations in both the health care system and the food supply systems care about the people they serve. Their interests are far more about the financial rewards, and the side effects on society continue to be disastrous. I’m all in for making a difference and following this passion. I even think I’ll meet you one day :).

    Thanks for the post.

  13. Heba Essa
    Heba Essa says:

    Dear Martha,

    I am so glad you started to think about the third world. You see I live there, in Egypt to be specific. and I have been envying people who live in America and Canada for having access to people like you and Oprah.

    It really baffles me every time I try to apply what you say to the people living in my area. and I agree it can be daunting sometimes, but with the right amount of Love, it can heal every wound.

    I cannot wait to see your next project in the third world, I am very excited that my prayers has been answered finally 🙂

  14. Wade
    Wade says:

    As always, it is an inspiration to hear where you are along your journey. It motivates me to know that as awakened as you are, there is still more growth to come for you. In 2011 when I came across some of your work, I was homeless and addicted to drugs. Yet immediately I was magnetized to your every word. Even injecting drugs I would crave more of everything you had to say. Eventually an article you wrote convinced me to attend a 12-Step meeting. It was still a struggle of over a year but I’m now a part of that fellowship and am grateful to say that I have put together some clean time. And still, I turn to your work for guidance, wisdom and hope.
    “Finding Your Own North Star” was your first book that I ordered when I finally had a roof over my head, after over a year of reading bits and pieces that I could find on the internet. That book changed my life. You are now one of my generalized “other” spoken of throughout the book. Whenever I make a decision that is true to my essential self, I ask myself “What would Martha say? Would she approve?”
    Sure enough, you always approve of me moving in the direction of my North Star.
    I’ve now started college and in less than one semester have become a part of the Honors program as well as the Honors Society, and my sights are only being set higher. I am writing an analysis of your work for a final exam in my Composition course.
    My passion is leading me to educate myself about South Africa, particularly the education of girls in South Africa. So much of my research is geared to that end. I have already been reading the work of professors at Universities that I intend on applying to, who have done work focused on international development, women’s rights in Africa, education in South Africa and so forth.
    When I finish my undergraduate education I intend on traveling there to educate girls.
    I cannot put into words how much your work has changed my life. It was hearing your words back when my life had no hope that awoken me to the fact that there is more to life than what I was aware of.
    I hope one day to be able to attend your events in person, but until then keep being you and keep doing what you do because the world needs it. I need it!

  15. Stacey
    Stacey says:


    What a blessed and beautiful experience. If you haven’t heard of “promotoras” along the border of US/Mexico and in Mexico, you might research them a tiny bit. It is basically the same concept but usually built around health education, teaching people who are in the community about life coaching/health coaching.

    It is always amazing to me how wise people are when you let them really lead their own communities and the promotora concept helps educate unofficial community leaders to really dig in deep with people and do the work. The thought of life coaching to really heal these deep community and individual wounds with local folks leading the way sounds incredibly powerful and a great combination of resources that will be positioned to make a deep and lasting difference.

    Can’t wait to hear more about it!


  16. Ute Devika Meinel
    Ute Devika Meinel says:

    Hi Martha,

    am so glad you are taking up such daunting tasks in deeply troubling places. After reading this I am extremely curious to see what you will come up with, feel grateful for your inspiring accounts and feel that in contrast to that Egypt is a gorgeous place to live.
    I live in Cairo – which I feel is a fascinating Megalopolis on the African continent – and following the revolution 3 years ago, the amount of people who are still smiling or laughing has very much decreased.
    I am a Coach and teacher of Laughter Yoga and spreading laughter again in this country is my passion and mission. Seems very daunting at times. That’s why I am so happy to know that part of the team is out there developing tools to heal the darker places of the forgotten continent.
    Much love and laughter your direction

  17. sofia Kifle
    sofia Kifle says:

    Hi Martha,

    This is an amazing and brilliant idea. It is commendable and noble. I am excited to hear what you are going to come up with.I have been a follower of your blog.Thank you for sharing your experience and perspective of Rwanda.

    Best wishes

  18. Diane
    Diane says:

    Dear Martha,
    I adore you. I’ve been following you for years and when I can ,I want desperately to take your Coaching Course. It fits me and my animal loving self. I too want to help heal the world,as I start with home ,family, and friends.
    A coaching pellet … I like it. I’m a retired Special Education teacher of 35 years. If you can use me ,let me know.
    With deep gratitude,
    Diane E.

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