Why am I a spiritual teacher and what do I bring to the table? Someone recently inquired as to my background. Teachers I’ve studied with, books I’ve read, practices, etc.
So I thought it may be helpful for some of you to understand what has led to my being a spiritual teacher.
Amongst other things, of course.
Childhood Mystical Experiences
As a child I had “mystical” experiences. As an adult reflecting upon those experiences it was very tempting to put them off as childhood imaginings.
However, upon doing more research and thinking, I’ve come to the conclusion that they were valid experiences.
One of the motifs in my teaching and philosophy is that we are heavily conditioned by the current myth of scientific materialism.
Note: I have no issue with science, of course. It’s helped humanity immensely. I only take issue with the fundamentalist approach whether that is in spiritual matters or science.
Existential Angst And Scientific Materialism
This environment of materialism — that only things that can be measured are real — has led to an epidemic of existential angst. Depression, anxieties and the like are all extremely common in our culture.
Memories Of Reincarnation?
Back to childhood. One of the most vivid experiences I had was when I was 4 or 5 years old and living in Winnipeg. I can recall going down the stairs to the basement of a neighbor’s house and suddenly being overcome by the knowingness that I’d been here before.
A voice inside said “Oh! This place again. I’m here again.” Meaning in physical form upon the earth.
I had many other experiences as a child such as knowing what song was about to play on the radio or who was calling on the phone.
“Some things have to be believed to be seen.” Ralph Hodgson
Follow Your Heart
As a teenager, I can remember thinking about what the Christian churches were teaching. And I remember thinking to myself that if good deeds and kindness didn’t come from the heart, but were just an obedience out of fear of punishment, then it didn’t mean anything true.
I thought about things like this a lot as a teen.
“Make sure that your religion is a matter between you and God only.” Wittgenstein
Sex, Drugs And Rock n Roll
Too many “aha moments” and “satori” to list here. I’ll skip ahead to my next major awakening. I’d been going through a period in my life where I was really lost and depressed.
I was playing in rock bands at the top clubs around Toronto at night and working in kitchens and teaching guitar by day.
And I was drinking and doing drugs. My life was out of control.
I tried stopping on my own. And I’d succeed from time to time. A couple of weeks here, a month there, a few days there. But the behaviour patterns that were driving me were compulsive.
One day I got on my knees and prayed for help. I felt a sudden calm. I was drawn to the closest public library.
I went in to the psychology section and took down all the books relating to addiction I could find.
Several books suggested AA as being one of the best ways to really deal with the issue of addiction.
That was it. I looked up meetings in Toronto and I was at my first meeting that night. Over the course of the next 6 months, I went to no less than one meeting everyday. I worked the 12 steps with my sponsor and am now closing in on 20 years of sobriety.
If you’re reading this and addiction to alcohol or drugs is an issue, I can’t recommend AA highly enough.
Even though after 6 months I never went to anymore meetings. That was my path. We all have our own path to navigate.
My internal guidance at this time said it was time for me to spread my wings. I didn’t want to tell the story of my being “wounded” anymore.
I was free of that story.
By this time I had cultivated a dedicated and strong spiritual connection with my Higher Power. I had a meditation practice in place and dove into studying and working on myself.
One of the first things I did was read John Bradshaw’s work on the inner child and family dynamics. I also did most of the exercises he suggested.
I then got into studying some Buddhism along with all the psychology I could get my hands on.
One of the coolest spiritual practices I engaged with was allowing myself to feel what I was feeling instead of distracting myself.
This led to quite a bit of healing. To the point where having been estranged from my family as a teenage runaway, I was now on very good terms with them.
10 years ago I discovered and began to practice one of the single most powerful tools I’ve ever encountered. It’s called the Sedona Method.
In a nutshell, it’s the practice of letting go of negativity and limiting feelings/thoughts.
I’ve been using this daily — and I can honestly say that if someone approaches this tool with sincerity and honesty, they can achieve as much in a few months as doing several years of traditional meditation.
I still use traditional meditation along with the Sedona Method.
The Power Of Now
Another teacher who had a huge impact on me when I first read The Power of Now back in 1999 or 2000 was Eckhart Tolle. I remember at the time of reading I thought “so this is what Krishnamurti was talking about!” (J. Krishnamurti is a very powerful spiritual teacher from the 20th century who I read a lot of as a teen. I was then living and working in Toronto on my own).
Thanks to Tolle’s teachings, I still practice being present. Noticing if I’m avoiding the “present moment” by using it as a means to an end or not. Feeling my inner energy field.
Am I feeling resistance to things that are happening? Can I say “yes” to these things I’m resisting — including the resistance itself? These are practices that have been ingrained in my daily life whether I’m in a conversation or typing an article such as this.
Note: By the way, saying “yes” to the present moment doesn’t mean giving up the power to change things. As a matter of fact, we have more power, creativity and intelligence at our disposal when we are not in a state of emotional resistance to “what is.” This requires a willingness to be honest with oneself, of course 🙂
I still get triggered and feel negative emotional states. But now I have tools to deal with them rather quickly.
Most of the time I’m able to let go of them within seconds or minutes. Sometimes it takes a little longer, but never longer than an hour or so. Once in a blue moon something’s lasted a bit longer than that. Perhaps 2 hours or so.
These are not set parameters — just a way for me to communicate that we can take our power back. We do have the power to choose happiness and freedom over wanting to control things.
And like anyone, I’ve had my share of disappointments, “failures”, and challenges. But through all of that, I can say that it’s been many many years since I’ve had a bad day.
Why Am I A Spiritual Teacher?
I feel called to be a spiritual teacher. I don’t think I “know” anything that anybody else doesn’t know.
Just that when I say things, it may resonate with a deeper part of you that you previously didn’t have access to.
I’m simply a friend along the way. Maybe I’ve got a candle that you can use to light your own candle.
My motive is that I want to be the change I wish to see in the world. And if the Universe conspires to bring people to listen to the words I’m using to point at the moon with, then great! Maybe we can all change this world together.