Friday, March 13, 2015

The Most Terrible Fear

I have an ongoing fear of insanity. Serious insanity, but it’s not that I’ll lose grip on reality – it’s that reality itself is the insanity. I don’t believe there is such thing as insanity, the way our medical texts describe it. Rather, insanity is the warping of our own reality before us into something which makes us feel negative, a fearful state, a state of suffering and pain. That is insanity, and in most religions, it is equated with hell. Thus, I find little difference between the diagnosis of insanity, and the religious ideology of hell.
My fear is not simple, and is accompanied by a very heavy weight. One in which I find difficult to bear at it’s most potent times.
It began on a night when I began to, not necessarily hallucinate, but my perspective of humans started to warp. Their faces became caricatures, that which I had seen in them before, now became blindingly obvious. Those that desired sex became sex-craved. Those that desired drugs, became drug-craved. Their subtle features pronounced themselves violently in my vision, both physically and mentally. No longer was that which I called a friend simply a friend in which I empathized with. Now, the human was foreign to me, as if the soul and character had been removed, and this devilish caricature had been replaced. Almost as if to mock my own perspectives of this person, almost as if to punish me for judging their behavior.
This escalated into sober life, suddenly going to the store became a struggle with my grip for reality. People seemed like animals, behaving as if directionless and empty, as if the consciousness had been sucked out of them. In a way, it really make me value the beauty of consciousness, in this moment. But these were hard times, the fear crept it’s tentacles in every crevice of my being – no meditation or activity seemed to distract me from the elephant in the universe – that something was deeply arigh with reality, or at least my perspective of it.
I developed a fear of eye contact. An entire year went by where I had to avoid it, or face the emptiness with which I had created in other’s. A blank stare, a soul-less automaton staring back at me. It became all encompassing, that even suicide was not an option, for the fear presented itself after death as well – it was all of reality, not simply this Earth. All of existence had dropped from meaning, and left me alone and isolated from consciousness, the interconnectedness of all.
The fear grew even more irrational, shaping itself into a cosmic truman show, that this was intentionally done to me, to watch me suffer. That the entire universe itself was watching my fear grow and distort, almost for its own enjoyment, it’s own purpose that was far, far secluded from my grasp, so that not even the meaning of my suffering could be known to me.
I walked upon Earth with a kind of existential crisis the size of the solar system, acting engaged in the cosmic play before me, attempting to ‘reground’ myself in the nostalgia of once believing people were conscious, loving beings. What could I do otherwise? I had no choice but to play the game. I was confronted with the fear that claiming insanity, that attempting suicide, that removing all care for repercussions would make the fear more palatable, more present, more gripping. The fear was inescapable, and the only option was to reintegrate into the past. What I had ‘seen’ needed to be forgotten, I was assured.
This ‘assurance’ came in many different forms, most often it was in the form of some sort of communication through psychedelic experiences. I would see this ‘part’ of the universe I suppose I was not meant to see, a horrifying, deathly place, cold, expansive, and conscious-less. I had visited it and revisited it, hoping that this wasn’t all there was to see on “the other side” – that one of these days, one of these trips, or at the very least, one of these meditations, would free me from this perspective, and show me the ‘all encompassing’ love I’d read so much about.
The more I tried, the more psychotic I felt, the more distant and chaotic the world seemed, and ultimately, my will to thrive was diminished. I had become stuck between the largest rock, and the hardest place. Life was unbearable and death was no escape. I was to simply ride out an eternity of false ideologies, beliefs that what I was doing made sense and meant something, however, with a cringing nagging negative feeling, like a dagger dripping of tar, shanked into my side, as I was reminded relentlessly that I was separate, that the universe was just watching me, like a frightened pup, and showed no remorse.
This fear still hangs over my head, and is the largest most pervasive thought I have. I have spent the majority of my waking hours, ever since I was 16, devoted to over coming it, understanding it, and prospectively, dominating it. That day has not yet come, but it has shown me lessons in life that are so far beyond what anything else can teach me. I feel so far removed from worldly issues at times, that I sometimes seem to be unable to relate for the opposite reason; not that the universe is cold and dark, but that reality is not to be taken so seriously. Even this life on Earth seems to be a minor blip in what my spirit body, or soul, or mind, or consciousness, what have you, is destined for. And I’ve seen hints of massive, positive, omnipotent love as well.
It took me years to first see any glimmer of hope – any light at the end of a long, dismal tunnel, and the only thing I really had to do, was ask. And I had to ask honestly. I asked myself, my higher, true self, to see love and feel love. I wanted to feel the opposite end of the spectrum, and stop attempting to see “above” this dismal haze, but rather simply flip the spectrum. I had been going downwards, with the hopes that the farther down I went in the abyss of nothingness, that eventually I would reach some logic, some master-working that would tell me that this negativity I feel is nothing more than a figment. But the farther I went, the more engulfing it became. I reset to ground zero, and looked up. I asked to see the other side, to understand goodness.
In many of these scenarios, I was aided fully by substances like DMT, psilocybin, or LSD. This particular event – the first of any experience in which I felt a positive outcome – I was showered with love. A feeling of total euphoria rushed over me and became me. I felt as if I was being cradled by my mother, and that mother was the universe itself, that love was the universe itself. I began to weep uncontrollably. As I came down to sobriety, I was yanked back down to the abyss, almost as if I was showing myself that these two exist simultaneously, but that I had become more accustomed to the dimness of what was below – almost as if I felt safer there, because I understood it.
I am here today with a great intent to overcome this fear to a rational point – a point where I understand it’s existence, and that I can acknowledge its power – but that it no longer interferes with the majority of my days, that it no longer interferes with my waking life more so than my experience in this body and interactions with these people on this lovely planet. I’d like to thank all of you in this community for a place to speak, to sort through myself, and hear myself. The world is a beautiful, magnificent place when you can see the consciousness in others, the twinkle of your own essence in another – that connectedness of life and the mind.
One day I will understand enough to move on, so to speak. A place where contentedness out-weighs the unease of the unknown. That my understanding of the balance – the ying and yang – of the universe is enough to place me in the middle, and not run me askew.
I know there are many out there that have similar experiences - similar sufferings, similar fears - and we're here to understand these fears, face them, not run from them. 
Life is an incredible journey, a most chaotic experience, something so beyond our wildest imaginations, yet we get to experience all of it, raw, here, now. It's terrifyingly beautiful, and beautifully terrifying. There is peace, love, and there is fear, pain. Take it all in. Experience it all.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Normalization & Drugs - Why drugs are awesome

Normalization & Drugs
     The brain is fan-fucking-tastic with its ability to normalize things. You can imagine the brain as a blank slate, with a few evolutionary rules plugged in: swimming movement, breathing, blood pumping, hunger, tiredness, thirst, etc. The rest of it is all a spongy mass, just waiting to normalize the incredibleness of the world. When a baby pops out of the womb, they are highly apt to cry, the world is brand new, and nothing is “normal” – and everything is important. That is why any of the littlest disturbances in their state of awareness can make them cry – because the feeling is important.
     As they grow, and reach adolescents, they are much less likely to cry if they are hungry, instead they may whine, or pout, or pull on your shirt and ask for food. As the years go by, hunger is not even that great of a discomfort. This is the power of our mind’s normalization – but it does not only apply to our instinctual responses such as hunger, thirst and sleep. It applies to all experience.
     When we are young, we can play with an ant hill for an hour. We can climb trees for the majority of a day. A new flower, or plant, can hold an awesomeness for some of us. Our child selves can become immersed in what an adult would ignore, or even find rather boring. This is not a matter of becoming more intelligent, which often people seem to imply with the term “Grow up”, but rather it is an increasing normalization of our world. It is a sign of our brains filtering out more of the world as we stop to place importance on objects and ideas in our everyday world.
     The first day your rode a bike, the first day you drove a car – those are likely to be magical times. You may even remember the feeling of awe-someness that arose in you, that feeling of “This is important!” As we age, however, we begin to dread car rides, and bike rides to and from work – because we have lost the importance of them, we have transmuted them into the mundane, the ordinary, the normal.
     Do you ever go to a concert or a theme park, or a vacation, and wonder why you’re not enthralled by the scenery, the music, or the setting? It’s that normalization. Your brain has been working against you for the entirety of your life, threading ideas, scenes, architecture, personalities together, to make as much of the world as normal as possible. After all, if everything is normal, what do you have to worry about? That is a goal of the mind – store as little information as possible for survival, and filter everything else out. If it isn’t helping or hurting your chance to reproduction and survival, it’s no longer important. Yet the child in you, that nascent level of curiosity and awe can beg to differ.
     DRUGS! This is where drugs come in. This is why LSD, Psilocybin, DMT, Ayahuasca, and others can radically change your perspective on life. That filter that you’ve built up over the years is lifted when partaking in these substances. That normal everyday drive now stimulates you to the core – no longer is traffic a trivial mass of cars, but rather a collection of human beings, in metal boxes, with wheels, attempting to perform duties, in trade for currency – and they’re stuck on tar. The “normal-ness” of our lives drops out from beneath us, and suddenly all things become important once again.
     The duality of this is the perspective that nothing matters, or everything matters. The prior is called a bad trip, while the latter is an experience of one-ness: That all things are inter-related and genuinely important.
     When in an entheogenic state on any of these substances, the grass is no longer something to be mowed, but a large, diverse organism, which is pleasing to the eyes. A flower is no longer an abstract beauty, but raw magnificence of life, attempting to attract your attention – and the bees. Your house is no longer an object to be bought and sold, but a dwelling of your life, a place you inhabit and connect with. All things suddenly become paramount to your existence, and reality itself.
     But this normalization is only partly subconscious. You can actively seek out new meaning and purpose to all things in your life. Tripping every day is not an option, but realizing the vastness of our reality is. One method I’ve discovered to remove the normalness of my day is to imagine I am a visiting scholar on my way to work. To tap into the mind and tell myself that this is a fleeting experience – my work – and that the setting and people I meet are new, important, and meaningful.

     Make an attempt to be a child, and see the flower in the yard as a magnificent structure of biology, something to stare at, and embrace. Realize traffic is not something to resist, but something to see on a grand scale of Human’s folly, (and try to laugh at it…). See restaurants not as logos and chains, but rather individual houses, with people’s dreams held inside – to sustain their life by feeding people. Strip away the normalness – and paint the world with importance.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Placebo .... Again

The Placebo
            The placebo is often talked about in medicine – that people are able to feel some sort of effect from taking a sugar pill - Whether it be symptoms being removed, pain killing properties, or even a full cure of a disease or disorder, all from a pill that is supposed to do nothing. Although this sounds miraculous, even magical, we tend to think of it negatively.
            I remember the first day me and my friends discovered alcohol. There were 4 of us in the kitchen, messing with the alcohol, and 1 was sitting in the living room, appropriately nervous. While the 4 of us were taking shots of disgusting things, we decided to pour a glass full of grenadine for our friend in the other room. Grenadine, as many know, is non-alcoholic. We watched him drink the full glass of grenadine, and what followed was fairly interesting to me, and hilarious to the others: he was drunk. Of course he wasn’t actually intoxicated from alcohol, that would be impossible, but his actions were certainly drunk.
            This happens all the time at parties – you see it - people take a shot of alcohol and suddenly act as if they've been drinking all day. The oddest part of this is the social aspect – we think negatively, or condescending to people who do this. It’s embarrassing to be a ‘victim’ of the placebo in our culture, which I’d like you to think about. Why would it be embarrassing to act drunk off one drink? For one it makes you a cheap date(!!), but two, it shows that you have an interesting ability to trick yourself into things. In the cases I just talked about, the benefit of this placebo is social lubricant, one drink is going to do little physiologically, by psychologically if it removes your inhibitions – that could be beneficial to making friends and forming fun memories.
            On a more serious note, however, the placebo extends far deeper than social lubricant – it is deeply entwined in healing, therapy, and curing ailments; and it is not something to be embarrassed about at all. In fact, I would say it should be praised. I am not easily given in to placebo, and this is unfortunate – I cannot be hypnotized, and I analyze any prescriptions, drugs, or foods I take very carefully to avoid the placebo in the name of hard science. However, often I wish I had never learned to go this route, for the placebo is a mastery of the mind in a way we often disguise as stupidity. We believe that it is simply tricking one’s self, and you must be a fool to trick yourself.
            Yet, digging deeper you will find that meditation, trance-states, astral projection, and other forms of self-hypnosis are actually the placebo effect, manifesting in various areas of our perception.
Meditation is a placebo for the idea that nothing is happening.
Trance-states are a placebo for the idea that you are feeling something more!
Astral projection is a placebo for the idea you are asleep!
            We can trick our minds into certain states of being, and the greater your ability to do these things, the more relaxed, healthy, and able you are going to be in numerous situations. To believe you are being healed by a sugar pill and to have done so, is a far greater accomplishment in my eyes than to know that you’ve gotten a placebo, since you feel nothing.
            This trickery of ourselves is a controlled loss-of-control, if that makes any sense, and I would argue it was highly necessary to our survival. All shamanism, and medicine men and women were able to not only access their placebo and enter altered states of consciousness to seek truth and understanding, but they were masters of bringing out the placebo in others. 
            We know that eating ginseng every day will probably not cure you of a serious disease. At the same time we also have heard of people being completely cured of serious ailments with one treatment of ginseng (or any other medicinal herb). Western culture identified only the ginseng as the medicine. Eastern, and ancestral knowledge knew that ginseng is just a carrier of the placebo, a carrier of the ritual, a carrier of an altered state of mind – one of healing, hope, and comfort.
            We have left the idea that rituals are required in medicine, and instead only kept the physical compounds which seemed to be “active”. But activity is often only half the picture. One’s state of mind is absolutely essential to the activity of any molecules in the body – and that goes with my previous video that the mind and body are one.
            Just remember next time someone “acts” more intoxicated, happy, or cured than you would expect – they aren’t fools, they have tapped into their controlled loss of control. They have accessed a state of mind that many of us have thrown in the garbage – the ability to believe, and the ability to cure ourselves from within.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Mind And Body Are One

The Mind and Body are One      

                We’ve all heard this phrase – and whatever image it conjures in your head, I want to replace. This one sentence is an incredibly important insight into what we are as human beings, as living things.
Often, in science, things are reduced to their parts, and then each part is analyzed separately and independently. Want to learn how a car works? Take out the motor, understand the motor first, then connect it to the axle, and so on. We tend to think of cars, computers, electronics and technology as parts – because we build them that way. An unfortunate repercussion of this is that we have applied the same reductionist logic to biological systems – including our own body.
                We like to believe that the brain is the brain is the brain. That if you were to remove the brain from the body and keep it in a jar of nutrient and oxygen, we could preserve who we are (Thanks, Futurama)– but that is pure fiction, for the brain is connected in an infinite many ways to the body through our nerves, which are connected to blood vessels, tendons, muscles, and all of our organs. These nerves read signs from every millimeter of our body, outside and in, and can tell us how we’re doing. If we were to remove the brain from the body, we would feel not only odd, but likely downright horrible.
                The brain is important, and so is the body. Learning and keeping the brain active keeps it growing, and keeps the neurons occupied. This contributes to our overall happiness. We also know that exercise does the same thing – but when you think of this is reductionist logic why on Earth would exercise make you happy? It shouldn’t – since the body isn’t the brain, it doesn’t have neurons*, it doesn’t sense depression or happiness.
                One of the greatest and most simple examples of how the mind and body are one is smiling. When you feel fairly bland, a simple forced smile will cause your brain to release endorphins, making you feel happy. A similar example is the spreading open of the arms – when you hold arms close to you, and shrink your body area, the brain closes off endorphin release and tends to create stress – however, if you open up your arms as if ready to give a big hug, and spread your legs out wider than usual, the brain senses calmness and ambition – again, making you feel good. One other useful example is chewing gum removes stress and anxiety – why? Because the brain more or less tells itself “If I were really in danger, I wouldn’t be eating right now” – so chew gum before an anxious or stressful event.
                But what does this really tell us? Is there such a thing as “real” and “fake” happiness? Nope; not at all. What this tells us is that happiness is a muscle, an action that we take, and just like muscles they can be activated involuntarily (like your arm muscles contracting when the hand contacts fire) or they can be used on command and strengthened. It also tells us that the brain shouldn’t be considered separate from the lips, the arms, the mouth, or any other part of the body. The brain is the body, and the body is the brain. You have more receptors for serotonin in your gut than in your brain!
                What you should remember is
1.       Logically, the brain and body are one. That they are inseparable and taking care of one is going to help in caring for the other.
2.       You can achieve happiness voluntarily. Sometimes it will be harder than normal, and sometimes it just won’t be worth the effort (imagine lifting weights after a marathon).

3.       Train it! Just like the muscles of your arms, the brain will grow in response to how it is used. The happier you attempt to make your day, the happier your following days will be.

*The body does have neurons but not the same as the brain.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

How To Meditate

Its almost becoming a fad- meditation. Yoga has already surpassed that status, its quite popular. Partly for the image that comes with it - someone who 'has their shit together' does Yoga and meditates, right? So we all want to have our shit together, and many of us look for that in Yoga and Meditation.

Let me say something that is, to some, confusing and stupid, but to others, a bit more Taoist; You cannot try to meditate. You cannot concentrate on meditation, for concentration implies doing something that is inherently boring or hard to do.

After many ups and downs with meditation, let me give you my hints, since I find I'm with the majority of people in that meditation seems a bit confusing to me at first.

The Happy Meditation;
Ever feel bland, sad, or just not right and want to feel good? This is the meditation practice to get there. Sit down in your meditation position of choice, close your eyes, and slow your breath. Now, imagine black, nothing, space. Once you've done that imagine your brain resetting. The past is the past, the now is now, forget all the feelings attributed to the past - restart.

Now, breath in and out, focus on this for a minute or two, and then bring in a happy memory from the past. Something that really absolutely makes you happy - a picnic with friends, a great time with the family, a wonderful moment - a life changing one, a sirene kiss. It doesn't matter what it is, it matters that it made you happy then, and you can focus on it now. 

Bring it to the forefront of your thoughts. Immerse yourself in that memory. Remember every detail of the setting - the sky, the looks on peoples faces, the feeling of not caring, the feeling of freedom, of happiness, of love and joy. With each breath take in more happiness. Feel the happiness hit the bottom of your lungs like a tingling release of energy. Each breath getting happier and happier.

If done correctly and with a sincere intent, you will find yourself embracing a pillow, or rolling on the floor with utter amazement of how blissful you have become. Practice makes perfect.

The 'I Need To Change' Meditation;
This meditation is when you've realized that you're doing something you don't want to be doing, either to yourself or to others. Be it gossiping, being arrogant, lying, stealing, or being down-right mean. Here is how to get out of that.

Meditation pose. Sit. Breath. Think of nothing. Reset the mind. Ok.

Now, with each breath in, imagine something good in the world. Remember a point where someone made you happy for something they did. Remember how that made you feel, in all seriousness. For instance, I was walking home one night, and a man I never really talked to, but had seen before, was approaching. I looked at him and made eye contact and nodded my head, and he looked at me, and said 'Have a good night'. But there was something far more grand than just those words that was spoken to me - inside me. He truly meant that, and he meant it in the nicest way possible. 

When I feel as if I'm becoming a jerk, or acting foolish, I will meditate on those words. Each breath in I imagine a person doing something similar in the world, and with each breath out, I make the realization (and mantra) 'Everyone deserves my love.' This sets me straight as an arrow every time. You will come out of it speaking truths, removing the veil of our culture, and acting how you truly want to be. - Remember, everyone deserves your love.

The 'Real' Meditation
This is to clear your mind, to reset everything, and to make the future a breeze, no matter the forces at play.

Sit. Relax. Reset. 

Now nothing. Don't TRY to remove thoughts, don't try to do anything. The only thing you will try to do is realize your thoughts. When a thought train comes along, just sit and remember you are not here to partake in the internal conversation. Just realize the thoughts, acknowledge them, but give them no weight or meaning. Like an angry driver coming by, acknowledge it, accept it is there, and forget about it. Continue this.

For me, as soon as I acknowledge a thought and realize I don't have to partake in it's conversation it immediately dies, and I find myself empty. Doing this for longer periods of time, and doing it habitually releases your internal anxiety. You become fearless of the future, and loving of the present.

Hope this helps someone out there. 
You all deserve my love.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Lost in the confusion.

You're you, and you're always gonna be you.
You were born and you're always gonna have that fact.
So now you have this 4 Billion people running around frantically trying to find out who they are, and here you & I are, sitting watching, and occasionally getting up and flailing around with them. Yelling, screaming, in the metaphorical street.
All these buildings and houses, and homes and stays - all built for us to feel more comfortable. Move from one to the next trying to get this and remove that, say this and forget that. Climbing this imaginary ladders built on 'shoulds' and 'goods', getting to the top to find nothing really special at all.
There are a few on lookers, a bit of booze in the belly, laughing at the brigade of confused and frantics - driving their cars and trucks and big ole jeeps to here and far.
There are a few who cast a blind eye to it all, finding the frantic flailing stressful and stupid, almost loathsome in a way, and they retire to a comfort of less confused animals and plant life.
But again, here you and I are. Sitting, occasionally staring in confusion, and partaking in confusion ourselves. Thinking of bliss and love, pain and meaning. What should I do with it all, and why?
Well, I don't know, honestly. I will never know if I'm right or wrong, or if there is right or wrong to begin with! But, what I consider my own opinion is that this world is so vastly confusing, so incredibly complex and dynamic, that I cannot help but to become mystified on a daily basis. So, what I ask of all people on Earth, is that you never stop realizing. Never stop having moments of inspiration, ambition, motivation, and awe.
Our universe is vast, and our Earth reflects that. All ideas, subjects, and objects in our world are incredibly interesting. There is no subject matter to be discussed that cannot be transformed in a most incredible descriptive manner. From a tree to a string - from a whale to a word, all things have depth and structure. All things could be discussed at length.
Find your motivation, in all this confusion. In fact, one of my motivational ideas is the incredible amount of confusion and panic that exists in our world.
Find it, encapsulate it, train it, and release it - Find it, learn all about it, practice expressing it and explaining it, and then do it.

Friday, June 28, 2013

We're All Story Tellers

We're all story tellers, now.

Its been exactly 1 month since my last post. Its not so much I haven't been thinking, or been too busy, I've just wondered if its worth it to put my thoughts here. I suppose it is, though. At least they are somewhere.

I was camping the past 3 days when I began to think. I began to think about my thinking and I realized all my thoughts and nearly everything interesting that I was experiencing on the trip, quickly was being transformed into little 3 sentence segments that I could easily tell other people.

Suddenly I had realized that all my thoughts were being transcribed in the equivalent of a News Broadcast's sound bites - I was preparing my thoughts for the digital and social world.

For instance, I had just seen the most miraculous cloud formations I have ever seen before with an oncoming rain storm. I was so awe struck I stood, mouth agape, fascinated at what was unraveling before me. Yet more than half of my thoughts were "How will I tell someone about this?" and sadly enough, "How can I make a facebook status update about this?"

It felt disgusting, really. It felt like my mind was more occupied with how to create a simple 3-sentence story rather than actually involving myself in the experience itself! Oh the irony!

Immediately I attempted to stop myself, but realized this was heavily engrained inside of me. That all of my experiences for the past 10 or so years had been mostly contemplations of transcribing my experience to words and sounds. I wasn't actually in the moment, I was in the future, reaping the 'likes' and 'cool story bro'-like dialogue that would ensue my story being told.

I have no idea, of course, but I must assume that we all have begun to do this. Our thoughts are quickly becoming consumed with quantity of people we can get to enjoy our story. How many likes can I get from taking a photo of this weird guy, this car accident, this funny cat.

No longer is much of anything for personal mementos - a majority of it is for transmutation to the digital world.

So I thought deeper - what would it be like to be the opposite? How long have we been story tellers?

Of course since the advent of social & digital media, its boomed - now everyone needs to be able to tell good stories, but a century ago, I wonder. Was it the same? At the ball room party, was it the story teller that got the laughs, or was it the suave philosopher?

A thousand years ago, were people tilling the dirt of their fields, sweeping the steps of their castles, and sailing the trade winds - all the while thinking about how to tell others of their adventures? I'm sure there were many, many great storytellers of those times, but I highly doubt everyone was doing it.

It was just an interesting thought. A thought I hope to get a lot of likes and comments from. A thought that I hope keeps me from being absorbed in the future. The story can be pieced together after the experience. The experience itself is priceless, however.