In eight minutes or so, JD Messinger quickly recounts a story of his life.
Actually, it is the story of his life.
He lived it. He knows what happened. He was there when his neck broke, he collapsed, and he left his body. He believes he returned from the brink for a reason. His is a story, he believes, that will change your life.
He was broken, he says, but became healed.
“There’s so much energy in our bodies,” Messinger said during a recent talk to members and volunteers with Think B.I.G. Kauai.
“If you could split the molecules, it would blow up the state of Hawaii. That’s how much energy we are. We are just energy. Aloha. Breath. All the energy in our body doesn’t come from our body. We are energy, which is life.”
People, he says, have the ability to improve their health. It doesn’t have to be through drugs and surgery. But it’s not easy.
“I was on pills. I know how hard that is,” he said. “I just want you to know there is hope.”
Messinger is the author of “11 Days in May: The Conversation That Will Change Your Life.” Today, he lives in Texas with his wife and children, and speaks at engagements around the country on his experience.
Here is what he said during his stop in Kauai.
It was in 1985, while a nuclear submarine officer with the Navy and working in a shipyard in Virginia, a boom struck him and snapped his neck. It crushed vertebrae and he was in traction. That was just the beginning.
For the next 15 years, he said his neck degenerated, but he continued working.
“My neck started to fall apart. I turned to pain pills, I just ignored it,” he said.
His career included being a CEO of Ernst & Young Consulting, Singapore, a United States Naval Academy graduate, a former nuclear submarine officer, television and radio show creator, producer and host, and the Exxon executive who helped supervise the Valdez Oil spill cleanup.
He is the recipient of numerous corporate and national presidential awards, and his position papers have been distributed to three U.S. presidential candidates and dignitaries around the world, according to his website.
“Just remember that energy is my area of expertise,” he said.
In early 2000, he said the pain was unbearable.
“I was in so much pain, I was popping an entire bottle of pain pills every three days,” he said.
“By January 2000, I am completely unaware of the fact that I have lost all strength in my left arm to the point where I can barely lift one pound. Months ago, I started to take a Motrin every once in awhile but by now I am popping 800 milligrams of Motrin every hour like it’s candy,” he wrote. “It only takes me four days to suck down a bottle of 100 of those deceptive cherries. But God, the universe, or whoever is in charge is about to intervene.”
One morning he stood up, walked into the bathroom, and stretched his arms in the air. Bad idea.
“The last thing that was holding my neck together, popped,” he said.
His vertebrae shattered, his spinal column twisted.
“As you all know, that pain, it’s indescribable,” he said. “In my case, it was like someone was trying to split me in half with an axe.”
He staggered and screamed.
“All of the sudden, I was over here. I left my body. I watched it collapse like a rag doll, like somebody just pulled the plug. I plopped on the ground.”
Here is how he describes it:
“I am floating above, watching my wife trying to catch my body as I – perhaps I should say ‘it’– is collapsing. Its head hits the corner of the bedroom dresser then it (my body) flops down to the floor like a rag doll. This out-of-body feature is either a marvelous defense mechanism and I should thank the architect who designed this interesting but little-known feature or … I am dead. I look for the tunnel and the light but I don’t see it, there is just Raggedy Andy and Marianne and the essence of me, so I figure I am not dead.
“Once again I have evaded the Grim Reaper and now I am on autopilot and like the space shuttle conducting a reentry, I return to my body. As I am writhing around on the floor, again twitching like the headless chicken, I beg my wife to give me some pain pills. She kindly obliges and shoves a few into my mouth and calls the ambulance, which takes me to Mount Elizabeth Hospital.”
During surgery, doctors removed a bone from his hip and inserted it in his spine. For months, Messinger was left in pain, spending days staring at the ceiling of his room, struggling to move on his own.
The recovery was agonizing and slow. Depression set in.
Conversations with his son, and father-in-law, about what’s important, about believing, helped him gain new perspective and fueled his recovery. Walk a minute a day. Then two minutes. Walk around the block. Regain use of arms and legs. No more braces.
His experience opened his mind, he said.
“I had learned a lesson and I could not get it out of my head. The coconut between my ears had been split and the husks pulled away and now I could see and I did not like what I saw. I had become nothing more than my job,” he wrote. “It was my complete existence. Get more promotions, make more money, buy more things and maximize the 401(k)-retirement treasure chest, and I did it masterfully, I was successful. Isn’t that wonderful? In the process I had lost touch with my family, my faith, the community and every other realm of existence save the one, work. Somewhere along the path of life I had become lost. I was reminded of something that I learned a long time ago but had forgotten: money and success does not bring happiness or satisfaction, only gratification. Watches can be replaced, loved ones can’t. I began a search to find happiness and fulfillment. I did not know at the time that the search would last almost eight years.”
He spent the following years researching spiritual and healing practices. He studied acupuncture, herbal medicine and teas. He learned all he could about massage, yoga, and energy healers.
And he got better.
Later, doctors compared before and after MRIs of his neck. His vertebrae, he said, had regenerated.
“What have you been doing?” the doctor said.
“He called it a miracle,” Messinger said.
His journey led him to write his ebook over the course of eleven days in May 2012, hence the title 11 Days in May.
“I was inspired to create a total immersion experience,” says Messinger. “What that meant I wasn’t exactly sure, I just knew that I needed to somehow make 11 Days in May not just an engaging book, but an interactive story.”
Those listening, applauded.
“I believe it’s awesome and very true,” said Eric Lazar of Kola, who was paralyzed 10 years ago in a dirt bike accident.
Laura Mission, who has been battling a brain tumor, said she found his speech, “wonderful.”
“I believe we can heal ourselves,” she said.
Messinger urges people not to limit themselves in their thoughts. He asks they detach from known beliefs and surrender human addictions.
They may find more than they thought possible of themselves.
Messinger says he did.
“My mantra became a quote from the late Albert Einstein who once said, ‘I want to know God’s thoughts. The rest are details.’”