The secret of a happy, fulfilling life is elusive in our hurry-up-and-wait, type-A personality society.
Niagara Falls native Christian Fisher, however, has cracked the code and wants to help others on their road to self-discovery.
Fisher describes "The Secret Nature Within You," published by his fledgling company, Journey of Life Productions, as a book and audio program designed "to put you in touch with the life healing power of love, silence and self-discovery."
If you are old enough to remember the Summer of Love, the Beatles' fascination with Eastern religions, hippies and gurus, Fisher assures you early in the audio version of his work that the '60s are over and are not what he is aiming at.
While he targets the twenty- and thirty-something generation, he balks at labeling his work "New Age" and assures listeners his approach can work for anyone with an open mind, regardless of age or background.
"I've been in the health-and-wellness field in Western New York since '95," the 27-year-old author said. "And I think there's a lot of people in the older generation who are critical, since I don't have a Ph.D. and a lot of hospital and counseling background. But the tools I write about and explore are basically universal."
Any adult, he contends, can grasp the concepts of inner strength and self-discovery.
"There's a lot of people in the New Age field who have given work like mine a bad name," he said. "I don't want to be considered that way. I'm more or less working at real life."
Fisher's personal stories permeate "The Secret Nature Within You."
Two events in his life, he said, have had a profound affect on him, leading him to read, study and meditate to find out more about himself and his secret nature.
Just short of his 18th birthday, Fisher found himself behind bars. While he won't go into great detail, he says on his first "Secret Nature" tape that "my journey started in a jail cell nine years ago."
"One unruly night got me locked up for 24 hours," he says on the tape. "This was a time in my life when my life was ruled by violence, drugs, alcohol and a relentless depression. This one night was my first time ever arrested. Sitting in that jail cell brought me face to face with the reality of where I was heading with my life. I asked myself some serious questions -- Who am I? Why am I alive? How can I change my life?"
In an interview, Fisher described his brief incarceration as the straw that broke the camel's back. Soon, he said, he began to turn his life around through study and meditation until, four years later, disaster struck his family when his younger brother committed suicide.
Fisher recounts how, at 13, his brother left the family home during the night and threw himself off the cliffs above the Niagara River.
Fisher was among the family members who found his broken body. His newfound philosophy was shaken to the core at the loss of his sibling, but he stayed focused and within a year had accepted his brother's death, making it a part of his life's journey.
"From that moment on, my life went into a tailspin. Everything I felt I knew about growth shattered. How could I feel life couldn't get any better when my little brother felt life couldn't get any worse? In time, I did learn and heal. One of the valuable lessons I took from Jason's death I learned that the time is now to build relationships with our loved ones and with ourselves," Fisher says on tape.
"The Secret Nature Within You" offers five tools for living more naturally and reaching the potential Fisher says is locked away in all of us. He suggests using nature as a living meditation by really seeing and experiencing such things as a warm bath or a crackling fire.
He also suggests experiencing music -- not simply using it as background noise -- and puts personal meditation space high on his list. He has meditated daily since his jail experience.
The program emphasizes the importance of ritual in daily life and maintains it can be found in even such mundane activities as mowing the lawn or making the bed.
Gratitude, according to Fisher's program, also can bring a person closer to self-discovery. Anything inspiring genuine gratitude should be acknowledged, it says, even the simplest daily pleasures such as a stranger's smile or a cool breeze on a warm afternoon.
Study, Fisher says, helps in discovering a person's silent or secret nature. He advocates choosing something of interest and reading or researching it for at least 30 minutes each day. He credits study with playing a major role in his self-development.
"My only real mentors were books," he explained. "I started reading and became aware of things like meditation. I started to meditate every day, and then I started to read everyday. It just became my habit."
Much of this may sound like common sense, but Fisher discounts that as too simplistic.
"For a lot of people, it's not such common sense," he said. "It may be so common that it's forgotten or taken for granted. Sometimes people need to have a light shined on something for them so they can think about it again, so they can get back to it."
In his book-tape program and on his World Wide Web site, Fisher says his work has helped people triumph over "their personal challenges with depression, relationship failures, violence, drug abuse, even cancer."
"The Secret Nature Within You" is available at Earl Brydges Public Library in Niagara Falls or can be purchased for $11.95 for the book or $16.95 for the audio cassettes through Journey of Life Productions, 521 Rainbow Blvd., Suite 3, Niagara Falls 14303. More information can be found at: