Who I am.

I’ll be writing about the beginnings of my spiritual journey for the next few weeks. This is part one of a multi-part post.

I was born in Providence, RI

My mother had just escaped Washington DC where a threatening partner stalked her.

I was born a bit more attuned to certain things than most people. I had a very sensitive body, with constant allergies a sensitive emotional system; I seemed to always know what other people in the room were feeling, thinking or hiding.
My mind was sensitive, I seemed to learn subjects the moment they were introduced to me. All of this would have been very useful in school but the format of learning that we are all forced through really did not work for me at all.

Luckily I would learn immense amounts by myself. Spending a few hours reading something would reveal the key subjects to me and I could then build upon that knowledge.

Most of all this paved the way for enhanced spirituality and enhanced suffering.

When I was seventeen after a childhood of trauma basically because of how I was made, resulted in me desperately searching for a way out. I was a playwright, finding it very natural to channel my characters onto the stage, I was an activist, vehemently opposing the wars of the day, and dedicating myself to reproductive rights, protesting and lobbying in DC. At one point I was literally the poster boy for the National organization of women. My plays embodied nonviolent confrontation solving in public schools in my area. By all accounts, I was very good at what I did and a self-esteem and confidence were coming to me for the first time in life. I understood who I was and enjoyed what I did.

I was an amateur yogi and meditation practitioner, I had been for about two years. I started because when I was 14 years old I severely wanted to kill myself. I was a hypersensitive freshman at an intense private school in Massachusetts, a place where, to paraphrase someone else, fun went to die. This was not a place where emotional health of any kind came before productivity. They were training us for the workloads of elite universities, which was a stress that I had absolutely no interest in yet I had felt was expected of me since an early age. It just was what i was going to do. What I wanted was never really on the table.

So I meditated. I was in a hostile world that made no sense to me. It just seemed to be a continuous humiliation of being labeled gifted, but with no support. Continually falling short of what was expected of me I was labeled lazy. Some would have called it depressed. I saw suicidality, the desire to kill one’s self as a natural response to what seemed to be an impossible circumstance. I think that most of us who have been here do.

Meditation saved my life.

I began by sitting for five minutes at a time, completely overwhelmed by life and slowly something changed. When I came back home, got politically engaged and finally found my stride, it began to bloom.

I began to notice differences in the world around me, a subtle light seemed to be emanating from the world around me. I was curious. I began to enter a state of intense ecstasy. Intuitive knowledge of ancient yogic practices came to me, I did not know what they were until years later when I read about them.

Tantra, the chakra system and ancient hand symbols seemed to just arise in my consciousness. I knew what they did how they worked and used them in my meditation.

Then I saw a light….and as they say, Shit Got Real.

When I first started to see a white light in meditation I knew I wasn’t alone. I was unaware of the history of this happening to people, but I knew that it was something magical. I had a couple of out of body experiences in meditation leading up to this, but this felt like everything I knew or had experienced was being reorganized. My entire understanding of life, relationships, the universe, the entirety of my experience was being rearranged, like a bundle of cables being separated one by one by some unseen hands.

After every meditation session, I would come back to the room with a new understanding of life, purpose and a

I became acutely aware of all of the unresolved trauma pain and debilitating fear in my life that made me previously want to kill myself. I now had a new lease on life and wanted to live and share and make music and dance, and I did! It was a wonderful time.

Just around the apex of everything going great and meditating regularly, feeling joy and freedom and bliss for the first time in my life feeling happy whole complete, the light was just serving a function. It brought me up to the level of seeing the great amount of work I had to do in life. With that, I had a profound knowing that I was about to crash back down and would have to do all of this work I had read about. This would not be fun but it was of the utmost importance that I completely change and learn to embody the principles I had learned, that I heal from my past, master my mind, my health, my relationships, I would learn a wide array of spiritual, magical and mystical traditions. It was about to get weird.

A letter to those moving through tough times

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I’ve struggled with some health problems for decades. They’re the sort of things that most people go their entire lives without sorting out.

I decided a long time ago that I wasn’t going to give up, no matter what. There were times when I was tempted but every time I had a loved one tell me that giving up wasn’t an option.

I was walking through hell with sometimes only an imaginary light at the end of the tunnel. About thirty years later I’ve turned that light into very real concrete solutions and I am building a life around that journey, extracting all of the good, throwing out the garbage accumulated (mental, physical and emotional) while healing the wounds. This is always a process but it’s made me stronger for it. And all of the spiritual truisms I’ve heard along the way such as “everything happens for a reason” “you never have more than you can deal with”, I have lived, experienced and embodied.

In the end I am the amazing man I’ve always dreamed of and have truly learned to love all of him.

The hope in this story is that we ALL have trials and growth opportunities to move through in life. Sometimes victory seems out of reach or can’t be seen at all. This is when we must reach out to others. To learn how to trust and connect. Most of all, if you’re going through helm you must keep going.

The other side of what you’re going through may not look like what you think but it will be GOOD! And you’re worth it. More importantly if you think that you can’t get through your trials, look yourself in the mirror and TELL yourself that you can.

Also if you think that you’re putting off your own healing journey, just begin now. The whole world can and will help you. I know this from experience from the bottom of my heart. And sometimes the help you’re looking for may be different than you thought. Stay open have hope and move forward.

I believe in all of us. I believe in me and in you too.

Sincerely,
Ammanuel.

Kombucha and Open Source Software: Cultures of Abundance

“The fundamental act of friendship among programmers is the sharing of programs”
GNU Manifesto

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I’ve decided to detox from a lot of things in life recently. I have stopped drinking, stopped smoking and have moved to using open source software and moving at a gradual pace towards veganism daily. I have chosen to detox because anything else would be stealing. Stealing is a self-declaration of poverty and thus not Awesome.

Let me explain, I used to “borrow” software, books, and music liberally with some very good and reasonable justifications behind them. However, honesty and fair exchange are more important to me than even being “right”. My spirituality comes first. So I deleted all of my “borrowed” corporate software, books and music. I downloaded the free, open source alternatives, donated each company a few bucks, enrolled in my library’s free ebook lending program and coughed up the ten dollars for my first month of Spotify.

Funny enough, that day every restaurant or caffe I went to everyone gave me food and drink for free so on my shoestring budget paying for these things was made very easy.

As for my dietary choices, not listening to my inner Awesomeness guide (which has demanded that I be a straight edge vegan for a long time) is stealing from myself and the planet. Happily I’ve found kombucha to be the ultimate alcohol-replacement.

By making these changes I have found things that are much cooler than their alternatives.
kombucha and the open source software both have great communities around them in which ideas are exchanged and things are given away for free. Instructions on how to program in any language are readily available online as are Kombucha-brewing instructions.

Both Kombucha and opensource software are products that can be home-brewed and rival their corporate counterparts (seriously my first homemade kombucha seen in the picture above is superior to anything I’ve found in Whole Foods).

But the reason why they’re both awesome is that they’re cultures of Abundance. Every batch of kombucha creates a new mother-bacteria culture that can be used to make…more kombucha! But because every batch creates more and each culture is re-usable, kombucha brewers happily gift and trade their cultures with each other. Thus more creates more, for free and almost demands sharing.

With open source software, the only thing you’d ever have to pay for is tech support or a donation, if you’re like me. Because of this, instead of doing something that I don’t want to do in order to save the hundreds of dollars for the Microsoft Office suite or thousands of dollars for the adobe suite, I can dedicate my time to writing fascinating articles that at least amuse me but hopefully are interesting to others. And programmers around the world get to do what they love.

Kombucha and open source software are examples of true abundance at work. Communities and cultures of sharing and Awesomeness breeding more Awesomeness.

I’ve included a slew of links below on everything that I have mentioned in passing above. I hope that you enjoy!

I hope that you enjoyed the read!

Articles On Kombucha and Open Source Terms
GNU Software License
Copy Left
Kombucha
How I made Kombucha

Great, Open Source Software
Gimp (free photoshop)
Songbird (The firefox of media players-tons of customizable plug-ins, works with non-apple products and the awesomeness goes on.)
Ubuntu (think windows but free. And every version works-unlike windows where a version works about once per decade. Will alsorun well on that old laptop in the corner and will look gorgeous on that new desktop)
Open Office (Will do everything MS office does but for…FREE!)

And if you’re sick of stealing music but want that same all you can eat buffet there’s always Spotify

Punk Rock, Chakras & Liberation

“You can have my body but not my obedience”

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Sometimes I get lost in the shiny haze of New Age Bliss and I have to remember where my dedication to personal and social liberation comes from.

And then I listen to some great punk like The Clash, or Leftover Crack, and remember being an teen finding my voice and the power of a megaphone. This is where my roots lie.

Spiritual awakening for me was and is inextricably linked to a rise in social awareness and participation in national and global movements. We’re all tied together in physical social and spiritual dimensions. These are all words that are used to describe aspects of the underlying unity (or chaos or both) of life.

When I appreciate the intimacy of these worlds I feel most alive. My hatred of injustice and inequality, isn’t sustainable without an optimism rooted in my spirituality, which in turn is ungrounded when taken outside of the context culture that i’ve been raised in and so on.

So when I’m on top of the shiny Crown Chakra of Universal Love, Unity and bright White Lights but something is missing, I always have to bring it back down to my gritty Muladhara.

Where do I come from? I found life being dead broke and well fed with people who were fully alive and fighting for what they believe in. If i’m not involved in this, and am just reaping the fruits of my ancestors, slaves, who learned to read and write at the threat of death, then I’m not taking responsibility for myself. And I don’t feel alive. And something seems wrong.

So of course, while being awesome, I’ve already started taking action to rectify this. I needed to take a break to sort out my life and now I know what I’m going to do to fulfill this part of me. But the specifics aren’t important for this space.

Can you relate?