The apple never really strays far from the tree. It seems that when a person has a total awakening and redefines EVERYTHING they think they stand for, in the end they reconstruct a similar belief cloaked under a different heading.
When I had my total spiritual awakening at age 19, I tried hard to rebel against the simple black and white beliefs I held prior to waking up:
Be a nice person.
Don’t do drugs.
Don’t have sex.
Make the most of your life.
I spent my early 20s exploring the opposite of what I had preached in my teenage years. For half a decade, I created a new religion. My new religion allowed for all things. I had freedom in my choices as a sexual and curious being. I had faith in what the universe brought to me. I didn’t seek opportunities, they came to me.
If there was one thing that never changed, it was that connecting to spirit, whatever that meant, was the most important thing in my life. I knew that I was incapable of settling for an average life. The only thing I could conceptualize about a non-average life was a life outside of stereotypical choices. Naturally this meant being a vagabond.
For three years after graduating from Notre Dame, I wandered from Chicago to California to Massachusetts to Brazil with a little breather time at my parents in Texas. In each of these places I studied my craft: YOGA. I was living the “dream life”.
The most amazing and terrifying part of all of it was living my “dream” and simultaneously suffering from the worst depression I had known. Life raged in a nightmarish movement until I returned to my hometown of Fort Worth, the last place I ever thought I would come back to.
Why would life be such a nightmare if I was doing all the things that I thought a vagabond, spiritual aspirant was supposed to do? It took me time to realize that it didn’t matter what I was doing on the outside if I was a total wreck on the inside. My thoughts wandered in a thousand directions. I wanted to know God but when I closed my eyes to meditate, all that I could experience was my own insanity heightened because I was actually resting my attention on it.
My windy emotions and scattered dreams (literally scattered around the planet) finally began the process of healing when I returned to Fort Worth in 2010 and actually decided to stay. I started Elemental Yoga and created a channel for all the teachings I had received. I also became a much more serious student. I slowly clarified what I wanted to offer as a citizen of the world and as a teacher of Yoga.
I found the more disciplined I became in my own life, the happier I was. My previous religion of spiritual floating weakened by the month. And something not so different from the religion of rules of my childhood began to erect itself in the place of vagabond religion.
I saw that no matter what faith I am, there are certain universals that will always stand in place. If I want to know God, then I must discipline myself. This is the ONLY route to happiness. All religions teach that happiness must come from within and many people accept this. However, the route to experiencing what is within is not an easy one, it is one which requires the highest degree of vigilance and discipline.
After I spent the first 25 years of my life on the path average discipline, I knew that average discipline could not render any true form of happiness. In fact, living an averagely disciplined life for me was miserable and it was the worst kind of misery. It was that kind of sadness of having a vision for what I think is possible for my life but not having the means to achieve it.
So in the end, I have circled back around to the same five principles that I preached as a passionate adolescent. The difference now is that I understand them not just as physical actions, but as energetic imprints that have metaphysical interpretations as well as literal. Take a look:
Worship God: Meditate every day. The only happiness that a human can really derive in life is through connection to the source of all existence.
Be a nice person. Be nice and be honest. The best thing that we can do for ourselves and each other is to live in integrity. Sometimes that means teaching another person how to treat you even if they aren’t comfortable with it in the moment.
Don’t do drugs. For real, drug addiction is for people who can’t cope with the life they have. If you can’t cope with the life you have, then stop checking out and create a better one. There was one month of my life where I smoked cannabis 7 times and I realized what a luxury it is to be sober. We have such remarkable minds. It is stupid to waste these amazing instruments by turning off the lights inside.
Don’t have sex before marriage. This is most important in the metaphorical sense of not wasting energy every day on creations that we don’t care about. Everything that we do in life is an act of creation and an interplay between ourselves and others in the world. Going out and having sex with lots of people is in the metaphorical sense like going out and unconsciously creating or rather forfeiting the right to create with any meaningful harvest in return. When we metaphorically “marry” something or someone, it just means that it is a conscious choice to create something meaningful with them.
Make the most of your life. If you want to do something with your life beyond paying lip service, then be disciplined.
Does it seem like the holidays are not the right time to start exercising discipline? On the contrary, I think the holidays are the best time to be disciplined. We have been taught that if we want to love others, then we must know how to love ourselves. The only way that I have been able to love myself is through discipline.