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I Was Living The “American Dream” Then Had A Stroke At Age 30 & It Turned My Life Around

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Apparently surviving a stroke that took half my eyesight and almost killed me would turn out to be one of the greatest blessings of my life. Before I get into how all that transpired, I need to give a little background on how it got to that point.

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Growing up, my parents took the same approach to life that most people growing up in the United States could relate to. Their plan for my three younger siblings and me was simple: Go to school and get good grades so you can go to a good college. Then get a good job and make a lot of money so you can have nice things and then you’ll be happy. This was the mantra that I, like many other kids in the U.S., grew up with; the American Dream. I followed the guidelines and my years of hard work finally paid off when I landed a job working for a Fortune 500 company in Rockefeller Center, Manhattan.

Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be a professional businessman. I wanted to wear nice suits, work in an office with breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline, dine in fancy restaurants, and date women outside of my Long Island gene pool. Each of these I had achieved more and more year after year as I slowly clawed my way up the corporate ladder. One job change, a couple moves from Long Island to Queens then the Upper West side of Manhattan, a few raises and promotions after almost a decade in the corporate finance realm, and I finally got to the point where I felt like I had “made it.”

However, when I got to that point I still wasn’t completely satisfied. In fact, I only wanted more. Then I saw an opportunity to move further up in the ranks when my director informed me that she would be leaving the company. This was the opportunity I was waiting for! I asked for and received more responsibility along with a sizeable increase to my salary. This eventually transpired into a “be careful what you wish for” situation. In the coming months I felt the responsibilities and workload piling up with no relief in sight. So began the silent war within myself that would lead to the event that shattered all that I had built for myself my entire life.

I worked longer and harder than I ever had in order to prove myself. In doing so, my life became completely imbalanced with the scale always weighted toward work. Over the next six months my stress and anxiety levels were higher than ever trying to keep up with my new workload, as the company had not yet found a suitable replacement to fill the empty role in the finance department. My mind began to turn against me and I felt as if I were stuck in the trenches of my work-related stress even when I left the office. Luckily at this point I was about to go on vacation with my girlfriend at the time to visit her parents, who had retired to a small village in Mexico. It was my first time visiting the country and I was delighted by the relaxed and care-free attitude of the locals and blown away by the beautiful beaches and nature that I immersed myself in. This was the vacation I needed! But all good things must come to an end, so on New Year’s Day 2014, we were dropped off at the airport to head back to New York City, or so we thought.

At the airline service counter, I was handed my boarding pass to return home. In that exact moment, I felt a sharp pain on my left temple like I had never experienced before in my life. I shut my eyes, grabbed my head, and let out a grunt. When I opened them, half my vision was gone and everything was blurry. Something was very wrong. I let my girlfriend know what was happening and that I was pretty sure I was having a stroke. I told her to get an ambulance immediately. I lay down where I was, drank some water, and began vomiting as my body convulsed on the floor of the airport. As the paramedics arrived, I began to feel a tingling sensation run throughout the right side of my body and I was starting to lose control of basic motor functions and consciousness. It was in this moment that for the first time in my life I thought to myself, “I might die.” I’ve been afraid before, but nothing could compare to the feeling I had on the floor of the airport on New Year’s Day 2014. The paramedics hooked me up to an IV and took me to the nearest hospital, which was luckily just down the road from the airport.

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I was fortunate to survive with only having partial vision loss and no nerve damage. It was only when returning to New York would I realize the cause of my brain injury. The doctors at Cornell discovered a hole (PFO) inside my heart, which caused the blood clot in my brain. Not too longer after diagnosis, I was on the operating table in Columbia Hospital to remedy the situation. I never thought I’d be having heart surgery in my early thirties. My, how life is full of surprises!

Readjusting to city life after a stroke and heart surgery was by no means easy. At first, it was really bad. I had trouble physically getting around the crowded streets of New York City with only half my eyesight. My personality had changed drastically, as I had become more solemn. My relationships with my girlfriend, family, friends, and co-workers had all shifted to some awkward place that I was unfamiliar with, each in their own way. Invoking intimacy was not what it used to be, as my sex drive was stuck in first gear. I was nowhere near as fun and positive as I used to be when hanging out with friends and family. I had difficulty focusing so my performance at work suffered a great deal as well. My weekly therapy sessions proved to help temporarily, but my mind would constantly return to dark places. After a year of living this new life as a man I was no longer familiar with and didn’t even want to be around, the thoughts of leaving the planet began to cross my mind for the first time ever. That really scared me, so I did something I promised myself I would never do: go on medication.

I went on antidepressants and was also given Xanax that I was instructed to take only when my anxiety levels become unbearable. After just a few days, I levelled out. My depression was gone and my anxiety was non-existent. There was just one little problem: I didn’t really feel anything. Everything was just “fine.” If something good happened, my emotional response was “That’s fine.” Something bad happened? Also fine. At first I was so glad to have rid myself of crippling depression and anxiety that I was satisfied with living as a flesh-covered robot. That lasted only a couple of months. After a while I saw that I was rapidly dismantling into a highly functioning soulless drone. Was this better than living as the strung-out anxiety-ridden person I was before? Were there no other options for me to choose for continuing on with my life?

Related CE Article: Study Finds That Big Pharma Completely Lied About Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors For Depression

After picking up my prescription pills for the third month in a row, I hit the gym and when I got home later that evening, I realized they had slipped out of a hole in the bottom of my gym bag. I took this as a sign and decided to try going off of my meds cold-turkey. I fought through the withdrawals following the first few days then started to feel really human again. At this point in time, it was a little over a year after I survived the stroke and it became abundantly clear that I had a choice between pushing on with the usual day to day or maintaining my sanity. I chose my sanity. It was early 2015 when I officially decided I would quit my job to travel and figure things out somewhere else in the world. I immediately began downsizing my life. Most of my possessions were sold, donated, given away, or put in storage. With each item that left my possession, I felt physically and emotionally lighter, as if I were dropping off weights I had been carrying on my shoulders for years. That’s when I began the journey that would change my life forever.

In the summer of 2015 I bought an RV and my girlfriend, dog, and I decided to leave the corporate world behind and start anew in Mexico. After three months, a ten thousand mile road trip, and just over a month living together in the foreign country, it became apparent to us that our relationship of over three years was not going to work any longer. After it sunk in that everything we were planning for the future fell apart, I was completely lost. At least when I was in New York I had the comfort and stability of my job, family, friends, home country, and a language I was fluent in. Now I fell into yet another dark place, but not for long! I was determined to make the best of my situation, so I grabbed a backpack and began solo travelling for the first time in my life!

In the first month, I was just winging it and hopping on buses to the next stop on the backpacker trail of mid-western Mexico. This was a great experience where I met tons of friendly locals, expats, and travellers from all over the world. For the next phase of my travels, I decided to do a bit more planning. I was still hurting from my break-up and needed some physical, mental, and spiritual healing. So the next phase of my trip included an Ayahuasca ceremony in the Pueblo Mágico of Tepoztlán. My experience with Ayahuasca was very introspective and I kept receiving the same message over and over again: “You are on the right path.”

Next was a ten-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat in Coatepec, Veracruz, another Pueblo Mágico. This was one of the most difficult yet profoundly enlightening experiences I’ve ever gone through. Ten days of being silent and meditating for eleven hours a day really helped silence my mind and take control of my thoughts and actions.

The last stop in my second walkabout was a month-long work exchange stay at a holistic healing retreat center called The Sanctuary in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca. Here it took just a few days at for me to realize that the Ayahuasca was right. I was on the right path! I learned new meditation techniques, was doing yoga every day, got a crash course on preparing meals for a high-raw vegan lifestyle, and shared the community house with extraordinary people from all walks of life. We worked, chanted, communed in nighttime ceremonies, shared our most intimate thoughts and feelings, and even cried together. This was exactly what I needed! Not too long after arriving, I ended up joining the team as general manager and The Sanctuary became my home for the next six months. During that time, I helped guide dozens of people through that chapter of their life’s journey, an experience I’ll never forget! It was here where I learned that truly spiritual people are those who have been through hell and have the overwhelming desire to help others out of their own versions of it.

After The Sanctuary, I was presented with the ultimate traveller moneymaking opportunity: trimming marijuana in Northern California, so I took it. I spent the next two months hunched over a table as a pot hairdresser. Once again, it was the people I was surrounded by that made the experience a memorable one. Nothing helps the time fly like sharing stories, listening to our favourite music, and laughing together around the fireplace at night when our fingers needed to rest.

With California in my rearview, I made a stop in New York to visit friends and family before heading to Puerto Rico. This was the home of a girl I fell in love with during my time in Mexico. The connection we forged during our short time together was different than any other in my entire life. It was based on a love and respect for who the other person was at their core as opposed to who we wanted them to be. Though the relationship would not continue after my visit, she without a doubt raised the bar in my ongoing search for a partner in life.

Once again I was leaving a piece of my heart behind and continued on with my travel journey! I flew into Cancún and worked my way slowly back to the beach city that helped heal my heart better than any other: Puerto Escondido. This trip was more about the journey than the destination for sure. In the Yucatan peninsula I witnessed and scaled massive ancient Mayan pyramids. While in Tulum I participated in a beautiful and emotional peyote ceremony where I took an even deeper look into the inner workings of my mind. In Palenque, I became one with nature after consuming the local magical mushrooms and bathing in the jungle’s mystical waterfalls near the ruins. As usual, sharing these experiences with travel mates amplified my experience. At this point I was a certified travel junky and never wanted it to end! Good thing I was going to nest in a beach paradise and backpacking hotspot.

Back in Puerto Escondido, I stayed in a Vivo Escondido Hostel for a month until I found a
long-term rental. You guessed it… more awesome people!

I ended up at a gorgeous newly-constructed two-story house where I would spend the next six months pursuing passions that I had been neglecting for years. I learned to surf, explored the local natural beauty, focused on healthy living, caught up on my travel blog, wrote a few articles, DJed at multiple venues, and made sure to enjoy every day as best I could. Mexico gave me the opportunity to let me live my life the way I wanted to for a while without any judgment, and for that I am forever grateful.

Just a few months ago, I took a two and a half week visa-run/vacation to Guatemala to visit my friend Luke Maguire Armstrong in San Marcos. He and I met while I was managing the Sanctuary in Puerto Escondido the year before and ever since becoming friends, I grew ever more curious of his work with a school for impoverished children in Antigua, Guatemala. I spent my first two weeks immersing myself in the raw beauty of the active volcano communities surrounding Lake Atitlán where he lived. Here I would partake in yoga, cacao ceremonies, ecstatic dance at the Yoga Forestand even Bhakti singing at The Fungi Academy. All activities of course were shared with new and exciting traveller friends of various nationalities. For the finale of my stay, I even booked myself a DJ gig at Bar Sublime, a quick ten-minute boat ride across the lake to San Pedro.

After bidding farewell to my new friends I met on the lake, Luke and I headed to Antigua to visit the Integral Heart Foundation’s school. Though I had been helping remotely with fundraising efforts for months before visiting, actually meeting the children I was helping made it much more personal for me. It was incredibly heartwarming to actually see the children in person, knowing the adverse environment they had come from not too long ago. None of them were going to school and many were forced to rummage through garbage dumps for pennies a day due to difficult circumstances. No wonder these were the happiest school kids I had ever met in my life!

A couple days later, I said goodbye to Luke and the kids to return to Puerto Escondido. However, when I got back a shift happened within me and I slipped into another depression. I began to question what I really wanted and needed in my life. I missed my friends and family back home and my funds were starting to run low. After a month of self-reflection, I decided it was time to return to New York.

So now I have come full circle… kind of. Over the course of a little more than two years I have had more adventures and experienced more of what this incredible world has to offer than most people do their entire lives. It’s comical for me to look back at all that happened, remember living in my own personal hell for so long, and to see how far I’ve come since those times of intense despair. It was like a mental quicksand; the more I struggled, the deeper I would sink into it. Of all the lessons I’ve learned, my greatest one is probably this: My mind can be my worst enemy or greatest ally. In the end, I am the one who gets to choose which one it will be. I had to journey into the unknown and experience life firsthand to personally integrate this lesson myself. My experiences and the hundreds of connections I made along the way were what really saved my life. Without them, I don’t even want to begin to think about where I would be right now. I still have no vision on my right peripheral, but I can once again see a beautiful future for myself, something I had lost immediately following the stroke.

In over two years of travelling I have had many revelations, but none more important than
this: At the very core of my being, I am a traveller. It is one of the few things in life that makes me feel truly alive. By travelling, I saw for myself that so much of what I thought I knew about foreign cultures was wrong until I experienced them firsthand.

Meeting people from all corners of the Earth gave me a new perspective on life. I realized
that although we may have been born thousands of miles away, were raised in completely
different cultures, and in many instances didn’t speak the same native tongue, none of us were that different from each other. In fact, many of us were on our own personal quests searching for a deeper meaning in life.

Living and working in New York City for a decade had put me in contact with people from
all over the world. This, however, was completely different from my experiences travelling, as most Manhattanites had found their way and were usually more focused on their careers than soul-searching. In my personal experiences with the people I’ve encountered, those who travel are seekers, searching for something that was missing in their lives back home. For me, I was missing a greater purpose, something that my fundraising efforts with the Integral Heart Family in Guatemala fulfills.

The best part of my story called life thus far is that it is nowhere close to being complete. I still have many more chapters to write, thousands of new characters to meet, and countless adventures to experience. In over two years of travel, the greatest gifts I have received were the connections I have made with my soul tribe from all corners of the Earth. I left New York to heal myself and find a higher purpose and I feel that I have accomplished these goals. In my experience living over thirty-four years on this planet, I have found no greater healer than creating deep and meaningful connections with other souls. This lesson I promised myself to follow through with and spread to as many other people as possible. What better place to continue this journey than New York!

Help Support Collective Evolution

The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

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Consciousness

Some Tips To Help You Unwind Your Busy Monkey Mind

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Many of us are unable to relax entirely, as we rush through our days with constant mental chatter and to-do lists on our minds. However, there are relaxing techniques that are easy to implement throughout the day to help us calm our “monkey minds."

  • Reflect On:

    Taking more time to be still, step away from the busyness of life, and learning to unwind helps us feel more grounded and less scattered — thus positively impacting all areas of our lives.

Most people believe relaxing activities are only done in the evenings, and should be grouped in categories, scheduled, or put in an evening “routine,” as if it’s simply another item to check off your “to-do” list.

The good news? You don’t have to wait until the evening to unwind and relax. In fact, you shouldn’t. You deserve to feel grounded in your center and a sense of peace all day, not for just a few hours at the end of your day. You shouldn’t have to, and you absolutely do not have to and mustn’t do so. It is time to do away with the philosophy that it is only safe to entertain the idea of relaxation at the very end of your day, after spending the large majority of your waking hours walking through the day scattered, stressed, anxious, drained, ungrounded and thrown about. You deserve more, and there’s a way to get there. There is a way to unwind that busy, chaotic monkey mind which owns most of your waking hours and is not aligned with your true nature, or the place deep within where stillness and serenity reside. 

Understandably, this may seem quite impossible once you’ve trained your body and mind to operate in a “go, go, go” mode without any sense of stillness.

The thing is though, you don’t have to take time off or become a monk … you can rest in stillness while doing the same things you’re currently doing — and an added bonus to the already amazing benefit of not living a frantic life is that everything you do will be of higher quality. I think you’ll find that all other aspects of life outside of work (relationships, health, etc.) will dramatically improve as a result.

So, here are some tips for unwinding that busy “monkey mind” not only in the evenings, but throughout the day too:

  • Start your day with a “mental dump.” Write out all the things you need to do in a notebook. This relieves a lot of stress, and by getting it all down on paper, you typically realize most of it is just mind made and you really only need to make one or two things your priorities. There is zero reason to even stress about the rest.
  • Every so often, ideally once an hour if you can, set aside as little as 3-5 minute blocks of times for stillness and silence throughout your day. Meditate or go outside and sit in nature or take a walk (which, of course, are also forms of meditation). This will help you return to your core and stay more rooted throughout the day. 
  • Engage in creative activity or “play”: Do something purely for the pleasure of doing it, do it just for fun, with no end goal in mind. An aside: unstructured time for “play” (an activity done purely for fun rather than to gain something from it), is said to be crucial to your creative process. So, if you’re an artist of any type and you’re feeling “blocked,” just keep this in mind. You might just need some unstructured time to enjoy whatever you feel like enjoying at any given moment without having to justify it.
  • Almost all articles on anxiety and insomnia suggest putting away all electronic devices or turning them off completely for the night. Though many of us may find this difficult given our heavy reliance on technology, it is crucial to shut your devices off before bed as they can reduce melatonin production.

If you have difficulty shutting your phone off entirely, you could try a few other remedies including using blue light filters on your devices, avoiding news outlets or anything that will get a rise out of you, and avoiding violent movies and shows before bed. 

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And if you read at night, there is one thing that has helped me immensely —only read fiction, or less stimulating material. Avoid books and magazines that make you want to be more productive, stimulate new ideas prompting your mind to do anything but unwind, and instead just enjoy some good old fiction. Although it’s important to read and educate ourselves, I’ve found that stimulating my brain with this content before bed can reduce my sleep quality. 

Meditation is, of course, the number one most suggested method for taming the monkey mind. However, sitting still for someone with a scattered brain can be difficult. One method to troubleshoot this and not feel like you have to discipline yourself to ‘meditate for 20 minutes straight in the lotus position’ is to just sit down, close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths. After all, you can do anything for 10 breaths, right?

The Takeaway

Whatever you do during your free time, savor the pleasure of the process rather than thinking of the end goal. In fact, who cares if you even reach the end goal? Who cares if you even have one? Let’s just go ahead and throw the whole idea of a goal in regards to this topic away … lest we wish to possibly defeat our purpose. 

What are your tips and life hacks for unwinding your monkey mind when it gets the best of you? 

Help Support Collective Evolution

The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

SUPPORT CE HERE!

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Consciousness

Gillette’s New Ad On “Toxic Masculinity” Is Great – And Necessary, But…

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A new commercial from Gillette tackles the issue of 'toxic masculinity.' The commercial asks us questions about male culture and challenges us to step up and change what we're doing. But did they tackle this well?

  • Reflect On:

    What else can we take from the commentary of this commercial? Where else can we find these same behaviours in our society? Further, what is the purpose of the extreme, identity-based politics we see today? Is it causing more harm than good?

In an age of extremes, the nuance of this article is going to be what helps us understand what we are truly seeing in terms of the challenges we face and how we can solve them without generating a strong opinion on these issues. I encourage you all to carefully read this article as if we want to help move away from things like “toxic masculinity,” “toxic femininity,” racism and so forth, but we must do so wisely by truly understanding the depth of what is being said.

Before I continue on, I want to say that in many cases, when talking about issues regarding men, women, or any particular race as politics and media often do today, we must remember that what is talked about does not represent the whole of any group. In fact, in many cases, it only represents a very small percentage of the group being discussed.

As a result of aspects of our consciousness, which we will discuss further in this article, there is no shortage of extremism in society right now when it comes to the discussion of gender. The #MeToo movement helped the greater population recognize that sexism is a huge problem within prominent industries, like music and film, where women are being harassed or abused sexually by men. This then extended to a greater discussion about sexual abuse in society in general, which I feel anyone can agree is an important topic to bring awareness to. In fact, I don’t know if I have ever come across anyone who actually opposes putting a stop to something like this, yet due to extreme positions, many are being wrongfully accused of such opposition. This is where we need to have a deeper discussion.

By now we know it happens, we don’t need another article exposing it, we need one talking about solutions, so that is what I’m going to focus on.

We exist in very polarized states of consciousness, and because we are a society who has not put a large focus on emotional intelligence, many issues that come to the forefront go through a long period of extremism before/if we become grounded again in order to truly understand what’s going on.

Of course, what I am talking about doesn’t relate only to what occurred after the #MeToo movement began, but with anything, including people’s views on government conspiracies, race, politics and other societal issues. In short, we attempt to apply blanket statements to issues instead of viewing things on a case by case basis or through the properly grounded facts that we do have about an issue.

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As Stefan Molyneux puts it,

“The general leftist approach is that all disparities in group outcomes are the result of prejudice, of racism, of sexism, of colonialism, of exploitation of generally bad white male behaviour.”

Ultimately he goes on to say that if you choose not to look at the larger reasons as to why certain things are happening in our world, you will always be stuck blaming racism, sexism, the patriarchy, men, women, or any particular race. We must preface our discussion with this gnosis before discussing what’s next because it is only in the grounded understandings of our world that we actually can tell where we are at.

 Gillette Aims To Help Raise Awareness About “Toxic Masculinity”

I’ve put the terms toxic masculinity and toxic femininity in quotations both times thus far because many people have very different ideas of what those things look like and mean. In fact, some people don’t even think “toxic femininity” exists, similar to the way they feel only white people are capable of being racist.

For the purposes of this article, I refer to the term toxic masculinity as partaking in a destructive form of male culture that does not operate on the basis of respect, equality and self-responsibility, and that will often exude overly strong behaviours of sexualizing women and competing with others to maintain egoic power. In short, much of what we have seen as male culture through pop culture, movies, music, and so forth can tinker on promoting this form of masculinity. It’s seen in situations where a female is marginalized down to simply being a sex object or situations where male dominance is valued and strived for.

Let’s have a look at this Gillette ad before we continue the conversation.

As Gillette accurately illustrates in its new ad, justifying certain behaviours that are not self-responsible and that do not create a harmonious world with statements like “boys will be boys,” is not something we can continue to do if we want to create a better world. Furthermore, leading by example and being able to speak up about behaviours you observe in others is important. It’s important not to do so in a condescending and judgemental tone, but rather by using a compassionate tone instead that truly questions the behaviour and allows you to empathize with how the other may feel in a situation. Further to that, we must recognize what this ad fails to point out, these behaviours don’t and haven’t come from all males, likely not even the majority.

As Gillette brand director Pankaj Bhalla told the Wall Street Journal,

“This is an important conversation happening, and as a company that encourages men to be their best, we feel compelled to both address it and take action of our own, … “We are taking a realistic look at what’s happening today, and aiming to inspire change by acknowledging that the old saying ‘boys will be boys’ is not an excuse. We want to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and hope all the men we serve will come along on that journey to find our ‘best’ together.”

I have been in a number of situations where I’m in an all-male setting and one or two males are talking disrespectfully about females and I will observe other males join in simply so they feel included in the conversation or so that the other men don’t judge them. I personally know the men who joined in on the conversation don’t actually agree with the others, but do so because they feel they have to. Or better put, they do not know themselves or are comfortable enough with themselves to take the potential backlash that can sometimes come from not joining in.

This is why I say the way through these challenges is not by creating an enemy, judging their behaviour, and casting them out like many are doing, but instead by helping people question what they are doing and encouraging a culture of self-responsibility, empathy, and a deeper relationship with self. These sorts of conversations can be openly had, but it’s challenging because of our societal norms. Instead, our culture is often either that of the ‘toxic masculinity’ in question or that of extreme judgement towards unfavorable behaviours. Both are extremes, and neither help change the individual in a deep manner.

To be clear, any gender, any race and any person from a socio-economic class can take part in the disconnected behaviours mentioned above. It is not just men.

This is also where the nuance comes in. It’s important to recognize that not all men represent characteristics of “toxic masculinity.” Male pop culture might, and male pop culture does affect a certain subset of people, but it is not representative of the whole. This leads to my one small issue with the Gillette commercial. It, like many people today seem to be doing, is throwing the baby out with the bath water, i.e. not paying attention to nuance. In the case of #MeToo and this commercial, this behaviour does not apply to all men, perhaps not even to most men. We must remember that societal issues don’t apply to everyone within any particular subset of people, yet that is what people often focus on. This is also why so many enemies are being created. It’s like how some will view all Muslims as terrorists, for example.

Let’s recall the quote from Stefan Molyneux above, “The general leftist approach is that all disparities in group outcomes are the result of prejudice, of racism, of sexism, of colonialism, of exploitation of generally bad white male behaviour.” He is absolutely right in pointing out that the reasons for these things are not as simple as people want them to be, and thus we run in circles of extremes. I bring this point up not to turn the focus away from men, but because I actually care about seeing our culture change. I’ve spent enough time coming to understand that people have become outright extreme and misinformed about issues because we are too focused on an enemy and choosing sides. Thus, we have no clue where we actually stand. This is about changing how we live and operate as humans, not just of any particular race or gender.

If there are feelings of wanting to say or utilize some of the classic deflections of today including “easy for you to say from a white male privileged standpoint,” please save it. Let’s have the courage to have mature, grounded conversations, ones that can help us solve the challenges we face together.

If Not Careful, Our Unchecked Behaviour Divides Us

Like with any movement that begins, it often starts on a positive and helpful note. In this case, bringing awareness to sexual abuse of women is important to address. But the movement has come under fire to some extent as it appears to be going too far. The reasons for this include sweeping judgments, assumptions, and a lack of understanding of things that are said or what’s happening.

This has caused great divides amongst people whereby gender happens to be the card played when any issue is brought forth, even when gender truly has nothing to do with it. We are similarly seeing this with race.

This has given rise to grounded voices like Candace Owens, Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, and Cassie Jaye, to name a few, who are discussing gender inequality in a way that is helping us to diagnose the problem more clearly and ultimately understand how to move forward. This is, of course, in contrast to the extremism out there where you begin to see women hating men or men hating women simply because we are always attempting to blame people for problems.

Cassie Jaye talks a lot about humanizing your ‘enemy.’ In her case, her enemy was males. As she discusses in her TEDx talk, when she released her movie The Red Pill, she received a great deal of backlash from feminists as her film explored The Men’s Right’s movement from her perspective as a feminist. As you might imagine, in her film, Cassie decided to go and speak to people directly. She learned about the people she was fighting against, and in some cases hated, only to realize that in most cases the issues and people involved were not quite who she thought they were.

She goes onto discuss that the greatest issue and challenge she faced was “having to peel back the layers of my own bias.” She goes deeper saying “it turned out I did meet my enemy while filming. It was my ego saying that I was right, and they were subhuman.”

Near the close of her talk she states “It’s no secret now that I no longer call myself a feminist, but I must clarify, I am not anti-feminist, and I am not a men’s rights activist. I still support women’s rights, and I now care about men’s rights as well. However, I believe if we want to honestly discuss gender equality, we need to invite all voices to the table. Yet this is not what is happening. Men’s groups are continually vilified, falsely referred to as hate groups and their voices are systematically silenced.”

The point here is not to pit men’s groups against women’s groups and see who is right, the point is that we have to stop creating sides and enemies. We instead must create a culture where we truly see one another beyond the physical realm. We also must see that in our own ways, we experience challenges from a system that truly does not support our growth.

When her film was released, the media entered into the popular groupthink of our modern times when it comes to gender politics, causing her to become one of the most hated filmmakers at the time. All she did in her film was explore the truth, beyond the fight of side vs side. She instead chose to see things for that they truly are, and this led to what I like to call an upheaval of emotions in viewers that struggle with neutral viewpoints, and instead are addicted to the fight and having an enemy.

This is where I believe many of us exist today. We live in a world where we’re encouraged to choose a side, accept limiting beliefs about what is going on, and ultimately become addicted to the drama of having an enemy to fight… even when they are not doing what you think they are doing.

The Takeaway

What benefit truly comes from identifying as a certain form of activist? I’m not talking about simply saying “I’m an environmentalist” so people understand you care about the environment, I’m talking about when we identify so deeply as an environmentalist that we now filter everything we hear and learn through that lens, thus blocking us from not only hearing the truth but understanding where we stand as a collective. What benefit does that serve other than to show us what disconnection looks like?

I feel it’s time we pay attention to the nuance, the facts and the feelings within our hearts and stop working so hard to find or even create an enemy.

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The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

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Consciousness

The Most Powerful Testimony I’ve Ever Heard: My Interview With Anneke Lucas

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    My interview with Anneke Lucas, which CE will be launching for free to the public starting January 17th, only came about through a willingness to follow synchronicities and trust the path they lead me on.

  • Reflect On:

    Are we paying attention to synchronicities and trusting our intuition enough to act on them, no matter how unusual or impractical they may seem?

I believe that life brings synchronicities to those who are open to them. Well, I suppose life brings synchronicities to everybody, but it is those of us who accept that the universe has a more comprehensive vision of our life mission than we do that are more likely to take advantage of them. It is not so much that we have to be on the lookout for every sign and symbol that flashes past us; it’s more about noticing the things that resonate most with us, calling us to pay attention and perhaps even take action.

It was only four months after starting to work for CE that I got an email with the heading ‘Change from within’ from a woman named Anneke Lucas, where she said the following:

I’m writing to thank you for your articles about the nature of power, pedophilia and Satanic practices. As a survivor, it is refreshing to find someone writing about these issues with such clarity, with both awareness of the problem and the dawning awakening of humanity to this darkness.

A friend of hers had forwarded her my James Gunn article and she went on to read other articles including my Lucifer series. The first thing that gave me that tingling feeling about the timing of this email was the fact that I had become aware of Anneke Lucas’ story at the office a week earlier when someone had sent me a link to one of her videos. In fact, I even wrote about this synchronicity in my reply to her.

In her initial email she briefly introduced herself as someone who had gone through Satanic ritual and sexual abuse, and directed me to some of the videos she had done, including a TedX talk she had given. She ended by saying ‘I would like to keep communication open, perhaps further explore synergies.’ It was this elegant invitation that resonated most with me, and as I researched who she was and what she had been through, I was not only awed by the unthinkable amount of trauma she had endured in her childhood, but deeply impressed with her clear-minded analyses into the nature of her perpetrators and their own trauma-based motives.

From reading her writings, like this Elephant Journal article, I gained some insight into how perpetrators of pedophilia are desperately seeking the feeling of their own lost childhood innocence. They project their own trauma onto an innocent child to gain power and momentarily escape their own feelings of shame and lack:

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Power addicts are attached to positive projections. Admirers, followers, lovers, fans and in the case of pedophiles, the child victims, are parental substitutes, unwittingly providing the necessary fuel for this addiction.

By being thought of as powerful, different, special, more attractive, bigger or better, power addicts adopt those projections and use them as nurturing substance, feeding the damaged infant inside, which can be experienced as emptiness or a sort of black hole if the person has no connection to that inner part.

The power game lies in keeping one’s own negative thoughts secret while warding off negative projections and using positive ones to maximum advantage, so obtaining the feeling of innocence through calculating and exploitative means.

Exploring Synergies

Register to watch our exclusive 4-part interview series with Anneke.

Through my own life experiences, I have come to believe that no trauma is beyond healing. One of the reasons I began to delve into pedophilia and Satanic practices since I started writing for CE was because I felt that I could bring some nuance to the discussion that transcends the rage and disgust that many tend to react with. Seeing Anneke’s words, I felt that in some ways she was a kindred soul, but at the same time she endured and overcame exponentially more suffering and abuse than I could have ever imagined. I felt that she had a profound and meaningful story to tell, one that could be of benefit to all people in their journey toward healing. I felt it would be a great privilege to help her tell her story.

I asked her if there are any of her videos or writings that she wanted me to analyze and write about, or if she would be interested in an interview via Skype. I even asked her where she lived (Brooklyn, NY, as it turns out) in the unlikely event that I could arrange a live interview with her. It was unlikely indeed, since I had not been with CE very long and had never done an interview for them (or ever, to be frank). Not only that, but we were going through a budget crunch at CE, as everyone had to have their hours (and pay) reduced to part-time. I thought there was no way I could ask to expense flights for both myself and our cameraman James to fly to Brooklyn to conduct a live interview. So I didn’t ask.

Ideas about how to get something done remotely occupied my brain over the next few days, which lead to various discussions at the office and some back-and-forth emails with Anneke. Then one morning it just hit me. This was too important an interview not to do live, and this was too great an experience for me not to take the opportunity to meet Anneke in person and have a conversation. I decided that I would find the cheapest flights, ask CE’s Founder Joe for a small budget to cover some of the expenses, and pay for the rest myself if I had to. Joe was cool with the idea, James was up for a road trip, and everything fell into place, including James knowing a friend in Brooklyn that we could stay with for the night. I feel very grateful that I chose to follow the synchronicity of Anneke’s initial email invitation.

The Interview

The road trip was filled with synchronistic numbers and fortuitous events. We were in New York and we arrived at James’ friend’s place at 9:11 pm. The next morning, our GPS had us arriving at Anneke’s place at 9:11 am. Our flight down was smooth as silk, and when we flew back we transferred to an earlier flight and were upgraded to first class.

The interview itself went exceptionally well. We were warmly greeted by our gracious host and the entire interview was conducted in a space of trust and comfort. And that comfort grew quickly as the interview went along, as Anneke mentioned that she was happy to be not just with one but two people who ‘get it’ and were able to hear her story with equanimity. We initially thought we would be restricted to shoot from 8 am to 2 pm, but Anneke had made arrangements to allow us to continue filming for as long as we were able to.

Anneke’s daughter came home from school in the afternoon (surprisingly, since she had been asked by Anneke to stay with a friend until the interview was over), but she defiantly said she didn’t want to and that she was going to her room instead, but that she would put headphones on and would not disturb us. At that point I felt comfortable enough to tease Anneke and say that it was ‘too bad she turned out just like you!’ We all had a good laugh and were able to resume working into the evening, which allowed us to get the whole story in over 4 hours of video content, virtually all of which was usable for the 4-part video series.

Anneke’s story is filled with revelations of the nefarious activities perpetrated by the royals and elites of Belgian society, but more importantly Anneke goes deep into the healing journey she went through after suffering so much trauma. This testimony not only gives incredible insights into how each one of us can face our darkness as individuals, but also provides a roadmap to the healing of our planet from the state of collective trauma and dysfunction we currently live in. Some of the details were captured in another article we published a few days ago entitled ‘Survivor Of Elite Child Sex Slavery Discloses Her Incredible Escape & Her Healing Journey.’

The Takeaway

As we have discussed many times in our articles at CE, an essential aspect of our personal awakening is to look into the darkness of our unhealed emotions. Similarly, at the collective level, our healing will not come to pass if we are not willing to bear witness to the most profane examples of human activity. This is not to say we need to remain fixated in either fear or indignation or even fascination towards these heinous acts; but we need to acknowledge them and, as a collective, take ownership of them so that we have the power to move forward.

This four-part interview with Anneke Lucas reflects just this. We first come to grips with her harrowing story of subjugation and the miracle of her escape; then, we come to marvel at the breadth of her healing journey and discuss its implications for us as a collective.

I invite everyone to sign up for the official launch of this free four-part video series starting on January 17th, and would be surprised if you did not agree that this was the most powerful testimony you’ve ever heard.

Help Support Collective Evolution

The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

SUPPORT CE HERE!

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