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.

The Law of Attraction

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I recently bumped into a couple of wonderful young women who inspired me to write more about spirituality. tl/dr this is a post about some why spirituality is so important.

We live in a society where being “functional” is the end all-be all of…life! In this ridiculous circus, we have geniuses who could be solving the worlds problems starving, disabled, or otherwise unable to “contribute” to this glorious machine of capitalism.

We need to change this…but there is so much more that we could be doing! I found myself in a similar position a few years ago. I thought that my life was over and I would never be able to dedicate my heart and mind or ever be a “contributing member of society” again…

…and then I realized that there was so much that existed outside of the box that I had been living in. I got in contact with myself, with the spirit of others and the generally the essence of all things. I fought this tooth an nail for years because, while I found that I had the ability to tap into this reality and pretty much…make anything I wanted or needed happen…I really didn’t want to!

I was so consumed with what other people were telling me what was possible, and so dedicated to proving them wrong that I simply ignored the simple truths of life that I had the privilege of being exposed to.

Fast forward a few years later. It’s 8am, I’m so discouraged by my inability to be “normal” that I think I have to find another way to exist or else I might end up killing myself…and I simply don’t give up on things-I’ll be damned if I give up on life! So I got in touch with my favorite counselor and guide-my mom and after an hour and a half of patient conversation, she said – Ammanuel, I know you, your solution lies in your spirituality.

And then and there I realized two things 1) that mom is actually as bright as she thinks she is and 2) that it was time to accept that inner power that we all have. It doesn’t rest on being like everyone else, it lies in embracing this very real power to transform the very world around us and live in harmony with all living things.

Pain and change. 

3 months ago I set out to treat bipolar disorder. In short it seemed intractable; I had two types of bipolar, both were notoriously hard to treat. Ultimately I succeeded. 

In just the last year out of a lifetime of searching for medication I had tried 34 different medications. 

One caused me to black out and collapse regularly. One offered me a skin disease. Had I not treated it it would have devoured my skin and killed me. 

So I tried ECT. So for a month, every other day I would go to an office where they tranquilized me, knocked me out, and  induced seizures that caused short term amnesia. 

My symptoms went away. Bipolar completely went away. I succeed. 

After a week i began to feel anxiety and depression creep in. But I noticed it wasn’t bipolar. 

After investigation I learned that I had been living with debilitating chronic pain. This means I was constantly exhausted and could not do work go to school or leave the house. 

I found the cause of this. I had been meditating my emotional stress all these years with copious amounts of sugar, caffeine and nicotine, mainly cigarettes. 

After 2 weeks I had stopped smoking. I moved on to e cigarettes and cut down on caffeine and nicotine use down to 1/4 of what I used to use.

My body began to thaw out. I introduced high quality omega 3, a trinity of anti inflamitory supplements vitamins and changed my diet. 

I had cut out what was making my muscles inflamed and I could sleep. For one night in years I had true restful sleep. I was starting to feel energy again. 

I had been eliminating the source of my inflammation that was causing pain. 
But then the emotions I was coping with would flare up. Under stressful stimulation my anxiety and pain returned. 

So I’ve been teaching myself to reduce stress. I worked with a. Therapist a physical therapist and a doctor. 

I no longer needed most meds. But the depression came back, only this time situational. 

Like so many with pain I became depressed with the debilitation of not being able to do anything and its cousin demoralization. 

So I stayed taking anti depressants. Depression, much like pain increases your pain sensitivity and reduces your ability to produce pain reducing chemicals in your body. 
Short term use of pain killers is great for many situations. But long term they depress you cloud your thinking and most importantly, your pain signals get stronger so that they can make it through to your brain, resulting in more needed pain killers and continuing the cycle. I could not do this. 

So now I have quit cigarettes near bipolar and things got simpler. I have a plan that is working. 

Slowly eliminate nicotine and caffeineso that I can sleep soundly and heal. Introduce chemicals that naturally reduce inflammation inside and outside of my body. Gently-GENTLY stretch and work my body. Take anti depressants that reduce my need for self medication with coffee and cigarettes as well as reduce pain and fatigue. 

This combined with therapy support and applying what energy I have to make my life support joy is the next steps I’m taking. 

I have a way out now. 

I said goodbye to alcoholism long ago. After years I successfully treated mental illness. I then treated the underlying illnesses. I have begun both creating and reinforcing pleasurable and supportive relationships. I have learned to be kind to myself and compassionate to others through my understanding of what suffering and it’s self reinforcing cycles do to people. 

I have had the luxury of automating my laundry and groceries so that I can focus my energy on what I can do. 

I have read hundreds of books on spiritual development psychology physiology positive thinking pain management and mental illness. 

I have been practicing yoga meditation breathing exercises. I have decided what I want in my future and committed to writing down and working towards my dreams. 

I have refused to give up and have dared to hope and forced myself to plan and work. 

Most of all I learned how life can take many turns but it’s our spirit that stays constant. So my life now has to be dedicated to supporting that. 

The worst part of the pain is being separated from a clear mind and a thriving soul. My priorities are now creating a foundation in which I can thrive. 

So many trivial things seemed so important. Now I see what is important and valuable. 

The most valuable thing I have outside of me is the love and support of others. The purpose of my life is creating a foundation in which I can thrive and help others do the same. 

So, in the end, as this nightmare SLOWLY begins to end and the light of day peeks through time and time again, I have learned what my values are. 

Treat others with compassion. Suffering takes many forms, compassion is powerful and abundant if we access it. 

Take care of myself. It’s easier to be nice and happy that way. The less we suffer the more we thrive and sharing that is meaningful. 

Finally, my life is meant to serve my soul. By that I mean the creative capacity to love others share joy and be in the moment. 

I also learned that impossible situations are rarely that. With the help of others the worst circumstances can create lifelong rewards. 

Stop competing at me! How to deal with the jealousy of others.

We’ve all had people who compete at us in life but success is a shared event; there’s more than enough to go around. Unfortunately, not all people have realized this and thus try to “take” success from others by competing at them.

When two people who are yet to understand this get together they usually engage in completive behavior. Be it over romance, friendships or status it is ridiculous and draining. But we do not have to participate. We can simply allow the other person to be, and go on living our lives.

In my experience, I keep in mind that the other person is working through their own issues of insecurities or self-hatred and project who they want to be onto me or someone else and then feel like they have to pull me down to their level or somehow become better than me.

What’s going on in the minds of other people is unimportant save for our ability to have compassion patience and clear boundaries with them. We have to understand that others are in pain so that we don’t lash out and engage in this dramatic interaction. We have to retain our ability to love or dismiss people in a way that creates peace with us and we have to tell them to stop when we need to protect ourselves.

The beautiful thing about responding to those who compete at us is that, in my experience, after a long time, they inevitably want to befriend me. They often emerge into self-awareness, apologize and sometimes have deeply changed into loving warm human beings. I often (not always) invite them back into my life. Some of the deepest relationship have been created this way.

 

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.

A Friendly Universe is An Awesome Place to Be.

If my life were a joke, the punch line would be that I’m perfect the way I am, and the whole universe is brimming with love for me. I’m pretty sure that’s the gist of it for a lot of us.

I used to think that my optimism and love of life was one of those childish things that would get beaten out of me as time went on and I would wind up like so many people who are dissatisfied by their lives/jobs/family/spouses.

But it’s just the opposite. By paying attention to life, refusing to do what I hate and choosing to learn my life’s lessons quickly (often earned through tremendous pain) I find my love of life growing deeper as I age. It wasn’t easy! But much much easier in the long run than trying to be someone else or following the wrong path.

Now I get to be in on the joke. I’m perfect and the whole universe loves me. Reminding myself of this truth is much like clicking together my ruby slippers and coming back home.

I had to come out of my shell of almost 3 decades of questioning this, worrying about problems that weren’t there, or even better, ones that solved themselves when I stopped trying to fix them.

This isn’t to say that I haven’t been through tremendous amounts of shit. I’ve dug myself out from at least nine lifetime’s worth so far. And a few times barely alive. Clearly, I lived to share the tail and love doing so.

I remembered through most of it that once, I saw noticed something suspiciously awesome about life. And I wasn’t going to give up until I knew what that was.

It turns out that the whole universe is thrilled about me. And it goes both ways.

Pretty much everything else my mind is just making up, and can be discarded relatively easily.

As a pretty decent scientist once stated, The most important question you can ask yourself is whether you live in a friendly universe.

I’d have to answer “Certainly”. Maybe not all of its inhabitants, but overall this place is really awesome.

And it’s all free for the enjoyment. As are awesome people, places, passions, sights, and sounds. And ideas. And a bunch of other nouns.

The whole thing is that it’s always going to be like this. And it always has. The circumstances. Often are beyond our control but the awakened eye is not. It seems to happen to different people at different times. Usually preceded by great turmoil.

Waking up to all of this is awkward and painful. Living in a land of fear to awaken to a Universe that loves you and has been there the whole time is like living in a dark cave for years and then having sunlight pour into your eyes.

However the pupils adjust, the fear was all an illusion and life goes on but with a new shine. And it’s well worth it.

Have a wonderful day!

Just thought I’d share the enthusiasm about existing.

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Gratitude, Chronic Pain & Lemonade

Good morning and happy hump day! Today I’m going to explore the concept of radical gratitude.

We all know that it’s in poor form to be ungrateful. No one likes an ungrateful guest, we are taught to say please and thank you from an early age, (hopefully) but what about our relationship with our lives?

I was on the bus this morning, contemplating my chronic pain and thought about the thousand other “adversities” that I have had in my life. I remembered my own words from my upcoming book, “The Winners Guide Through The twelve steps and thought “Impossible situations met with the appropriate tools breed Awesomeness”.

What this means is that when life hands us lemons, make lemonade. But how do we do this? Well, of course with the appropriate tools (in this case a metaphorical juicer).

I have no idea how i’m going to do this but through life I have always found, received, been given, or stumbled upon the appropriate tools to turn ostensibly terrible situations into life improving ones. So I decided that since it was a matter of time before that happened with this, I would just decide to be grateful for whatever good was going to come out of my chronic pain, ahead of time.

It’s like pre-gaming for the awesomeness that is soon to come and it is MUCH more enjoyable than feeling helpless hopeless and worst of all, a victim of circumstance.

This can be applied to anything. When we have a problem and decide to be grateful for what good is going to come of it, then we are prepared mentally to find solutions. When we are open to solutions and positive outcomes we are much more likely to find them.

Also my pain immediately diminished and I felt better. It’s like inducing the placebo effect but instead of taking a sugar pill I am actively activating my minds ability to feel better with nothing other than expectation of a positive outcome.

I’m now having a great day and I hope that you are too!

Stay Awesome – Ammanuel