FREEDOM is not necessarily something that is granted or earned, nor is it just physical freedom.
It is a state of mind, heart & spirit that is uncoupled from cultural & social programming that restricts one from authentic self-expression & purity of Self.
Therefore freedom is always at hand. It is always available because it is a CHOICE.
You may be thinking to yourself that this is not true. This person (boss, parent, partner, etc.) holds you back, this institution (government, IRS, job, country, etc.) holds you down, or that some circumstance is keeping you from what you desire & deserve. But…
I promise you that this is all an illusion of the EGO.
If people like Viktor E. Frankl, author of “Man’s Search For Meaning” found personal freedom in a Nazi concentration camp then so too can we find freedom in any situation.
I lose my freedom all the time. So I have compassion. For you. For myself. We are all of the same ilk.
Almost daily I have to remind myself that freedom is a choice. No one is out to take it away from me. No one but my ego that is.
I’ll be dying under the weight of oppression of Self.
And then it will click. I am doing this to myself.
This is ridiculous I think to myself. Then I laugh. My vision expands and suddenly I am able to see a much wider view that tells a much bigger story. A story that I crafted…
And as the author of this life I have the power, the rite, and the freedom to retell it.
As I look from Universal perspective I will begin to notice that I am re-living out some childhood fear. Maybe it’s the memory of feeling ABANDONED & UNPROTECTED by my parents when my older brother was physically beating me. Or maybe it is me reliving the youthful “story” I told myself about the FAILURE of my father to notice me as an ARTIST and only recognize and honor me as an entrepreneur and businessman. Or it could be me attempting the insanity of having to be PERFECT because if I was perfect then everything would be okay right?
Most of the time it is just me reliving some FEAR related to SELF-WORTH.
Again, it is all an illusion of the ego…
We are all worthy.
This is our rite of LIFE.
And the wielders of our WORTH is always us. We can take back our power and recognize our worth at any moment.
Again, it is a choice. But it is a choice we must make each and every day. We must choose to recognize and honor our worth. And as we do this we are given back to our INNATE FREEDOM.
As we recognize our DIVINE WORTH we are able to recognize our DIVINE FREEDOM.
P.S. In regards to my family and past “terrible childhood experiences” I now know and recognize they were a divinely perfect part of my path to acceptance & forgiveness (of others & self). These experiences were also key to finding true personal power. We have all had harsh childhood experiences. It is our responsibility to find the power hidden within them. Confused about how that works…? Read this.
A huge part of SUSTAINABLE & ongoing TRANSFORMATION is CONSISTENCY. Here is an easy way to stay consistent… Get a partner! 👥 Join me & we will transform together! Sign up for my newsletter & I will keep bringing you fun & fascinating ways to keep the fire of transformation burning hot! 🔥 🌒 🔥
“Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” –Sir J.M. Barrie (creator of Peter Pan)
Marching forward. Destinal resolve. I am on the path. 👣
I am living the adventure of my life each and every day!
It is full of glory & triumph. Not glory and triumph driven by the EGO, but rather the kind that concerns Self & personal mastery.
I am speaking of healing, growth, transformation, & evolution. Continuously.
When I choose to employ my symbolic and cosmic sight I am empowered to appreciate each and every moment (even the dark ones). Moments string together in a beautiful interweaving and divinely flowing pattern. 🌑🌒🌓🌔🌕🌖🌗🌘🌑
As I step back to admire my work I see the bigger picture. I see just how awesome it is what I have been making…
I have been making a BEAUTIFUL LIFE.🌈
It is full of wonder, awe, & connectedness. It all flows together making the most divine patterns that feed my Soul. Because after all that is really what human life is about right? Feeding our Soul the gift of “experience” in all its sometimes seemingly messy chaotic perfectness. Our Soul feeds on it all. It doesn’t matter what the experience is. All human experience is divine and perfect to the Soul.
Therefore it is up to us in how we CHOOSE to experience it all. We can choose beauty and divinity.
Or we can choose UGLINESS & SUFFERING... As always the choice is ours.
As we switch through the infinite facets of the mind we can continuously shape our very own experience. Masters of our own genesis.
In each moment we are offered the chance to begin again. Over and over. This process of creation & re-creation is our human birth rite. It is the obvious secret to a fulfilling life. Though most of us forgot this for long stretches of time. Or even entire lifetimes…
I know I often forget…
Suffering after suffering we perceive it as… Instead of continual birth, death, and rebirth.
Always, it is our choice whether we stay in our suffering or if we choose to begin again.
The wheel is always turning. Life is an evolution. For all of us. And we all choose the direction and the perception of this ever-turning wheel of experience.
So what do I choose today? What direction am I going? What facet of experience am I choosing to experience my life in? What is my vein of existence today..?
Today I choose FUN, AFFLUENCE, & MAGIC!
I choose FUN because I choose FUN!
I choose AFFLUENCE (abundance & flow) because I choose AFFLUENCE!
I choose MAGIC because I choose MAGIC!
What does FUN mean to me? It means life is an infinitely friendly & adventurous game that is meant to be played full out with HEART & SPIRIT BLAZING. 💓 🔥 And with a MIND open to WONDER, AWE, & FREEDOM. 😇 This is harnessing the power of the eternal child that always lives within no matter our age or circumstance.
How about AFFLUENCE? Affluence is the state of “abundance” & “flow”dancing together. Even the missteps, mistakes, trips, and tumbles are part of this dance. Because they always bring about new insight, new healing, new growth, and ever-evolving ongoing TRANSFORMATION. Even in the so-called mishaps of everyday life there is a perfectly divine flow of abundance if we choose to grasp the silver-lining no matter how turbulent the storm. That silver-lining is tied directly to the rainbow and the pot of gold. Grab it! Hold it tight! And let the STORM carrying you forth in your ADVENTURE! 🌪⛈🌦🌈
And last but definitely not least… MAGIC! Mystery…. Intrigue! Mystical happenings… Divine consciousness touching our lives. 🔮 🎆
Within magic lives TRUST. Trust in life, trust in the process of life, trust in the unfolding of our life, trust in others, trust in ourselves. It is knowing that when we take each step upon that HIGHER PATHthe next stair magically appears just as our foot touches down again. We don’t have to understand. As Roald Dahl said,
“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
Instead, we just have to choose to BELIEVE and the magic is always there to catch us. It is a SURRENDER to Self (with a capital “S”) and TRUST in the UNIVERSE. 🌌 🗽
In this magical way we are able to live life with Courage, Freedom, & Joy. Because we consciously choose to know the Universe is always acting and reacting in our BEST INTEREST. And as we surrender to the superconscious we do not have to consciously understand the way it works.
Instead we follow SPIRIT & INTUITION and are EMBRACED by our AWESOME, UNIQUE, & MAGICAL PATH!
In this way we get to DANCE through life! And when we fall… It’s all part of the magical journey and was actually perfectly coordinated, because all truly GREAT GAMES involve DRAMA. To be clear I mean drama as defined as a series of events having vivid, emotional, conflicting, and striking interests and results (as defined by Dictionary.com).
A life worth living happens through the beautifully cascading contrasts…
This photo was captured in the most magical way. An incredibly talented street photographer at Urban Imagery randomly stopped me in San Francisco while I was buried in my phone responding to a work email. In truth, I was doing my best to avoid myself and my emotions through workaholism. I was lost to myself and then the Universe intervened and pulled me into the present.
This happened approximately two days after I composed a majority of this piece of writing about Choosing Our Possibility.
It was a dream come true in actuality. For years the FashionRake in me dreamed of being captured in something just like this. The full disclosure is I used to fantasize about being featured in “The Sartorialist” quite often. 😎
Even more potent is the fact that I was having a pretty rough & emotional stormy day.
The prior day I had let my own anger and frustration get the better of me and I wrongly let it out upon my colleagues who did not deserve it. I am far from perfect and have my fair share of breakdowns. That morning I was still reeling from the incident & conflicting emotions.
Despite my tumultuous emotions… I chose the possibility of fun, affluence, and magic.
I even went through the effort of writing this possibility down that very morning in light of the fact I was personally having quite a difficult time in believing it.
I chose to forgive myself and was actually on my way to apologize to my coworkers . To seek forgiveness without to complete the forgiveness that I sought inside.
Something magical always seems to happen when one stands in possibility.It is like the world rearranges itself to act in accordance to the possibility that is spoken into existence.
Lo & behold my possibility of fun, affluence, and magic chose me back despite my emotions and a long-time dream magically came to fruition (in it’s own unique version).
This then translated into me being even more open to being transformed as I went from impromptu photoshoot to taking responsibility for falling out of integrity to those that I love and care for.
A day that had begun as suffering and self-oppression transformed into Self-liberation, fun, affluence, and magic. All because I chose.
**This is my living testament to the power of choosing our possibility.**
In closing, I leave you with an alchemical opportunity... 🌑🌒🌓🌔🌕
What possibility are you choosing for yourself today? 💫
P.S. After reading this you may be wondering if every day is magic, rainbows, and unicorns for me… More days than ever are now, but I still have my down days too. And I believe it is important to emote on those days so that you can be cleansed by your own emotions. See this article on sorrow for the other end of the spectrum.
P.P.S. A huge part of SUSTAINABLE & ongoing TRANSFORMATION is CONSISTENCY. Here is an easy way to stay consistent… Get a partner! 👥 Join me & we will transform together!
Sign up for my newsletter & I will keep bringing you fun & fascinating ways to keep the fire of transformation burning hot! 🔥 🌒 🔥
For context my nickname at work and among close friends and family is “Dragon” and our company is nicknamed “OMG” which is short for ohmygreen.
This is the email & work-chat (Slack) message I sent to my company colleagues asking for support:
Good morning my dear OMG-fam!
First, I want to acknowledge our illustrious leader Captain Kirk @Michael for always encouraging my personal growth and continuously providing pathways for it.
For as long as I can remember I have had this dream to be a transformation artist & leader. I didn’t even understand the dream until I began meditating & did Landmark (both gifts from @Michael & OMG).
A childhood friend offered to make a Vision Video for my blog. As part of my commitment to giving back to OMG I presented the idea of making a vision video for OMG to Michael as a way I could live my personal vision (transformation artist & leader) within OMG. He graciously embraced the idea. And the OMG vision video is now close to being done. 🙌🏼
This was a huge step for me. You see I come from a very DARK past… Aka Hollywood nightlife. In that world it was all about EGO, drugs & alcohols, greed, superficial beauty, covetousness, and the last thing you did was SHARE.
So even though my EGO did not want to share the idea of a VISION video because in the world of ego it would be competing with my own personal vision video for my blog… I did it anyway.
I did it because I am ready to heal. I did it because I have chosen to live a new possibility — the possibility of being a GREAT FAMILY-MAN. This includes my personal family AND my professional family (OMG). Part of being family is SHARING.
OMG has been my REDEMPTION. It has been my FAMILY to heal with.
Another thing I have come to recognize is that I still have growth & learning to do around ASKING FOR & RECEIVING support from anyone.
So I am using the OMG-starship as a vehicle to travel through this personally confusing & scary opportunity to heal around asking for & receiving support .
@Michael told me nearly 2 years ago that I should share my writing & my videos with the OMG team. Back then I was too scared.
I am still scared. But I am going to embrace the fear this time.
I wanted to humbly ASK for the support of the OMG-family to live my artistic vision .
I recently released a prelude to a vision video for my blog here:
I set a personal goal of getting 10k views. I’m a little over 8k right now.
This is me [your OMG 🐉 ] ASKING my family to support my personal artistic vision & goal.
It would truly mean the world to me if you “liked” & “shared” my video — “An Awakening Begins”.
[Even when my aim was off my Dad love & believed in me anyways.]
What makes a great FATHER?
I think two keys are UNCONDITIONAL LOVE & CONSISTENT MENTORSHIP.
Being loved even when you make mistakes and consistently being gently mentored at how to aim & re-aim at a LIFE WORTH LIVING makes a truly GREAT FATHER.
When I went through SEVERE DEPRESSION a few years ago and was considering SUICIDE I could actually openly talk to my father about it. I did not have to hold anything in secret. I shared it all. Everything I was thinking, considering, & feeling. In all its darkness. Without shame or withholding.
He didn’t judge me, tell me I was wrong, try to fix me, or try to tell me what to do. He just patiently LISTENED to me. He just gently & unconditional loved me. He did this weekly for months as I went through the darkest time of my life.
Fortunately, because of him and the rest of my incredibly unconditionally loving family I made it through this DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL and am now gratefully living the LIFE OF MY DREAMS.
And one of the biggest reasons I am now actuating living this DREAM-LIFE is because my Dad gifted me with daily mental conditioning.
Every day he would mentor my mind with three specific training routines. He started this when I was very young. At least by the age of 5. Maybe even earlier.
First, he would ask me to tell him THREE THINGS I AM GRATEFUL FOR. They could be anything. He never judged. It could be serious or silly. I just had to give him 3 things I was grateful for. Whatever that was for me that particular day. And after each gratitude he would give me a genuine HUGE POSITIVE RESPONSE. That usually sounded like “That is GREAT, Justin!” or “Wow! So awesome! Good work!”
Secondly, he would ask me to tell him THREE THINGS I LEARNED. Again, it could be anything. I could tell him about some superpower my favorite superhero had or how I learned to do subtraction. With every learning I shared he gave me such an explosively happy & excited response I couldn’t help but feel like one of the SMARTEST people in the world — whether or not this is true remains highly controversial… 😛
Lastly, he would ask me to share THREE MISTAKES I MADE & WHAT I LEARNED FROM THEM. He would always remind me that “a mistake is NEVER a mistake if you LEARN something from it.” Again, my mistakes could be anything — big, small, silly, or serious. All I had to do was admit the mistake and then find the silver-lining learning and the gift of opportunity hidden within.
Basically, my DAD regularly coached me to live the GROWTH MINDSET in a subtle loving fatherly way.
For periods of my life I forgot these three mind-training techniques and become mentally out-of-shape. Largely due to ALCOHOL, DRUGS, and poor choices of ENVIRONMENT.
All of which led me to my deep depression & suicidal time in my life.
But my Dad never said a word. He let me take my path & travel my unique journey no matter how radically different it was from his own. He has never drank or done drugs in his entire life.
[Even when I took a completely different path he loved & believed in me…]
My Father never forced his sobriety upon me. He let me live however I chose.
He never told me what to do.
Instead he just patiently LOVED & BELIEVED IN ME. I like to think that he always knew I would reawaken to my own brilliance no matter how far off course I went.
A large part of that is because I have re-instilled this childhood mental conditioning my father entrained into me throughout my childhood along with other daily nano-habits and actually consciously set myself up for consistent vision-living.
Now these three daily mental conditioning techniques keep me empowered despite the ever-changing weather of life. They can actually turn a dark day of breakdown into a day of brilliance & breakthrough through sheer rote execution. They literally create the space & mental reprogramming to paradigm shift.
Today on Father’s Day I honor you DAD! My deep gratitude for all the love and blessing you graciously bestowed upon me and many others in our family.
[My younger brother Morgan & his son Simon, me, my Dad (maroon), and my uncle Paul (another important Father-figure in my life).]
P.S. A huge part of an empowered & enlivened life is consistency. I would be truly honored to be a part of your consistent ever-evolving transformation. Please sign up for my newsletter ALCHEMIZED and I will be your journey-partner in the adventure of consistent life transformation! 😀
SPECIAL NOTE: I am not a Father to another human yet, but I read this book all about the GROWTH MINDSET and wholeheartedly believe every parent should read it. I actually think EVERYONE who wants to be at the top of any and all areas of their life should read it.
Building a body of work. That is what I have been dying to do.
Or perhaps, I have felt like I am dying a slow death for the last two decades as I kept my artistic self locked away. All wrapped up in my fear, anxiety, & self-limitations.
[This is me refusing to face my FEAR, ANXIETY, & AUTHENTIC SELF — all bound up by my very own doing as a result… |Photo by Noelle | Undergarments by RLTD]
But I’ve finally tapped back in. Found new life. Answered a calling. To be of service. To take the experience & wisdom that resides in this human vessel and offer it up. To harness it and share it. Actually doing that. Putting it all down into writing, videos, audio recordings, and various other art forms and storing it on the interweb for anyone to access. This is what has been missing from my life for so long.
And now. Finally. I have found renewal & true life sustenance through creating & sharing.
Something I did so effortlessly as a child. But then I forgot…
I went on to live over 20 years of my life with his nagging feeling that I am not building and creating something of value during my time in the world. It created such a massive void in me. I’ve tried filling it with material success (money, status, etc.), drugs, sex, food, exercise-addiction & pretty much anything else that I can greedily over-consume & over-focus upon to drown out and hide from the inescapable emptiness.
I’ve recently overcome a lot of my past addictions. And by the grace of the Gods I’ve found a new way to fill myself up.
Since I have started writing, blogging, vlogging and sharing my creative work here and on other social media platforms I am beginning to feel as though I am filling that void that has left me feeling so empty & desperate for so long.
Do I understand or know where I am going? No, I don’t.
But I can sense the right direction pulling me the right way. And I am becoming ever more comfortable with the fear of the unknown. Learning to embrace and cherish the mystery of my unique journey.
Through this artist reawakening process I am coming to learn that the uncertainty of it all is what excitement is made of. At least a large portion of it is.
The sense of adventure comes from the unknown — the anticipation of discovery & learning during the unpredictable endeavors. I regularly experience the joy of this uncertainty now in my startup adventures here in Silicon Valley and am finding the same joy in my artistic creations now.
At times I am in rapture from the excitement of it all. At other times I am wracked by ANXIETY and lose myself to FEAR. Often, completely shutting down when the anxiety hits. Again, this happens with both my professional work & my personal artistic work.
I have been fighting my anxiety for most my life. Pretty much ever since I forgot my artist-self. The one I locked away when a teenager decided that being an artist wasn’t going to cut it in this life.
As I locked the artist part of myself away, I also cut off my access to the ever-evolving intuitive learner that loved the unknown, the mysterious, the puzzles, the trials, and the tribulations. The one who loved the uncertainty of it all. Because within that uncertainty lived infinite POSSIBILITY.
For the last two decades I’ve been shackled. Self-oppressed. Anxiety literally killing my life-force.
But now I am being reborn. An artist rebirth is underway. And the insight & self-knowledge that is being cultivated during this process is truly LIBERATING.
Finding my art, making my art, and sharing my art is making me a better entrepreneur, partner, family-man, and more! And of course the shear joy of living as an artist in all areas of life is something I can barely understand & appreciate yet, but it feels AWESOME! And I know it’s only going to get better the more I embrace it. It is like…
TRUE AFFLUENCE: abundance & flow working together in synergy & synchronicity.
One of the biggest lessons that has come from this reawakening process is my understanding and beliefs around the infamous state of ANXIETY. This dark thing that seems to rob the joy of life from many of us. 🌑
Here is what I’ve learned about this dark state we call ANXIETY:
** Anxiety is just another facet of the same diamond that “excitement” also lives within. **
I am just an excited Spirit. A Spirit and Soul that is so electrified to be here on earth that if I am not directing my abundant energy into noble endeavors I am wracked with anxiety letting me know that my energy is not focused and directed in the right spectrum.
No wonder that after spending two decades suppressing my artist-self my anxiety had built to a point where I was left feeling so anxious that death seemed like a far better option. It was literally boiling up inside of me. Trying to show & tell me something. And it was either going to get me to listen or kill me trying.
And this leads me to the next powerful paradigm shift I’ve recently come to understand & embrace:
** Anxiety is a guidance system of “right action” and “right intent”. It is also a barometer for one’s current level of self-acceptance, self-worth, and ultimately… the state of one’s SELF-LOVE. **
The more “in tune” I am with myself and acting in accordance with Divine Will the less anxiety I have. The more I unconditionally love myself despite the ever-changing weather of life the more anxiety fades and something new & empowering comes in.
When I am fully inline with Divine Will I have no anxiety. Only pure joyful excitement. Anxiety is literally transmuted into usable positive energy to thrive in the adventure of life. I go from being completely shut down, being killed by my own life to…
Energy bursting forth like a waterfall that cannot be contained. Mesmerizing. Majestic. Powerful.
That is me when I am in alignment with my higher calling. When I am taking the “right” intuitive steps towards my own apotheosis. Even when it doesn’t make rational sense. When I can flow with my higher self who doesn’t operate from the limitations of rational-thinking then I “know” and “feel” the right steps unfolding before without having to even see them.
Scary I know. But so damn exciting too! 😁
This is the gift of anxiety & fear. If we can face & embrace them they will allow us to heal, to grow, and to TRANSFORM into a higher state of JOYFUL LIVING.
As I begin to embrace my fears and follow them with trust I literally feel the anxiety transform into excitement.
It is so subtle though. If I am not paying attention, if I am not in awareness, I miss the switch. The line between the two is so delicate. So fine. Like balancing on the edge of a sharpened sword.
Yet, when I pass into the excitement as I surrender to the calling of my fear-sirens that same sword cuts the oppressive bonds of my anxiety and I fly free. I soar. I grow. I transform. And I electrify everything and everyone around me.
Like the master pendulum in a room. So strong is my underlying force that I pull everyone in my field of energy into accordance. An array of pendulums that were all swinging in discord are now swinging together in grace.
I have seen this so many times when I am in my power. Bringing forth magic and laughter to a group of people. Amplifying their joy to a level where we can all feel it. And it is wondrous! ☄
When you can feel the energy of a group of people singing in harmony. This vibration. This movement of unison is something to behold! Rocking back & forth in synchronicity. An ocean of energy ebbing and flowing in unity.
It is dynamic co-creative fire setting us all ablaze! 🔥🔥🔥
What is awesome is that we can all do this. All of us have this power of being the master pendulum that pulls everyone around them into a higher state of being. And we have all done this many times in our lives. Even if it just with a few other people, or even one other person. We have witnessed consciously or subconsciously how our energy has pulled another’s into accordance.
The scary part is that this works both ways. Those with incredibly strong energy dark or light can pull a group in either direction. This is why each of us must maintain dominion over ourselves.
Ever interacted with a parent, partner, boss or great friend who is in a terrible mood or energetic space and then shortly thereafter find yourself in the same state? How do you think that feels for all the people you come into contact with after you have moved into that darker state of being?
How is that felt by your loved ones? Anger, anxiety, depression, and the like… those are palpable energies that can easily be felt by those we are closest to.
And because of this we must maintain dominion over our own energetic emotional state. This does not mean suppressing or denying your feelings or states of energy. I am a firm believer that we must emote to release and be cleansed by our own emotions. No matter the emotion, they always happen for a positive reason if we can recognize, acknowledge, & surrender to their healing powers. [more on embracing darker emotions and allowing them to free us here.]
When we sense our energy is dark we must be careful in how we are transmitting to others.
Out of love and respect for others we must open ourselves to receiving their lighter energy and surrender our own darker energy and flow with them. Thus we transform ourself by surrendering to another.
Paradoxical in a sense. But this is the power of communion. We are all here together to be of service to one another.
We must constantly work on our own self-derived energetic ethics. So as a world-community we are empowering one another through an infinite interplaying of leading & surrendering. Healing & harmonizing through one another.
We must hold ourselves in DYNAMIC DOMINION: allowing ourselves to be served by others when in need and serving others when they are in need.
In this way we all dance together into greater living divinity.
And in this way we can hold ourself in personal integrity, dynamic dominion, & have fun in life even when it gets turned upside down.🙃
In moving cars, parked cars, on flying airplanes, outside, inside, in total quiet, in busy noisy environments, in dark rooms, in the sunshine, at the office, at home, in random hotels and all other sorts of conditions. 365 days of meditation in a vast array of settings.
One year of unerring commitment to my awakening and my own evolution.
I did it. April 13th, 2016. This date marks one full year of meditation. Every day. Twice a day. Two sessions of 20 minutes each day. 40 minutes total per day. I didn’t skip a single meditation. In one year I meditated more than 14,600 minutes (some days I added in an additional session at my own discretion). Over 243 hours.. Over 730 sessions of meditation in the course of a year…
Looking back on this year of experience this is what I have been gifted with by my meditation practice:
1. The deepest most intimate level of self-knowledge, self-awareness, & self-acceptance I’ve ever attained in my life thus far. This has led to a sense of peace & belonging in this body, in this life, and in this world that I was unaware was even available to me in this lifetime.
2. A restoration of self-integrity & personal power that I spent 20+ years avidly destroying with self-abuse, toxic environments, drugs, alcohol, etc.
3. The GREATEST MOST LOVING, ACCEPTING, INTIMATE & UNDERSTANDING RELATIONSHIP I’ve EVER had with another person. This is easily tied as the number one reward of my meditation but I would like to think that I would have had that despite the meditation practice because SHE is that incredible. The kicker is that SHE is the reason I actually had the courage and took the action to begin this meditation journey. If she hadn’t been in my life I don’t think I would have ever begun. So in the end it was HER anyway. I call HER my Phoenix. She’s my best friend, my twin flame. She is the ever-burning FLAME that consistently rekindles my creative fire & inspires me to become the greatest man I can become. I still have a life-time to of work to do, but knowing she’s there with me makes it an exciting journey with a best friend and NOT a pain-staking obligation. I much prefer magical adventures with a magical best-friend over obligations. 🙂
4. The BEST CAREER of my life. I’m a leader and founding team-member of a Stanford startup (Oh My Green! aka OMG). We are a wellness & human potential technology company. I always dreamed of being a part of a Stanford startup. I am living that dream now. And I couldn’t ask for a more fitting industry to be in. After spending over half a decade encouraging the use of alcohol, drugs, & many other fun forms of debauchery during my stint in Hollywood Nightlife I have found redemption within OMG and bring wellness & potential to the world as part of my life’s calling.
*SPECIAL NOTE TO EVERYONE FROM MY HOLLYWOOD NIGHTLIFE PAST: I don’t regret my time in nightlife or think there is anything wrong with nightlife. Nightlife is awesome and it was a crazy awesome adventure! In truth:
I will forever be grateful for my experience in Hollywood Nightlife and forever hold a lot of LOVE for all the people that shared that journey with me.
That time of my life was absolutely necessary to shaping me into who I am and it will always be a deeply important part of my life and who I am.
I think of it as the DARKEST time of my life, but it is within the DARKNESS that I have discovered my strength & power to make a difference in the world.
(My original official Hollywood Nightlife business partners and I… the infamous Revolver Group. We were a FORCE that’s for sure — literally changed the whole game of nightlife. Love & success to you Angela, Andrew, & Benjamin! Forever grateful for the experience we shared!)
(Me & my most recent nightlife business partner & forever dear friend Kennedy (I love you, brother!)… Just another day at the office in the world of nightlife…LOL! No but, seriously… this picture pretty much sums it up… I)
(Another Hollywood throwback favorite… All key players in my life from that time. I have a ton of other honorable mentions from my Hollywood days coming too so stay tuned if I missed you… I just had to finish this piece before my creative fire went out and if I missed you here it bears no refection on your importance in my alchemical journey.)
Special shoutout to Liam and Pen&Public. Liam, you were there in Hollywood pretty much since my beginning. You were basically an unofficial business partner at the same time I was with Revolver. You blessed me with great work then. And then you moved on & created a prestigious boundary-pushing ad agency from your experience. You graced me with great work again after I finished up at Stanford and was trying to figure out my next move. This was the perfect transition that I needed. This time you took our work together to a whole OTHER LEVEL! I’ll never forget my first work event with Pen&Public…. Just a a little concert on a barge in the beautiful San Diego Bay with some small-time companies (Toyota & Pandora)… You are a BEAST, Liam! And forever a dear friend! So very grateful to you & your company. Always.
(This was only the setup for the event… You can see the magic of the event here.)
And now… I, along with my OMG superhero colleagues, hold a vision of wellness & potential for the world. Every week we deliver upon that vision.
Our mission is “empowering people to live healthy & blissful lives.” We are the vanguard of moving this world more fully into that vision of wellness & potential while driving the transformation from the industrial-economy into the age of CONNECTION. I take great joy in co-leading this revolution with my OMG Dream Team.
So what is OMG and who is the OMG Dream Team? I’m glad you asked! I’ll tell you more another time but this following video is a creative project & a testament to me living as a transformation artist & leader within my professional career. This was a vision I had that came about through my mediation practice that I chose to manifest into reality with the graces of the incredible company & team I work with at OMG. This video hold’s our VISION, exudes our ESSENCE, & showcases many of the superheroes on our Team.
*SPECIAL SHOUT TO OUR OMG FOUNDER & CEO, MICHAEL HEINRICH (narrator in video) : I met this magnificent man in one of my last & most favorite classes at Stanford after returning from a 7-8 year leave of absence. Also known as dropping out with only 2 quarters to go… Genius! But, actually one of the best decisions of my life… Michael was working on his master’s degree and had just created the first version of the concept for OMG a few weeks prior in another grad-level class at Stanford as a project. He was working on his class project by being one of the projects in my class. This is confusing but bear with me. Stanford can be confusing to outsiders but when you’re in the innovation hub of the world I swear it all makes sense. As part of my class, Global Entrepreneurial Marketing (aka GEM), we got to work on real-life startups/companies and Michael was pitching his startup class project to our class. I was immediately enamored by him. Call it an instant man-crush if you will. After being gone from Stanford undergrad for almost a decade I was in a class of mostly 20-ish year-olds and desperately looking for friends my age (30-ish). During his presentation he talked about his passion for meditation, yoga, & kung-fu. All things I thought were rad. So, I randomly approached him after his presentation and pretty much said, “I think you are cool, I am looking for friends my age, can we be friends?” He looked at me with the slightest hint of a pause and said, “Sure.” I can’t blame him for the pause. I would have paused too if some random person approached me with a crazed look in their eyes and asked to be friends.
I’ll save the rest of the Michael & Justin story for another time, but I wanted to provide a basis of understanding how the evolution of my career and meditation practice came to be. You see, Michael holds a vision of me that I am still learning to embrace and live. Michael is coming up on a decade of meditation and it was this evolutionary man who gifted me with my meditation practice. It was the first major OMG company benefit. He literally showed me the bridge to another life and paid my toll. He paid for my life partner as well. I think he somehow knew I needed her with me to take the leap of faith. If that isn’t belief in another, faith, unconditional love & compassion, and a whole lot of intuition then I don’t know the meaning of those words. **I cried writing this part… that is how deeply his graciousness towards me & my Phoenix has touched me.**
I now know that meditation is one of the most important things in my life and I will forever be grateful to our visionary OMG Commander-in-Chief. We call him Captain Kirk and we are definitely on the Starship. In him I found not only someone I could follow, but someone who empowered me to lead in ways that were deeply authentic to my core being. I am still learning how to both follow & lead, but with my spiritual brother it has been a lot of fun and a very much an exciting journey!
5. I am living my creative vision of being a transformation artist & leader as a writer, blogger/vlogger, & alchemist. This here ever-expanding blog and my ever-growing Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, & Twitter are all LIVING EXPRESSIONS of this vision.
I creatively express with integrity & authenticity AND I have a full-time job at a fast-growing Stanford startup at the same time! I never thought I could live my creative dreams and at the same time live my Stanford startup dream. I always thought I would have to choose one or the other. Turns out that was just a limiting & false belief I inadvertently “chose” to believe.
I thought about this writing & blogging/vlogging vision pretty much every week since 2005-ish. I didn’t even start writing until January 31, 2015. Yes… I thought about writing and blogging/vlogging for almost 10 years and had never filmed a video or creatively written outside of a school/class assignment…. And even that writing was pretty lame, inauthentic, and uncreative writing that was written for the sole purpose of getting good grades. More on that 10 years of waiting to “start when I was ready” here.
My meditation practice began a few months after my writing. And here we are today… I am a writing machine! And I’m becoming a filming beast too! This article explains how I started my writing and this article explains my current practice of 500+ words of writing per day. The next step for me is to copy my writing formula and apply it to my video & audio ventures.
My vision of myself as a transformation artist & leader is in its infancy but the epic journey is well underway! Finally! And my role at OMG supports and empowers this vision. I literally have permission and encouragement by my company CEO to live this vision in every way possible and he is constantly providing opportunities to empower this vision. Wait, I can have a job and live my dreams?!A whole new world of possibility revealed itself this last year…
I am still learning to live in this realm of possibility and I do fall out of it, but thankfully I have my Phoenix & Captain Kirk to lend a hand when I stumble.
(Michael aka “Captain Kirk”, me aka “Dragon“, & Phoenix at StartX – Stanford’s startup accelerator where OMG got it first major boost)
6. I am sober, happy, & very much ALIVE (feeling magical again without drugs!). After becoming sober from marijuana I felt like I lost the “magic transcendental” space I was regularly put in through my use of cannabis. Through meditation I have rediscovered the innocent joy and magic of life without drugs or alcohol.
I’ve somehow recaptured the wonder of childhood where I didn’t need drugs to see & experience the magic of life on a regular basis.
(CAUTION: Man-child at play… No alcohol or drugs powered this Peter-Pan flight! :P)
For the record, at the time of this writing I am over 3 years sober from marijuana and will be two years sober from alcohol in September 2016. I was an everyday pot-smoker for 4-5 years and quasi-alcoholic since 2002. I am still confused by what really qualifies as alcoholism as I rarely drank by myself, but I did drink circumstantially with regularity. I binge drank like crazy during college the first time around and I’m sure one can imagine how often I drank while working in nightlife… Basically every day of work… I am sure different people living different lifestyles could argue either way. In the end it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I’ve always wanted that sense of magic & wonder I had during childhood back. When I lost it growing up I rediscovered it in drugs and alcohol, but I the side-effects took a heavy toll… [more on that here]. Now, thanks to my meditation, I got my natural & innate magic back!⚡️☄🐉
7. I am in the best physical shape of my life. No steroids or crazy illegal supplements. There is another practice that played an even greater part of this and I will be sharing that in another post in the near future [signup here if you want to make sure I email it to you when I finally release it]. My eating strategy and philosophy also plays a huge role (post coming on that too). Nonetheless, the meditation definitely plays a significant part and empowers the other techniques I use to be in awesome shape year-round.
(No steroids, no illegal supplements, all-natural FitnessRake & FlexEating — my fun, flexible, & year-round flex-worthy eating strategy/philosophy. Post on FlexEating in-development…sign up here to receive it when it’s released.)
8. Space. Meditation gave me space. Space in my mind. Space in my emotions. Space in my reactions to things in life. You could also call it awareness or mindfulness. The more I meditate the more space I discover. I am able to pause before reacting to things that would have set off pre-meditating Justin. This has done WONDERS for my relationship and just about every other area of my life. Instead of reacting, I respond from a place spaciousness & awareness. It is so much more powerful & profound than reacting.
9. Clarity. Clarity of intent. Clarity of action. In other words, I am also in the best mental shape of my life. Again, the more I meditate the clearer both my being and action in the world becomes. It is a slow and subtle shift and I am really only noticing it a year later, but now looking at all that I’ve done in the last year even I am amazed at the crystallization of long-held dreams and personal accomplishment.
10. A radical reduction of the frequency and intensity of my ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, & NEGATIVE MENTAL/EMOTIONAL STATES. Looking back I can confidently say that I’ve experienced at least a 50% reduction in both the frequency and intensity of my anxiety and bouts of depression. It may even be as a 70-80% reduction, but I am still observing myself in comparison to a year ago and it isn’t an exact quantification process. Nonetheless, considering that I am not currently doing therapy or taking any prescription/recreational drugs this is HUGE! I am naturally able to stay in positive states more often & regularly. AND… I move through darker states much more easily now thanks to my meditation practice.
11. A deep understanding, appreciation, and acknowledgement of my power to commit to something. This alone has unlocked me in so many ways. Commitment has been a big area of healing, growth, & transformation for me. Since meditation I have come a LONG way from my old uncommitted-self. And now that I’ve completed 1-year without breaking my commitment to meditation…
I KNOW WITH PERFECT FAITH THAT I HAVE THE POWER TO TRULY COMMIT TO ANYTHING IF I CHOOSE TO.
The secret is in the power of decision & choice. When I began this meditation journey I made the decision that I would meditate twice-a-day. Every. Single. Day. For 365 days in a row. I CHOSE because I CHOSE. And I decided that there was no exception to this decision.
When I crystalized that decision in my head & heart and took that stand… EVERYTHING in my life adjusted itself to support that choice.
There were some days where I had to jockey my schedule and get creative, but honestly most days it was pretty easy to accomplish simply because I made a decision that had no exceptions. I also didn’t allow there to be any excuse for reneging on this agreement I made with myself.
I believe anyone can do this with anything important in their life. But first, one must FULLY & COMPLETELY make a decision and fully stand in that choice. I am still very much learning how to do this in other areas of my life. I did that with OMG when I finally committed & came on full-time. And again, this choosing to commit TRANSFORMED my life. I’ve done it in my relationship with my Phoenix and my commitment to ever-continuous healing, growth, & transformation, but I still have plenty of areas where I still need to heal & transform my responsibility & commitment. I’ve also committed to sharing these healing/healed wounds here on this blog once they are at a level where I believe the sharing will be of service.
Special note: I am still questioning and exploring just how many things you can an “ideal commitment” with at the same time. I chose ONE thing and committed to it for a year. If you are thinking about trying an “ideal commitment” be wise and choose to do this with only one thing as you test it out for yourself in some new area of your life. Chances are you already have a “ideal commitment” like this to something in your life (partner, paying taxes, your career advancement, etc.). Take a moment and look at your life. Look and see what you are doing in the areas of your life where you naturally already have an “ideal commitment” and try applying it to another area. I can almost guarantee you have at least one, if not several “ideal commitments” that some deep part of you made with unwavering commitment. Good chance you made some of these without even being aware of how deep your commitment was. I did this with my exercise, although I didn’t realize it at the time. For years I trained relentlessly, almost never taking a day off from the gym. I eventually learned that it is better to have some rest days (more on that later), but for whatever reason when I began my Transcendental Meditation practice I immediately applied the same conviction and it turned into 365+ days in a row.
If you decide to to consciously initiate another “ideal commitment” and you fail — forgive yourself and begin again. I’ve committed to plenty of things and broken the commitment over and over again. My writing & blogging is a living example of a reoccurring broken agreement with myself despite this commitment. One thing is for sure though. As soon as I publicly posted that piece of creative work regarding my commitment I instantly began holding to the agreement more often than not. And since sharing my commitment to this endeavor my commitment just keeps on growing stronger. Yay! Accountability leveraged to the hilt with social media! 😛 Accountability is a powerful tool (another thing I am finally learning).
I don’t know if I got lucky with my “ideal commitment” to meditation or what. But I know I could do it again. 😉
So… Why Transcendental Meditation?
Before I discovered Transcendental Meditation (TM) I would have thought you were bat-shit crazy if you had told me that I could meditate anywhere at any time in any environment, let alone keep it up every day for an entire year. And I probably would have thought of punching you when you told me to do it twice a day. You see I had this preconceived notion that you basically HAD to have a monk-like environment to meditate and sit in some uncomfortable position.
After a year of meditation in all sorts of environments that limiting belief has been completely shattered.
I also always thought that my mind was just too busy and active to ever meditate. Before TM I thought “I think too much to ever truly meditate.” I had even tried several different meditation practices and failed miserably. I still remember having to do a group a meditation during my yoga teacher trainer certification and literally feeling like I was going out of mind. My monkey mind literally feeling like I was going to break, go insane, and just walk out on the group. I stuck through it though… Despite the misery of it… It was a basic breath-based meditation and it was before I learned TM.
As I mentioned earlier, my foundational meditation practice is Transcendental Meditation (TM). This is a specific technique of meditation that is mantra-based. Do I think it is THE WAY ONLY WAY TO MEDITATE? Definitely not. Just like I don’t think bodybuilding and yoga are the only ways to exercise. They just happen to be natural modes of physical expression for my unique body. TM happens to be a mental practice I naturally experience affinity with. Furthermore, bodybuilding, yoga, & transcendental meditation not only work really well for me…
I regularly experience deep joy, love, & happiness from my practice of these disciplines.
I also still rollerblade and as much as I want to bring rollerblading back into vogue the point I am making is that does not mean any of those practices are for you (although you should definitely give rollerblading another shot). The only way to find out is to try it for yourself. I know people who have been doing TM for years and I know people who have done TM and decided it wasn’t for them. And in both cases my belief in their invaluable worth as people is definitely not determined by their meditation practice no matter its current state.
Here is what works for me about Transcendental Meditation (TM):
It is easy & it works for me. Probably the most important points.
It is a specific technique that works exceptionally well with my hyperactive, always-thinking, overly-cerebral mind.
You can literally do it ANYWHERE in ANY ENVIRONMENT/CONDITION.
You don’t need any external thing to do it. Just your beautiful & divine self. And you are always with you. No app, no special clothing, no special place, & no timer needed. (Personally, I do usually use a timer-alarm to avoid falling into a super long meditation and messing up my daily schedule, but I know plenty of TM-ers who use no alarm at all.)
IN SHORT RECAP ON WHY I USE TM:
It the most dynamic & robust meditation technique I’ve discovered. It is easy & it works (scientifically & personally proven).For an entrepreneur or anyone who has a very active life these qualities make it a sustainable practice that can live within & EMPOWER just about any lifestyle.
Please note the emphasis on “I”. This practice may not be for everyone. It is an invaluable practice for me personally.
On a random side note, what is really personally interesting for me is that TM has opened me up to explore & really embrace several types of meditation. Where as before I tried them and could barely get through a few minutes I can now do them easily. I like to think about it in the sense that since I bodybuild and do yoga I am naturally fairly good at most things that require physical effort. TM is like my mental bodybuilding/yoga and over the course of the last year I’ve delved into mindfulness, Yoga Nidra, lucid dreaming, and various guided mediations. All with great ease and enjoyment. There is a list of other types meditation that I am into at the bottom of another article I wrote [see here].
Here is what I DO NOT necessarily appreciate about TM:
The training to learn it can be pretty expensive. Mine was over $700 and that is why it was such a huge deal that Michael gifted it to me & my partner. I have mixed feelings about the cost. On one hand I know from personal experience that when something isn’t cheap to get you tend to care a whole lot more for it, proactively invest your time & energy into it, and actually make strong & regular use of it. “Getting your money’s worth” is a saying that comes to mind. So, I can see how the steep cost of TM actually can play a large role in people sticking with it long enough to experience and notice the benefits and by that time the chances of them keeping the practice indefinitely go way up. In that light, the cost could be considered a benefit. On the other hand, it can be a limiting factor that scare people away or make it inaccessible to some. I believe there are discounts, scholarships, and financial need available to those in need but don’t quote me on that.
There is a weird social stigma around TM floating around on the internet and among groups of people. It reminds me of the Mac versus Windows ridiculousness. Or the cult-like following or avoidance of Apple products in general. For the record it is not a cult. The TM organization does NOT harass me in any way. They do not even randomly call me and try to get me to spend more of my money. Even my beloved alma mater does that! [I actually appreciate it by-the-way because I love giving back to Stanford. Keep calling me! I used to make those calls to raise money for Stanford too.]. Here is the way I think of it: if you think TM is a cult then you should also consider the following successful companies as cults by the same logic: SoulCycle, Nike, Apple, Amazon, Whole Foods, etc. All of these companies are hyper successful in their field of business. So is TM. It just happens to do business in the field of meditation. I think that any organization or person doing work to bring mediation to world is doing something valuable & noble.
Ok, I think that is a concise and honest overview of the pros & cons of TM as specific meditation practice. Now back to the big picture…
Here is how I like to think about my meditation practice:
It is an infinite ever-expanding foundation.
As you invest in the practice the foundation grows with each session. It is the foundation which you can build everything else in your life upon. Want to build a castle in the sky? You will need a foundation for that. Can you build a home without a foundation? Sure, but maybe only one or two stories high. And the longevity & vitality of that house will be severely limited & compromised. Can you build a skyscraper that touches the clouds & sky above without a foundation? Definitely not. Is meditation the ONLY foundation upon which to build your castle? Nope, there are plenty of incredible people doing incredible things that don’t meditate. But I guarantee you they have discovered some foundation which to build upon — faith, family, mindset, & other various human potential practices. Meditation is just one scientifically proven foundation.
The other aspect of regular meditation that is so powerful and may be under-realized is that it acts like an AMPLIFIER to every positive thing you do in your life. And in converse it acts as DAMPENER to the harmful things you still do… often leading to the release of these negative habits.
I personally witnessed this positive amplification and negative dampening in so many areas of my life now that I’m looking back over the last year. I am utterly in awe! But it all happens so subtly with meditation and often it was easy to miss it happening. It is only retrospect that I can see just how much of impact meditation has had in so many ways.
DO PEOPLE YOU KNOW & ADMIRE MEDITATE?
You would be surprised at how many incredibly successful & happy people DO meditate. I know I was when I first began to explore my meditation practice. As I delved into it I realized that a lot of people I admire meditate, but aren’t overly open about it. Not that they hide it, they just don’t speak about it much. It was like the common force-factor, or golden-thread, that many people I admired shared. Here are a some of my favorites: Hugh Jackman (aka Wolverine — my personal favorite), George Lucas, Oprah Winfrey, Jim Carrey, Jerry Seinfeld, Russell Simmons, Russel Brand, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tim Ferriss (another personal favorite), Justin Boreta of The Glitch Mob (one of my favorite music groups), Jennifer Aniston, Jeff Bridges, Cheryl Crow, Ellen Degeneres, Cameron Diaz, Clint Eastwood, Eva Mendes, Rick Rubin, Miguel (R&B artist), Moby, Katy Perry, Martin Scorsese, Howard Stern, Liv Taylor, Ray Dalio and so many other famous & uber successful people. AND just about every recent spiritual leader (Ghandi, Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, etc.). And let us not forget Buddha & Jesus and all the other great spiritual masters of our short human history.
I am also taking a wild guess that probably a lot of the super successful people you admire meditate and you may not even be aware of it.
As in pretty much all areas of life, what is most important is finding what is enjoyable and sustainable for you & your lifestyle. I cannot emphasis the word ENJOYABLE & SUSTAINABLE enough. If it is not personally FUN (as in you like to do it) then you will likely not keep it up over a long period of time. This is incredibly true for a physical fitness routine and the same truth applies to most areas of life I think. Think about it… If you don’t enjoy your marriage or job chances are you will eventually give it up despite the original commitment and agreements you made.
I had to do a lot of exploring to find a meditation practice that I could easily stick to. TM happened to be that for me. Does it help that most of the living famous people I mentioned above also do TM? Yes it does. Am I following? Yes I am. I have learned that if you want to be a great leader you have to be a great follower. Then you add your own unique alchemical twist to it all and authentically lead in your own way. 😉
Before I end this let’s dispel some common myths about me & meditation in general:
Can I levitate and move objects with my mind? Not yet, but I am still working on it. I can do some pretty cool yoga poses and I like to jump around (see picture above). Nonetheless, I’ve yet to meet a meditator who can fly or has the power of telekinesis. However, there is something about the increase of synchronicity that happens with meditation the longer you do it. And that is truly magical! It isn’t really something I can fully explain (yet) but the increase of random incredible things syncing up and happening for the betterment of my life is palpable compared to the years before I meditated.
Do I have mind-control over myself & others? I definitely have a much more harmonious relationship with my mind and the minds of others. I am not able to 100% control my monkey mind or make other people do things they don’t want to do. True power is self-mastery. And meditation has been playing a huge part for me in coming into greater mastery over my own mind. I still have a long way to go, but I’m infinitely further along than I was a year ago.
Have I completely removed breakdowns and all darker states of being & existence? LOL! This is life. I am human. I still have dark days, experience failure, over-react, and cause pain/suffering/hurt to others and myself. Even superheroes experience all of this. But I now have a level of power to move through these experiences with grace that was unavailable to me before meditation. And for that I am deeply thankful and have greater faith in myself and my life during the rainy days.
Have I fully overcome all of my anxiety & depression of the past? Nope. They are still with me. I still find myself experiencing mind-breaking levels of anxiety at times and do still fall into mini-bouts of depression [see here for more on that]. BUT! The frequency and intensity of these states has dramatically reduced over the course of the last year of meditation. I’ve also discovered the space to meet and embrace these states with compassion instead of trying to fight, beat, or kill them. I also discovered that resisting these states only seems to make them stronger and endure longer. I now have the space and courage to heal & integrate my anxiety and depression as they come up in everyday life thanks to my meditation.
Do I literally stop my thinking mind through my meditation practice? Ha! Ya right! I still have a billion thoughts whizzing around in my mind quite regularly. However, I do find myself falling into pure presence more and more. This is feeling of complete being with everything that is suspended from time. I am still coming to understand this, but I think it is what some would call a blissful state of existence. Also, my ability to focus has dramatically increased due to my meditation. This has benefits in so many areas of my life. Think about it. How much more could you do if you could really focus well on the things that are important to you?
The fact that I am living a dream working at a Stanford startup in Silicon Valley, while consistently expanding my vision of myself as transformation artist & leader through my blog & on other social media platforms, am in excellent physical health & condition, have an incredibly happy & harmonious relationship with a divine being & my family, etc. should all speak to the power of focus I derive from a regular meditation practice. I am far from perfect. I know this. I have tons of growth still to do. But now I am firing on way more pistons at the same time in unison. And it seems like the longer I meditate the more horsepower I get to use for whatever I find personally meaningful & important.
Do I sit in lotus pose or cross-legged every time I meditate? I can’t even do lotus pose (yet) and I am a certified yoga teacher. This is mostly due to an old hip injury from a bike/car accident (I was on the bike). But the truth is that lotus pose has ZERO bearing on one’s ability to meditate. And I don’t think I sat cross-legged for even one meditation session in the last year. All that is really important is to have a straight (but relaxed) spine. Most of the time I sit up in a bed, chair, or couch. If I am outside I will usually find something to rest my back against. One of the keys to great sustainable meditation is being comfortable while you meditate. The common vision of the yogi sitting in lotus or cross-legged is because those people do yoga every day and have been for years. Sitting in those positions is comfortable for them. For many of us those two sitting positions are painful or even impossible. The truth is most of the time when I meditate I sit in my bed with my back against the headrest and my legs fully extended out in front of me resting along the mattress. Nice & comfortable for me. Find a meditation and mediation posture that works for you, don’t buy into some purposeless dogma that demands a certain position. Meditation is an inner pose.
Is every meditation amazing & serene? Definitely not. Just like my bodybuilding & yoga sessions some days are pure joy and full of transcendence. Other times I feel off and out of my power. Some meditations literally suck and I just bear through the 20 minutes. Just like some of my exercise sessions suck. Yet each time I complete a workout or a meditation never have I thought, “that was a waste of time.” The magic comes from the regular practice. I’ve discovered that the practice, process or journey is the real fortune of meditation, bodybuilding, yoga, or any endeavor really.
Did I get instant results? Again, I return to my bodybuilding and yoga analogy. One bodybuilding session or even several isn’t going to suddenly make me ripped and shredded. One yoga session or even a few won’t completely realign my body and make me super flexible. The fruit is in the ongoing practice. Until I sat down to write this piece I wasn’t even fully aware of all the incredible benefits of my year of daily meditation. The transformation is slow and subtle… But it’s lasting! REMEMBER: ever-growing foundation upon which you can build upon.
I think that is it for now. I may or may not come back at some point and add some more if it comes to me, but I think this is a pretty comprehensive review of my experience from of a year of daily meditation.
In closing I leave you with this…
Did meditation solve all my problems? No. I still have tons of growth opportunities. But it did slow-motion catapult me into a RADICAL NEW REALM OF POSSIBILITY. It is paradoxical because the transformation happens ever-so-slowing. But it is lasting & compounds over time. Over weeks or even a couple months it seems like nothing happened. Over a year… Two different worlds.
One last thing to note is that I have been experiencing what some would call an awake transcendent state. These just started happening towards the end of my year of meditation. Or I just started becoming aware of them. Either way, I am still coming to understand them. For now I am content to enjoy the mystery of them and sit in ambiguity. All I can really say for now is that these experiences are so worth a year of daily meditation! You can read about the experiences here & here. Fair warning, these are direct from my journal I keep and may be a little confusing.
If you read this far… Thank you! I deeply appreciate your curiosity and hope you enjoyed reading about my journey with meditation so far. If you didn’t, that’s okay too. You see, I really wrote this for me. I wanted to commemorate something that is so deeply intimate and profound to me and the best way for me to honor that was by writing about it and then sharing it without attachment to how long it ended up being or having any attachment to the response it got. I am grateful to anyone and everyone who even read a sentence of this and shared in my honor and acknowledgment of a major milestone in my life.
And if you are curious about meditation… Go explore! I truly believe there is a meditation practice for everyone! You just have to be open to the possibility and take courageous action until you find one that clicks. And I promise you will know when it does. If it hasn’t clicked yet and you have been exploring it just means you’re meant to keep being curious, open, & actively searching. Hell, I am still curious and exploring the infinite inner realms through various modes of transportation. I am NOT in it for the destination. I am in it for the alchemical journey! Feel free to join me! 😀
What we need is the intention to allow creativity to create through us. A surrender to the creative force that lies within us all. The eternal ever-burning Sun. Do we hide it away in some dark deep closet? Hidden from all, including ourselves. Or do we open the door and let whatever reflections of brilliance are there shine outward into the world? What mystery and revelation will come bounding out of this inner door of light? It is so exciting it can be scary. I am scared. But once again I embrace the darkness with love. Transmuting it into light consciousness to cast forth into the world with valor. God grant me valiance.
I do not know what will come forth, but I trust the Universal design. I trust that as I tap into my diamond consciousness and the Universal Mind whatever is meant to come will come and it will be right.
I have been wrestling with my old self. My old self who says that I cannot live my artistic creative dream and have the rest of my life (and family) be okay. Or more succinctly, I cannot live my artistic creative dream with integrity and commitment if anything else in my life is out of order. This is the old commandment I have been living all my life. The wounded warrior character that never gets to do what his inner child artist wants to do. But it is time. Time to change my story and change my life. To recognize that my compassionate heart is strong. I can hold everyone in my life in compassion and live my artistic vision with truth at the same time. I have the power of the Sun ever-burning within. There is more than enough energy to create and hold all of my life and those within it in compassion. It is time to let go of this self-defeating illusion. There is nothing wrong with creating my bliss and sharing it with others while other aspects of my life are under the fire of healing, growth, and transformation. This is the infinitely dynamic way of life. An infinity of moving parts. I can trust they are all working together in a divine dance for divine evolution. I reach in and grab my trust and I wield it with a furious heart. Sun-fueled. Let me burn away this ice that freezes me in stagnation. Spring is here. Let me call forth new growth in all its green glory. As I shine this diamond brilliance on these frozen memories I compassionately watch as they melt away. Freeing myself from their frosty grip. A goodbye to winter. Spring-time veneration.
The Sun is here and it’s shining bright. No longer enveloped in the bond of my frozen emotions, memories, patterns, and DNA — I evolve. No longer frozen, I grow forth and go forth into the world and share my brilliance. Light-bringer awakening. Old commandment broken. Self-imposed chains dissolved. Darkness alchemized. Self-integration realized. Time to dance with freedom of Spirit.
(My Lion sketch. Finally drawing again after 20+ years. Man-child reborn!)
“Did you think the lion was sleeping because he didn’t roar?” -Friedrich Schiller
With the ongoing nurturing of my goal of posting one new piece of creative work each week, living my vision as a transformation artist & leader, and in honor of the courageous Lion that lives within all of us I am going to continue to push my creative boundaries and continue embracing my fear of publicly, sharing my artistic endeavors, intimate interests/passions, and creative expression in this week’s post.
From within the deepest part of myself I have always been drawn to the mystic. I call myself a spiritual hipster. This post is about unleashing the uninhibited Lionheart and sharing some of my creative fire in service to others.
The last week or two I have felt ablaze with creative fire. I kept seeing Lions everywhere. I literally felt like a Lion. At the gym I heard myself roar inside my head with regularity as I crushed my workouts. I even wrote about myself as a Lion in one of my morning writing sessions. In my work and career I have been living the Lion as well — winning new partnerships and courageously stepping into a fuller expression of myself creatively and professionally. I finally put it all together when I realized that not only was it a full moon at the time, it was a full moon in Leo [more on that here – if you are not into astrology, numerology & magic skip this link as it is definitely what many call “Woo” – as I said, I am spiritual hipster and I love this stuff!]
I have always felt incredibly strong emotional and energetic influences during full moons. In the past I regularly observed this effect in others and in the masses during my time working in Hollywood nightlife. People as a a group were always extra crazy on those nights. Much more so than usual. Wild shit always went down in the club during full moons.
In my own personal life, I see this emotional and energetic influence manifest in both positive and negative ways depending upon the type of full moon and how aware I am during any given month. Fortunately, for the last week or so it has mostly been highly positive and growth-inducing.
This evening (1/23/2016) marks a full moon in Leo . This is personally very powerful for me as my moon sign is in Leo. Your moon sign is different from your main astrological sign (your sun sign). Although depending on your exact birth date and time they can share the same zodiac sign. The way I always explain one’s moon sign to myself and others is that it is how others see you. I am a Taurus (my sun sign), but people often mistake me for or see me as a Leo. It is often how you behave when you are feeling uninhibited. In the past when I drank alcohol I quickly became the ego version of the Lion – highly animated, loud, boisterous, king of the court, etc. I still regularly become the mostly positive side of the Lion in group settings without any external influence, it just depends on how uninhibited and fiery I am feeling. I am equally happy being the quietly powerful bull who is content to stand alone in the field. However, for this time period it is all about living in the heat of the court with the heart of the Lion. Passion and courage are in vogue!
In honor of the kingly Lion here are a few things I would like to share (in addition to the links above):
An excerpt from my Lion writing session:
As I stride through the grasslands of my world as King of the plains I hold all in compassion. Myself included. For it is through compassion for others and oneself that we maintain equilibrium. Providing for others as we provide for ourself. Through this balance we generate great strength. And in this way we can live life with grace and greatness.
I see myself as a the Lion of my family. The one who went on a quest to find his own strength and to rediscover his own heart. For the heart is the well of true strength. It is the source of courage and compassion.
I had to take a long dark journey away from my heart and my family to rediscover this. I had to let my ego consume me. The dark Lion king. Greed and selfishness. I danced with Dionysus. It was a long dance. Well over 5 years long. I danced until I could dance no longer. Then I fell from the grips of the devil in exhaustion. I could no longer sustain the toll upon my spirit.
My soul called me back into equilibrium. It took time to rebalance and find equilibrium. I am still re-grounding myself within my inner citadel. Sobriety, meditation and brahmacharya cleanse my mind, emotions, body, and spirit. The dance in the dark night of my soul was necessary. For how could I know light if I never experienced the depths of my own darkness? Like the eternal symbol of the circular yin & yang, each piece holding a piece of the other in reverent embrace. I too had to learn that symbolic lesson. Now I draw deeply upon my own dark experiences to be a light in the world. To shine and illuminate others with the beauty of my own darkness.
Now I walk the peaceful grasslands of life again as I integrate my journey through darkness. I stride through the tall grass letting each strand brush my new mane into glory while purifying my own sorrow. Undergoing a gentle alchemy of experience into wisdom. Wisdom with which I can use in my life and provide in service to others.
This Lion no longer needs to roar for attention and power. Instead I provide with compassion and I am bestowed with power through those I serve. It is through serving that we are able to stand in the presence of our deepest strength.
I believe I had to go through my own deep suffering to develop compassion. First, I had to learn to be compassionate towards myself. To accept and embrace my own suffering. To learn to forgive myself for all the dark things I did. I had to lay myself over my own crucible before I could truly understand compassion. How can one truly be compassionate towards others if they haven’t opened to their own self-compassion?
I think this is where the idea of “the ego wants to help, but the soul wants to serve” comes into play. Those who haven’t learned their own self-forgiveness, self-compassion, and self-love try to fill their own void with ego by helping (“fixing”) others. That temporarily fills their emptiness with false spirit-food. It’s like empty calories for the spirit and the soul will not count it. This can become a vicious cycle. Because the void isn’t actually being filled with anything of sustenance. It’s just temporary filling that quickly fades. This is the bottomless pit of the ego trying to fill something it can’t satisfy. It isn’t until we truly learn to help ourselves that we can be of service to others in powerful ways.
The meaning & significance of the Lion; plus how to connect with your inner Lion:
“MY BEING EXUDES DIGNITY, divinity, and nobility. It’s not so much my roar that everybody fears–my mere presence demands respect and deference. I don’t qualify this with false humility, self-degradation, or apology; nor, in spite of what you’ve heard, do I feel any sense of pride whatsoever in who I am. I don’t need to. I’m just very clear. If you need to roar to clear the way for your own self-acceptance, then please do so. Once you’ve done this, listen closely to your heart. It sings of your purpose, even though your purpose may change and shift with time and age. That’s where you’ll find the courage to be who you are. Not in your mind, not in the world around you, but in the center of your body and being. Life will enfold and support you, as long as you honor and follow your heart. There truly is no other way.
“Although you may be tempted and sway by externals, especially others’ opinions and judgements about you, sit quietly in the savannah of your personal sanctuary and simply listen. Listen with all of you. Tune in to the knowingness that resides in your bones and in your soul to help you go forward in life. Once you hear the call, move ahead without second thoughts or doubts of any kind.
“Know that you’re protected, that absolutely nothing can harm you as long as you’re listening and operating from that most precious of founts, your heart of hearts.”
If Lion show up, it means:
-Hold your head up high and keep your dignity, no matter what you’re faced with.
-You’re much stronger than you think you are and need to use your emotional strength in this situation.
-Call upon the well of courage available to you to confront this uncomfortable situation.
-Listen closely and discern carefully before acting, rather than moving ahead impulsively and recklessly
-When faced with a tough decision, follow your heart rather than what you think you should do.
Call on Lion when:
-You feel particularly stressed or beaten down by any situation and want to boost your sense of power and self-confidence to deal with these circumstances.
-Your dignity and integrity have been called into question and you want to recapture your self-respect.
-You’ve been called upon to assume a position of authority and leadership.
-You’ve taken on a task or project that seems beyond your talents and capabilities, yet something inside you knows that you can do it, even though it requires you to stretch yourself.
If Lion is your Power Animal . . .
-You carry yourself in a stately manner, with a strong presence and air of nobility that makes people notice you whenever you walk into a room.
-You’re capable of a great deal of compassion, yet when your anger is triggered–which isn’t easily done–everyone else backs off in the face of your roar.
-You’re quite courageous, possess a great deal of physical and emotional strength, and are a natural leader and organizer. You’re often called to take on tasks that require the application of these gifts.
-You function best as part of a group or community rather than alone, and are frequently asked to take an active role in the group.
-You enjoy taking risks by going into situations that will stretch your capabilities and expand your knowledge.
How to access Lion’s power . . .
-When you’re walking about, lift your chin and head up, straightening and stretching your spine so that the effect is one of feeling taller and more dignified.
-Roar! Yes, go ahead and find out what it feels like to do so, whether quietly or with full force, noticing as you do how it feels in your gut and your heart.
-Close your eyes and pretend that you’re a king or queen. Breathe slowly and deeply, and see if you can feel that sense of nobility, dignity, and connection to the divine in your body.
-If there’s someone close to you from whom you’re withholding some feelings, speak your truth lovingly and assertively, without apprehension about his or her response.
This is the Lioness who brought me out of my creative cave. Stride-for-stride, she is right there with me. And truth be told, most of the time she is a few years ahead of me, compassionately encouraging me to catch up. I highly encourage you to check her out for your own inspiration & magic. She is a master-painter, gallery director of one the most prestigious venues in the nation, a professional hair & make-up artist, and all-around divine being of light & creative fire [among too many other things to list here].
Little Lion Man by Mumford & Sons
I was blessed with the opportunity to experience Mumford & Sons perform this live at the Hollywood Bowl and was forever moved by it. So incredibly emotionally powerful! I still cry pretty much every time I hear this song or watch the music video [tears of power & grace of course!].
I write to transform myself and my life. The power of words is indisputable. Everything in our lives exists through words and language. It is not until we actually begin to harness language that our very own existence comes into being. We cannot describe our own life and experience until we have words. Even if we have memories from before we had language they are not called into being until we have the words to recreate the memory. They have scientifically proven that memories are recreated in our brain every time we bring them up in our minds. Basically, the memory does not exist until we call it into being with language in our minds.
We literally create our world through language. Without language we cannot name our feelings, actions, or the objects that make up our lives. This is so incredibly powerful! This is why language and story is so powerful. For better and for worse.
Words and language are strange and magical. We have words that at their base essence mean similar things, but evoke completely different experiences mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. This is the duality of life and language. The following quote is an example of this.
Language has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone. -Paul Tillich
If we create the story of our lives from the words we speak in our minds and to others we have the infinite power to recreate our story again and again until it actually empowers us. That does not mean it needs to be all delicate and beautiful cherry blossoms. If we watch any good movie or read any good book it is through the ranging story arc that we feel and become enraptured. It is through the full expression of emotions and experience that we are drawn in and able to immerse ourselves in the experience.
So I guess what I am saying is don’t be afraid to have darkness in your stories. Have the darkness. Show the pain. But let the pain and darkness lead you to a place of empowerment. Harness those fucked up experiences and make them something meaningful and transformative. Show others (and yourself) the beauty in the darkness.
Case in point: My older brother beat the living shit out of me throughout a good portion of my childhood. Though this really sucked at the time, it made me who I am today. It made me incredibly strong. It was the fire against which my very strength was tempered, allowing me to become mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually resilient at an incredibly young age. It was through sharing the intensity of that transformative experience in my college application that got me to into Stanford — the biggest dream of my adolescence. If I hadn’t had that experience I am not sure if I would have been so driven to make it into Stanford. Neither would I have had the courage or the actual dark and enthralling story of transformation that inspired Stanford admissions to give me a shot.
I could have used that experience to tell a story that left me powerless. I could have used that experience with my older brother to oppress myself and hold myself back. Instead I took that darkness and turned it into something that made my life greater. I used that experience as fuel for myself in my pursuits. I worked to make that story one of triumph and transformation. And I did. Still to this day I call upon this story. To remember that even the shittiest things can lead to the grandest of things if we choose to find the strength and beauty that always lies hidden within. We always have the power to unlock and free ourself from any story.
There are two important pieces of language and story that can serve us in finding empowerment. If you haven’t found the silver lining in the experience keep looking. It is always there or the story isn’t over. Let the experience drive you to make it a story worth retelling with a sense of victory. Until you transform yourself from victim to victor in your own stories you are oppressing yourself.
The truly magical thing about life and our stories is that we can forever retell them and remake ourselves in the process. This is alchemy through narrative. We can call into being whomever we choose. We can literally shape the essence of our being and our life as our very own author. It is paramount to be aware that we do this with every experience we have. There is what happened and there is the story and meaning we attach to what happened. The story and the meaning we attach (consciously or unconsciously) is what creates our personal reality.
Still to this day I am discovering disempowering stories I tell about myself and my life. I am working on rewriting them and crafting a truly powerful story about myself and my life. I will likely spend the rest of my life doing this. And that is awesome.
There is always great awe, wonder, and fascination to be found in our own personal transformation. The magic and power of re-creation will always be alive and available in my mind, heart, body, and spirit as I go through this process again and again.
What characters and roles do you call into being with your stories about your life? The ones you tell yourself and the ones you tell others? Do your stories leave you powerless or empowered?
A huge part of SUSTAINABLE & ongoing TRANSFORMATION is CONSISTENCY. Here is an easy way to stay consistent… Get a partner! 👥 Join me & we will transform together! Sign up for my newsletter & I will keep bringing you fun & fascinating ways to keep the fire of transformation burning hot! 🔥 🌒 🔥