Yesterday I Danced To The Theme Of Freedom

It was difficult.

I go to an ecstatic dance meetup regularly, as part of my self-development and community practices. There are many of these “ecstatic dance communities” all over the world, each with its own unique culture. These groups consist of the most lovely variety of people engaging in free-form dancing, alone and/or with each other during an hour or two of conversation-free, drug-free, good ol’ booty shaking.

I’ve been a regular attendee for over a year at various groups, and I absolutely love it. It is such a joy and consistently one of the highlights of my week. (If you aren’t already part of one, Google ecstatic dance in your city and check one out or start one!)

Often, the music sets feature diverse and beautiful tunes from all over the world. Usually, the music starts slowly and gradually picks up pace and intensity, building into a fun, chaotic crescendo, before gradually tapering back off into slowness and eventually stillness.

Sometimes the DJ, or the person in charge of the playlist announces a theme before we start grooving.

Yesterday’s theme was freedom.

And I feel so heavy about freedom.

I want freedom so badly, both inside and out.

A few months ago I was re-reading the US Declaration of Independence, pondering the ardor of those souls who dared separate from their oppressors, and I literally sobbed.

They were willing to risk everything, and, of course, they did. Lucky for many of us they did.

And not so lucky for many others, too, for example, the people whose land they stole and pillaged in the name of their God and their “righteous” cause.

I’m speaking of the indigenous Americans, of course, who are still routinely oppressed and pillaged today.

Freedom is such a loaded word, because, on the one hand, we all want to be free, but on the other hand, many people are willing to ENFORCE their version of freedom onto other people.

And a freedom which does not respect individual freedom and property rights is no true freedom.

If it’s only freedom for you but not for me: That’s not freedom.

Freedom always comes with responsibility. Without taking responsibility, there is no freedom. Without an individual taking self-responsibility, there is no individual freedom.

Part of that means dropping our entitlement ideas that anyone owes us anything.

Taking self-responsibility means accepting that no one owes you anthing.

And that’s another problem with popular ideas of “freedom.”

Freedom is usually terrifying, because it entails waking up, facing reality and taking self-responsibility. This applies in the internal and external worlds.

Freedom is terrifying in our own physical bodies, which is why we so often constrict them and hold tension in them in a desperate attempt to avoid Nature in her naked truth and raw intensity.

And it really does cost everything we have, or at least everything we think we have (our ego, our self-concept must die and be reborn for freedom to flourish).

Let’s first talk about freedom in the external world:

Real freedom, true freedom, a deep, radical, self-responsible freedom is one which lets go of ALL attempts to control others, to manipulate and deceive others, to take advantage of others, or to take rightful property from others. None of this is tolerated by true freedom. Otherwise we wouldn’t be free.

Freedom will not tolerate lies. Lies are the stuff of fear, of control, and ultimately, if perpetuated, of violence.

Albert Camus famously said, “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

Real freedom is downright offensive to those who wish to control and to oppress and to maddeningly equalize.

There are many people that speak of freedom who want nothing more than to command you to obey.

But that’s not freedom now, is it?

There are many people with beautiful intentions, with souls that long for peace and for paradise, whose idea of freedom means your censorship, your oppression, your obedience to their ideals and their god.

But that’s not freedom either!

That’s oppression idealized and masquerading as freedom.

That’s Utopia’s empty promises of “do what I say” and “enact my committee’s plan” “don’t go too high or too low” and you will finally be free.

See, the concept of radical freedom can be really hard for those who want it only for themselves and their own select, chosen, inspired and enlightened group of people…

I advocate a deeper freedom, a freedom based on individual self-responsibility and a respect for sacred Nature, starting with our physical bodies and extending to the World.

A freedom which does not transgress the self-sovereignty of the individual. A freedom in which your consent is NOT optional!

(I’m speaking of adults here, there are, of course, some obvious responsibilities that parents have for their children, and I’m not addressing those separate issues here.)

I’m talking about a freedom which does not say “because you are peacefully excellent, you must pay me a tax, you must pay your ‘fair’ share, (and fair is whatever we deem it to be!)”.

This is based on the non-aggression principle (NAP), which essentially teaches that the initiation of violence or the threat of violence on an individual or their property is a violation of basic human rights. Violence is only permissible if used in self-defense.

There are many people who see the world only in terms of win-lose, which says, “If I win, then someone, has to lose.” This is a childish worldview.

Do these types of transactions happen? Obviously they do. But they are far from the norm, and they are unsustainable in a free world where free people will choose to work with those who do not repeatedly deceive them.

The more transparency and responsibility people have, the less often these win-lose transactions happen. And the world is clearly trending up in transparency and freedom, and therefore also in prosperity and in reduction of violence. Look at the transparency that is demanded of many companies these days–MUCH more than ever was in the past.

This will continue as long as we promote freedom and self-responsibility, and detest control and “power-over.”

Many people see the world mostly in terms of power-over: “In order for me to be more powerful, you must be less powerful.”

It’s an elementary worldview, with a distracted focus because, even though this is the case sometimes, it is not sustainable. A socioeconomic structure based on “power-over” others will not last.

The reason it won’t last is simple: The more people wake up and become aware, the less they will tolerate being controlled.

The only way to control people is to lie to them, and to keep them in resistance to fear, to manipulate them.

Control, the path of violence, is only maintained by deception. There is no other way to control free people. And as human beings, our birthright is self-sovereign, self-responsible freedom.

Freedom, on the other hand, the path of peace, is only maintained by self-responsibility, truth and transparency. There is no other way to keep it from those who would attempt to control us and make us do what they think is best for us whether we like it or not. (Think: taxes, forced equality, ideological oppression and forced conformity, censorship of free speech and of art).

In a horrifying, maddened quest for equality, and in a well-intentioned but violent attempt to end suffering, many people impugn free speech and privilege as grounds for oppression, while glorifying and exalting sickness and mediocrity, simultaneously downplaying the evils of censorship and oppression. The world really has gone mad.

And this is not what freedom looks like!

Freedom is not glorification of sickness, as we hear the youth of this country exclaim, “Sick!” as a slang stand-in for when they mean something is “great!”

I 100% respect their right to say that.

Censorship of speech and the criminalizing of any non-violent actions is one of the tackiest, most offensive, most ridiculous forms of attempting to control others. These tactics are employed by desperate, control oriented, immature people who are terrified of words and ideas and free people, and essentially conflate words and ideas with actions.

And, of course, words do have meanings, and my point here about the slang “sick!” is that it is essentially exalting sickness AS health: That’s a symptom that something has gone awry.

We’ve forgotten what is real freedom.

In an attempt to escape a “freedom” which persecutes those who are different (an ethnocentric freedom–“my culture gets freedom but not yours”), some of us have simply gone too far and elevated equality before individual freedom.

The astute Milton Friedman observed, “The society that puts equality before freedom will end up with neither. The society that puts freedom before equality will end up with a great measure of both.”

So do we stand for real freedom or not?! Do we value individual property rights or not?! Do we respect the consent of each other or not when it comes to taking from each other one’s life, limbs or their rightfully earned living?!

Or has our idea of external freedom been reduced to a politically correct, bastardized form of “consent” barely even masquerading as equality that says, “I won’t hurt your feelings if you don’t hurt mine.”

I’m talking about FREEDOM: self-ownership of our bodies, of what goes into them and what we do with them, and individual property rights, based on a nature-honoring paradigm which necessitates deep self-responsibility and transparency. THAT, is FREEDOM.

We’ve got to know what we stand for in this crazy place.

REAL freedom that includes the rights to our bodies and our spiritual development, because, of course, that is what this is ultimately all about.

A few words about Freedom and the Body:

Freedom is so often terrifying to most of us because we’ve got our bodies themselves on lock-down, tightly controlled by the incessant dictator voice in our heads.

Every place in our body that we are contracting with tension and resistance to the flow of nature is a place that we are attempting to control Nature, as opposed to honoring Nature. An attempt to control Nature, as Ayn Rand says, is an attempt “to assert the primacy of our consciousness over existence” instead of surrendering our consciousness, our self-concept (our ego) to the fierce and wonderful and terrific nature of reality and the REALITY OF NATURE itself.

Wherever we try to control our bodies, our internal worlds, with tightness and tension and resistance to fear, this shows up in the external world around us.

As above, so below. As within, so without.

It has been said that enlightenment is simply being totally relaxed.

And there are studies which have demonstrated that when there is no tension in any of the muscles of the body, it is physiologically impossible to feel fear.

So, of course, it is up to us, as self-responsible leaders to become free first.

That is what leadership is: going first. Real power, real leadership sees the world in terms of win-win, of self-responsibility and of excellence through peaceful, freely offered service–the only sustainable way to excellence and to being fully ALIVE.

Real freedom knows that unless you win, I don’t win.

I only win if you win, too. “Win-win.”

SO HOW DO WE CREATE THIS WORLD?!?

Sometimes I really just don’t know.

And sometimes I feel exhausted just thinking of it, like when I was dancing yesterday–exasperated because sometimes I just don’t fucking know.

And many times I feel hopeless when I think of all the people who want to control others and extract resources from others through FORCE; when I think of all the people who want to censor each other and command each other to obey instead of invite each other to enjoy.

How can we cultivate real, self-responsible freedom?

I do have one suggestion:

Meditate with your body. Feel more. Feel the tension, the spots of resistance, where you are attempting to control Nature, where you do not trust Nature, where you would rather believe the distortions, the lies that nature is not for you. And relax those parts. Over and over and over.

Start with a few minutes a day.

Recognize that fear is not the enemy. Your resistance to fear is the enemy. Fear is simply a strong sensation, an impulse which has been clamped down upon in your nervous system, creating chronic contraction and resistance, and if sustained, bodily sickness.

Fear does not exist when we embrace it, because it instantly transmutes itself into an energetic force which impels us into excited action.

Have patience with this process, because our bodies are often genuinely TERRIFIED of freedom. Freedom, real freedom includes self-responsibility and transparency, realization, and many of us are not ready to be free.

There are many parts of myself that I still keep constricted, controlled, on “lock-down.” Those parts of myself aren’t ready for freedom yet either. That’s why I meditate pretty much every day and work with healers and teachers and I thirst for knowledge and vitality. Because I want to be free. I want to be fully ALIVE.

In summary:

Becoming free is a process that takes DEVOTION.

Becoming free takes persistence, mentorship and training, tolerance for risk, a thirsty-as-fuck curiosity, a willingness to try new things, to read new things, to listen a little more closely, to speak a little more loudly, to be the truest version of yourself and, ultimately, to let “who you think you are” die.

Be patient with yourself because to die can be terrifying, and it is what real freedom asks of our self-concepts, our egos: “who we think we are.”

Freedom really does cost everything we have. Real freedom, which starts internally, in the body, asks of us a sacred ego-death which welcomes and transforms us from who we thought we were into whom we are meant to be. And then it asks us to keep doing that. Over and over and over. Then it spreads to the external world.

You will not become free by feeling like it might be nice.

You will neither attain nor keep freedom by always being nice to people and tolerating their attempts to control you.

You will not become free by making others obey your version of freedom.

You will not become free by accident.

Freedom, like self-responsibility, is a choice.

Choose freedom.

Love,

AZ

A Few Musings

I want the truth more than I want anything else, because, instinctively, I know that the truth will set me free.

I know this in my bones.

I know it like I know beautiful music from harsh, grating notes.

We can know truth, in it’s various forms.

The measure of inner truth is sincerity. Is she genuine in expressing her inner world? Does she believe what she’s saying about her inner world? Do I believe she believes what she’s saying? That’s called subjective truth. (It’s “true” for her.)

We can also believe something sincerely, and that belief can be totally false objectively. Our sincerity in the belief we can jump off a cliff and fly, will not negate the existence of gravity.

The measure of outer truth is objective, empirical, scientific. Does the proposition match reality? Can the facts be verified and repeated?

I’ve been searching for the truth for as long as I can remember.

Here are some of the my current (subjective) truths:

+There is often more truth in the questions than there are in the answers

+Add softening qualifiers like “some,” “sometimes” or “often” to statements and they become truer. For example: “People love ice cream.” –not quite as true as “Some people love ice cream.”

+Good musicality and imagery of language increases resonance in communication. People will usually feel the communication more, and thus understand more. This includes rhyming, orderliness and simplicity. Syntax counts.

+Good music doesn’t lie.

+People are almost always terrified of uncertainty, and will desperately cling to what we already believe, usually until it becomes too painful to continue with those same beliefs. Death is not too painful for many, in this scenario.

+Live with the questions for as long as it takes. Don’t allow your intense desire for certainty overpower your precious curiosity. Your brain is not on your side, in this respect. It is literally hardwired to find certainty in what you already believe and to ignore any evidence which might contradict presuppositions.

+Patience is paramount.

+Discover what energizes you and brings you joy. Implement.

+Discover what drains you and brings you down. Eradicate.

+Keep turning towards your pain.

+Crying is like taking a shit. It’s not the prettiest thing in the world, but it’s even worse when you avoid “doing your business.” Cry often.

+Ask for what you want, and be ok with the answer.

+Keep some awareness on your heart when you’re angry. This way instead of straight anger, you’re practicing “heart-anger” (credit: Robert Augusts Masters)

+The women in your life already know when you’re angry, sad, ashamed, withholding, etc, so you might as well talk about it.

+”Stress” is the high-achievers word for “fear.”

+Fear is not the enemy. Resisting and avoiding fear is the enemy. Don’t fear fear (sorry, JFK); embrace fear with consciousness and compassion.

+Simple communication is usually the most powerful.

There is a beautiful, intelligent structure to the cosmos, and there is order in the chaos. Let us continue to investigate courageously the deep structures of reality, both inside and out.

Love,

Aaron

P.S. None of my musings are really anything like life coaching at all. Life coaching isn’t about giving advice or offering pithy quotes, it’s about asking questions and uncovering deep motivations and those obstacles which stands in the way of getting what you want.

I’m currently offering powerful 1-1 life coaching to help you become more ALIVE, more free, more energized, more connected to that which fuels you and released from that which drains you. Shoot me an e-mail at aaron@reallifeconnectioncoach.com with a few paragraphs about you, what you want and what is on your mind. If it seems like I can serve you, I’ll block off a complimentary 1-2 hours of my time to talk on the phone or Skype. Maybe we’ll solve your issue right then and there! All correspondence will be kept strictly confidential.

How To Pull $14,000 Out Of Thin Air (A Future Case Study)

I took the Men’s Course with OneTaste in Austin, TX last weekend. I laughed, I cried (twice). And I was immersed in the heartfelt warmth of an elite group of courageous men and women who want the truth more than they want anything else.

People who want to be fully alive. Those are my kind of people! People who are willing to put their self-concept on the line, to let their ego get battered and bruised and shattered to smithereens a little.

These are not ordinary people.

Maybe the hardest thing in the world is for a human being to transform.

It requires the courage to face death.

I’m really not kidding at all, I hope you know that.

Our ideas about who we are–they’re so limited! And we will do almost anything to keep them surviving along like ragged zombies pushing against a rusty barbed-wire fence, guarding a treasure of rotten cabbages.

Me? I want to play a bigger game. I want to play the game where the stakes are higher, the rush is more intense. The fire is hotter. The water is deeper.

That’s why I came here, to earth, to be a fucked up person with all you fucked up people. 😉

But seriously.

I want to sign up for the OneTaste Coaching Program because I’ve never encountered another community, another movement more dedicated to the truth and dedicated to directly grappling with the most charged, most fucked up areas of human existence: sex, money & power.

Even just saying those words out loud sets some people off. I may have lost a few people just by writing those words. All 3 of them at the same time, too.

The spot of highest sensation. That’s where the juice is. Wherever you feel activated, nervous, tense…. that’s the guide. Go there. Stay there.

The sensation I’m talking about is in our bodies. Our bodies which, unlike our words, always tell the truth.

So over the next year, I’ll be putting out a couple vlogs a week. I’ll be doing much more life-coaching than I’ve ever done before.

I’ve got to find a way to create $14,000 out of thin air because that’s the price of tuition (before travel, room and board, another +/-$7k).

I don’t see all the details. I only see the next step. And I’m scared. I’m excited. I feel responsible, almost burdened. Can this really happen?

Who will get life coaching from me? Who will donate? How can I say yes to something I don’t know all the details of?!

Maybe I should continue playing the “safe, responsible” game where I ignore my deepest desires, and instead just stay with the lame corporate job with the reasonable health care plan, smoke weed, watch internet porn, eat too many carbs and whatever else I can do to numb the unremitting intensity of my desire, my insatiable lust for REAL LIFE.

By the way, it’s ok to have the lame corporate job as long as you’re ON THE WAY OUT. If you’ve got a corporate job you love, I’m not talking about you. I’m talking about the loads of people who hate their jobs, or don’t really like their jobs, and what they want is so much more.

It’s ok to use non-dream jobs as stepping stones, as long as they are temporary stepping stones, and we continually challenge ourselves to move more fully toward what we *really* want. You feel me?

I choose my desire. It doesn’t mean I ain’t scared. But it does mean I’m being real about what I want.

I’m asking life for more, because I want it. And because I feel that life is asking a whole lot from me.

I’m offering 6-session coaching packages for $1000 each. Each session is an hour. If you know anyone who might want some life coaching, please have them reach out to me!

In these sessions, we will tune into your body, into your desire, into your truth. We’ll excavate the layers of fear, stuckness, anger, shame, whatever may have you feeling smaller than you really are.

Of course, you are infinite.

We just forget our infinity from time to time, maybe for the joy of remembering…

We are all infinite. However, this life is finite. You are going to die. And my question to you is, how much do you want to live before you die? How ALIVE do you want to be? Do you want your wildest dreams to come true?

Me? I want to live just a little bit more, a little bit bigger, deeper, higher and wider.

I want to be fully ALIVE.

And I would love for you to come along with me!

If you or someone you know might want some life coaching, drop me a line at aaron@reallifeconnectioncoach.com about what you want, about your dreams, and about what is standing in the way. All correspondence will be kept strictly confidential.

Much love and gratefulness to you.

Aaron

P.S. Check out www.reallifeconnectioncoach.com/coaching for more info about my life coaching style and what life coaching with me may be able to do for you!

Self-Ownership & Overcoming Fear

Who do you think you are?

Well, chances are, unless you’ve achieved the non-dual realization of Oneness with everything and nothing, who you THINK you are is not who you REALLY are. And for all I know, maybe the “non-dual realization” is only the beginning. I’ll let you know when I find out ;p

I believe that becoming fully ALIVE is a process of discovering and uncovering the layers of constriction that block the flow of life through you.

I believe that who YOU are at your deepest is INFINITE, like the universe itself. You, like the universe, are infinite.

No bounds, baby.

And the only thing standing in the way of this realization is your pitiful holding on to the limited version of yourself that you think you are right now. (I do this, too.)

I’ve got a little theory about life, fear, peace and violence. I’m still working on it, but it goes something like this:

Life begins as a brilliant impulse. The intensity of that impulse is high.

When we are confronted with that continued growth-impulse throughout our development as children (and also adults), when we experience a little bit of it, we have a choice.

We can allow the intensity of that impulse to flood our system, to enliven us, to invigorate and enlighten us.

But like I said, that impulse is fucking intense.

It’s so intense that most of us will, at some point in our development, choose to say no. We block it. We constrict around it. We simply do not trust the intensity of that sensation, of that level of expanding aliveness. This is usually done unconsciously, in other words, without awareness.

And that is when that impulse becomes fear.

It could have been excitement. But you tried to restrict it.

Fear is the potential enlightenment of the prime impulse that gets constricted and turns dark and stuck.

Fear is the opposite of trust; fear is what happens when we try to control the impulse of life.

When we choose an attempt to control LIFE instead of trusting LIFE, we enter into a world of fear. The characteristics of fear, those habits which perpetuate fear are control, constriction, opacity/lack of curiosity, desperation, clinging to the illusion of safety, attempts to force/coerce others against their will, power *over* others, condemnation, and a win/lose outlook.

When we trust LIFE, those characteristics are in direct opposition to attempts to control her. These are openness, transparency, investigation, curiosity, confidence, letting go, attempts to persuade and understand others, power *with* others, compassion, and a win/win outlook.

The foundation built from attempts to control life leads straight from fear to suffering to violence. Any attempt to control another adult human being against their will is violent because, at the very least, it carries the threat of violence.

The foundation built on the trusting of life leads to the high-sensation worldspace of freedom, responsibility, prosperity, wisdom, and the highest possible levels of peace and aliveness and connectedness.

Obviously, in life, there will always be some degree of suffering and unrest. Growth, as far as I can tell, seems to be an inherently uncomfortable process. But our attempts to control life only lead to more suffering.

Again, any coercion or force applied to another against their will is violent because it carries the threat of violence. This is the path of control, the path of fear and ultimately of staying small and desperate, stuck and stagnate.

Those with full respect for another’s self-ownership/self-sovereignty will never initiate the threat of violence on another, whether it is direct or by proxy, by mercenary.

Leaders lead. They don’t threaten their people with violence. They reach out with respect for others’ minds and hearts, and they inspire their followers by integrity of example, by going first, by serving their followers and their cause. Anyone who threatens others with violence is not a leader, but a despot, a tyrant, a criminal.

Do you disagree?

WHO OWNS YOU BUT YOURSELF?

It is crucial to understand, in the defense and protection of LIFE, as the ultimate standard of morality, that fear is not the enemy.

Fear is not the enemy. In fact, one of the best ways to overcome fear is to run toward it, to dive into it, to stare it in the face until its desperate, silly little game reveals itself as the farce that it really is.

Fear is ultimately a lie. It is sometimes a highly convincing lie, but it is based on an avoidance of life, of avoiding truth and transparency, and it is but a withering pang of desperation in the face of real love and truth, freedom and responsibility.

Remember! Fear is not the enemy.

The enemy is the attempt to control life, the initiation of the threat of violence on another or our own bodyminds, NO MATTER how beautiful one’s imagined end-game utopia seems to be under this coercive ideology.

There are lots of beautifully-intentioned people out there, but many of them adopt a coercive ideology as a means to fulfill their dreams. That’s not sustainable, and it’s actually EVIL when morality is defined as protecting and defending life, self-ownership and vitality.

98% of us want peace and prosperity for all. (Statistically speaking, 2% of the population are sociopaths, so we’ll just go with 98%.) And either way, it is the VAST majority that wants peace and prosperity for all. (note: those 2% are probably the ones hurting the most.)

The great challenge therein, is the means to that end.

Our theoretical, philosophical means are different.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing, because individually, as self-owning human beings, our individual ends we seek are personal. My caution is when we go beyond ourselves in order to influence, let us remember that other people are also self-owners and we have NO RIGHT to threaten them with violence if they do not comply.

Remember that commissioning a government to carry out your wishes is using the threat of violence by proxy. Hiring someone (a mercenary) to do the dirty work is just as bad as doing it yourself.

You want different things from what I want. Success for you is NOT necessarily what success is for me. We want similar things, perhaps, but we are individuals with different wants and needs. We are self-owning individuals. Are we not?

I prefer to let you go about your methods and means freely, AS LONG AS IT DOES NOT HARM MY LIFE, MY REAL PROPERTY, AND THE VITAL RESOURCES WE ALL MUST SHARE (like water, air, forests, wildlife, oceans, etc).

I hope you want the same for me.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a survivor. And I WILL DEFEND my life and real property and vital resources from violence and the threat of violence.

As Patrick Henry so eloquently asked a couple hundred short years ago, “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?”

No fucking way.

So what will be your answer when you are asked: Who owns you?!

You own you, baby. I hope that’s fucking clear.

Lean into the fear. Discover the lies it has been telling. Know the truth and be free.

Love,

Aaron

PS: As many of you know, I’ve been building my life coaching business since being recently certified as a Bulletproof™Coach. I’ve actually been considering re-branding myself as a self-discovery coach, because I’m finding that that is possibly what I do best. I help you discover who you *really* are (which can be quite intense) so that you can be fully ALIVE.

I ask deep, intuitive questions, exquisitely following my curiosity, reflecting and amplifying your presence–and the results so far have been great! I’m currently offering discounted rates, too, while I’m still building my clientele. If you’d like to have a revolutionary self-discovery conversation with me and feel out if some transformational coaching might be just what you need, check out: www.reallifeconnectioncoach.com/coaching and drop me a line!

Love, Truth & Justice

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Is light right and darkness wrong? Is space the enemy of matter?

Of course not. They work together, supporting each other in balance. The “masculine” and “feminine” aspects of nature work together to comprise creation.

It is beautiful, it is terrifying, and maybe it is all fucking perfect.

And until we are able to see the usefulness of both aspects of light and dark for the perfection of existence, we will be severely limiting and even crippling ourselves.

Right now in our society, we are taught that certain emotions are better than others. However, we are not usually taught the importance and usefulness of ALL of our emotions.

In the book The Emotional Life of Your Brain, Dr Davidson and Sharon Begley write of the unique aspects of the left and right hemispheres of our brains as they correspond to our emotions. It turns out, according to their 30+ years of study and searching, that the “positive” emotions are associated with the left hemisphere of the brain, and the “negative” emotions are associated with the right hemisphere. The right hemisphere is associated with more feminine qualities (intuition, creative expression, qualitative perception, vision, etc), and the left hemisphere the more masculine qualities (logic, direction, quantitative perception, factual knowledge, etc).

I might not need to mention this, but positive emotions are generally joy, happiness, bliss, inspiration, hope, pride, etc. While negative emotions are generally fear, anger, shame, sadness, grief, etc.

Here’s the thing which is so misunderstood in our society. “Positive” and “negative” are simply names of poles of magnetism. You know how magnets work, right? There’s a positively charged end and a negatively charged end.  Well, we humans are magnetic, too. And if we are only allowing ourselves to operate at one of these poles of magnetism, then we are not balanced!

The popular advice is to “be positive.” I now believe that’s terrible advice. It’s not balanced, and it’s not whole. How about we be balanced? How about we recognize the importance of being whole people who have both a negative and positive capacity?

Let’s take anger as an example of a negative emotion to demonstrate this:

We need anger to help us protect what is important to us. Anger is the emotion connected to our boundaries. When a boundary of mine is “pushed up against,” I’m going to have a sense of protectiveness, an energetic fuel of sorts, which propels me to protect that which I love.

Do I prefer to feel anger? No, not all the time, because it’s situationally appropriate. But sometimes in life, we must protect that which we love, and in situations that call for it, it’s important for us to be connected to our capacity for anger so that we can do just that.

Here’s a big surprise: we are all a part of nature. We are made out of earth, water, air and fire (sunshine). And we need all of these elements to be whole. And Nature is masculine AND feminine. If it’s too much of either, it’s not balanced.

If there hair on the back of my neck stands up when someone walks into the room, I’m grateful for my sense of fear, so that I can be alert to possible or imminent danger and deal with the situation accordingly.

When I lose something or someone that I love, I feel sadness. It’s a healthy response!!!

So let’s realize that we are all part of this infinite universe of light and dark, of negative and positive, of masculine and feminine, and that one is not better than the other, but that these poles of polarity support each other in the birth and death and existence of creation.

Did you know that Life needs Death? Is one better than the other? No! They need each other in order to BE, in order to exist in a healthy state. In his book The Book of Secrets, Deepak Chopra, MD writes about cancer. Did you know that cancerous cells are cells that have mutated in order to avoid their natural programming to die? Healthy cells are programmed to die in order to make way for new cells. So yes, cancer cells are cells which are refusing to die as naturally programmed!

Birth and Death are both required for this whole thing we often call LIFE to exist.

And it’s ok. It’s all ok. In fact, maybe it’s all fucking awesome.

I have this theory about Love, which I first heard described in an interview on Sounds True: Insights at the Edge podcast and Claude Poncelet who recently published the book The Shaman Within.

He said that he took a spiritual journey to the black hole at the center of our galaxy. And when he got there, the love he felt was so immense and intense and beautiful that he almost couldn’t bring himself to leave. And that’s when he realized that Love is the Truth. And that there is no difference between love and the truth, but that they are actually the same thing.

Could he be completely bonkers off his ronkers? Of course. And maybe he is! But listening to him speak, I believed what he said because I felt the sincerity and the depth of what he was saying. And now I, too, have faith that love is the truth. I haven’t traveled to a black hole (yet), but I can consider it a possibility. Why not?

I choose to believe that this whole thing we’re living in is made out of Love. That’s my theory and my faith: that somehow it’s all love. It doesn’t always make sense, especially when things “go wrong.” Like, when people are being hurt and killed and are starving or persecuted around the world… it doesn’t make sense when good people die early, or when good people suffer for seemingly no reason or for the shortsightedness and malice of others.

But then again, maybe it does. Maybe everything is exactly the way it’s supposed to be.

And maybe Love really is the Truth.

And somehow in this Truth, we continue our quest for Justice. For what is right and wrong, for what we stand for and for what we stand up against in this world.

Let us have the courage to live with our questions for as long as it takes, to never stop exploring for more and better answers, and to honor the infinity of which we are all an important part.

Love,

Aaron

To Dance With Your Demons

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The conventional wisdom says, “Be positive!” “Be stronger than your emotions!” “Overcome!” “Trust God.”

Fuck all that. I say dance with your demons.

If you’ve been through any sort of trauma in your life (in other words, if you’re alive right now), I doubt you found these worn out aphorisms helpful either. In fact, if we want to move through our emotional struggles and traumas, the opposite of these axioms would be a better place to start.

We already know from psychology and neuroscience that the brain looks for evidence of what it already believes and filters out what doesn’t support those existing beliefs. We crave certainty as human animals and have neural wiring that is predisposed to ask only the questions leading to answers that won’t shake our sense of certainty too much.

That’s partly why it can be so damn hard to move through trauma.

It’s also partly because the emotional intensity can be so high. And it takes time. Like a plant that’s been damaged, in order to recover, we need the right environmental inputs, too. If we extend the analogy, then sunshine, good soil and water for the plant become loving relationships, professional support, and time to heal (among other things).

Often when we are young children, we have experiences that overwhelm the nervous system and go “unprocessed.” Those experiences don’t go away (as we would often desperately want), they go into what Carl Jung, the pioneering psychologist called “the shadow.” Those experiences are still there, but they become hidden in our non-conscious and stored in our body.

And they can have profound influences on us.

I’m speaking here from personal experience as well as from what I’ve learned from myriad psychologists, healers and teachers.

So we acquire these blind spots. We have a lack of awareness around what exactly might be steering the ships of our lives. Our perception becomes distorted.

Unfortunately, the existing language for working with these issues is often cloudy, overly-spiritualized and sickeningly trendy. The words and explanations are sometimes so confusing that listening to someone talk about these things can make me want to throw up.

Open your heart. Be present. Don’t live in your head. Let go (and let God). Ugh, I want to puke right now.

One of my biggest struggles in life has been trying to decipher between what people are saying and what they mean. Often the two are much different. Granted, sometimes this happens because adequate words don’t exist or haven’t yet been formulated. However, I’ve heard people describe these issues I’m mentioning here in language that is simple and easy to understand. Cryptic language is unnecessary and unhelpful. Sometimes I even wonder people want to feel like they belong to a super-secret extra-spiritual society, so they use jargon and gobbledygook language to let others know that they’re “in.”

Sure, those cliches sound great on the surface, but there’s no denying that you’ve got to already know what they’re talking about in order to decipher the code.

In this post I intend to use language that is clear, specific and helpful so that you might gain clear intellectual understanding of how to more skillfully deal with your emotions. Actually processing and working through your emotions is a different from having an intellectual understanding of them, and it’s also usually the harder part. But we’ll get to that.

Let’s take the first cliche phrase above: “Open your heart.” Again, if you’re already in the “inner spiritual circle” then you’ll understand what someone means when they say this. But if you haven’t felt this before, it can be annoyingly difficult to imagine what someone might mean. Obviously it’s not a literal imperative. No one is slitting their heart open with a kitchen knife in response to this.

What they are really talking about is awareness. That part of you that can be aware of your fingers, the back of your knees, your bellybutton or the location of your parked vehicle for that matter. It’s that part of you that can be aware of anything or anyone or any part of anything or anyone. Your awareness is that part of you that observes you reading this blog post right now. You can place your awareness in the corner of the room or at the base of your spine.

Now, bring your awareness into your heart and let it rest there and observe what you feel or don’t feel. That’s it! That’s really all that’s required. The “opening” will happen more or less by itself. It’s not something you can force, or “do” exactly. In fact, there might be “blockages” around your heart. We’ll talk more about what that means.

When we place our awareness approximately where our heart is located in our body and observe what we feel, we have begun the process often cryptically referred to as “opening your heart.”

What’s important to understand about all this, if we’re going to be successful humans and live a fuller and richer life, is that unprocessed emotional experiences get stored in our mind-body. They can and do hang out around key areas in our body.

When I first starting processing some of my deep grief a couple years ago, I had a lot of tension right around my heart area. It had been there for ages, and the entire time I wasn’t even consciously aware it was there!

With help from a Network Spinal Analysis practitioner in Charlotte, NC (Dr Matt Lyon if you want to look them up), I was able to become aware of the locked and frozen energy around my heart. I connected with it and cried it out. As I finally allowed myself to feel what had gone unfelt for so long, it hurt, and then in what felt like magic to me, it was gone.

By feeling the trapped energy, I was able to let it go. And I’ve had to repeat this process many, many times.

However, this may be much more elusive than it appears to be.

I’ve been doing this kind of work now for years, and I’m still uncovering traumas and unprocessed energies. In fact, I’m working on my most difficult one so far which is terror. I’m using a combination of different psychological, spiritual and mind-body approaches to process this now, because it truly takes a team and everything I have to deal with it. One of my favorite techniques I’ve been using is called Brainspotting, pioneered by psychotherapist Dr David Grand, where you become physically aware of encapsulated trauma in the brain, in order to connect with it and release it. Look it up. It’s great.

I tell this story not to air my dirty laundry, but to let you know that I am with you. I know a bit about how hard life can be, and I firmly believe there is always hope.

So the answer is: You’ve got to feel it.

And it hurts. And it’s difficult. And it takes time. And sometimes, only a little bit will be let go of at a time, and that’s ok.

And no, you probably can’t do it on your own. Or at least you’ll do a lot better asking for help. Asking for help is what it means to be a person and a member of society. You help people, people help you.

But the hardest part about all this is that first you’ve got to realize that you even have traumas! Most of us don’t know. And most of us don’t want to know. It’s easier to be comfortable with the familiar. The familiar pain feels safer than the unfamiliar pain.

And the fucking hardest part about it is that even if you’re desperately hungry for the truth, you still might not discover your trauma for a long time.

I know this because I’ve been there. I’ve been begging God and the universe for the truth for 9 years. I vividly remember at the age of 18 kneeling down on the steps of a church alter in the middle of a service crying my eyes out begging God for the truth. I’ve had many experiences like that. And I’m finally starting to learn it.

So what is the truth?

Love is the truth.

And as hard as it is, love–awareness of the truth–is the only answer to our deepest, most terrifying questions. The ones that are so big that we might not even know we’ve been asking them our whole lives.

So here I am as an example and as a light to help show the way.

I’m with you and I’m for you, more than you know.

We’ve got to feel these things. Anger, Sadness, Fear, Terror, Hate, Bitterness…. the list goes on and on. Fear will generally guide the way. Fear is the doorway to love.

Will you go through?

Because THROUGH is the only way OUT. There is no escape.

It doesn’t mean our emotions are always telling the truth, by the way. And realizing that has been a crucial piece of the puzzle for me. It just means that we must listen to them. We must feel them. Because they’re all GOOD. They’re all positive. They’re all coming from our bodies as messengers pointing the way to a better place.

Or don’t feel them.

But the problem with not feeling even ONE of them, is that it bottlenecks ALL the emotions, and the beauty of life becomes dim, the way we hold our bodies subtly shifts and devolves, our vision blurs, and our hope fades.

Love is always calling us home.

Home is truth.

And the truth will set you free.

-Aaron

The Truth About Why People Pretend To Be Socially Awkward

Why do people so often act  socially inhibited and stilted at the beginning of the night in the club?

It’s because they’re afraid of two things: success and failure.

If they allow themselves to feel all of the excitement and/or nervousness that they feel in the moment, they may be ridiculed.

On the other hand, if they allow themselves to feel their own excitement and/or nervousness, they may discover a massive energy that propels them into an ecstatic state. Then what will they do with all this attention? If they attract attention to themselves, they have a bigger risk of looking weird or looking cool.

Looking weird is scary because no one wants to NOT be accepted for who they are. Also, they don’t want to have to put in the energy to change, if they aren’t who they thought they were. They don’t want to let themselves down for not being as cool as their ego wants to think that they are.

Looking cool is scary because then after gaining attention they might lose it all and fail even harder by screwing it up somehow.

Did you know that your brain is thinking all of this and way more every time you go into an unfamiliar social gathering?

It all comes down to responsibility and fear of discovering that we are imperfect.

Most people do not want more responsibility. They are unwilling to take leadership, accepting and owning the consequences of their actions. Small, socially acceptable actions are “safe” because then they can take small responsibility. They don’t have to face possible ridicule or more attention than they’re used to having.

What happens if you start to do what you want though? To really be excited and talk as much as you want and allow your life energy to permeate your being and influence those around you?

Well, first of all, in order to do this, you must be open. You must be honest about the way that you are feeling in general. Whatever your emotions are, you’ve got to stop resisting them and whether or not you like them, you must accept them. Otherwise, people will see right through you.

Most people aren’t skilled enough to lie about their emotions for more than a few seconds. It takes too damn much energy.

What do I mean by this? What does it mean to “lie” about your emotions?

It means that you know you feel a certain way, but you are unwilling to accept that feeling. You do not acknowledge that feeling. You resist it.

However, as the Taoists say, “What you resist, persists.”

Proportionately to how much you are resisting an emotion, you will attract that energy. People hate to be lied to, and people can see right through your bullshit. YOU are the only one who is choosing to accept your own lies.

Other people will rarely accept you when you are lying to them, and only the people who are attempting to believe the same lies as you will be your truest friends. But these relationships are unstable since they are based on lies. Relationships founded on shared TRUTHS will last much longer.

In some rare cases, someone may feel sorry for you and try to help you because they see the truth about you even when you don’t. They believe that you are a good person who is confused. That kind of person is rare and is taking a huge risk to be your friend since most people will push others away when their beliefs are fucked with. It is possible that your belief in your own lies may be so strong that you may end up pushing away the person who is trying to help you.

People of about the same self-esteem level will feel the most comfortable with each other. How honest you are in every area of your life is often a good reflection of your self-esteem.

So what do you do with all this information? Can it even possibly apply to you?

Probably.

Even the most “honest” among us can stand to be more honest about our deepest beliefs, our habits, our loves and hates. Have we ever even taken an explicit look at what those are?

I hope so.

The truth really will set you free.

But first you have to realize that you’re trapped. You have to be humble enough to examine your beliefs and courageous enough to feel your emotions.

When you know who you are, you accept who you are, you take responsibility for who you are, you are assertive about who you are and what you stand for, what you purpose is, and you live with integrity, this is when you are free.

It takes courage to live free.

And all of it takes practice.

So practice!

And enjoy the process. You’re going to be doing this for the rest of your life.