I have never uttered the words Namaste, but I am perfectly OK if you do.
I dislike yoga. I think there are five trillion too many books written on how to manifest your perfect material life. I am terrible at team sports, have rageful contempt for the “I want to be a famous guru” crowd and still to this day feel challenged with the walking in, but not of, this spiritual world.
As usual, I am taking the long way around to say I am not drunk on the Kool-Aid. You don’t have to be psychic to pick up on the sense that I am uncomfortable writing on this subject of spirit. I came right out of the gate telling you who I am not, as a result of this discomfort.
The fact that I have been asked to contribute my take on anything spiritual would most certainly make the 1995 version of my current 2015 self laugh in both hilarity and horror. I often feel very self-conscious giving out advice on what I have learned on this path so I am going to reframe it by writing to my younger, more troubled self.
If I could say anything to the 1995 version of myself, that self who would experience a spiritual shake-up the likes that few have seen, one that would go on to be documented in a film and shift the trajectory of my life in unimaginable ways, it would sound something like this:
OK, 1995 punk self, listen. I know you feel like a complete and utter screw-up, battling bottomless depression, and anger with voracious teeth, but hang on, things will change.
Ulcers, acne, anxiety, and alcohol are consuming your reality, but don’t worry, things will change. Magic will occur. Things will shift. Something huge will happen and you will find meaning.
How can I put this so that my 23-year-old self will not go running out the door at the mere mention of the word God? I don’t know how you will take this, but here goes. You will start to have direct experiences that show you that God/Spirit/Source/Creator is without a shadow of a doubt absolutely real. It is not the God you were taught to be fearful of as a preteen, but yes, it is the Divine. Of course you will have a pretty over-the-top, crazy-as-hell breakdown to awaken you to this understanding, but again, don’t worry, it all works out.
Before you become “spiritual,” this dramatic breakdown will scare the hell out of you. Ready? OK, here comes the crazy… The proverbial shit will hit the fan in February of 2004, you will question your sanity when you suddenly start seeing spirits, dead people, odd geometry, chakras, hearing voices, and have premonitory dreams (yes, really). This will literally happen to you overnight and become a daily experience, a part of your everyday fabric. No, you don’t pick up a drug habit prior to this, nor do you hit your head up against a wall. It will crack you open and you will love and hate it at the same time, seeing this new ability as both gift and curse.
You will freak out and you will become obsessed with what is happening to you — asking yourself if you are you sane or insane?
You will meet with doctors, shrinks, and even get an MRI, to bring some semblance of logic or explanation to the mayhem. When the results come back clean and the doctors provide you with no answers, you will continue seeking out others: fringe scientists, mediums, healers, religious leaders, and modern-day mystics to try to figure it out what the hell is going on. After years of struggle and meeting many others, things will shift. Meditation will be useful. You will ground this ability and start to integrate it into your life.
But keep the faith for the silver lining to come — in the middle of this divine madness you will meet Mara, your future wife, at your best friend Rob’s funeral. Once you meet your Mara, you will both be in it together. She will wonder if you are nuts. You will be defensive, but man, look at it from her point of view (can you blame her?). You will sound loony, but she will stay and she will support you. Mara is the greatest gift of your life, yet it will be hard. Your confusion will come in the form of how you initially perceive your experience. You will believe the phenomenon is the spiritual awakening… but it is not. The awakening is your relationship with your future wife, and your relationship to self.
You will lose some friends. You will lose some family. Some will be afraid of your mental state and others will think you are lying. You will start to document your metaphysical experiences and search for understanding. This will be done because spirit tells you to do it. In time you will be guided to create a documentary called Wake Up.
Still with me? I know it is a lot to take in, a great deal to absorb, but I am being brutally honest with you. After some success and attention with Wake Up, you will go on to do a TV show for the Oprah Winfrey Network documenting other people’s spiritual journey called In Deep Shift. You will marry Mara on 12/12/12. It will be a wonderful year.
OK, this is all the big, fantastical stuff. Let’s move into how to navigate through it all. Breakdowns and breakthroughs are both part of the path. Your breakdown is the fear of losing your mind. Your breakthrough is understanding that the spirit world is real. Let’s move into integration.
You arrive on this path because of your experiences, but you have no idea how to walk it.
The spiritual path is hard and the key to the whole damn thing is balance. Once you become aware of a bigger picture it is critical to open your heart, but for the love of God, don’t turn off your brain. Stay open, not foolish.
Here a little cheat sheet of reminders to refer to along the way:
- There is no killing of the ego. That’s silly. Soften the ego. You have a lot of your identity built into the things you love. You are not the things you love or own.
- Your relationship with Mara is your true path. She will act as a mirror for you.
- Be completely honest about your intent.
- Stay vulnerable.
- If you have a guru who never answers with “I don’t know,” then run far away.
- Choosing love over fear doesn’t mean you need to act like a pushover.
- Be authentic.
- Try to remember who you are and who you ain’t.
- Don’t worry. God and the Universe have your back.
- Laugh and dance as much as possible.
You don’t get a say in some of the things that will happen to you. They are predestined. In some things you have a choice and in others you have the illusion of choice. Get it? No? OK, let’s take a different approach. You are going to wake up one way or the other. This is what I call the business of the soul; the ego does not really get a vote. Again, relax — it all works out. Waking up is a beautiful thing!
OK, 1995 self. I know I just threw a hand grenade at you and ran away down the hall. It is a lot to digest. The way I see it, this all had to happen so you could “see” a bigger picture. Prior to this you were pretty content with just being a depressed victim. Did you really want to be an angry 40-year-old? Things will hit rough spots — that’s life, but you will learn and evolve. Some of the advice I gave you may turn out to be useless, or not applicable down the line. That’s OK too. The only thing I can say for sure is that Spirit is real. Even to this day I get glimpses of it. Not like I used to, but I still see it and am reminded of a bigger plan. God’s plan.
That is all the simple advice I have now. Stay fluid, don’t stress, and know that you are never alone. God bless and see you in 20 years.
You may also enjoy reading Learning to Hear (and Trust) Your Intuition by Venus Castleberg