Raphael Sikwane makes a startling statement.
“Within the Black society, we tend to be emotionally illiterate,” he says. “We lack emotional education.”
In his previous incarnation, as an opposition politician, political correctness would not have allowed him to make such a statement with potential to offend prospective voters. Having shed the political cloak, Sikwane is now what is called a mind power consultant.
The story of his rebirth goes back nine years when he developed interest in self-help books. In that period, he avers to have read over 500 books on the subject. Having amassed all the knowledge from various writers, the challenge was what to do with it.
Consultancy seemed the most obvious way to go. Before taking the first steps in that direction, he got himself attached to various mind power consultants in South Africa. After nine months, he was confident enough that he could now open his own consultancy.
He holds his consultancy to be unique in at least one feature ÔÇô emotional counselling, which he finds overlooked by most other trainers who teach mind power development.
“The history of human relations is the history of human emotions,” he explains his emphasis on emotional counselling. “We relate because we share common emotions; we go to war because we are angry or we hate each other. That’s why we emphasise that negative emotions such as anger, fear, and resentment, are inner barriers to success. If you are an angry person, you create so many enemies, so much tension, and [so much] stress. Negative emotions sabotage a lot of our success efforts without our realizing it.”
He points out that the negative emotions are a source of stress because they eat up vital energy that could be put to better use.
“If you are driven by negative emotions, very soon you will be tired because they eat your energy…They eat up your vitality, and you won’t be motivated for a long time. Under such circumstances, anybody’s level of performance, at best, can only be mediocre. In relationships, both at home and work, negative emotions always generate conflicts. In such instances, it’s very difficult to talk of teamwork because the work environment is always tense. Those emotions don’t unite people.
“On the health front, close to 80 percent of diseases, outside HIV/AIDS, are caused by negative emotions. Negative patterns lower the level of immune system to a point where ordinary viruses would kill you,” Sikwane says.
He mentions heart complications, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer as stress-induced. He cites muscle tensions and stiffness as some signs of stress. As a result, blood vessels of a stressed individual thin in, thus blood is pumped with increased force, often leading to complications such as high blood pressure or stroke.
“By teaching people how to manage and eliminate negative emotions, we are now saying once you have eliminated them, blood vessels diameter goes back to normal size, thereby allowing the heart to pump naturally without any restrictions. Emotional counselling helps eliminate negative patterns, and to develop and grow and anchor positive emotions such as confidence, calmness, peace of mind, clarity of thought, and integrity,” Sikwane says. “These positive emotions are natural values of someone who is not stressed. If your entire lifestyle is driven by those positive values, you reach optimum levels of ability and inner qualities of mind.”
If Sikwane has an obsession with overcoming negative patterns, it’s because he sees them as concrete barriers that prevent individuals from accessing the inner qualities of mind. In fact, he calls them silent saboteurs because they stand between an individual and their “unlimited potential within”.
“Mark the word ‘within’,” he says. “You can’t access within if your mind has barriers.”
He refers to himself as a good example of how mind power can transform one’s life. The emotional skills he has acquired have changed his character and lifestyle to a point where he finds himself struggling to convince people about his new way of life. He turned 65 in July, but he is surprised by his energy levels.
“I have fallen in love with the power of relaxation, breathing and meditation. The techniques have enabled me to regain my life from the world of negative energy. In the absence of stress, my levels of energy are up there. In terms of emotions, I am just a pussycat. When you are angry, I extend love and kindness to you because I know you are sick. My level of humility, compassion, and botho is so high that I love everybody,” he explains.
He recounts how the sickness of his elder brother’s son has led him to a bond with the local oncology ward. It so happened that when his nephew, who was being nursed for cancer, was admitted in the same ward, the family regularly brought him assorted fresh fruits.
“When I looked at the other patients I realised that we were withholding our gesture of love from them. I thought to myself, ‘This can’t be right. These are also God’s children, and we need to extend our love and compassion to them as well’,” he explains.
Since then, he has been back with fresh fruits for the entire ward every week, without fail, for the past nine months.
“There is nothing in life that generates fulfillment than extending a hand to help a stranger without expectation of payback,” he says.
His level of accommodation and act of reaching out transcends religious and cultural barriers. He is a Catholic who occasionally joins Muslims for prayers at the Mosque. During this year’s Ramadhan, he fasted with the Muslim friends.
Sikwane then steers the conversation to another contentious issue: crime. His assessment is that any prevention measures that bypass the power of mind are bound to fail. He calls such measures symptomatic because they only react to a symptom ÔÇô crime ÔÇô of an unstable mind that is inhabited by negative emotions. He posits that the solution lies in vigorous mind power programmes to equip individuals with positive patterns.
He extends that criticism to the health sector, which he accuses of reacting to the symptom ÔÇô illness ÔÇô without deliberate and effective prevention.
“More than 60 percent (of illnesses) are psychosomatic diseases. They are mind-induced and stress-related. The solution can only come from the mind because the health problem is caused by the mind. Anything that comes from the mind and causes physical diseases can only be cured by the mind. Drug therapy ke seritibatsi hela; you won’t be cured. If you want healing, you have to clear negative patterns. How much are we spending building health symptomatic structures, and hiring symptomatic staff? They have to wait for you to be sick (before they act)… We are not addressing the root cause, which is the mind that is in disorder,” he declares.
He has the same views with regard to the high levels of carnage on the roads. His analysis ÔÇô and on this he swears to be backed by official explanation that 90 percent of accidents are caused by human error ÔÇô is that accidents are caused by stressed minds, which results from negative emotions such as anxiety, impatience, and intolerance. He notes that people are in a hurry to reach their destinations because they are driven by these emotions. The result is that a stressed mind often fails to make a reasoned decision, which sometimes manifests itself in such uncalculated risks as attempting to overtake on a sharp curve.
There seems to be no end to social problems that Sikwane prescribes mind power solutions to. At a time when government is voicing concern about alcohol abuse, Sikwane counters that regulation is not the answer.
“Whatever measures applied to fight alcohol, if they bypass the power of the mind, they can’t win because the root cause lies in the mind that is not at peace with itself. Alcohol and substance abuse are all aimed at addressing a state of mind that is ravaged by worries and frustrations of life. People are using external stimulation to correct an internal emotional disorder. The solution is to combat negative emotions,” he says.
Now, back to that statement about Blacks. What’s its import?
“Blacks are only too happy to have a nice car, and ÔÇô sometimes ÔÇô a house. We live in knowledge-driven economy but we don’t want to read. Immediately you finish your qualification, you stop learning. The result is we immediately forget the things that qualified us for that qualification. Negative patterns depreciate the quality of our qualifications. We are so overwhelmed by paperwork and managing life at our offices and outside because our minds are too small in relation to the increasing challenges of managing life in a free enterprise system,” he says.
On the other hand, positive mind power development would lead to expanded thinking capacity, resulting in expanded personal management capacity that exceeds the challenges faced ÔÇô thus, eliminating possibility of stress.
Having spent his prime years in the stress-infested jungle that is opposition politics, I ask Sikwane if he has any regrets about earlier life decisions.
“I have a lot of regrets but I am consoled by the fact that I have regained my health. Despite losses in terms of improving my quality of life, I have an opportunity to make amends. Possibly God had arranged that (my life panning out the way it did). Now I am on an upward curve in terms of improving the quality of my life and of my family,” he says.
As we part, he hands me a promo brochure of his consultancy. My eye is caught by a quotation ascribed to him: “Men and Women are limited not by the place of their birth, not by the colour of their skin, but by the size of their minds.”