Second Chance at Life – Tragedy Shifts to a Humanitarian Purpose
Philippe Lacaille is a gentle and perceptive man. Born and educated in Paris, France, a former successful senior executive in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology realm, he spent most of his working life traveling the world, revamping troubled companies.
By the time Philippe was in his mid forties, the hectic lifestyle as a corporate executive lost its glimmer and this world traveler was looking for something beyond material possessions and fame. He had always been sensitive to energy and much attuned to nature and his surroundings and always wanted to help people somehow. So, upon his retirement from the corporate world, Philippe decided to listen to his own inner voice and first focused on self care. He poured his energy into his own spiritual practices, as well as reconnecting with yoga. As a form of therapy in reconnecting with nature, Philippe walked many, many miles in the beautiful forests close to his home with his faithful canine companion Cody. These walks were more than just exercise, they were helping to clear emotional baggage accumulated from many years of focusing on ‘making companies better’. Oddly enough, Phil had neglected to remember to breathe and take care of himself.
Phil’s passion for yoga led him to becomes a Kripalu yoga teacher. Coincidentally, one of the other students was a massage therapist. He received a massage from her and noticed she had amazing ‘hands’.
The experience of this massage was different from any other he encountered. The feeling of the energy and heat of her hands was like ‘coming home’. Phil was excited to learn this heat and feeling were from a modality called Reiki and he wasted no time in getting initiated in the first degree by Sharon Corey and in due course she also initiated him in second degree.
During that period, he established his clinical practice seeking to assist people in need, many of those were suffering from chronic diseases or cancer. He felt he truly made a difference in their lives and knew he had a calling to not only share Reiki with those in need, but also to teach it. In due course, Philippe was initiated as a master by Norma Jean Young. He was now in a position to offer more.
An old Chinese proverb says…give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Philippe has initiated more than 200 new Reiki students and sees an average of 1,200 people per year in his clinical practice. Most of his clinical work is done on a pro-bono basis.
On August 5, 2005, after visiting family in Europe, Philippe and his wife and 2 of their 4 children, were returning on an Air France Flight from Paris to Toronto. On landing in a severe summer storm, the plane overshot the runway by 300 metres and plunged into the nearby creek and burst into flames. The media referred to that tragedy as the ‘miracle flight’.
Philippe had felt uneasy on the flight and with bad weather conditions he began sending Reiki to the plane. After the crashing, he heard a voice that said, “What are you waiting for….Just do it’. Philippe assisted about 100 of the 309 people on board to take refuge from the fire and explosions in a truck which was parked on a service road. Thankfully, no one was killed, but needless to say this was a tragic event and would shape the rest of his life. On the tarmac, Philippe attended to the elderly and disabled with his Reiki. He was in awe to observe how quickly the energy was available to tend to these people. He didn’t think, he just went on instinct. It was some time before he realized that he had injured his back significantly. Today, he believes he recovered physically and emotionally from the trauma of this experience because of Reiki and yoga. Shortly after the crash, Philippe’s father dies and he was forced to face his own demons and travel on the same air line, on the same schedule and same flight number.
Philippe is clear that this miracle had a purpose to guide him onto a meaningful path. One month after the crash, he was inspired to open the Reiki Centre, in Aurora, north of Toronto, an integrative space that is a haven for energy work where he combines the benefits of integrative medicine (Reiki) and yoga as a multifaceted strategy to bring healing to those in need. Not only did he provide treatments and yoga classes, this was also the perfect location to teach in a dedicated space.
A journalist, who had been following the story of the crash survivors, challenged Philippe to make a difference and work with the homeless and mentally ill transients in downtown Toronto. That was six years ago, and today Philippe is still traveling to downtown Toronto twice a week. Initially he shared his Reiki with people at the Parkdale Activity and Recreation Centre (PARC) in one of the poorest areas of Toronto. His clients there present with issues of various addictions, prostitution, despair and mental illness. However, word quickly spread of the great work he was doing and not too long after, he met a social worker who asked him to teach yoga in a new venture she had started at Na-Me-Res, one of the largest native men’s shelters in Toronto.
In the beginning, he was teaching yoga to teenagers, most of them having been placed there on parole, and offering Reiki treatments to the staff as a self-care strategy to support them in performing their duties. It wasn’t long before the teens started to demand that Philippe share ‘the mind stuff’ with them. This developed into a very successful and busy weekly practice. So busy in fact, that he asked his good friend Paul, a 43 year veteran of energy work to assist him in dealing with the sheer volume of people
For some, Philippe has shown how Reiki can support their efforts in taking charge of their life.This program has evolved to a point where the management of Nameres has requested Philippe to put into place a Reiki training program for both staff and residents. As if by chance, a grant has become available for Philippe to teach Reiki First degree classes to both staff and residents. Philippe contends that by teaching people to take care of themselves, they don’t have to be dependent on him or anyone else. The training is scheduled to start in the spring of 2012.
One thing that the last few years have taught Philippe is that Reiki is more than a technique…it is a lifestyle. “You have to walk the talk.” Philippe says. When he teaches, he instills that insight with his students. It is very common for them to arrive at their first morning of a Reiki 1 workshop and comment about the serenity of the Reiki Centre. They immediately feel at ease and are nurtured by Reiki and by the calm surroundings which are dedicated to the practice and teaching of Reiki.
Philippe maintains his Reiki practice in Aurora, Ontario Canada and offers monthly Reiki circles to help his students deepen their own practice by sharing Reiki with each other It is an opportunity to answer potential questions.
After having experienced such a traumatic event in 2005, Philippe had two choices, either linger on how horrific this experience could have been and remain in that negative space, or transmute this experience into a positive insight that allowed him to stay in a optimistic frame of mind, nurtured him on his path and allowed him to share the gift of Reiki with people in need. Reiki has done just that for him.
“Who is lucky enough to experience a second chance at life?” says Philippe, “When you realize how fortunate you are, you don’t waste a moment of your life. You show gratitude daily to be alive, live in the now and share your gift with those in need, thank you Reiki!”
Philippe’s story was previously written about in an article written by Ms McDaniel that appeared in the Reiki Magazine International in December/January 2006-2007.
Donna Harris, Reiki Magazine International 2012