“If you build a house, it takes only a few weeks, a few months or a few years, and everyone can see the result. But when you create something in the spiritual realm, neither you nor anyone else can see anything: so nothing is certain, nothing is clear, and you become unsettled, unhappy, assailed by doubts. And that is why, after a while, you want to abandon everything, and do what everyone else does; throw yourself into an activity, where everyone can see the result. Do as you wish, but one day, even in the midst of the greatest success, inside yourself you will feel that something is missing. This is normal, because you haven’t touched what is essential, you haven’t yet planted anything in the realm of light, wisdom, love, power, eternity. Only your inner realizations can belong to you, for they alone are rooted in you, and when you leave for the other side, in your soul, your heart and your spirit will have precious stones, qualities and virtues to take with you, and your name will be written in the book of eternal life.” -Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov
You might have heard of Wim Hof (aka The Iceman), he’s becoming quite popular these days. Everyone seems impressed and inspired by his physical capabilities. He has been able to astonish scientists, and as a result, they are rewriting and correcting what they previously thought was humanly possible.
Below are a few videos of Wim. You can see what he can do and hear what his overall message is. Keep in mind how it all started. Few people bring this up when they speak of him, or to him, or when they feel inspired to duplicate his super-powerful capabilities. Wim’s wife and mother of his children, went insane and killed herself. When you love someone so deeply, and your world is torn apart, and you can’t help the one you love or change a heartbreaking situation — there is only one way to go if you want peace — you stop fighting what is. You enter a deep, very deep, place of surrender and stillness. When this state is embodied — (please know that I am choosing words that don’t quite fit or describe accurately what I am saying, because it is literally indescribable) — you become space itself, you become spacious or spaciousness. And since nature abhors a vacuum, it immediately fills the space — it fills you. You become more insightful, more powerful, more introspective, more all encompassing — you become more you. You begin to synchronize with your natural environment.
In his stillness, Wim Hof intuitively was drawn to cold waters after the suicide of his wife. It was this deep listening and complete openness that changed and empowered his life, and as a result, the lives of thousands around the world.
“I tried to go into the depth of myself and look for answers. I found it in cold water. It brought me back, because cold water really is merciless, but it is righteous. And it brought me into absolutely certainty within myself, within my thoughts […] it united all of the mechanisms within myself. Making me, for example, able to stay in freezing temperatures, all night long, just sitting.”
There is a man in India named Rajmohan Nair, that can hold/process over 500W of electricity in his body. For most people this would be lethal, but Rajmohan Nair can safely process and allow this energy to run through his body. Rajmohan Nair’s mother tragically died when he was a young boy. He was so distraught by his mother’s death, that he tried to commit suicide by electrocuting himself on a transformer tower. At that moment of deep surrender, his body was able to hold the electricity/energy sent through his body by the tower. It did not kill him. He lived on, and through his adulthood he continued to experiment and work with the ability to hold this energy.
Like Rajmohan, Wim also has a past of deep loss and suffering, that shifted into a surrender to nature and to life itself — as well as a harnessing of this natural power. A power that was previously unseen and unfelt by Rajmohan and Wim. A power that they couldn’t previously imagine holding, let alone have the ability to manipulate. A power that seems unbelievable to others, until they see it or experience it for themselves.
Wim’s mission now is to be a lighthouse, a beacon of awareness. He encourages people to go beyond their fears, to go beyond rules (set by schools, systems and hierarchy), and to go deeper within.
“And what do we have in this world? A whole lot of disease, and a whole lot of powerlessness against disease, against depression, and all that. And why? We lost track of what nature is; within us and within interaction. So in the future we have to take away all of these boarders, and this way of thinking, and this [addiction to] too much comfort, and thinking that we are able to control Nature. […] I am trying to astound, every time, showing that the power within every human body, every person in the world, is able to do a whole lot more to become happy by his or her own control. […] I think it’s time. For a world that is able to make such beautiful technology, like iPhones and all that, to learn to guarantee happiness, strength and health [for ourselves]. “
Watch Wim’s videos, he’s very inspiring and motivating. You can see that he holds a lot of energy in his body (it bubbles and rises to the top and various times). But after watching the videos, go into your own stillness. See where you might be too plugged into a system that is not serving you, nor truly nourishing you. See if you can unplug from that matrix and plug into your own effortless power. It often means stopping the noise, stopping the busyness and taking the time to truly be with yourself.
This is why meditation is a powerful practice for people. But it goes beyond that. It’s about being breathed, it’s about letting go while being held. Even Wim says that his breath, and working with his breath, is what allows him to do what he does. The breath is an immediate gateway into your own nature. It’s really very simple. Your breathing is linked to everything, be present to it. Be present to being breathed. Notice what happens during various breathing rhythms and patterns. Just quiet down, settle, and notice. Just notice. This is the way into your own nature — your connection to, and wholeness with, Nature. The rest will stem naturally from there. Start there, return there, and continue to be aware.
“The number one thing that I could tell you (because I’m desperate to bring value, since I’m here) is, I think everybody lies to themselves. And I think all of you want certain things to be happening with you — you want yourself to be something. I think what you need to do more of, is you have to actually audit who you are. I think that America, as a society, has done a really good job of selling us how to fix the things we naturally aren’t. And there is a lot of money being made on us forming into something we can’t be.”
That quote is a snippet of a lecture Gary Vaynerchuck gave to a group of college students. What he discussed before that quote was the importance of self-awareness. What came after was the importance of knowing what you’re great at and sticking with it. He basically thinks we should bet everything we have, on who we are. And if we don’t know who that is, we should ask those around us that know us best. He compared it to gambling, and said that every single gambling chip we have should be bet on who we really are in order to win.
“You need to bet on your strengths, and don’t give a f*ck about what you suck at. Way too many people in this room are going to spend the next thirty, forty years of their lives, trying to check the boxes of the things they’re not as good at, and in that, you’re going to waste a f*ck load of time and lose.”
The word self-awareness can be used in several ways. Gary is only referring to basic self-awareness. (Not the Self-awareness you read often in my blog, or in eastern philosophy.) The self-awareness Gary speaks of is a basic knowledge of self — knowing yourself.
You might ask, if it’s so basic, why do most of us have little to no sense of who we really are?
For the most part, people spend lifetimes trying to duplicate each other and fit in as seamlessly as possible with the whole of society. People are trained from infancy to sweep who they are are under the rug. Who they really are is something that happens in private — if it happens at all.
I often talk about the fact that we are human beings that have lost all sense of what it means to be. Being, on its most fundamental level, has become a lost art. We can also say the same thing for being oneself. Something that should be completely innate to all of us oddly seems out-of-reach. People can’t sit still in silence (which is a form of being, or being with oneself), let alone openly and authentically be themselves around other people. Why and how did we lose touch with who we are (and the ever-satisfying richness that it contains)?
Gary Vaynerchuck made the point that America [or society as a whole, globally] has done a great job of selling us out of who we really are. I think that is a valid point. Seth Godin also makes a great point. He said, “Humanity has been boiled out of us.” Buckminster Fuller speaks along the same lines, he said “By the time most people are mature they have lost their innate capabilities. […] Everyone is born a genius, but the process of living de-geniuses them.” Jiddhu Krishnamurti has similar thoughts, “Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay […] The primary cause of disorder in ourselves is the seeking of reality promised by another.”
If you want to return to your natural state of beingness, or self knowledge (and I mean this on a very basic level), think of it as getting in touch with your humanness, getting in touch with your humanity. Become tender again. Practice connecting with (and embracing) how you feel. Practice expressing that to others and living it moment to moment.
Think of a child — a very young child — before it was programmed by its parents and culture. It feels everything, it’s very sensitive. It clearly states its wants and needs. It’s in touch with its body, with nature and its surrounds. It also is profoundly honest, as well as open and unconditionally loving. That child isn’t afraid to share who it really is. Its arms are wide open to the world, as well as to its own self.
Authenticity and humanness go hand-n-hand. When Gary says, “everybody lies to themselves,” he is saying that humanity is out of touch with humanity, and has lost sense of what it means to be human.
As humans we all have what it is that makes us universal, but at the same time unique. The world currently has 7.3 billion people on it. Out of 7.3 billion people, there is not a single one that is just like you. You are it! You are the only one that can uniquely offer what is uniquely you. You are also the only one that can live your life and experience it to its potential. Your whole world is happening through your senses. If it feels unjust, stressful or stuck, you might want to look at what sort of societal pressures you are putting on yourself.
Gretchen Rubin made a Youtube video titled ‘Know Yourself’ that is worthy of viewing. I’ll share it with you below. It’s very short and to the point.
I don’t think I have anything to say in summation, I’ll just say what I’ve been saying a lot lately: it’s paramount to tell the truth. Be honest with others, yes — but more importantly, be honest with yourself.
The more I acknowledge and share (and live) my most authentic feelings, the more I feel liberated and the more exciting my life becomes. There is a sense of peace and joy, as well as synchronistic flow and effortlessness. Of course it takes a certain amount of practice and audacity to be one’s self after it’s been trained out of us for decades — but it’s never too late to start!
Life always begins now. Each day, each second is an opportunity for you to be fully expressed and live more authentically. Don’t be afraid to gamble on yourself. Don’t be afraid to put all your chips on the table.
I feel a bit embarrassed telling you this, but here it goes…
[keep in mind, this blog post was written on a previous date, but recently]
This morning I was rushing to get out of the house to beat the heat. Yesterday was 104 degrees, and today was forecasted to be the same. I just washed my hair, and put it in a absurd hairdo — something completely temporary, that I would fix later in the day. I also threw on the tank top I wore yesterday, a pair of tie-dye shorts, and a pair of dirty summer shoes. This was not my best look. To top it off, I grabbed my backpack (for my groceries) and frontpack (for my dog — she sits in it, while I run errands), and headed out the front door.
After walking about 5 blocks, I locked eyes with someone driving past me. I’m not sure if he slowed down as he passed me, or if time stood still. We looked at each other, dead center into each other’s eyes. We were both moving, he was driving and I was walking, and we both proceeded onward toward our destinations. I simply shook off the experience and went about my way.
A few blocks later I turned the corner, and there was the same car that I had just seen! Parked in a driveway. I’d have to pass the car to get where I was going. He was there, standing in front of his house, speaking to someone. I tried to compose myself, and passed both of them, while politely saying hello. He and I looked at each other again, briefly, and I kept walking.
I went to the post office, went grocery shopping, and stopped by a local dance center. On the way home, I would pass that same block. I was hoping he wouldn’t be there. It would be too many times that we would pass each other in such a short time. And too many times that I would feel a bit awkward! That being said, I was hoping to see which house he lived in. I hadn’t noticed it the previous time that I passed it. My goal was to casually walk by, take note of the surroundings and house, and do it quickly — completely unseen.
To my surprise, he was still out there! He was still working and talking with the same person, in the front yard. I desperately wanted to cross the street and turn a corner. I wanted to quickly hide before he or his friend saw me. But it was too late, I was seen. I had to finish walking the block, and pass them — again. I felt like I was walking a plank of a pirate ship. It felt so ridiculous passing him a third time. I was also a bit nervous and unsure what to expect.
As I made my way pass him, I got the same look, the same one I got when he was passing me in the car. It’s like if energy was coming though his eyes, causing some sort of spark. Was it an official spark, or just intrigue? Maybe both, maybe some sort of energy exchange mixed with a large dose of intrigue? He made a comment about my dog as I passed. I turned back and smiled, and introduced my dog, and then myself. He and his friend introduced themselves in return. The friend mentioned that he had a chihuahua in the past, and she stuck her tongue out just like my dog does. I forget the name of his chihuahua, but it was a funny name. I laughed — his dog story put me at ease — but only for a few seconds. I quickly reverted to feeling extremely nervous and on-the-spot. I said goodbye to both of them and continued to walk home.
Once I got in the front door, I felt like I wanted to Google him. I wanted to know who he was. I only had his street name and first name. Trying to Google him was a horrible idea, very silly. Even though I let go of the Google idea, I felt my mind drifting into all sorts of imaginings about who he might be. Is he a sleaze ball or nice guy? Is he middle aged or retired? Is he fun & easy to be around or hard-nosed & challenging? Is he someone that likes to help people or use people? All sorts of things were running through my mind. I was already plotting future days that I would walk by his house, hoping to catch him standing outside again. I was wondering if we might one day strike up a real conversation.
I made myself some lunch. It was soon time to wash the lunch dishes, and there went my mind again. I caught it mid thought and stopped myself. A voice in my head asked, “Why are you so interested in sparks?” I paused at the question and thought, who doesn’t want sparks? The voice quickly replied, “What do you think sparks will give you? Isn’t it always peace you say you are looking for? How will these sparks lead to peace? Or will these sparks lead to the opposite of peace?” It was a good question. In the past, sparks never lead to peace. They lead to lots of ups & down and stressful times. I’m not saying that romantic sparks can’t or will never lead to peace — that just hasn’t been my experience.
The voice in my head really stopped me in my tracks and sobered me up. It was clear to me that I wasn’t looking for sparks. I didn’t want sparks in my life. What I’ve been wanting is deep rooted peace. And that can only come from me. And when it does, it will be reflected in the choices that I make. My work, my home, and all of my relationships will reflect that peace. All decisions will come from a place of peace. And if that peace creates romantic sparks for me — that’s fabulous! I’m all for it. But I’m not interested in doing it the other way around. I’m not interested in chasing sparks. To me, that’s not my idea of being at peace or living in peace. I rather focus on what it is I really want. And right now, that’s a life that I love, a life that feels peaceful and effortless.
Peaceful synonyms: tranquil, calm, restful, quiet, relaxing, undisturbed, untroubled, secluded.
Effortless synonyms: easy, undemanding, unchallenging, painless, simple, uncomplicated, straightforward, natural.
*Side note: If there is any news or part 2 to this story, I will be sure to tell you. Just rest assured, if he & I are meant to cross paths again — we will. I have no interest in seeking him out, or trying to create sparks. I’ll be focusing on my peaceful existence. It’s a project that keeps me plenty busy.
This year the words ‘tell the truth’ have been rolling like waves in my head. Not because I’ve been lying, or have been hiding something, but because I’ve come to a breaking point. My desire after 40 years of life, is not to be brutally honest, but to live compassionately with integrity. Living & feeling compassion first for myself, and then seeing myself in others. It’s interesting that the word Integrity means to be honest, but it also means to be whole, undivided.
Two quotes come to mind. (Wait, I’ll share them in a moment.) Often ideas feel abstract in my mind, but sharing them along with other artists’ work somehow helps to paint a clearer picture (not only for others, but for myself), because it allows me to create a context. I don’t like when my thoughts seem obtuse or isolated. I like them to feel like they are part of a conversation, a universal one, that might not be getting the attention that it deserves.
So quickly, before I share the work of others, I just want to say that telling the truth, for me, simply means to stop f*cking around. I’m getting too old to waste time. I’m getting too old to act like I’m not seeing what is looking me dead in the face. And the words ‘too old’ are not implying that 40 years of age is old. It means, that I have lived enough to know when life is being wasted. It means that I know the difference between an authentic conversation and a superficial one. It means I know the difference between falling asleep with the feeling of ‘Is this all there is?’, versus the feeling of falling asleep with my heart wide open, eager to see what tomorrow brings.
This feeling of wanting to be more authentic and open has been bubbling since I was a child, but only in the last decade has it come to a boiling point. I guess I’ve reached a point where I feel like the only life worth living is the one I have, and it’s only worth living if I make it my own. Making it my own, means to be an honest expression of the life force that I am. The very thing that was born of the unknown cosmos, manifesting through a, seemingly knowable, human form.
I’ll stop there. Today’s post is really only a feeling. I’m just sharing a feeling.
Here are a few quotes that I think will provide a greater context of that feeling for you.
“This is not the country we pretend it is. This is a country that turns on the TV everyday, and goes to the movies everyday, and listens to the radio everyday, and receives a delusion about itself. […] There is no space for contemplation. If full grown adults can’t muster the time to sit still for 2 hours, how are the greatest market sectors of these corporations going to be able to resist?.. […] The thing is, that, there are trillions of dollars, trying to capture people’s imaginary and move them away from any contemplative life, from any life of deliberation, from any human rhythm. […] We need time to deliberate, contemplate and feel human. I don’t think you can reconstruct and reconstitute yourself, everyday, without that time. And part of the reason our souls feel so heavy, and so frantic, is because we don’t get the deliberation and contemplation, that can reconstitute ourselves after a day in a society that only encourages you to compete, create hierarchies and accumulate.” -J.D.
The written quote I transcribed from a Junot Diaz Q&A, at the Chicago Humanities Festival. And the video contains several quotes that I would like to transcribe, but don’t have time to. So I’m sharing the entire video of David Foster Wallace giving his commencement speech.
My phone broke last month. Somehow, it got fried or shorted-out. The screen went completely white, and I have no idea why. Instead of taking it in to my usual service provider, I decided to get a new provider, and a new phone number. This was approximately a month ago, and believe it or not, the new phone has been sitting on my dresser. Untouched. I have not turned it on, I have not made a single call. I barely know the phone is there. I also haven’t taken the time to give everyone my new number. This isn’t because I don’t want them to have the new number, or looking forward to hearing from them in the future. It’s only because I don’t like having a phone, or being conscious of my phone, or talking on my phone. At some point I will turn it on, and begin to use it. I’m just in no rush to do it, and I don’t even feel inclined to.
I’ve never been able to explain to people why I love silence so much, or why I’m never lonely when alone. Whenever I do, I seem to come across in way that makes me feel like I’ve failed them, and failed myself (for lack of the vocabulary to share my deepest feelings or preferences with them). It’s very difficult for me to describe something that feels beyond words. The only description I’ve ever heard, that comes eerily close to how I feel, and how I like to live, was an answer that Junot Diaz gave during a lecture about himself and his work. Someone asked about his writing process. This was his answer:
“I wake up early. I write early. I write before I speak. Which is to say, as soon as I have a conversation, if I have to answer the phone, if anyone asks me anything that makes me have to make a decision — I’m immediately out of whatever I need to be in. I guess part of what I need to write [work] — and most people don’t need this — I need to sink deeply into this human space, outside of all these other considerations. As soon as I come up into the social space — the social space where you have to answer questions, were you have to sort of think about things — I’m out. I’ve broken the connection to whatever I need to connect with.”
For me, I’m not a writer, and my ‘thing’ is not necessarily to write. My passion, my life’s work, is to be. My life is best when I feel effortless and aware. When I feel the wind beckon, gently grazing my skin, or when I feel cool microscopic droplets of moisture in the air as I breathe, unseen, yet felt by my sensitive nostrils, or when I’m counting beads, pinching and plucking them out of the cupped palm of my hand, and I feel the cushy softness of my own skin. This is what I live for — for the subtle, quiet, free, and often missed moments in life. What it means to be a human…. being. I might be a human doing, but I am present to being as I am doing. This is why I say effortless and aware. Because it takes a certain amount of stepping back, of letting go, and getting present. This allows for a perspective or experience of the whole. A witnessing of sorts. A witnessing of how all the parts come together, and of how mystical and magical life is.
Now can you imagine? As you are sensing and receiving the gifts that come only from being in the moment — the phone rings. It startles you. You stop what you are doing and leap up to answer it (mostly to stop it from ringing). Quickly you discover the caller has the wrong number, and you take a few seconds to let them know. After being startled by the phone and the caller, it’s hard to go back to the train of thought that you were previously in. It rings again, after only an hour, and this time, it’s someone you know. They are rambling — stuck in the past, projecting a fearful future, reciting a long list of personal complaints that revolve mostly around gripes about other people. After being on the phone with them, listening and consoling for well over an hour, you begin to settle back into where you previously were in your day. You now decide it’s a good time to take a break to eat something. You prepare your meal, and finally, with eyes wide and hands ready, you happily dive into your lunch. Mmmm… it tastes wonderful, and it’s joyously messy. Ding, ding, ding, ding! The phone rings again. You put your food down and wipe off your hands. This time, the phone rang only to let you know there is a new voicemail message waiting for you.
For some people, these interruptions, or phone interactions, would be a welcomed break from their day. For me it’s the opposite. I don’t want a break from my day. I want to be fully in it, as it is in front of me (in my presence): naturally bare, simple and mundane, yet at the same time, naturally embellished, complex and spiritual. This is what I live for, but it’s hard to justify that type of ‘living’ in this world. It feels like a lost art. I often feel singled out or alone in my appreciation for it. Regardless of it being unpopular or unwanted by most people, I will continue to make time and space in my life to fully appreciate it. I will make time for being on the phone and not being on the phone — but my preference will always be more time off than on.