Old age, acceptance, and the future of joy of awareness

I just came home from a week-long trip to Gran Canaria of the Canary Islands with my grandparents. They’re getting insecure in their frail dotage and asked me if I could come along and make sure they didn’t get lost or hurt or get into some kind of trouble. In exchange they paid for my entire trip!

It turned out to be a lot of work, but I enjoyed it immensely. The chance to get to know my wonderful grandparents better and getting a nice tan to boot. Gotta love life.

The whole trip taught me a lot about what old age actually means. As in, your body literally decays to the point where you can’t move around and travel the way you used to, and even your mental capacity begins to be pretty unreliable.

I’m pretty sure one can stay a lot healthier into seniority than my grandparents with a healthier diet and the right kind of physical exercise, but even so, time takes its toll.

My grandfather has very bad spinal arthritis, and he and my grandma have both had multiple hip and knee replacements. Their flexibility and endurance is pretty dismal. My grandfather hardly goes out of the house anymore, and he used to be very active when he still had his stamina. My grandmother has started to become very forgetful and her hearing is not what it used to be.

They know they don’t have much left.

Even so, they always seem to be happy, or at least content. They don’t often allow circumstances to dictate their emotional state. The reason I noticed this may be because I was actively looking for signs of conscious acceptance on their part, mostly because of what I learned in my horrific two year battle with topical steroid withdrawal.

So this trip was a wonderful opportunity for me to gain some understanding and insight on what’s to come in my own life, and I consciously took advantage of it.

On a different note, during my stay in Gran Canaria I did a lot of writing in my journal about my future. What do I want to do, to be? I started thinking more about my past and present as well. I’ve been recovering from the aforementioned times of trouble for the last few months, after two years of constant pain and struggle. I’m finally feeling more like myself again, although saying that makes me feel ridiculous. I’ve been born again.

I’m in no way the same man as I was before my midnight of the soul. I’ve been hardened and beaten in the furnaces of hell only to return, stronger than ever to this beautiful earth.

Before I was forced to quit school to focus on my health, I was studying illustration in the School of Visual Arts here in Reykjavík. I’ve always been immensely interested in drawing and painting, but suddenly I found myself despising art in general. I now see that I had utterly and completely finished up my energy for creative pursuits while battling the terrifying symptoms of withdrawal.

Now that my energy is slowly coming back to me, so is my interest in art. I started thinking about this website. What do I want it to become? What is its purpose?

Well, I want it to develop and evolve naturally. I started off seeing it as a sort of self help website, where I’d share my spiritual insights and other things I’ve learned through the years that I wish someone had shown me, but now I think I want to take it in a slightly different direction.

First off I want to add a section for my artwork, where I can post sketches, drawings and paintings with impunity (heh). I also want to change the format of the articles I write here. I’d rather make them a bit shorter and a little less how-to, and more sort of stream of consciousness and, well, freer.

I still want this website to focus on awareness in all its infinite facets, but I want to take it in my own personal direction. I want to write about what fascinates me at any given moment. I also want to open up the modes of communication. Visual communication is amazingly powerful, not to mention incredibly fun for me to produce. I’m very excited to see where life will take me.

So stay tuned, I’m going to make this site into an incredible source of insight and inspiration, to say nothing of love.

 

Mindfulness is a way of life

All we really have is right here, right now.

Any time is a time to be mindful. I used to think that mindfulness was all about the meditation sessions. I would be pretty conscientious when it came to sitting down on the mat and following my breath, but in every day life I was as unconscious as ever.

I’ve now come to understand that the time between meditation sessions is just as important, if not more important than the sessions themselves. After all, it is your life.

The last few weeks have been surprisingly stress free for me, and I’ve diligently meditated my two hours daily for the last month or so, but today was a bit different. Allow me to explain.

I’m going to the Canary Islands tomorrow, with my grandparents. They asked me to come along because they’re insecure about going alone. I jumped at the chance, since I’ve been craving some real sunlight and a respite from the dark, cold winter in Iceland.

However, there’s been a storm for the last few days, and my grandparents’ flight from the south-east where they live was cancelled yesterday, and it’s not certain that they’ll be able to make it on time for the flight to the Canary Islands.

I started to get pretty stressed out, wondering how we could figure this out and make sure to catch the flight tomorrow morning. I started playing little movies in my head, imagining myself stuck somewhere, or imagining the feelings of desperation at having missed the flight and so on.

My morning meditation session went terribly, and I was unable to sit still or focus at all. Afterwards I made some breakfast, and I decided that I wanted to read while eating, to make full use of my time.

However, after sitting for a few minutes half-eating, half-reading, I realized the ridiculousness of it all.

Instead of enjoying my food, I’m trying to milk every second I have. And instead of enjoying my book, I’m spreading my attention thin.

I put the book away and focused on the sensations and taste of eating. It’s a beautiful thing, fully immersing yourself in an activity. I wonder if the infamous “flow state” of athletes, artists and musicians can apply to fully concentrating on eating a good meal as well.

After about ten minutes (I was taking my time), I realized that my stress had dissipated dramatically. It was a wonderful feeling!

I started to ponder, what was it that calmed me down? I think it’s not so much what I did, as much as it was what I didn’t do. I think that when we try to multitask, it tells our brain that our time is limited.

This in turn encourages the mind to expend extra energy to juggle the tasks we set for ourselves.

This is an insidious twist.

We can’t be fully attentive of what we’re doing when we do more than one thing at a time, so we do a worse job of it.

We stress ourselves up trying to do everything at once, but ironically everything runs smoother and better if we focus our attention on one thing at a time.

The brain’s autopilot mode is a glorious thing. It allows us to drive cars, to wash the dishes, or sing in the shower without imploding. But when we try to abuse it, cramming in as many activities as we can in as little time possible, we reap less rewards and more stress.

So I’ve decided to focus on only focusing on one thing at a time. There are exceptions though, because some things complement each other beautifully, in my experience. Things like listening to music while cooking, or talking over dinner, or reading in the bathtub are great combinations.

But some things are just way better when you allow yourself to fully experience them.

The word mindfulness is all over the place. It’s hip to be mindful these days. But I think often, the true meaning of the term is lost on us. Instead of trying to make mindfulness just another activity, something to add to the to-do list, we should make it a meta-activity. Meaning mindfulness should apply to everything that’s already on our to-do lists.

Being mindful is a beautiful thing, and a wonderful way of directly experiencing ourselves and the world around us. In fact, it may be the only way.

After all, if we rush through washing the dishes, in anticipation of the hot cup of tea waiting for us after we finish, we’ll probably be thinking of our next activity when we finally get to drinking our tea.

Love life, experience life.

Much love.

Mindfulness – The key to overcoming addiction

Awareness is curative in and of itself.

I’ve discovered this to be true in my own life. It’s the basis of all the mindfulness-based addiction recovery programs and stress-reduction protocols.

The idea is that as soon as an addict becomes fully aware of what he or she is doing to themselves and others, the compulsion will be broken. Moment to moment, we can become aware of our cravings and consciously choose to not react to them.

I’ve found that I’ve always developed addictions as detachment mechanisms. What do I mean by that? Well, I’ve used substances and behaviors as a means to escape negative emotions.

Instead of facing and embracing the discomfort of experiencing the emotion fully, be it shame, guilt, anger, grief or any other distressing feeling, I would allow myself to get lost in the intensities of my addiction.

I’ve been addicted to lots of things in my life, some more difficult to get over than others.

Sugar, video games, tobacco, cannabis, pornography and the need for external validation have all had parts to play, with pornography addiction and the need for validation being the most tenacious of the bunch.

The deeper I explore the subtler parts of my psyche, the more I see that these addictions have developed over long periods of time, mostly as a result of some kind of trauma.

When we think of trauma, we tend to think of horrific accidents, sexual abuse and physical violence.

However, trauma can be incredibly varied and subtle. Emotional trauma is an often overlooked factor when dealing with addiction, as is childhood neglect and isolation.

When I was growing up, events took place that still affect the adult I’ve become. My father’s sudden decision to leave my mother when I was seven, my mothers subsequent alcohol abuse and neglect of myself and my sister, constant moving and distance from friends and family have all had incredibly poignant effects on my emotional make up.

I’ve had to work hard to overcome the hardships of my childhood, but the effort has been rewarded many times over.

Addictions started to become glaringly obvious in my daily life in late adolescence. I had been using pornography and weed as coping mechanisms for years with little or no consequences, but there’s no such thing as a free lunch, as they say.

My reckless behavior was starting to catch up with me.

Although many tout marijuana as a mind altering drug with little chance of physical dependence, the mental addictive potential is often overlooked.

Pornography has also been hailed as a healthy respite from the stresses of modern life, with no ill effects. In my experience, pornography addiction is subtle but insidious.

Studies have shown that problem use of (high-speed internet) pornography closely resembles dependence on heroin, at least when comparing brain regions affected and the intensity of neuronal activity.

As a kid and young adult, porn use was subtly encouraged everywhere from sex education classes to movies and television shows, as was smoking weed (albeit not at school!).

I just went with the flow, not knowing the havoc I was wreaking on my sexual and mental health.

Now I want to make clear that I’m not anti-porn or anti-weed or anti-anything for that matter. I am however very passionate about level-headed discussion of facts, instead of propaganda guided by superstition and ideology.

I started this article off on the idea that awareness is curative. Here’s what has helped me in my struggle for independence from addiction.

Education and understanding

One of the most important things you can do for yourself in life is to educate yourself. School is fine and dandy, but ideology leads the way all too often. If something intrigues you, approach it from many different angles and viewpoints.

In fact, there’s no one real or true way to approach any subject, it’s all relative to the person studying it.

When I realized this, I started picking up books about all kinds of esoteric and taboo things, like polyamory (Sex at Dawn), meditation (The Attention Revolution), diet (The Paleo Manifesto) and out-of-body experiences (Journeys out of the Body).

The freedom from understanding that nobody really knows anything for sure is surprisingly sweet.

Keeping a Journal

Journaling has been one of the major transformative habits in my life these last few years, along with meditation and psychedelic use.

Writing in stream-of-consciousness fashion, meaning writing down whatever comes to mind, is an incredible, cathartic tool for self-understanding.

It helped me not only pinpoint what behaviors were causing me the most suffering, but also what had incited my dependence on them in the first place.

Your journal is a place to develop ideas and clear your mind, but also a place for deep self-inquiry and healing. My journaling habit may very well have been the most important catalyst for my awakening to the realities of my life.

Psychedelic Exploration

Psychedelics have been taboo for so long it’s almost ridiculous. It’s amazing to me that something so life-altering, so liberating, could be kept under wraps for so long. The potential for psychological healing in sensible psychedelic use is profound.

Taking the plunge and experiencing psychedelic mushrooms is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Bear in mind though, that psychedelic substances are not to be approached lightly. They are vastly powerful and demand respect.

Ritual and psychedelic use have gone hand in hand throughout human history, and there’s no reason to stop now; Prepare your trips meticulously, make them celestial and sacred. You will not be disappointed.

Being Here, Now

Mindfulness has been the deciding factor for me when working through my addictions. I’m still struggling with pornography, but it’s nowhere near as over the top as it used to be.

I’m getting closer to freedom from addiction with every passing day, and a big part of my recovery has been thanks to my introducing mindfulness into my life.

At first I simply started meditating, and then forgetting the principles of mindfulness in between sessions. When I finally understood that meditation is a lifestyle, not an activity, it changed my life.

Becoming mindful of your thoughts and actions is pivotal in gaining control of your behavior. When we engage in addictive patterns, we do so by allowing ourselves to get lost in the sheer thrill of the next dopamine hit.

When we manage to bring awareness to those moments, we are able to think ahead; “Is this really what’s most beneficial to me in this moment?”

And when you reach that stage of self awareness, nothing will ever be the same. I guarantee it.

I love you all.

 

 

Freedom from shame

I’ve been trying to figure out a nagging feeling these last few months.

A feeling that’s been coming and going since I can remember, a sort of low, barely noticeable humming tightness and pressure in my throat and belly.

Through vigorous self examination through writing, meditating and psychedelic trips, I think I’ve finally been able to pinpoint exactly what it is: Shame.

I’ve discovered the this feeling of shame has been influencing me way more than I care to admit. Not the kind of burning-cheeks, watery-eyes kind of shame. More of a constant low level stress or anxiety.

The kind of shame that sits with you, even when you think you’ve accepted yourself.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t know exactly how to handle this kind of shame. I’ve been doing some experiments on myself, to try and see what the answer might be.

An honest life

What’s given me the most relief has been honesty and sincerity. To myself especially, but also to some extent to those around me.

One of my major shamers that I managed to single out from the torrent of self-judging, is the nature of my sexuality. I know I’m not alone in this. It’s no secret that sex is taboo in western culture, even though we simultaneously venerate it through media and advertising.

What’s been causing me shame? Well, I’ve finally decided to admit and accept that I’m not a totally straight dude. What that means, I don’t know. All I do know is that I don’t fit into the labeled frame of heterosexual male.

And I’ve known it for years and years, but somehow I kept repressing it, hoping it would go away.

Accept yourself as you are

Admittance and acceptance are conscious decisions, they are not arbitrary. We have way more control over the way we feel than we realize.

After admitting it to myself I decided to admit it to my girlfriend, and later to my best friend.

Both of them were totally fine with it, which says a lot about the quality of my loved ones. It was a great relief, in fact way more of a relief than I initially expected. The proverbial load-off-my-mind has been very tangible.

Now I still have some way to go before I’m fully shame free, but this has been an important first step to my mind.

I have a lot more digging around to do regarding my sexuality and what I want to do about it, and I can feel that there are other issues that I need to get off my chest, but that will have to wait until I’m fully ready.

Coming to terms with the fluidity of my sexual interests has really intrigued me, especially because of how much it had been weighing down on me without me actually noticing.

It’s like if you’ve been carrying a ten pound backpack on your shoulders for ten years straight, without ever taking it off, you’ll eventually stop noticing that it’s there.

And you won’t be able to imagine the incredible relief you’ll experience when you finally manage to shrug it off.

The magnifying glass

One other thing that I’ve noticed, is that working with shame can actually magnify the feeling before actually being able to release it.

When I started poking around in the recesses of my psyche, looking for the shamer, the feeling of shame started to become pretty strong, way stronger than the low humming from before.

When I finally admitted my shame to myself and accepted it, it felt like something was trying to burst out of my chest. I felt like I just had to tell someone, anyone. And the combination of acceptance and sharing released the tightness in my throat, and the pressure in my abdomen.

I started feeling a wonderful feeling of self-love. I’ve been cultivating self-love for some time and it’s been increasing gradually since I started, but this was like a boost, like an injection of some beautiful loving chemical into my emotional veins.

I understand now that the more shamers I discover and disarm, the more I’ll be able to love myself and others. This will be the main work in my journaling efforts until I release them all.

What can I do?

For those of you that want to experience the wonderful release I’ve been describing, it will take some work. Don’t be discouraged though, every journey starts with the first step.

Make a decision, a decision to write in your journal every single day, however little time you manage to scrape up in the beginning.

Write whatever comes to your mind. At first it will be superficial and facile, but it’s like an onion : The sweetest, juiciest layers are deep within. With time and patience, you will reach the core of your being, and at that point all the work will be repaid with interest.

If you’re up to it, you can throw some psychedelics into the mix. Be careful that you know what you’re doing though. They can be incredibly therapeutic but only when approached with respect.

A human being is a complicated thing, at the same time as it’s a beautifully simple thing. There are many facets, many different things to examine and observe, but at the center there lies a soul, so pristine and perfect that you won’t believe that this wonderful thing was to be found within you all along.

Whatever your past, and whatever happens in the future, you can decide to forgive yourself and others for all wrongdoings, and especially for your wrongbeings. You will eventually find that existence is perfect exactly as it is. We only suffer because we allow ourselves to do so.

I wish you luck on your own shameless journey of self acceptance.

Much love.

3 Wonderful benefits of journaling

I just finished a journal. I mean, the pages in my physical notebook are full. Full of my handwriting. Full of my deepest secrets and insecurities, and full of my most profound insights and aspirations.

In celebration of that fact, I want to delve even deeper into the magnificent art of pouring your heart out onto sheets of processed wood chips.

I guess the most obvious question to ask when starting any habit would be why should I?
And that’s perfectly valid. You should have at least some idea of what you want to get out of something before you put in precious time and energy.

However, I want to try my very best to convince you that keeping a journal is definitely worth the effort.

The benefits of keeping a journal are too numerous to count, but a few have become exceedingly obvious (and welcome!) in my own life. Here are my top three:

Increased emotional intelligence

My understanding of my own feelings and emotions has improved so drastically in the past few years that I can hardly believe it. I’m sure many factors have had roles to play, but journaling stands out to me.

I feel like keeping a journal has given me a chance to really get to know my thought patterns. And following my thought patterns, analyzing them and breaking them apart has allowed me to gain great understanding of what drives me, what scares me, even what horrifies me.

I keep hitting new walls in my own self-inquiry, even if I feel like I’ve finally got it all figured out. These new walls can sometimes be circumnavigated, sometimes I can jump over them quickly, but some walls need to be broken down, brick by emotional brick.

Using a journal to lay out my fears and expectations in a clear way has enabled me to end toxic relationships, push myself out of my comfort zone and travel to distant countries. It’s even helped me to discover my own negative thought patterns, and subsequently to break them with affirmations.

Writing in a journal is like polishing a mirror. The more you polish, the clearer your reflection, and the better you will be able to know who you are and why you’re here.

Which brings me to point number two.

Clearing the path

Journaling has been a way for me to discover what it is that I truly want out of this life, this existence on planet earth. Not to say that I’ve got my life all figured out, but I’m way closer than I was before I started keeping a journal.

Before I started serious self-inquiry and meditation, my negative beliefs and thought patterns were like tangled branches in a forest, blocking my view of the stars.

They drastically limited my possibilities for happiness and fulfillment, and my trusty journal has helped me to sneak some pretty profound peaks through the foliage. In some cases I’ve even been able to remove them completely.

A clear path, and a strong sense of direction in life, have been some of the most powerful benefits from my daily writing habit. Never before have I been so driven to accomplish anything in my life.

Every day, my sense of purpose becomes stronger and more tangible. I want to serve. I want to provide others with value, the same value that I’ve discovered for myself through my own hard work. I want to be free. I want to be happy.

It seems simple when I put it like that, but it took a long time to realize these truths deep in the core of my being.

And that’s the essence of my last point:

Profound inner change

If you take home anything from this article, let it be this: deep personal transformation is possible through hard work.

If I were to meet a five years younger version of myself today, I would not like that guy. There was just so much not to like!

But through difficult emotional work and hours of frantic writing, I’ve transformed myself into someone I not only like, but LOVE unconditionally. And I know that anyone can do it, with the right mindset and the right tools.

I broke a terrible addiction to video-games, healed my crippling need for external validation, and cleared out the mental cobwebs preventing me from functioning as a healthy human being.

So many things have changed and improved. And every day they get even better. All thanks to journaling, in large part.

When you’ve managed to remove all the unnecessary stress, all the limiting beliefs and negative thoughts, everything becomes clear. Awareness expands. Consciousness manifests where none was to be found.

The proof is in the pudding. You will never know the wonders and sheer bliss of journaling without trying it for yourself. I really hope you will.

The real challenge is to just start. Just find a piece of paper if you don’t have a notebook at hand, and a pen, and start writing. Anything! Flow of consciousness. Write what comes up into your mind. If you can’t think of anything to write about, write “I can’t think of anything to write about”.

You just need to get the habit started. Like a snowball rolling down a mountainside, gaining momentum and speed as it goes along. Keep it short and sweet at first, just a few lines if you don’t feel like writing at all.

I promise you, if you stick with it, you will be richly rewarded.

Much love.

 

 

 

 

Your habits will make or break you

Motivation is fleeting, habits are solid.

We all have habits. Unfortunately, most peoples daily habits are highly arbitrary. I know mine used to be.

Anything can become a habit.

If you think negative thoughts every day, soon enough it will become a habit. If you never miss a day of brushing your teeth, that too will become a strong habit. If you drink a liter of water first thing in the morning, every morning, a habit will form.

The human mechanism is incredibly complex. There are so many different ways to move and think, so many different things to do. So a part of our brain power goes into discerning what actions we need to do most frequently, and allows us to sort of set it on autopilot.

That’s what allows us to drive a car without consciously thinking about it, or sing in the shower. It’s way more efficient that way, because conscious action takes effort.

The brain makes it easier for us to do those things that we do a lot. That’s why it’s easy to brush your teeth with your right hand and almost impossible to use your left. Switching hands like that will require a conscious effort on your part.

But it also becomes easier to actually make the decision to brush our teeth, as long as we’ve done it every day for the last three years.

This is all pretty common knowledge. We’ve all heard of the notorious 21 days required to instill a habit. But that misses a crucial aspect of habit building, which is reward. You can poke your hand with a needle for 21 days and be absolutely ready to drop the habit the next day, because there’s no inherent reward in that action.

The most powerful thing you can do when trying to build any positive habit, is to clearly discern what the reward will be. Visualize it, make it so that every time you do the action, you see yourself reaping the inevitable rewards.

Exercise is a good example. I like calisthenics, or body weight exercises. When I’m actually in the middle of doing the exercises themselves, I’m normally not enjoying myself too much. But I keep the image of a stronger, healthier version of myself in my mind the whole time. And it pushes me through the times when I have little motivation.

Or going out for a run. Sometimes I just don’t feel like it, but when I weigh the rewards, like the wonderful feeling of runner’s high, or being out in nature, or better sleep from burning off excess energy, I go out anyway.

In my experience, the most difficult habits to cultivate are the habits with the most intangible benefits, like meditation or keeping a journal. Although we’ve all heard of the increased focus and calm tranquility from daily meditation, it’s hard to imagine the benefits when you haven’t actually experienced them.

What worked for me was to break those habits down to the smallest possible amount of work. So with meditation, I would decide to meditate for just 5 or 10 minutes at a time, once a day. It’s such a short amount of time that you’ll only experience a tiny fraction of the possible benefits, but at least you’ll experience something.

With journaling, you would start with a paragraph a day. Or even just a sentence. Just to get a feel for it, and for the possibilities hidden within that particular action. Sooner or later you’ll start to actually want to write more and more. I’m up to 3-4 pages a day, and I’m not sick of it yet!

That’s the real starting point. You really need to know where a habit will take you before you can convince yourself to go all in.

That’s all well and good, but what about our bad habits?

Those are more tricky to navigate. Sometimes they’re so subtle that you won’t even notice them at all before someone points them out to you.

I used to have incredibly negative thought patterns. Pure habit. As far as I knew, everybody’s thoughts were negative like mine. Well, that was a major misconception. Many people think negative thoughts habitually, but many more think positively. And it’s a way more enjoyable way of life.

We may not always be able to control the thoughts that come up in our minds, but we can choose which thoughts to cultivate. We can choose where we direct our attention.

Awareness is the first step to overcoming a bad habit. If you don’t know that you have a bad habit, there’s no way to break it.

Of course, there is a big difference between a bad habit and an addiction. Quitting nose-picking is quite a different beast from quitting heroin. Addictions most often have an intense biochemical factor.

But breaking a habit of negative thought patterns for example, doesn’t have to be too much of a challenge. Recognizing the habit is half the battle.

In the case of negative thoughts, what was most beneficial for me was replacing the negative patterns with positive ones. Enter affirmations. That’s all affirmations really are, replacement thought patterns.

The only reason negative thoughts have such a hold on the mind is because of repetition. You’ve repeated the action of cultivating negative thoughts so much that it’s become like brushing your teeth: automatic.

So it stands to reason that if you allow yourself to repeat positive thoughts often enough, the will eventually replace the negative ones. I urge you to try it.

Awareness is the most important ingredient for building habits consciously. The power of awareness really can’t be overstated. Awareness is the difference between a human being and a machine.

Cultivate your awareness, expand it, and be grateful for this incredible opportunity to reach for the stars.

Much love.

Keeping a journal – The ultimate tool for self-inquiry

Along with cultivating a habit of daily meditation, keeping a journal is one of the two pillars of my journey self-actualization.

In some ways, journal is just a fancy word for diary, but in other ways it means so much more. I see a diary as a more superficial version of a true journal. A diary is a place where you write what you did today, where you went, interesting events and so on. A journal goes deeper.

A journal is a place where you go into the meaning of your life. Your aspirations, fears and your wildest dreams. It’s a tool for working with emotions and insecurities. And above all, it’s a tool for inquiring into the nature of your being.

I’ve kept a journal for the past five years. As with most of my life transforming habits, I started out unsteadily. I didn’t write every day, and I didn’t dive deep. It wasn’t until I started writing daily, and from the soul, that the true potential of journaling revealed itself to me.

Your journal should be your best friend. A friend with whom you will share anything and everything. I now write things in my journal that I wouldn’t even share with my girlfriend or my actual best friend. I write things that are exceedingly difficult to think about or even acknowledge.

I write about my sexuality, about my dreams, about my past. I endlessly go over the possibilities in every given situation. I console myself when I feel bad. I pump myself up when I need to go do something.

A journal is like a mirror, and the more you write, the more you polish that mirror. You see your reflection clearer and clearer. I’ve polished a decent amount of grime from my mirror, but I still have a way to go. I want to go deeper every day. And every day I write, is a day that I get closer to acceptance and understanding.

I’ve also been able to blow away the chaff, so to speak, regarding my aspirations in life. All too often, we think we want something in our lives, but really we’re doing what we think we ought to do, or wanting what we think people should want.

In my own life, most often that means wanting something that’s acceptable to society, or my parents or even my friends. I decided long ago that I wanted to break free from cultural restraints and to live honestly and in sync with my true wants and needs as a person. And my journal has been indispensable for finding out what I truly want in life.

A more down to earth reason for starting a journaling habit is that you’re effectively practicing communication.

I’ve improved my speech and writing by leaps and bounds by sticking to my journal. My mind is more organized. I can formulate thoughts way faster than before. Words come to me when I need them. Not always, but way more than before.

Communication is the cornerstone of fulfilling relationships. My communication is in no way perfect, but the more I’m able to be honest and reliable to myself through my journal, the more I’m able to cultivate those qualities in my relationships with others.

In the end, what I want from all this is the capacity to synchronize my thoughts, words and actions. I’m not there yet, not fully, but I know I’m on the right path.

So where to start? For the first thing, find something to write on! I recommend getting a nice notebook, not one of those cheap ugly ones with terrible paper, but a proper little book. Something that inspires you to treat it with respect.

In my years of keeping journals, I’ve used pen and paper, an app called Journey (which is great), and I’ve also recorded some entries on my phone. All of these work, although I keep coming back to the physical pen and paper approach. It feels more stable and secure I guess, but to each his own.

As with building habits in general, the most important thing is consistency. Even if you only write three lines a day, you’re making progress. Doing a little every day is always better than doing a lot every now and then.

A habit creates momentum. Momentum will keep you writing even when you don’t feel like it.

Our habits can make us irrelevant, or they can make us invincible. It’s our own choice, all things considered. Sometimes life gives us a cold splash of water in the face, or sand in our eyes, but it will be our habits that help us through the tough times and journaling will give you a new perspective and a way to internalize the lessons that existence is trying to teach.

Your life is your own. Do with it what you see fit. But first, you need to see clearly. Make your journal a priority.

Check out my post on the incredible benefits of meditation, or the awesome power of psychedelics. Or maybe you’re interested in the right way to use affirmations.

On loving yourself

When we’re feeling down or insecure, we’re sometimes casually told to “just love yourself!”. But how can we move from a conceptual understanding of self-love, to the beautiful state of experiencing it directly?

As we go through life, we often forget that existence itself is, in fact, bliss. While we’re busy chasing the next great thing to make us feel good about ourselves, we ignore the fact that we are enough, exactly as we are.

I believe the reason most of us have a hard time with accepting and loving ourselves, is because from early childhood our society instills in us the idea that our value as a human being is tied to our attainments and our capacity to meet cultural expectations.

But I maintain that the very fact that you are here at all says infinitely more about your inherent value.

Of course I don’t mean to say that working towards the good of others is unimportant. Nor do I mean that attaining good things in life is a bad thing. What I mean is that whether or not you achieve these things, you always deserve your own love and acceptance.

From a place of infinite misery

For most of my life, I positively despised myself. I may not have known it at the time, but looking back it’s glaringly obvious.

I blamed myself for every negative thing in my life. I must have caused my parents’ divorce. I must be doing something wrong since I don’t easily make friends. I must be the catalyst for all the anger and resentment in my family.

As children, we are not equipped with the faculties of reason necessary to navigate the ups and downs of life alone. For that, we need healthy, attentive and loving mothers and fathers.

When families break apart, when fathers leave and mothers resent, and siblings grow angry, a child will instinctively blame herself. And this blame, this guilt, will stay with her for her entire life, until she faces it and resolves it.

I had all this hate for myself and others, but I guess I didn’t show it. It burst forth in me as an adolescent in the form of depression, anxiety and addictive behavior. I learned techniques to hide these shadow aspects of myself, like acting confident, smiling and laughing when inside I felt dead. Fake it till you make it, essentially.

It wasn’t until I fell into horrific chronic illness that I was forced to face these shadows head on. And it hurts. Don’t underestimate the pain that’s accumulated in repressed emotions.

A repressed emotion is like a pus-filled zit. When you start poking and prodding, some disgusting, vile stuff will ooze out. It’s unpleasant and you’ll want to stop. But you need to let it out.

But when all the gunk is out, you can put on some healing salve and a band-aid, and you will feel a lot better.

In the same way, facing the darkest, most unsettling memories that shake you to your core, is unnerving and terrifying. You’ll want to stop, to leave them alone. To try to forget them. But deep within, you know it has to be done. They have to be faced head on, and accepted and finally, loved.

In order to fully love yourself, you need to love your most hated memories.

In pursuit of love

For myself, the memory I recount in my article on Journaling is one of my most harrowing experiences. There are more, to be sure, but that one used to chill me to the bone.

When I was actively working with that particular memory, I would put myself in my nine year old self’s shoes, do my best to fully experience what I must have been experiencing back then, and then, when it got most unbearable, I would look for that feeling of love and compassion within my grown-up self and channel it to him.

From Tolli of 2017 to Tolli of 2001. Love is the most powerful force in the universe, and its potential for healing is unparalleled.

Love is all

Later on, I used psychedelics to further work with my repressed emotions, and most recently I’ve worked with visualization exercises that I designed specifically to help me love myself.

I call it a love meditation. It’s simple, really. I just lay back for about 10 or 20 minutes, calm my self down and allow myself to relax, and become centered. I then proceed to actively search for a feeling of love inside me.

Sometimes it helps to think of people or events that fill me with love, sometimes it’s enough to just intend for the feeling to appear, and it will. I experience love as a warm, weightless sensation in my abdomen. When I feel it, I start to allow it to infuse my entire body.

Every now and then I’ll even think “I love you, I love myself, and I accept myself fully” and variations of that, just for good measure. The direct experience of the bodily sensations of love are the most important to my mind.

I encourage you to spend as much time as you feel you need on these pursuits. Whether you realize it or not, finding that deep, deep love within is the most important factor in manifesting true happiness and fulfillment in life.

Like all things, love comes and love goes away. Experience is ephemeral in all aspects. There isn’t a single constant that I know of. However, I’ve found on my own journey that the better I understand this fact, the less I suffer from it. The pain is still there, but the suffering is not.

When you find that beautiful feeling of love for yourself, be sure to share it. Sharing love only increases its intensity.

The incredible benefits of a daily meditation habit

Our habits are what defines us. Personality, dreams, and appearance are transient, but what we do every single day makes us who we are.

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

-Kurt Vonnegut

One of the most beneficial daily habits I’ve developed in my own life, along with keeping a journal and affirmations, is the habit of daily meditation. I’ve already outlined what meditation has done for me and how it’s helped me grow here, but I want to go more in depth into the mechanics of making meditation a habit and why it should intrigue you.

A boring enterprise

To those who are approaching meditation for the first time, it’s boring as hell. Sitting in quiet solitude doing nothing for any length of time is the opposite of interesting. But meditation is a curious blend of doing nothing and experiencing everything.

Why do we meditate? We might say we do it because it calms us down, that it brings us into the present moment, or it helps us to organize our mind-space. All of these things are relevant and highly important.

However, the main reason that I decided to make meditation a permanent part of my life is that I’ve learned that the possibilities that lie in expansion of consciousness are limitless. A being with full control of its awareness is a formidable thing.

It’s in the nature of awareness that we cannot know what we don’t already know. So the only way to find out is to sit down, close your eyes and seek the Truth with a capital T.

I’ve now been meditating for a few years semi-regularly and for the last year or so I’ve made it a daily habit, and the benefits are monumental.

It’s hard to put into words the love and awe that’s been instilled in me through observation of what is here, now. In fact the only way to understand the power of meditation fully is to do it. Or better yet, be it.

Baby steps

But how can we develop this habit? Well, as I mentioned before, to the beginner meditation is boring.

How do we make a habit of something that’s boring? When I was a kid, I developed the habit of doing my homework right after school. I would tell myself “Just 30 minutes, right after school. Then I can play”. And that’s the key.

Or actually it’s two keys; Decide when and where, and set a time frame. My advice is to start meditating in the evenings first, only for a very short period at a time. Even just 5 or 10 minutes at a time. Don’t overextend yourself.

The reason I recommend the evenings instead of mornings, is that we’re more likely to be in a hurry or have a lot of other things to do in the mornings and it’s easier to just brush it off. You may even find that sometime after work or school, in the middle of the day, might work even better for you.

Most important of all though, is to do it every single day. Don’t miss out on a single day!

You want to build momentum. If you meditate three days in a row, then miss the fourth day, you’ll be way more likely to miss day five, and even more likely to miss day six and so on.

But after 30 or 50 or 100 days in a row, you’ll want to keep going. You’ll naturally want to avoid breaking your streak, and each day will become easier and easier.

I’ve now meditated for more than 300 consecutive days, and skipping my daily meditation doesn’t even cross my mind anymore. That’s what I want for you, too.

Time well spent

As for increasing the time spent on meditation every day, don’t worry about it too much. It’s really a kind of natural progression. The more you meditate, the more you’ll want to meditate.

I progressed from 10 minutes a day to my current 2 hours a day without much thought, although it took some years and a lot of dedication on my part.

I can promise you one thing though. If you manage to make this a habit, it will change your life in profound and unexpected ways.

The beauty of the present moment experienced directly becomes more apparent to me with every passing day. As I noted in a recent trip report, I had a sort of enlightenment experience while meditating during a psychedelic mushroom trip, and while psychedelics can be beneficial to your spiritual practice, you’ll want to develop a highly attuned awareness of every day life as well.

I was filled with awe at the simple fact that I exist at all! Wouldn’t it have been much more natural, much more sensible for the world not to exist, for there to be nothing? Reality seems like such an extravagance, yet it’s an extravagance that I’m eternally grateful for.

All too often we go about life in a rush, a panic even, skiddily going from one thing to the next, seeking fulfillment in the most elusive fashion, yet when we manage to truly stop and be here now, we see that we have everything we need.

It’s like the story of the beggar under the tree. All his life, the beggar prostrated himself under a high oak tree. His life was short and filled with suffering. At the time of his death, some of his fellow beggars came together to bury this unfortunate man under his tree.

After digging for a while, the other beggars struck something hard and hollow. They dug it out. It was heavy! It turned out to be a treasure chest, full to the brim with gold, silver and precious stones! The poor beggar had lived his life in poverty and despair, and all the while he had been sitting on a fortune! If only he had taken the time to look.

And so it is with us. We seek and seek, hoping to find something to give us meaning and fulfillment, when the entire cosmos is within us. We have everything we could ever want, right here, right now. If only we take the time to look.

You may be interested in reading about my insights and experiences regarding Single-Pointed Meditation, as it can really benefit the rest of your self-inquiry and spiritual practice.

I love you all, and I wish you all the best.

 

 

How to use psilocybin mushrooms for healing

Psilocybin mushrooms are amazing in so many ways.

They allow for unparalleled introspection, dissolution of hard-wired boundaries and insights into the ultimate nature of reality.

Be that as it may, the most important aspect of magic ‘shrooms for my own spiritual development has been their incredible propensity for working with trauma.

When I was growing up we moved a lot. We never stayed in one place for more than two years until I was 17, and I never managed to spread my roots so to speak. When you move around like that as a kid you quickly learn that making friends will bring nothing but misery in the end. So you close off.

Then when I was seven years old my father decided to come out of the closet, after being married to my mother for eight years. They promptly filed for divorce.

The effects on her where devastating, and on our family as a whole. My mother met a few new boyfriends after that, one of whom beat her, another was a raging alcoholic and sort of dragged her down into alcoholism with him.

Seeing one’s parents in constant psychological pain is not ideal for a young child, and so I started developing some deep rooted fears and insecurities for myself. These included a chronic lack of self-confidence, painful shyness, problems with commitment and making friends, and overall low self-esteem.

I know loads of people deal with the same issues and that’s why I’m so passionate about spreading the word on the incredible potential of psychedelics for improving psychological health.

A history of ambiguity

In the sixties, psilocybe mushrooms and LSD were used, in a clinical setting, to treat people with PTSD, alcoholism and other addictions, and much more. The results were incredibly promising, but the danger of societal upheaval was what frightened the authorities, and psychedelic substances were outlawed.

In my own adventures with ‘shrooms, I’ve experienced profound healing of all of the psychological problems I listed above, but especially the problem of low self-esteem.

You see, when you discover how integral, how important you are in the grand scheme of the universe, there’s no reason anymore to think lowly of yourself. I’ve seen that from where I’m standing, nothing would exist if it wasn’t for me!

It may sound narcissistic but it’s absolutely true. My direct experience of reality is tightly bound to my existing in the first place. It’s difficult to grasp this idea when it’s new to you, but it’s changed my life in endlessly beneficial ways.

Now to the core of the matter. HOW?

Preparation

The times when I’ve experienced the most healing trips of my life, have all been well planned out beforehand. I would begin by writing down the actual issues or memories I wanted to work with and ponder them deeply, before actually ingesting anything. Preparation is incredibly important.

Make sure you’re in a safe, quiet and comfortable space. If you want you can play some tranquil music, although I prefer silent darkness.

A spotter, which just means a sober person that you trust, who makes sure you have everything you need and will calm you down in case of anxiety or distress, is nice but in my experience not necessary.

Definitely turn off your phone and make sure that you don’t have anything important you need to do for the next 6-8 hours or so. Setting is key. The way you prepare your environment can make or break your trip.

Now, after deciding what you want to focus on during the trip, prepare your mushrooms. Depending on the type of mushrooms, dosages will vary. I’ve exclusively used liberty caps in high doses, so around 2-3g of dried caps. There are plenty of resources for dosages of different types and more info on preparation, for example here.

I normally make a tea, so I steep them in hot (not boiling) water for 10-15 minutes. I don’t actually eat the mushrooms anymore, as it upsets my stomach. Then after drinking the tea I retreat to my tripping space and sit in quiet contemplation until the effects start to become apparent.

Live again

When I start feeling the tingling sense of well-being, I start thinking about the issue or memory I decided on. If it’s a memory, I try my best to actually re-live it in as much detail as possible.

As an example, I focused on the traumatic memory I wrote about in my article on journaling during a recent trip. I sat in darkness and put myself in the shoes of my young self. I tried to keep my attention on the memory until the peak of my trip, and at some point I started crying a lot, repeating again and again “all is forgiven, all is forgiven”.

And that’s what we’re aiming for here, total and utter forgiveness and acceptance. Of yourself, and of those who have wronged you. The relief from releasing a traumatic memory like that is profound.

While I can still consciously remember the event, the feeling of repressed rage and grief is gone. Its hold on me is broken. I am free from its negative influence. I forgave my mom for losing her temper at me, and I forgave my family for not coming to my aid.

But most importantly, I forgave myself for whatever I imagined I had done wrong in that moment. For not being good enough, for not reacting the way I should have.

I am now free to focus on what I choose to focus on. And although I don’t want to start using psychedelics for every single traumatic memory, I think they can be powerful tools to work on our deepest rooted hurts and hang-ups. So happy tripping!

I hope this article helped someone to have a wonderful healing trip and to overcome difficult feelings. If you enjoyed this you may want to check out my article on affirmations, and the right way to use them.