As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been quieter lately in the online world. The reason, I found, is that I was afraid to be genuine. I’ve been doing a lot of inner exploration lately, and am discovering things about myself that are painful to admit, even to myself. It’s time to come clean, in the name of deeper, richer connections, a fuller self-expression, and less superficiality.
Confession #1: I Haven’t “Made It”
I’ve imagined there are people out there who see my business success, the decision to sell my possessions and travel long-term with my family, and the courage it took for me to leave Mormonism, and they think that Brandon must have it all figured out.
Well, I don’t have it all figured out, and I don’t have to pretend that I do. Yes, on the outside, my life may appear idyllic. But deep down, I’ve buried painful feelings of inadequacy, so well covered that I didn’t know I had them. I’ve cared so much about what other people think, that it’s influenced what I say and do (or don’t say and do), and even how I feel about myself. I’m not a beaming ball of happiness every waking hour. I’m no expert on life or love. And I’m not an all-knowing business genius either. (Sorry, consulting clients!)
But I’ve come to realize that these feelings of inadequacy only exist because I have been judging myself instead of accepting myself for who I am. If I hold no judgment against myself, then I am immune to all judgment from others, and have no need to hide my authentic self. In the past weeks, I have had several overpowering experiences that helped release much of this judgment and bring me to a healthier place of self-acceptance. Explaining how leads to my next confession.
Confession #2: I’m Into Spirituality
Okay, you probably already knew that based on my recent posts. But spirituality means different things to different people, so let me explain exactly what I’m doing. Right now, I’m using deep breathing as a tool to access my repressed emotions, and fully integrate them. I’m doing this for 15 minutes twice daily on my own. And I’m attending some more intense group sessions on occasion, using a different breathing technique. Beyond that, I’m working on feeling my feelings more fully whenever they arise, whether it’s a physical discomfort, a painful memory, or a blissful moment happening right now. Rather than stuffing my feelings down or covering them up with other thoughts, distractions, or medications, I try to “be with” every feeling, accept it without judgment and let it take its natural course.
These have been immensely powerful tools for me, but I’ve felt somewhat embarrassed to admit this because the experiences I’m having are completely subjective, happening only inside of me. Thoughts and emotions can’t yet be accurately measured by machines, and I can’t prove to anyone else that these practices are actually doing anything, or that they would have a similar effect on someone else. Yet I feel deeply benefited by doing them. Perhaps these tools stem more from psychology than spirituality, yet I’m feeling movement in layers that seem to go beyond the realm of emotion and thought, and I don’t know how else to label it. Besides, it seems to me that once religious rituals and requirements are taken out of the picture, we find that spirituality, and happiness itself, are matters of the mind and emotions, or whatever is underneath them. So that’s where I’m focusing my attention these days, and my worldview is shifting yet again.
As I’m experimenting with the power of breath, emotions, and presence within myself, instead of waiting until the experiment is over to share the results out of fear of being wrong or inarticulate, I’ve chosen to open up and share my journey along the way, mistakes and all. Maybe it will open a dialogue with others who are interested in similar things, and we can learn from each other.
So far, I’ve been vague in describing my experiences, as many of them entail long stories and are sometimes difficult to put into words. But I don’t want to understate how powerfully I have been affected. The experiences I’ve had in the past couple weeks have been life-changing! I’ve cried harder and longer than I’ve ever cried, and laughed deeper and longer than I’ve ever laughed. I’ve felt intense pain and intense joy. I’ve felt like a terrified child and a powerful adult. I’ve felt guilt and confusion, lightness and clarity. I’ve experienced the strongest and longest orgasm of my life. I’ve screamed in anger and melted into peace. Regularly, I feel tingling throughout my body, sometimes so powerfully it seems near paralysis or like I’m not in my body at all. Sometimes, images and past experiences enter my awareness and morph as I allow all of these feelings to express themselves fully without trying to resist or control them, and I learn powerful lessons from these images. Other times, I have no idea where the feelings are coming from or what they mean. I’m also learning much by paying attention to my dreams, which I have been recording nightly for the past three years.
I believe that through these experiences, emotions are being released that I have been suppressing for a very, very long time. These include the feelings of inadequacy I mentioned earlier; the fear of trusting my inner authority rather than relying on external authority; even the sexual expression of my masculinity that was so suppressed as part of my Mormon upbringing has come to see the light. I’m feeling more healthy and more whole than I have ever felt before, yet I know there is still much more work to do. I am more than ever aware of my faults, but more than ever, I am able to embrace them. I’m finally coming to love and accept myself for who I am, regardless of how I feel or what I have accomplished. And in receiving that gift, I become enabled to give it to others as well.
I want to share more details and the stories about what led me to this point, how exactly these changes took place, and how it’s affected me after the fact, and maybe I will do that in future posts. In the mean time, I would love to hear your thoughts below. Any and all comments are welcome and valid, as are the emotions that lay behind them.