A heart-to-heart chat with guru of relationships

My Canterbury Tale, by Lowri Stafford

LOVE guru Jan Day's life has been nothing if not eventful. The Oxfordeducated 55-year-old gave up a career as a Shell scientist to travel the world talking about relationships. But it wasn't all plain sailing for the intimacy expert who, as a rebellious teen, married her sweetheart only to discover his plans for a sex-change operation.
Jan, a keen conservationist with a penchant for morris dancing, ended up in New Mexico before settling in Faversham with her second husband. When that relationship broke down she moved to Germany, Switzerland and Hawaii before finding happiness with husband number three, Frieder, 50.
She told Lowri Stafford her story over a cuppa at her home in Mount Pleasant, Blean

Your first husband was a transsexual? Yes, we married when I was 17 but I left him after three years because he wanted a sex change. I was still a virgin when I left him, which says a lot. At first I thought I'd hit the jackpot because I'd never have to have sex!

Your ideas have changed? Back then I saw sex as bad and wrong. I needed to heal that and learn to love my sexuality

How do you view sex now? Sex can open you to God; it can be ecstatic and joyful. For too many women it is a chore. A lot of my work is about linking sex to the heart.

You were a boffin? I moved to Kent when I was 19 and worked as a chemistry technician at a pharmaceutical centre in Beckenham. Then I worked for Shell Research in Sittingbourne for 15 years doing agricultural research. I was developing additives to make diesel engines run cleaner.

How did you get into spirituality? It began at university. I started yoga and joined a meditation group at Oxford, which is where I was introduced to the work of Indian mystic Osho, formerly known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. I wanted to become his disciple and joined a Rajneesh community in Bury St Edmunds. It was all about sex, meditation and rock and roll.

Then? I joined another Rajneesh community in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for three years and ran a hotel. I even started a morris dancing side there; the Americans were fascinated by it.

You married again? I met my second husband, Patrick, there. He was from Albequerque. We decided to move back to the UK to start a family and bought a house in Nightingale Road, Faversham.

What happened? I became pregnant but lost the baby at 16 weeks. I was devastated, and the marriage broke down. It was a terrible time, a real crisis in my life.

How did you cope? I started group therapy work to deal with my depression and attended an Art of Being workshop in Belgium. Meditation helped me get out of that dark place where I couldn't stop crying

Then what? I went to Hawaii for a three-week holiday but overslept and missed my plane home. I was allowed to help with the Art of Being workshops there. At the same time Shell offered me voluntary redundancy. It worked out well. I stayed for 15 years and also visited Switzerland to organise workshops.

You married again? Frieder and I were both taking part in a workshop and fell in love. It happened right after I presented a powerful and life-changing workshop. We are now in our tenth year of marriage and extremely happy

Where did you marry? In Hawaii. We lived in the house Frieder built. I learnt to love myself as a woman and a sexual being and how to love others and be in an enduring relationship. It was incredible journey that I now want to share.

Where is Frieder from? He is from Cologne, Germany. He was a Protestant minister but trying to find a spiritual connection to God. He ended up finding it in the workshops. Now he works with me.

What have you learnt about relationships? Love is there for so many couples but other things get in the way. The love needs to be uncovered again. It means facing up to who you are.

What do you do in a workshop? There is a lot of meditation and exercises in touching, working with boundaries and engaging with each other. It can also involve drawing, dance and mime. I work with couples, groups and individuals who can meet other singles in an authentic environment.

What do you enjoy about your job? I love watching people's lives turn from being painful and unsatisfying to being fulfilling and engaged. It helped me, which is why I am so passionate about it. I could ear n more money as a chemist for Shell but this is my passion.

Where did you grow up? East Molesey, Surrey. I spent my childhood running around Hampton Court maze, where my neighbour worked as a guard.

Any hobbies? Morris dancing. I was a member of Canterbury's Oyster Morris side. I was always excited by the bells. They lifted my spirits.

Why do you now live in Blean? I was a member of the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, and spent a lot of time in Blean Woods in my twenties, hedge-laying, coppicing and doing all the things that keep the woodland working. Something drew me back here later in my life. It felt like home being surrounded by the countryside.

Jan's next workshop, Meetings Without Masks, is at Highfield House, Canterbury, on Friday, June 22. For more information, visit www.janday.com

Opening to love is the power that transforms lives ...
"This has been an experience of being more truthfully myself. I've learned what love is, love for myself and love for others" Jemma