I am on a spiritual journey. It feels a bit odd to say this. I don’t consider myself a yogi, shaman, or monk. I think of myself as just a normal guy. Do normal guys really take part in spiritual journeys? After some reflection, I think they do.
To me, this journey is one of finding what my spirit, true essence, authentic being, or “real” self wants. It is becoming whole, acting with authenticity, and generally living within my truth. It is reconciling the needs and wants of my ego (the false self) with the truth of my spirit (my true self).
It has taken me some time to recognize I was on this journey. Others probably knew this before I did (perhaps even you dear reader). Looking back, I’m guessing I’ve been “at this” for most of my life. My fondest memories from college were late night (early morning) conversations with friends, around “deep” thoughts, while sipping on the dregs of Beast Lite and listening to “deep” music like Third Eye Blind, Collective Soul, and Matchbox Twenty (ok, so maybe the thoughts and music weren’t that deep).
Prior to college, I can remember lying on my bed and talking to my own version of God and asking him/her the cosmically big questions like, “will I be a Major League baseball player”, “will Aliens ever need me to help save the galaxy” and “does Chrissy like me?” These probably aren’t the best examples of showing off my advanced spiritual chops, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve been curious about the question, “who am I?”
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’ve only gotten serious about answering this question over the past 5 years. During this time, a combination of several events occurred providing me with the opportunity to jump headfirst onto the spiritual bandwagon. In order of occurrence, here’s what has accelerated my path:
- After achieving my “American Dream”, I realized it didn’t lead to perpetual happiness
- One day I yelled at my 18-month-old daughter, causing her to look at me with petrified eyes, leading me to look for a “stress reliever”, leading me to develop a daily meditation practice
- I had a profound experience while meditating, what I now understand to be called, an “awakening”
- I went on my first 7-day silent retreat
- Upon returning from the retreat, I was fired as CEO from the company I started
- I lost my identity as a CEO, realizing the identity wasn’t real to begin with
- I took psilocybin for the first time
- I turned 40 – further realizing my mortality and driving me further on this quest
- I found out that “wild” experiences can occur while meditating and that there is a dark-side to meditation, sparking a desire to go further
In my opinion, each of the bullets above are dependent on the previous bullet. Said another way, each dot connects and/or leads to the following dot. It’s impossible to see what will come next in my spiritual adventure, but looking back, it is apparent (to me) that all of these experiences are connected.
At times, my efforts to understand “who I am” have been mentally exhausting, leading to; sadness, confusion, frustration, and near depression. There have been plenty of times when I don’t want to; sit on my meditation cushion, read any more books by authors with names like Bante G, Culadasa, or Adyashanti, or attend men’s groups and other mindfulness trainings. I have days when I want to “put the genie back in the bottle”, forget all about this shit, and space out in front of the television for the rest of my life. However, those days are few.
For me, this “work” of finding my true self, are the most rewarding actions of my life. As I peel each layer from the proverbial onion of Dan, life becomes more interesting, vibrant, and special. But just like cutting an onion, there are plenty of tears to be had along the way.
When I started all of “this” I had no idea what I was getting myself into (and I still don’t). Call it luck, divine intervention, or whatever else, but the last 5 years have transpired perfectly – highs and lows and all.
While I’m just a normal guy, walking on the spiritual path to nowhere, if you’re looking for some ideas on how to “find yourself”, here’s what has worked* for me so far:
- Have a deliberate and daily contemplative practice
- Meditation has worked for me, but there are others
- Like any task, if you don’t put this “work” towards the very top of your priority list, it won’t get done
- Be open to the possibility that you are wrong about everything
- Listen to the quiet but firm voice in the back of your mind
- Find a community and good teachers
- Surround yourself with others who can assist with this “work” and who don’t think you’re crazy for going against the grain. This support group will also be needed when “things get weird”.
- Don’t blindly trust people like me
- Follow your own path
*When I say “worked”, I mean these are the actions that have helped to completely blow up the truths I thought I knew about myself and the world.
In an effort to walk the talk and continue working with good coaches, I’ll soon start a training with Vince Horn over at Buddhist Geeks. Furthermore, upon writing this post, I’ve come to realize I’m feeling a bit isolated and craving more interaction and community to share and learn from. Whether it’s via the Buddhist Geeks Network, Dharma Underground, or elsewhere, I look forward to engaging in 2022 with anyone who wishes to “go deep” and answer the question of “who am I?”
Time will tell if one day I add “published spiritual journey blog post” to the list of connecting dots on the spiritual journey timeline.
Author Bio: Dan started Fired and Free in 2017, to provide his “truth” after being fired as CEO of the company he started and led. After a diverse 17-year career in management consulting and entrepreneurship, Dan now leads 3Sixty Leadership, where he provides coaching and consulting to business owners, helping them to improve their leadership and company culture.