My spiritual journey began unexpectedly 20 years ago. Deaths, divorce, poverty and unprocessed childhood traumas pounded me until I broke. My health tanked and I was diagnosed clinical depression, general anxiety and panic disorders. I became addicted to prescription drugs and attempted suicide. Traditional medical treatments were failing me and I was getting worse. Deep inside I felt that this was the end unless I found a way to save myself. In solitude I began weaning myself off all prescription drugs. It was an excruciating experience over many months and required unrelenting discipline. After the drug fog dissipated, I recognized that my thoughts were the source of my misery and needed to change. So what was I to do? I was a non-seeker without exposure to Zen, yoga or other spiritual traditions. Fortunately, my father taught me self-hypnosis as a teenager (see Fitness). Hypnosis became my next move to shift my poor mindset to a better one.
The mindset modification phase began. When I started doing self-hypnosis I realized I had much to learn. So I went back to college and became a certified clinical hypnotherapist. Additionally, I studied neuro linguistic programming (NLP) and subliminal affirmations. Using this understanding, I designed hypno-subliminal audio suites. Listening to these daily for months effectively changed my self-defeating mindset to a supportive positive one. Another unforeseen benefit was my mind became very quiet. Because of this reduction of activity I began noticing how my mind was operating. I used my engineering skills to identify the basic functions and mechanics of the mind. As I mastered these mechanics over time, a sobering from thought effortlessly occurred. My inner lens started to clear and inner liberation began naturally unfolding.
As inner realization was unfolding I was in “managing thought mode” focusing on positive and letting negative pass. At this point I still believed my thinking and simply shifted my attention appropriately. However, I began to recognize that I needn’t believe negative thoughts and this disbelief didn’t change the basic mechanics of the mind. The engineer in me needed to test this. So I ran thought experiments, became vigilant of the changes outside and within, and spent long hours in introspection. Eventually, I realized I needn’t believe any thought and that thoughts were simply fictional options for experiencing. Additionally, I proved to myself through direct experience that emotion allowed me to feel my thinking in real-time (think happy thoughts - feel happy, think sad thoughts – feel sad, etc.). This is when I began watching thoughts and sensing emotions with little or no interference (by letting go control of my attention). This was the beginning of my accidental mindfulness practice (I had no idea what mindfulness was back then). As inner realization progressed I learned how awareness, attention, thought and emotion functioned together to create experience. At this time I wrote “The Universal Happiness Method: How to be Happy and Live without Stress.” (download free here) and became an ordained universal minister.
Processing trauma and emotions trapped within the body. After years of managing my thoughts and being mindful I achieved a level of mental/emotional stability that was easy to maintain. However, at times I was hit with deep emotional pain within the body. When this happened I went right to shifting thoughts and/or sensing emotion until it dissipated. This was effective, but this deep emotional pain would continue to pop up out of the blue. Eventually, I had bouts of shaking that would come on their own and I intuitively (again, I was without spiritual training and had no idea WTF was happening) laid down and let them run their course. I had many of these episodes over a month then they stopped completely. The engineer in me had to find out what happened and why. So I did research and discovered Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) among other things. I realized that my naturally occurring shaking episodes were purging a lifetime of emotional trauma from my body (I was an abused orphan so this made sense) and this is a typical occurrence later in the inner realization process. I recommend doing TRE and qigong to clear this stuff out to avoid how it unfolded for me (not fun). Now I face everything as it comes and feel it fully without judgement to avoid these blockages. I also recommend meditation of a specific kind.
I first learned meditation in martial arts. It was the focusing on your breathing and clearing your mind type. I kept “trying” (mistake) to clear my mind and it was too taxing. So I stopped (I was young and didn’t understand the purpose of meditating). Fast forward a few decades to the point of inner realization unfolding. Thinking wasn’t causing much suffering because I stopped believing it or shifted my thinking to a positive perspective constantly. There was no point in meditating for a break from thinking as it was easy to manage. Nonetheless, to be thorough, I investigated whether or not there was a kind of meditation that would be useful for me to practice. The option I discovered that was very simple, easy to do and powerful: Surrendering control entirely without any goal (not “trying” to clear or achieve a state of mind). This effectively provides a break from maneuvering within the mind.
If not for trauma I would still be a non-spiritualist lost in the fairytales of the mind. My misery ended up being a gift for which I am grateful. It pushed me deep into contemplation where I realized there is “No Self” and fear of death vanished. I recognized the non-conceptual position within and spent the last decade pointing to it through my Zen poetry (see Twitter/TheUHMethod). This recognition opened the way for me to recognize the “pointing” done by various masters and spiritual traditions regardless of semantics. I now have a profound appreciation for all the spiritual traditions with Zen, Yoga and Kung Fu speaking to me the most.
How has inner realization changed things? My life long pursuit of self-improvement became lens-improvement (a window to see through, built as a work of art). Creativity flows non-stop like a never ending river. It birthed me into an author, poet, writer and artist. Additionally, problem solving has become much easier as solutions pour in as needed. I operate with a balance of discipline (will power), letting go (give up control) and following the heart (intuitive guidance from feelings). Mindfulness, mediation and hypno-subliminal audio suites continue to be part of my daily practice. Inner realization improves all areas of life and I recommend that you immediately begin a practice of your own. If this inner-shift can unfold for me, it can for you, as we are the same. Namaste.
Copyright © 2010-22 Michael Robert Lawrence