It Gets Better
Today is thanksgiving which is one of the best days for us to practice being humble. Why humulity and not gratitude? Humility is all about understanding the truth of who we are. Sometimes our ego gets all caught up in who we could be, the goals we could be achieving, and all these things that we want to do. Often the expectations that comes with this way of thinking makes us feel not good enough or like a disappointment. All those expectations get in the way of us truly seeing the beauty of who we are and what we already have. The fact that we are blessed enough to draw another breath. The fact that we have food on the table. The fact that we have friends or family. There is gratitude there, but where does humility come into play?
I remember coming into work one day really messed up over the fact that once again I was having difficulty with some of my goals. It could have been losing weight or getting fit, or getting my book published, or maybe being able to meditate that morning. Whatever it was it really had me out of sorts. I was frustrated, angry, and completely unable to be present at my job. I talked to my friend Roberto about what was happening, and he turned to me donning his signature sardonic smile.
“Did you know that Puerto Rico is still out of power?” The question caught me off guard.
“No, I didn’t.”
“Yes they are, and not only that but people are having to grocery shop only at certain hours of the day because they need to lock up at night to keep people from looting.” The wind completely left my sails.
“Wow,” was all I could manage to say. He looked at me with a knowing face and then it clearly dawned on me. All these problems that I was so concerned about, were truly small in the grand scheme of things. I was reminded again of how well I had it. Which he lovingly cemented in by saying “maybe what you are going through isn’t such a big deal then.”
I stand by the fact that it is integral to honor and acknowledge our dark feelings, however it is also important to realize where these feelings are in the grand scheme of things. We are here for such a small amount of time, and so many of us are suffering. People are addicted to drugs, living in war torn countries, living without food, or a clean source of water. The truth is most of us have it pretty good compared to that.
Thankfulness comes with the scope of understanding where we are in life. It also comes with understanding WHO we are. So many of us are impatient, unwilling to allow ourselves to grow at a normal pace. I hear all the time people say, “I am trying so hard, why is nothing working?” Or “I am such a failure, why can’t I do anything right?” The truth is our expectations are far too high. It’s hard to be thankful when you feel so disappointed. Whether its disappointed in yourself, others, or your life in general. We grew up with parents with high expectations, or teachers with high expectations. Hell, how many times have we seen in media and in real life people saying, “I have high expectations for you,” like it was some kind of honor. It’s not. It’s a prison cell.
I remember my father grounding me an entire summer for getting a B on my report card. That same summer my brother came over after getting all C’s and my father slipped him a twenty-dollar bill. I was crushed. My father probably thought he was doing me a favor, thinking that if he grounded me, I would stop being distracted in school, or would try harder. I mean, I was “so smart and talented,” so there was no excuse for the results I was getting. What probably would have worked better to help me maintain my grades would have been a hug and some encouragement. I don’t blame him though. The truth is we are all a product of the society we live in. In America everything is about get things done yesterday. If you aren’t a Doctor or a Lawyer you’re not anyone. We all feel like we should be shinning stars, when we forget, we already are.
There is nothing you need to do to be worthy of love. There is nothing you need to be other than the beautiful person you are. There is only one you. Only one person who can express themselves in the special way that you can. We try so hard to be the image of who we think we should be and destroy ourselves in the process.
All things on planet Earth grow at their own pace. If you are searching for truth or looking for a way to find more joy in your life, you are already on the path. We cannot control how things are, even ourselves (although people like to think they can). The more I have dived into meditation and released my expectations, the more I realize that consciousness doesn’t really bend to your every will, at least not exactly. There are things within you, shadows, that aren’t going to come to the surface until you are ready to see it. Not everyone’s path is the same. Nor should they be. Whether you are Christian, or Buddhist, or Muslim, or just a New Age explorer: if you are seeking and willing to be open, the truth will find you. The door to joy is there waiting to be opened.
Unless of course it isn’t right now, and that’s where patience comes in. You cannot force yourself to grow any more than you can yell at a tree to tell it to be larger. It doesn’t work that way. Actually, what makes the tree grow faster is nurturing. The right water, the right soil, and a sometimes a helping hand to help it grow straight and tall. Trying to force something to be the way you want it to only hurts it and yourself. Gentleness is the key. Even in the martial arts, the most damaging blows come with a sense of softness. Juken meaning “soft fist” and Goken meaning “hard fist” are combined to make “Seiken” meaning true fist. You need both hard and soft to find the truth. Yin and Yang.
Most of us though, are too “hard” on ourselves. Sure, we all need a cosmic slap to the face to wake up here and there. I have needed a few. However, all the judgements we put on ourselves, all the expectations, are unnecessary. You can have passion without beating yourself to death every day. It is the union of the two poles that create the truth. This is why the masculine and feminine come together to create life. We all have masculine and feminine in us. Whether we are gay, straight, male, female, or non-binary. Similarly, the drive to achieve the things we want to in life is already inside us. There is a little child who just wants to play and explore. To create. That same child enjoys being like a warrior and finding new challenges. For more on that check out my blog, “The Secret to Discipline.”
Compassion is all about seeing the truth of who we are. Once you see that you realize that there is nothing to change or to fix. That we are perfect just the way we are. The truth that’s hidden under the leaves is we cannot choose to change before we are ready, so much as a tree cannot chose to have autumn leaves in the middle of summer. It goes against nature. This does not mean you are powerless. Actually, you are an infinitely powerful creative being, your ego/personality just keeps you from seeing it. Taking action is all about take the right action at the right time. When you are in alignment, the force of creation within you is one to be reckoned with.
Seven years ago my grandfather and I kept regular contact with each other. He would occasionally come visit me in Connecticut and we would go an adventure of some kind. Most of them seemed pretty dull to my young adult mind. Grabbing groceries at the food pantry or a grocery store. Visiting a church or a meeting hall where AA was held. They all seemed boring to me, but many times I went. My grandfather would drone on about AA and the Catholic church so much that he sounded like an advertisement at best, brainwashed at the worst. I had a hatred for the Catholic church because of the crusades and the missionary efforts that destroyed indigenous cultures around the world. The cultures that started my journey on the spiritual path.
My grandfather also had a deteriorating psychological state. He was diagnosed schizophrenia and thought that the government was tracking his every move. Thinking they were listening in the truck with hidden devices or tapping his phone lines. The paranoia and all the perceived dogma was so repulsive to me. I couldn’t stand it.
One day my grandfather made plans with me I while I was living with a friend of mine named Anthony. Anthony’s mother saw my clear lack of drive to see grandfather when he arrived, so she offered to tell him I wasn’t feeling well as an excuse not to go. I agreed and she shut the door. As she went downstairs I ended up falling asleep on her bed.
I started dreaming and I found myself laying down on the bed just the same as I was a moment before but now the door to her room was open. I felt an intense feeling come over me like I was going to faint as I stared at the open doorway. I woke up suddenly and a realization of what I had just experienced took me over. The door was a symbol of an opportunity, and my apprehensive gaze at the open door outside of the safety of the room was giving me that feeling like I was going to pass out.
That same feeling had come to me once before in real life sometime before when I was smoking some weed with my friends. I had to pee really badly but I was too afraid to ask to where the bathroom was to use it. (this is how bad my anxiety was) I nearly had a full-blown panic attack and passed out, but after meditating on the bed my consciousness slowly returned and I came back to a group of seriously concerned friends. I eventually found my way outside and then proceeded to word vomit all of the injustice that was in society at high velocity. How its gears were set to grind us all and the planet to dust. I felt intense relief after getting it off my chest. The faint feeling was fear. A fear to explore outside my comfort zone, to honor my sense of adventure. To express myself. Once I realized the symbolism in the dream I had, I vowed to make sure the next time my grandfather came that I would honor that opportunity.
It presented itself not even a week later. My grandfather offered to bring me to Boston and I gratefully accepted. We originally planned to stop at an organic farmers market that I was interested in, but the google search that I had done came up a dud. The market had moved on. The same street it was supposed to be on had a towering cathedral that looked like it was from the 1800’s. My grandfathered asked if I wanted to go in and with nothing else to do I shrugged and said, “Sure.”
I was impressed by the beautiful architecture on the inside of the church and there wasn’t a single soul in there other than us. The sanctity of the ground we were on was palpable in the air. As we walked down the center isle I noticed that each of the pews were numbered. As we walked a sudden intuition hit me. He is going to sit in number 17. We walked and sure enough out of the 60 some odd pews he chose number 17. “Weird,” I thought to myself, but I let it go. My grandfather sat down and asked me if I wanted to meditate. He had used the term before, but it never rung true to its definition until this moment. I thought he was misusing the word in the past but in the moment, I was no longer sure. We decided to practice and closed our eyes. About an hour passed and we both came to, looking at each other at the same time. He asked me, “you ready?” I nodded in approval and we headed back into the city.
One of my grandfather’s rituals with me was bringing me to Starbucks. He would buy me a coffee and something to eat if I wanted it, then we would chill out together. Today was no different and we soon made our way to the coffee shop about block from the church. When we arrive, we ordered our food and my grandfather ran to the bathroom. Amidst his other issues he was also a diabetic, which meant frequent urination. As I grabbed our drinks the barista handed me the receipt. It was exactly $17.00. Strange that I would receive a receipt with an exact amount like that. I racked my brain trying to think of what we ordered that would have allowed exact change as I sat down. A family walked in just then, a father and three adolescent children. I noticed one of the girls was wearing a jersey and when she sat down a giant yellow 17 was on her back. Immediately a powerful visceral feeling shot through me. I grabbed my phone and started scrolling through the internet.
I am not even sure how I found the page but stumbled on something called “blogspot 2012”. I began to read, and my mind began to race. It talked about aliens sitting just outside of earth in cigar shaped ships just outside of our observational range. Aliens that were divided, some wearing black uniforms, others wearing white and gold. I suddenly came back to a dream where my family and I were dressed in white and gold armor. “Strange,” I thought to myself. “Could be a coincidence.”
I continued to read and eventually read about the Merkaba, which is supposed to be a geometric body of light which acts as a vehicle to allow our consciousness to transcend this dimension. It went on to talk about the fact that we were in the process of ascending to the next level of consciousness, set to sometime after the passing of 2012, and if our light body wasn’t active we would lose our memories.
I was on fire. I NEEDED to find out how to do the meditation to activate my light body. I eventually was lead to the Flower of Life Facilitators page where I found three people who would be willing to teach me the Merkaba meditation in the surrounding area. One in New York, one in Philadelphia, and one in Florida. I sent all three emails and only one responded. It was Tony. After a brief conversation about pricing I ended up unloading all my fears in a multi paragraph letter. He responded with two sentences. “Things are much simpler than they seem. Just get here.”
I knew that this was what I needed to do. I packed up a bag with everything I needed for the trip. Food and clothes to last me three days, plus a charger for my phone. I had no money for a hotel, but I was prepared to do whatever it took, even if it meant sleeping in a hotel lobby near-by.
Despite missing one of my buses on my way to get to Philadelphia, I still ended up making it on time. Albeit just barely. When I arrived, the magic began. I was introduced to Tony and his friend who was also named Tony, who was sitting at the table in condo when I entered. For the sake of some anonymity and ease of reading Tony P. was the one I came to see for the workshop, and Tony T. was his guest. Tony T. was dressed in a button up shirt and khakis, and immediately my mind raced with judgements about him, that he was a sell out to “the man”, and etc. etc. For a longtime I saw the cities as cancerous tumors on the planet and anyone involved with the white-collar work that created them to be part of the disease. Tony P. began the workshop by asking us about love, which he explained to be making someone’s well-being an integral part of your own. As he was talking I was able to see universe and the playfulness of the cosmic inner child in his eyes. I was hook line and sinker. Tony P. started asking us questions and the minute Tony T. opened his mouth to respond I knew that all the judgements I had about him were wrong. He spoke of love and compassion with a softness and awareness that was undeniable. That shift in perception was part of a chain reaction that eventually shattered my entire world view.
What I experienced there was amazing. I had prayed when I learned that Tony P. did reiki before coming to the workshop, that he would teach me and “make me his disciple.” Turns out that a reiki session was one of the first things that we did when I arrived. Of course, it was my turn to go first and Tony P’s entire in-depth instruction was “be love.” So, I began the best way that I could. I attempted to be love and follow whatever instinct came from that. Immediately Tony T. who I was practicing on said “It feels like you are pushing the energy out.” I was amazed that he could feel anything at all, especially considering my hands weren’t even touching him and his eyes were closed. He continued, “Let it flow through you, channel it, don’t force it.” I relaxed and then felt the pipeline open and the warm reiki energy begin to flow through me. He immediately said, “that’s better.” I didn’t say a word and he could clearly feel what was going on. “What is happening right now?” was all I could think.
When it was my turn to receive the energy I was able to pick up on the sensations from both of them, as they worked in tandem. When they asked me what each person’s energy felt like afterwards I said, “Tony P’s felt like pulsing energy and Tony T’s felt like sparking electric energy.” Tony T. looked surprised. “I was doing the sparking on purpose, I am surprised you picked up on that.” I was blown away. I had never experienced anything with energy like this before and they were experiencing the same things as me?
By the end of the first day Tony P. discovered that I had no place to stay and offered to let me stay with him at his place. He seemed to have some resistance to allow me into his home so intimately for a moment, mentioning all of his work and personal documents being strewn about, but it passed quickly. A moment later the joyful inner child returned in full force.
I completed the workshop over the three days while sleeping over his place. Two weeks later Tony P. got back in touch with me and invited me back over there. He felt the workshop wasn’t over yet. I stayed for a few more days and then returned home again. Then two weeks later the same thing happened. Another two weeks passed and once again he invited me over. He felt the workshop still needed to unfold.
When I returned for the third time, Tony and I played with the idea of me staying there and working at the hair salon that he owned throughout my weekend stay. Just before it was time for me to leave his sister came over to visit. We sat on the couch together to chat while Tony was in the kitchen preparing some food. Her and I talked for a bit, then she said, “have you ever thought about maybe coming to live here and work at the salon with Tony?” I heard a loud laugh from the kitchen. The universe had spoken.
I lived there for six months and experienced things beyond explanation. I had meditations where I saw entities in the room in the room with us. I experienced energy while practicing reiki that felt like a full body orgasm stretching for 10 minutes. I experienced a transcendence where I saw the sexual geometric perfection of all human beings. Whether they were short, fat, skinny, tall, male, or female. (More on this experience to come on a later blog)
My personal experiences were only a fraction of the power I experienced. Everyday seemed full of wisdom and insight from Tony. There were moments where he knew exactly what I was thinking, and the accuracy of his words shocked me every time he uttered them. It was like he was so in tune with the universe he could transcend the limitations of being a human. I even watched his eyes turn from brown to bright blue right before my eyes.
The experiences opened me up, helped me let go of baggage I had no Idea was there and open my mind in ways I never imagined possible. Eventually the magic just became normal to me, and in it’s normalcy I subconsciously began to expect it to come. I couldn’t see the attachment I had to those experiences. Despite all Tony’s instruction to let go of my expectations and experience life the way it was in the moment, I soon started to look for a spiritual answer or experience to every problem.
I would sit constantly playing with my pendulum and asking a thousand questions to find the spiritually correct direction to go in. Even the smallest things like “should eat this apple or drink this latte?” To make matters worse I had subconsciously tied in my self-worth with being able to have these powerful experiences. Not eventually, but in every moment. By the time I left six months later to come back home and go be with my girlfriend at the time, I became completely obsessed. I was meditating 10 hours a day. Possible in part to my lack of employment. I was so far gone that not only did I still refuse to get a job working for “the man,” I only ate two bowls of rice a day because I refused to get a food stamp card, like my other jobless roommates. Within a couple months I shrunk down to 110 lbs.
I am not afraid to say I lost my mind. I became obsessed with repeating numbers. If I didn’t see an 11:11 or 5:55 on the clock I felt completely unsafe. I found myself checking the time every two minutes looking for a “sign”. I was constantly thinking of the future and how to ascend my consciousness beyond this mortal plane. I felt fed up, like the human race had no compassion. Like we completely lacked empathy, yet I somehow I alone had somehow attained it. I even believed I ascended past Tony P. the one who taught me it all. Not in the 40 years that he had been practicing and exploring life but in a measly 2 years. I got so stuck in my ego that I sabotaged my relationship with Tony P’s despite all the kindness he had showed me. It wasn’t until my complete all is lost moment in Louisiana (which you can read about in my blog titled “the key to surrender”) that I realized the truth.
I went through a lot of growing pains, but I eventually blossomed. I found my authenticity and began to live from my heart, not from ideas in my head. (You can read more about this in my post “Pain in the Neck.”) Flow eventually found me. although it has waned in some of my dark moments, that light that has never left me. Even when I felt completely lost, I found that I still have me.
Recently I had a dream where I couldn’t seem to get things to go my way and I said “I hate this” in my frustration. Immediately I noticed that this statement was a lie. Then the same day in my waking experience I found myself frustrated that I was still dealing with some of the same mental emotional issues that I had for so long. I thought “I hate this.” My body immediately responded in my waking life telling me it wasn’t true. I was left with a curious question, “if I don’t hate this, what is the truth?”
The truth is that nothing is really a “problem”. We are laid out with challenges in our lives but rather than a problem they are more like puzzles. Life is really like a game, a very short one in fact. The spiritual process, even when we are in the muck, should be a joyful one. I have had moments of deep sadness where I have cried at my lack of control over my life and found joy in being there present with myself through these emotions.
We have the opportunity to be the parents we never had for ourselves. We can be unconditionally accepting and loving for all the parts of ourselves. The jagged, thorny parts and the radiant parts. We can slowly erase guilt and shame and replace it with curiosity and a desire to learn and grow. We can become more childlike. We will find more walls, and more things we will judge ourselves for, but those things just become more opportunities to let go and grow again. There is no need to hold on to being perfect all the time. The truth is this human experience is already perfect.
Sometimes we aren’t growing yet because we simply haven’t opened our mind and our heart enough to allow the experiences we need to manifest. I wouldn’t have been able to meet Tony P. until I let go of my prejudice, exemplified in my relationship with my grandfather. My grudging disdain of the Catholic Church and his beliefs kept me from seeing the light of our relationship. I needed to let go of my judgement. Just like when I fell flat on my face in Louisiana, I needed to realize that I was the one who was getting in the way of my growth. That humanity wasn’t the problem, it was my perception of humanity that was keeping me from the love that I desired.
We need to open up to what step the moment is asking from us right now. Not whatever selfish desire or goal for the future that is going through our head. When we take each step mindfully and have the awareness to look at ourselves and our actions, the opportunity we are looking for will come in ways we could have never imagined. You don’t have to force anything. All you need is waiting inside you to blossom the moment you are ready.
The universe conspires to give us what we need. I had difficulty during the original workshop practicing the Merkaba meditation. 5 years later I have returned to the practice and found that it is much easier for me. All the hand postures and breathing seemed to difficult before. Now that I have let go and have more focus it comes easy to me. Sometimes we just need to experience certain things before the doorway opens to us. Whether its a dream or a sign in the outside world. Funny thing too, I realized picking up the practice of the Merkaba these last few months, that there are 17 breaths to activate the field. Whatever “God” or the universe is, its presence shows up in the most interesting ways. Its actually kind of funny.
The truth is it gets better. It may not seem like it now. Especially if you are in the deep part of the spiritual journey where the walls start breaking down, the old patterns of your life fall apart, and the new ways are nowhere in sight. When you are in that place it can be the hardest to continue on, but I promise you it does get better. Once your awakening begins, it doesn’t end. Even the deepest-rooted fears, like those of our mortality, begin to peel away. Once the fear disappears, all that’s left is joy, curiousity, and love. The truth is that things get better. So, keep on walking. The path you are on is exactly where you need to be.