Overview of this blog

Waking up isn’t for everyone, but for those who have gotten a taste of becoming fully conscious, it is the only game in town.

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.


— Oscar Wilde.

For most people, the process of becoming fully yourself unfolds very gradually throughout our lives, through lots of hard work. This is how it worked for me for 73 years. Then – at 3 a.m., on Monday, June 26 2019 – many things fell in place at once and I made a 100% commitment to reclaiming my integrity. I was given a gift – and poof! In that moment I became a new person.

Learning to walk the walk and claim the voice of this new person is in itself a gradual process – but I am being unerringly guided by Spirit, and in a very real way it has all become easy.

I have become, in the words of Michael Singer (The Untethered Soul), “unreasonably happy” – and nothing can seem to dent this happiness. I endure the shocks of human life: my checking account is suddenly overdrawn; the chronic pain, sometimes pretty rough, that has been with me for 30 years – and still hasn’t been diagnosed – is still there; a friend is in the midst of great pain and I go there with them (actually more acutely than ever before). But happiness always sits in the background and is the baseline to which I always return.

I have for thirty years been diagnosed as having Bipolar Disorder (see my blog Bipolar Integrity). My energy still cycles powerfully up and down, but words like “bipolar”, “manic” or “depressed” no longer apply to me and I will not use them to describe myself.  I am returning to the comfortingly descriptive, non-psychiatric words I have used for years: “expanded” and “contracted”.  These I can live with. 

I have become convinced that I was always misdiagnosed, that I was actually having a “spiritual emergency” (Stanislav Grof, in his book The Stormy Search for Self.)

Stanislav Grof

which no one recognized or knew how to support or guide. This crisis, rather than being treated with reverence as the sacred process it was, was “treated” with psychotropic drugs that snowed me and kept this sacred process from ever resolving.

(I myself was trained as a Ph.D. clinical psychologist and worked in the field for 20 years; while I was in some ways an especially awake psychotherapist, all that psychology training finally made it harder for me to truly “wake up”.  I have been very supported lately by the Asheville Center for Spiritual Emergence.)

For a while, I was confused by the fact that my waking up process does not look like that of some of my role models: I do not consistently come from a place that looks like peace and love like Thich Nhat Hanh or the Dalai Lama. My “new person” has a sharp edge – more like Byron Katie or Fritz Perls, two of the big influences of my life. (And truly, even Thich Nhat Hanh – my teacher for four years – also has a ferocious side, as I saw revealed when the U.S was preparing to go to war in Iraq.)

I readily tell people truths – or reflect them back to themselves – in ways that they seem unready to hear. I can be ferocious at times, will raise my voice – will look and sound very angry (even if, in at least some of these situations, I actually feel completely peaceful inside). This “new person” sometimes shocks my friends, who have always thought of me as a “nice person”. When someone around me (even my customer in the grocery store checkout line) is being harmed or threatened, I can suddenly become “an avenging angel – a sword of truth”.

The political situation in our country – with Donald Trump and the forces of reaction, separation and hate – remains profoundly disturbing and I feel committed (required) to finding the right ways (as Spirit guides me) to be involved and try to make a difference, to take our country back. Thich Nhat Hanh was a pioneer of “engaged Buddhism” during the war in Vietnam – where he and his order of monks worked heroically to put that war to an end – and remains in this area of my mission a role model.

“Thay” (“Teacher”) with some of his students

And I am more loving than ever before – love that has integrity and truth and often great gentleness.

Fifteen years ago, I wrote a book – as yet unpublished, but soon – called Radical Integrity: Reflective Stories for Reclaiming Your Self. There are some real gems in that book – I was already on the path, and some of those chapters will turn up here. There were times that I would show up with great integrity and even courage. But I had not yet undergone “the change” – I had not become integrity, I still basically had no clue who I really was.

Whether your process of claiming your integrity is very gradual or whether you, like me, have had – or soon do have – your own moment of “waking up” (and this moment is happening to more and more people), my wish is that the words and stories in the blog will give you encouragement, inspiration, maybe sometimes guidance, and maybe sometimes excitement.

For more information about what led up to my breakthrough and what followed it, you can read the Page “Waking up: a tale of depression, integrity, assertiveness and good boundaries”.

Become a part of this community of waking up. Subscribe to the blog. Add your voice in the Comments section after each blog post. Write me. I want to be here for you.

Nope! No real “mental health challenges” for the last nine months or so. A couple of situational challenges, but mostly I’ve been having a pretty great time!

It came to my attention today, from one of my friends on the Jubilee Prayer Chain, that some pretty seriously misleading information about me had gone out to that group – ideas that had the unfortunate power to unnecessarily disturb and worry the people on that list.
This post is kinda long – and includes links to several other blog posts – but I am feeling a need to reassure Jubilee friends who might right now be worrying about me.

The person who said to that list something like that I was experiencing “mental health challenges” certainly had not talked with me about it – or to my best friend and friend of Jubilee Tom Kilby (who has been in very close phone connection with me over the last few days). https://rlcol.com/2019/10/22/tom-kilby-a-hero-of-customer-service/

They had certainly had not spoken to my very wonderful new friend and blues guitar master Eric Freeman.(https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Musician/Eric-Freeman-aka-The-Blue-Ridge-Boy-105752814194017/) I took Eric into my apartment 11 days ago, so he wouldn’t have to be homeless while he tried to ship to a recording company “100 original blues songs” – which could potentially pay him royalties for years in the future (he has shown me the ten-page contract).

This enormously challenging and stressful two weeks (just three months after arriving in Asheville from New Orleans, seeking – like so many of us – a “fresh start” here) has included Eric simultaneously preparing for his big gig tomorrow night at the White Horse Black Mountain (https://www.facebook.com/events/545637376163163/), where he opens for Abby the Spoon Lady – who in the last year has gone from an impoverished Asheville street busker to a national celebrity, featured in the New York Times and PBS. She is apparently about to move back home to Kansas and this may be the last chance – for quite a while at least – to catch her in a live local performance. Come on out tomorrow night at 7:30 to catch this very exciting show.

They had not spoken to my last psychiatrist, who released me from her care two months ago after helping me – over the course of six months – wean myself off of the very potent cocktails of psychotropic drugs I had been taking for over thirty years. In our last session, she very sadly acknowledged that the psychiatric diagnosis I had been given over thirty years ago was probably all a terrible mistake. “They gave you that diagnosis when you were in the middle of a huge life crisis that included the sudden return of memories of a four year history of childhood sex abuse. These days we never would give anyone a psychiatric diagnosis when there is so much chaos in their personal life – you just can’t know what really is going on. I’m afraid they got it wrong.” (https://majowakingup.com/2019/12/18/its-good-to-have-that-30-years-over/)

They had not talked to the LCSW psychotherapist I have seen every week for the last 12 weeks. She had said to me 12 weeks ago, “You are gradually weaning yourself off of the powerful drugs you took for 30 years – and you are ‘unreasonably happy’, happy with no apparent reason, just happy to be alive. We are trained to look for any sign of mania in this case, because many years ago your diagnosis was changed from ‘clinical depression’ to ‘bipolar disorder’. So I will be working to ‘rule out’ mania.” I told her in that first session that I knew she would have to watch for any sign of mania – and only asked of her that she would listen fully and carefully to me, keep an open mind and ‘stay curious’.

On those grounds, we began our work – and in twelve weeks, she has never seen anything that looked like mania. “You think very fast and often talk fast – I can understand why you say you feel more at home in New York City than anywhere else. Certainly very fast for the old coot that you are. But you also are extraordinarily and ferociously grounded, you have all these moments of deep peace, you act slowly and deliberately and purposefully – and have an amazing, powerful presence.” She used the same words that the psychiatrist had used: “I’ve never seen anything like this.” I gave her the same response I gave the psychiatrist. “I’m an anomaly.”

I take no personal credit for any of this. I had massive bouts of suicidal depression last spring – which ended in me, more than ever before in my life, completely giving up hope for my life and absolutely letting go.

At the moment I most fully let go, I had a sudden, unexpected and unbidden experience of “waking up” (walking my sick dog Panchita down Patton Avenue, exactly at the back door of Jubilee, at 3 a.m. on Monday, June 26). This kind of experience makes no logical sense, but the friends and therapists who have been closest to me in the last nine months agree that – like me – they can come up with no other reason why I have for the last nine months been non-stop “unreasonably happy”, no longer fear anybody or anything, have radically let go of any need for approval, why i am vastly more loving than ever before, even funnier than ever before, why I encounter no strangers on the streets of my neighborhood downtown, why I validate people with greater-than-ever power and intuitive precision. You can read about my “waking up” here (https://majowakingup.com/) and my “second initiation” here (https://majowakingup.com/2019/12/21/the-second-initiation/).

I will soon write up more information about the extraordinary events of the last week, which yes have included punching a virulently racist neighbor who attempted to humiliate my friend Eric by saying “What are you doing around here, boy? You don’t belong here, boy.” I took this action not just out of anger (of which I had plenty), but out of a shrewd calculation that this was the only way to stop Eric from reclaiming his dignity by beating this 5’6″ ignorant white boy up. Eric is 6’4″, in his own words “strong as an ox” and black. I knew that the justice system would probably go easier on me than him – and, in the run-up to his big show tomorrow, he needed to be home practicing his songs and shipping songs to his recording company, not sitting in jail.

I was arrested and go to court in April for an assault charge. The Asheville cops were uniformly wonderful – what a special town. They had obviously never arrested anyone who was so happy about what he had just done or about being arrested – and we all had a really good time together.

When they were leading me, in handcuffs, down the Battery Park steps to their squad car, my dear friend Paula Hanke just happened to be coming out of the Grove Arcade – where I had earlier confided to her what I intended to do, to her horror. “Aren’t you afraid? Why are you laughing?” “Because I think the whole thing is both dangerous – and totally funny, I actually find most everything funny these days, maybe especially my own foibles.”

I yelled out in glee at the site of her, “Paula! Paula! Have you got your camera? I want this for my scrapbook! Officers, is it OK if she takes pictures?” “OK, but just two – we have paperwork to do on you.”

I know that this story lies outside the life experience of most of us. I certainly have only heard of this kind of thing in famous people like Thich Nhat Hanh and Eckhart Tolle, but I have come to understand that all around us, many people are starting to “wake up” – I guess because our country and the planet need them more than ever.

I will try to put up here more information about all this tonight – or maybe in the morning (or maybe later – I’m starting to get pretty tired. But I want to get something up here now, to try to head off some of my Jubilee friends going to bed with pain in their heart over me.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting

The current fantasy: Majo Productions – “Dancing with your friends”

Take that stuck life-kundalini energy that has been pooling in your lower chakras and move it up to your higher energy centers – where you can start to experience an Energetic Kundalini Connection (EKC).

Or, in another vernacular, “Get down, boogey-oogey-oogey! It’s fun! It will make you feel good! You will have a good time dancing with your friends”.pile-up

I have long been known in my circle of friends – and Facebook “friends” – for my gift and passion and genuine mission for getting people together and for throwing good parties…and lately especially dance parties.

People keep asking me, “When are you going to have another party?”  Well, now that I have let go of my day job and have time on my hands – and additional need for fun times with my friends – why not throw more parties?  Why not make a business out of it and make a little money off it, too? (Pay off those red-hot Ultimate Ear Bluetooth speakers.  Sorry, my wonderful DJ friends. I know there are things you could do better, but now – thanks to Pandora playlists and relatively cheap Bluetooth speakers, I am the stinking DJ.)

This caper is still in its early stages.  I first had the idea two days ago, and spent all of my walking/boogeying time yesterday feverishly creating Pandora playlists.

I seldom just walk down the street any more.  I don’t walk my dog – I dance my dog.  When I recently lost my iPhone headset, I didn’t miss a beat: I dropped my new little $40 Alan’s Pawn Shop Bluetooth speaker in my big, deep coat pocket and kept on dancing. That system is maybe slightly clumsier, but has the real advantage that other people on the street can hear the music I am jamming to – and even on occasion get down themselves.

It’s going to be a little tough when the weather turns warm and I don’t have that big pocket to drop my speaker in.  I probably will just go back to my boombox up on my shoulder.  It’s really a pretty great look – especially up on my roller skates, which make me a couple inches taller.  Don’t laugh, guys – the chicks (and some guys) are crazy about it.  girl with boombox

Venues are still in play: I have several on my shortlist (most of them in easy walking distance of my downtown apartment!). I’m especially targeting places that have a lot of space and (most of them) don’t usually offer bands or dancing.  Places that might welcome a once-a-month infusion of new people.  And would be happy to keep a poster in their window.

Time slots: I’m aiming for two or three evenings, weekday or weekend – and two day-time slots, one Friday afternoon (“start your weekend early”) and one Saturday morning.

Musical genre’s:

  • I definitely want 60’s dance music for the Friday afternoon venue – the music me and my little 8th-grade friends danced to after school in 1960 (and, ok, also in high school ’60-64 and college ’64-68 – literally the “Big Chill” class, they were my people too). Kids dancing together. PNG - JPG and vector EPS (infinitely scal
  • I have island music/reggae in mind for a Caribbean restaurant I want to target.
  • Other possibilities, according to the preferences of my friends (y’all) and venue proprietors: 70’s music, 80’s music, R&B “soul music“, funk – and just general awesome dance music of any genre. 
  • “EKC” music: energetic kundalini connection” – a mix of inspirational and/or metaphysical dance music (think Amy Steinberg and shit like that), steamy-sexy music and just red-hot dance songs.
  • If anybody really has a hard-on for country music and wants to push the idea real hard, they can just go ahead and bite me.

Dance with your friends!  This whole idea came out of my love for getting friends together and dancing with them.  Watch for my story about me and my 8th grade classmates escaping at 3 p.m. each day from the clutches of our evil nun Sr. Ignatius, gathering at the local soda shop, plugging some quarters in the juke box – and dancing away our stress and trauma.  This never actually happened, except in my fantasies – every night, as I did use it to melt away stress and move towards sleep.

But now this fabulous healing dancing with my friends does happen!  At Asheville Movement Collective and 5 Rhythms “ecstatic dances”, at my annual birthday party blow-outs in the beautiful penthouse Roof Garden downtown here at Battery Park Apartments.

And now – in this caper – on a bigger scale: more often, more friends, even more fun if that is possible.  Bring your friends!  Make new friends! Come out and dance frequently, so – like at Cheers – everyone will know your name!

old guys

$10 at the door.
Day-time all-ages dance parties: under 16 half-price, under 5 free.  (Maybe childcare at one venue I am going to approach.)
Buy a ten-dance card and save $5!

Suggest music to me: red-hot dance tracks, music that inspires you and makes you happy, songs that you love to dance to with your friends – or have always wanted to.  Leave a Comment here or email/text/or Facebook message, maybe sending the song to me directly from Spotify or Pandora.  (And maybe also to your Facebook friends – you can all start dancing to it early.)  Check out my playlists on Spotify (heymajo).
– heymajo@gmail.com
– 828-582-9822

Let me know if you want me to keep you on my list of people who are hot to hear about this fabulous real fantasy as it develops!

When my energy body turns down (Saturday, 12/28)

What do I do when my energy body which for six months was mostly pure light turns suddenly but then also progressively to mostly lead?

This is the predicament I seem to find myself in. During the first week after my precipitous energy downturn 17 days ago, it looked like it was going to be hard work to keep going but totally doable. I was not factoring in the possibility that my slow slide towards my energy turbines turning slower and slower and slower over time might just continue.  feeling-low-energy-vector-11662738

Since this energy slide over the last 17 days (since 12/11) has been progressive there is a possibility – probably a really good possibility – that it will continue. and that strategies that in this moment seem in reach may turn out to be out of reach. I’m going to try to realistically assign priorities to each of these items:

  •  A) crucial. Got a find a way to keep doing them. 
  • B) stretch objectives. I really really want to do them, but will go easy on myself if over time they become maybe untenable. 
  • C) nice ideas. In this moment I can picture myself doing them, but they may be pipe dreams even today.

It’s one in the morning. I went to bed at 7 PM and got five hours of pretty solid sleep. Then I lay in bed for maybe an hour thinking. Out of that experience I am producing my first two strategies.

  • Get up every day and stay up as much as possible A

  • If I lay in bed awake for a longish time, maybe an hour, push myself to get out of bed, go stumble into the living room and do something – even if it’s only to check my email A

  • Try to keep writing, most days anyway, even if that only means to try to capture in a voice to text file, like I’m doing now, something that looks like it might have potential to share with people, maybe on my blog. Hopefully after the fact I will find the energy to clean that file up and try to publish it on the blog A

  • Shower and shave every day A

  • Eat regularly, real food, try to get some greens, try to use my new-to-me juicer. A

  • Get Pancho out for play dates with Diana and Angie and Susie.  A

  • Get or hire someone to take her for longer walks if I can’t. Maybe Cynthia or Cindy. A

  • Get out of the house every day, preferably more than once, at least to walk the dog.  Pancho is now using pee pads and doesn’t have to hold it when I don’t get her out. A

  • Maintain some minimum social contact. A

    • I have been telling Diana for days that I want her to come over and watch a video with me and I’ll cook her a veggie burger. Push. Do it. (later – done, yay!) A

    • When people are pursuing me for social contact, respond back to them positively B

    • There are maybe four people on the screen right now that I feel motivated to violate my “do not pursue” policy and keep going after them. I want to do that. C.

    • Having, over the last three weeks, achieved some pretty great feng shui in my apartment, don’t let it go. Don’t let it slide. Don’t let clutter accumulate. Keep getting the dirty dishes out of the kitchen sink. Keep doing your laundry. A

      I definitely have no fucking idea what “feng shui” really means.  I use the term as a convenient shorthand for getting my apartment into a shape that makes it pleasant to spend time there – which I did, big-time, a couple of weeks ago.  Achieving that peace in my environment seemed to play a role in my “Second Initiation” experience on December 3.

    • If possible, even in very minimal ways, keep pushing the decluttering process. Take one little pile of clutter and see if you can reduce it even a tiny bit. B

    • Continue your decluttering process online – organizing your files and folders better, making them more satisfying and soothing and less stressful to deal with.

  • Resist mightily the siren song of 30 years of psychiatry speak. This is not “depression“. It is a ferocious, hellacious, energy downturn. It is your karma – it was wired into your energy system from birth. stock-vector--businessman-with-low-battery-red-color-vector-illustration-isolated-on-white-background-793487515

    • Your high energy, which still at this point mostly looks like a gift from the divine, comes with this price tag. As much as possible keep embracing the whole package. A

    • Do not, I repeat do not use words like “bipolar disorder”, “mania” or “depression”. They are toxic words created by a misguided profession, a profession which has damaged your life in very significant ways. You have some wiggle room against all that nonsense right now. Don’t give it up. A
    • Stay in touch with your social mainstays, Tom Kilby and Diana Buchanan. Don’t let more than a day go by without touching base with your neighbor Diana and not more than two or three days without touching in with your really good buddy Tom. A

    • Find a new therapist psychotherapist. A

      • This last one was just right for that last period of 10 weeks, it really does make sense to let go of her at this point, but find another one.

    • Share this list, maybe in the form of a blog post, with key people. A

    • Keep getting to church  A

    • Keep responding to emails and voicemails. A

    • Try to respond positively to people who reach out to you, even when you may not be able to reach out yourself. B

    • Curl up on the love seat – maybe with a beer or glass of wine or some chocolate.  Watch videos with your doggie and maybe the right person. A

      • You may have renewed your Netflix membership at just the right time.

      • Didn’t you find at one point that when you couldn’t function in any other way, that it was soothing to sit on the sofa with your dog on your lap and watch a video?

      • Find videos that are especially encouraging or inspiring or energizing.

        • Ask your Facebook friends if they have ideas B
          • If they want to come watch a video B

        • Keep giving Netflix feedback about the videos you watch and see if that helps their recommendations to you


        • Fussing with your Netflix queue is obviously fun and satisfying to you. Two days after you re-upped your membership you had 230 movies in your queue.

    • Get an air freshener for your apartment

      • Maybe the Earth fare wellness department will have ideas
  • Don’t fall in the trap of pathologizing the genuine accomplishments of your last six months. Specifically

    • Don’t stop cherishing the deep spiritual value of what you have been calling your two initiations: Waking Up on June 26 and the Second Initiation on December 3. A

      • You may need to scale back greatly what you think those initiations mean. A

      •  Maybe no group leading, which you clearly do not have the positive vision or physical energy to do right now. Even to do the leading much less the promotion to get people out for it. A

      • Let’s go for now of whether you will ever do coaching or counseling. That’s something you clearly don’t have the energy for right now. Wait and see.A

      • Go back and re-read the posts on your blog. If there is some language or even a whole post which now seem overblown or unrealistic, edit them or make them private for the time being. You don’t need to delete them yet B

    • Don’t toxify some of the big gains you made during those six months

      • Coming out as bisexual was a really positive thing to do. Even if you don’t have the energy to allow that to turn into any new behaviors, just the increased integrity is crucial for you.

      • The several relationships that you let go of during that period each was genuinely lacking the level of integrity you need in your life right now. Don’t criticize that step or feel like you made any bad “manic” mistakes. New relationships are already starting to fill the gap

      • Setting a new boundary with your son was heartbreaking, but necessary. You are a healthier person and your life more sustainable because of it.

  • Continue your initiative to develop a more positive loving relationship with your body

    • Continue that journaling B

    • Discontinue your relationship with your two session physical therapist, who you are realizing has a lack of integrity. A
    • Find another one, preferably one who provides what the PT’s call manual therapy, which is kind of like massage apparently and which your body seems to be craving. A

    • Follow through on the process of finding a new chiropractor, which your insurance covers, maybe especially if you are going to be spending a lot of time in bed which seems to challenge your back. A

    • You got instructions at your second initiation to let go of colas and coffee. You were in your high energy state then – I wonder about experimenting with coffee now. Maybe try it. B

    • Try to keep dancing A

      • During the last six months, you were dancing several times a day – kind of all day. Three days ago you were still dancing pretty good. Yesterday it mostly seemed like dancing was out of reach, until you got a little high on wine in the afternoon.

      • Keep putting on danceable music, in the apartment or walking the dog, and see if your body will respond to it. B

      • Try going to Susan’s Tuesday morning ecstatic dance and see what happens there. B

      • It may be worth enhancing the moment with alcohol or marijuana, if it can give you a chance to touch the light again through dance.

      •  It did seem yesterday like your body may be getting to a place – at least some of the time – of finding any kind of a beat aversive.

    • Even if conventional psychiatric wisdom and maybe even your past experience says that in this down energy state you won’t have access to the energetic kundalini connection, a.k.a. life energy, a.k.a. sexual energy, do not assume that is true. Keep experimenting.

    • Right now your experience is that pleasuring yourself sexually is harder to achieve, but not impossible. It seems like you need the right fantasy of the right person to get there. A

    • To actually be physically doing the right thing sexually with the right person could still help you touch the divine, again maybe enhanced with alcohol or marijuana, which could be a pretty good trade off for having access to the divine.

  • Do not, I repeat urgently do not, surrender to any panicked desire to try more psych meds. They have only ever been toxic for you. Continue your two month plan to phase off of Lamictal, the last one. A

  • Post this on your blog, if that actually seems to be appropriate and desirable. C

  • Keep reviewing your relationships for ones that maybe now no longer pass your integrity test. It looks like life keeps floating one at a time up to the surface. You have one in mind right now.  Keep taking action to cut the lack of integrity out of your life. A

  • Start keeping an integrity journal! This is such an obvious that it’s the first sentence in this piece that has brought out an exclamation point in me!  A

    • Go back and retroactively celebrate all the positive steps you’ve taken towards more integrity. A

    • Give good focus to the one relationship you are aware of that is right now out of integrity. Get as clear as you can about it.  A

    • If possible take action to bring more integrity into that relationship. B

  • Mind your money better than you did this month A

    • Even though you have genuinely made progress towards really embracing poverty, it still has been very stressful to have no money

    • And when your energy is down it can be genuinely disheartening and discouraging

    • Not spending too much money will probably be easier when your energy is turned down rather than turned up

  • Edit this document and organize it better than it is now B

    • That will make it more satisfying for you to re-read it or use it as a roadmap

    • Will make it easier and more satisfying for anyone else to read.

  • Who to share this with
    • Any new psychotherapist
    • Your physician
    • Janet, your lovely building manager and Gayland the program coordinator
    • Tom
    • Diana
    • Amy, your minister
    • Kim Bella at the Center for Spiritual Emergence
    • Consider putting it on the blog
    • People who have been concerned about a possible crash
      • Erin at Mission Health Partners
      • Jenna, with whom you are ending psychotherapy
      • The psychiatrist you just ended with
      • The men’s group you left
      • A couple of other relationships you broke off

Thursday evening group temporarily discontinued

It seems totally realistic and maybe personally crucial for me to not think of my current energy downturn as “depression” – but to understand it purely on an energy level. I have always had strong energy swings and that will probably always be part of my package.

But this current energy downturn, which started about three weeks ago, is turning out to be rougher than I thought it would be. Right now it precludes my running or promoting groups.

I am hoping to still do some writing. With a little luck there will be some blog posts popping up here from time to time.

The Second Initiation

Just when I thought it was safe to go back into the water – when I thought that I would not in this lifetime have a devastating breakthrough in my spiritual life like the one I had on June 26, that I could just now methodically work my way through the tasks and challenges that Life so reliably sends me – there was this!

Tuesday night, December 3, around 10 p.m., I got up from a nap that was supposed to last two hours but actually went four (very unusual in itself). Quickly (1 minute) went through my new regular three steps for getting myself out of bed (truly always a real challenge).

Went into the living room and mentally confronted the two tasks I had been holding for the whole day, that I intended to get up at 8 p.m. in order to have four hours for accomplishing them before midnight – and which all day I knew were not realistic to accomplish today, and had built up tension in me all day (this phenomenon used to be common for me and never happens anymore).

Quickly realized that there was almost no way I was going to get these two tasks done by midnight (when the Vistaprint sale on business cards would end). Watched my push and hurry and tension and stress around these two tasks melt away – gradually slide into oblivion like they just absolutely were not there anymore.  

Went into a very beautiful state of just total beingness, nothing-to-focus-on, my mind suddenly not filled with tension and worries but instead a blank slate, and my attention more going into my body.

Saw the image of an old friend I had very briefly seen that day, who I have not seen or talked to for months, who I have missed a lot and who has very much been on my mind. 

  1. Thought how much I like her – what a great person she is, and what great connections we have had in the past, including ways she has been very helpful to me at some critical moments and I am very grateful to her.

  2. This thought of how much I liked her dropped into my body, and I experienced

    1.  a strong relationship charge: I really want more connection to her, am drawn to her, feel a magnetic pull to her.  In a period where I have been letting go of some relationships because they do not have this kind of energetic charge.cosmic lover

    2. a strong sexual/kundalini energetic charge – my life force is heightened by thinking of her, including sexual feelings and imagery.  It was a surprise to me a few months ago, when I discovered myself feeling not just the relationship charge with her, but also this more-specific sexual charge.  The relationship charge has remained definitely primary with her, very much to be appreciated and enjoyed and even heightened – with the sexual charge being very much secondary, mostly rhetorical (not anything I intend to act on or which I think will actually happen in this life).  It’s a sweet, hot, fun energy – nice to visit and juicy to know is actually in the mix with this woman, but not warranting a lot of focus.  

      The actual sexual turn-on lasted maybe 10-30 minutes, I actually have no idea how long – it felt so powerful and amazing and endless.  I had images of her and me that were amazingly sweet and hot.

    3. the sexual turn-on gradually slid away (my erection finally subsided.  30 minutes?  That might be a new record for just a fantasy, at least in my later years.)  What was left was an extraordinary overall body energetic charge – no longer specifically sexual (no fantasies or erection), but really just generally being hot for life, being turned-on to life.

It was about at this point in this amazing, truly mind-blowing experience that I realized consciously that I was in the middle of a very, very special experience – as important and shaping-of-my-future, I knew then, as my June 26 “Waking up”experience had been.  The words that popped into my head were:

The Second Initiation.  As in, “Wow – Life isn’t through with me yet.  This is like really fucking big.  I want to pay attention to every moment of it – to, as much as possible, remember every moment – but especially to totally surrender to it, to let it have my way and to change me as much as it wants to.  Oh, God, what makes me want shit like that?!”

The Second Initiation – by whom? What?  I haven’t been given an ID card, specifying the organization.  Life? Spirit? My own Energetic-Body?

As the power of this pure beingness somewhat subsided, it was followed by some very specific instructions for this chapter of my life.  They were quite a bit more detailed than the four simple instructions I got on June 26 (two of them that night were very specific, and two were more qualities to aim for).  This time again, I never knew quite where the instructions were coming from, but they were very clear and convincing  They covered exercise, diet, faithfulness to my body, sexuality, relationships, and work.  I will detail them in other posts.  



Madeleine – so astonishing! So what?!

I was available for an amazing encounter this afternoon at Earth Fare.

Since my energy “turned down” a week ago today, I have been hanging out in my lower chakras more.  My previous six months of fabulous, thrilling high energy were more about inspiration, joy and personal power (including managing my boundaries and learning about conflict – even aggression). It looks like this new phase is going to be even more about connection: taking even deeper the experience of total oneness with everything and everyone around me.

Yin-yang – the cosmic connection in seeming opposites.

This new energy – far from the “depression” that the psychiatrists thought I would encounter when my up (they thought “manic”) phase passed – is in some ways even more pleasurable – more about contact, love, and surrender to kundalini/sexual/life/cosmic energy.  I am breathing deeper than ever, feeling my feet on the ground – and riding that wave.  Everything seems so slowed down that I am like chronically stoned.  My newfound path of “not pursuing anybody or anything – just letting them come to me” – has dropped even deeper. It feels like my life has become a movie unfolding before me and I am just relaxing in my easy chair (in the “Garden”) and watching it roll by: and it is a beautiful, juicy, thrilling movie.  Michael Jordan, talking about basketball, used to talk about “letting the game come to you“.  I wonder if this is what he was referring to.

Michael J dribbling
Am I “letting the game come to me”?

So some deeper part of me was very ready to encounter an astonishing being like Madeleine between the cheese and the pizza.  When she looked at me so directly with those indelible blue eyes and sweetly asked if she could pet my dog, I felt a little electrical shock: “Oh my God, who is this amazing person?!”  But she turned out to not be really all that special: just a gorgeous 25-year-old mystic who clearly understands some things already that someone her age could not have learned all from experience.  Just a totally innocent soul who may have suffered deeply in other lifetimes and even in this one, but is in this moment totally present, totally ready to show up and fully engage with you – if you also are ready to meet her in this magical world she inhabits.

We looked deep in each other’s eyes – there in the grocery store, with so many other people flowing by – and I think we both knew that our souls were dancing joyfully around, making connections between us that our minds would never be able to track.

I gave her the business card for this blog, which I do hope she reads and will either make her want more connection with me and with the Your Fearless Heart work I am beginning to offer – or else she will know right away that this is not her path.

Resist from party
Some of my “spiritual bypass” friends say that you should never use the word “resist”.  I know better.

I mentioned my Thursday night gatherings to her and she looked like she might want to come.  As our magical 1-minute (2? 30?) came to a close (who released first? I think we did so simultaneously), I breathed and walked away, knowing there was a very strong likelihood I would never see her again. I felt a momentary pang, wishing she would show up at a Thursday meeting.  I actually do believe in my heart that they would be good for her – and that contact with me and what I am now giving people might make a real difference in her life.

But so what?!  She doesn’t need me and I don’t need her.

surrender - girl 2
Life has a plan for Madeleine that I can never fully understand. 

Or, more accurately, we don’t need to ever again see each other in these limited bodies.  She and I were totally connected to each other before we met this afternoon – and will remain totally connected with each other forever.

Life will continue to bring to her exactly the encounters, teachers, spiritual paths that she needs.  As astonishingly open as she is, she will drink deeply of all these experiences and have an amazing life.  And, like all humans, she will suffer and lose her way – sometimes, for a while, may even lose the thread…lose track of her divine essence, which right now she is holding so close.  But, like me, she will always come back to the path.

And I will, likewise, continue to be brought just the friends, students, teachers and lovers I am meant to have.  Since my “waking up” on June 26 and “Second Initiation” on December 3, I seem to be unshakeable in my knowledge of who I am and ferocious about showing up fully for my brothers and sisters, regardless of what forces in my past or my environment might hold me back. I just took a 30-year detour into the world of psychiatry– but, hey, I’m back and more fully alive than I would ever have considered possible.  What could be wrong with that?

So Madeleine, if you ever show up for a Thursday evening gathering, my heart will absolutely melt at the sight of you.  I may weep for how perfect you are.  And, as my friend Fritz Perls would say, “If by chance we meet, it’s beautiful – If not, it can’t be helped.”  Or as I would say, we will be feasting at different tables – or, little piggies that we are, slurping at a different food trough further down the road.

“I’m glad that 30 years is over.”

There were so many ways that hour could have gone badly.  By rights, it should have been a disaster.

The psychiatry profession fucked me badly for 30 years – there’s just no other honest way to tell it.  They conned me into believing I had a mental illness and then kept me drugged for 30 years. Only divine intervention rescued me from their hypnotic story.  And when, over the last six months, my true Self surfaced, they fought to drag me back into the nest.  It just didn’t make sense to them that – after being “bipolar” for 30 years – I could be fine, really much better than fine, now.  I tried to get them to read about my “waking up” experience.  I tried to get them to read several posts that describe how amazingly calm and quiet and centered and slow I have become – not at all “manic”, which they think is the only logical explanation for me, as I am reducing my psych medication, to suddenly be non-stop happy for six months.  I tried to explain to them that getting off of Lithium didn’t “make me manic” – it allowed me to finally be happy.  But none of that fit their model.

Three weeks ago, when I reached certainty that this was true health now – actually much better than health, genuine spiritual transformation – a bomb of rage went off in me about “30 years of my life stolen from me”On that Saturday, I felt sure that at my next psychiatry appointment I would spend most of the 30 minutes pacing up and down the room “raging” at my poor helpless 31-year old PA (Physician’s Assistant) psychiatrist.  It seemed to me, in that moment, to be in no way an inappropriate response for 30 years lost.  This story describes how one four-minute song at church the next morning caused me to release most of that rage and replace it with forgiveness. (30 years of deep pain mostly healed in four minutes – healing is happening in me so fast these days!)

By yesterday morning, some of the resentment had slipped back in.  I was determined that today I would maybe not start right in at the beginning of the session with my two upsets with this new woman:

  1. Why the unexplained transfer now – and the mysterious letter from my old psychiatrist, saying they were transferring me because of “needing a higher level of care”?  What need for a higher level of care?  I thought we had agreed that I was on my way out of the practice.  I felt sure they were calling in a more experienced, full-psychiatrist heavy-hitter to try to back me down into taking more drugs again.
  2. Why, when I called in my request for the new psychiatrist to read three of my blog posts that would give her a glimpse of my non-manic behavior, did the secretary get back to me with a simple, “She says ‘no’, that she doesn’t do that.”After my last 15 years in the business world (after 20 years practicing psychology), I knew that – if you cared at all about customer satisfaction – you would never turn down a new customer on such an easy request.  Had this woman not gotten the memo that we were customers now – not just patients?  Well I intended to set her straight on this.

Back in my 20’s, LSD researcher (with Timothy Leary) Richard Alpert turned into an eastern spirituality “seeker” – and was named Ram Dass by his new Indian teacher.  He and his classic book Be Here Now turned a whole generation of us towards meditation and eastern spirituality .

Ram Dass - Richard Alpert
Richard Alpert – Ram Dass

At Susan Campbell’s magical Tuesday morning ecstatic dance yesterday, right near the end of the mix she played some gorgeous music with Ram Dass – must have been after his stroke, his speech was labored – speaking over it.

Ram Dass now

He said so few words that I think I remember them pretty much verbatim:

“On my second visit to Maharaj Ji in India, he took me aside one night and said to me, ‘Love everybody….love everybody and speak the truth.'”

I knew, as soon as I heard these words, that I had gotten my direction for today’s session:

  1. Love this woman, who you have never met, but about whom you already have lots of negative projections (my physician friend Steve, who wonderfully coached me to start slow today – and then went with me to the meeting for moral support) agreed with my perception that “lots of psychiatrists have God complexes.  Doctors in general – but it seems like psychiatrists even more so.” 
  2. Tell the truth – all of it, including stuff she might not like hearing.  Make sure, even as you try not to hurt her, that you get enough of your story said that you are ready – at the end of that session – to walk away from psychiatrists for good, knowing that you were doing it with pride and integrity.

When this new psychiatrist appeared at the door,

  • she was younger and prettier than I expected.
  • her face looked soft and warm and human and nice – not at all the control-oriented frigid person I expected.
  • she was wearing jeans!  Nice, tailored, maybe expensive jeans – but jeans. for chrissake!  This totally blew my expectations.  She looked like “my people”.

Over the course of a session that she had scheduled for 45 minutes (not the 30 that I expected, I guess because it was our first time together) and that she actually allowed to go for 75 minutes, I learned some other ways she was my people:

  • She, like me, grew up very Irish Catholic.  She is well younger than I and was not taught by nuns in the era when they were still teaching that God might hate you enough to make you physically burn to death for eternity – but she was close enough to all of this to know what I was talking about, and why for a young child this had been genuinely traumatic.
  • When I said that there are so few genuine spiritual teachers around these days to help someone who is actually going through a “spiritual emergency” (as opposed to a mental illness), she rightly protested that “there are some genuinely spiritual eastern-tradition teachers.  I’m being very influenced by a Zen teacher named Thich Nhat Hanh.”  I really softened and warmed towards her as I shared that I had for four years meditated every week with a Thich Nhat Hanh “sangha” back in Chicago, that during those four years I very much thought of him as “Thay” – Vietnamese for “teacher” – and had attended two ten-day retreats with him.  All this appropriately blew her away.  If you are a Thay sister with me, you are my sister.  220px-Thich_Nhat_Hanh_12_Paris 2006
  • She was very intrigued by what Steve and I told her about Jubilee and our amazing new “lesbian Jewish rock and roll goddess” minister. She opened up the Jubilee web page and Facebook page as we were talking and said, “I will have to look into this.” 
  • She was also very intrigued by my passionate practice of “ecstatic dancing” – and asked me a couple of questions about that.  My energy turned down a week ago.  I am supposed to be “depressed” now.  Depressed people don’t dance.  I continue to dance pretty much all day every day.  This confused and intrigued her.
  • She was also confused that the core symptom of my “depression” was always physical pain, not emotional.  This did not fit for her.  And that I got the “bipolar” diagnosis when I was in the throes of having my life blown apart by the surfacing of long-suppressed memories of childhood sex abuse.  She basically said that she might agree with me that this diagnosis was always incorrect.

I think it was right after talking about Thay that I – now emboldened to talk with “the new psychiatrist” about eastern religion, told her about my experience yesterday with the live words of Ram Das: “So I came in here today planning to love you – and to tell the truth.”  I think she may have even blushed ever-so-slightly and sweetly as she thanked me for that.  Whoulda thunk we could have had a moment like that?

I went into the session feeling strong because – rather than the usual power imbalance where the psychiatrist has something you think you need, the drugs – I was clear that I had enough Lamictal left to wean myself off almost slowly enough to not have too bumpy a ride.  So, very important to me, I in no way felt one-down to her going in.  And I know from many experiences over the last six months that literally nobody can intimidate or scare me any more – and that I speak my full truth with integrity pretty much 100% of the time.  And I came out of the session feeling just that way.

Very surprisingly, while the doctor told me her concerns about me getting off of this final (of three) drugs, she did outline for me what she thought would be a good pacing for “weaning off” of the Lamictal – and I happily told her that this was exactly the timing I had in mind.  She said brightly, “Well don’t try to cut those pills down twice – let me prescribe 50 mg. tablets – that will make it a lot easier for you.”  It was not a problem for me – after originally committing myself to “want nothing and take nothing” from her – to graciously accept her offer.  (And it actually will make reducing my dose much more convenient.)

As the session was nearing an end (we had already run 30 minutes over), she offered that I could come back in a month and fill her in on how things were going for me as I weaned off my last medication.  Charming and cute as she certainly was, I was very clear that I had entered a psychiatrist’s office (as a patient, at least) for the last time – and that I would call in a progress report to her.

As I was saying goodbye, I was feeling so genuinely warm towards her that I had a fantasy of offering her a hug.  I knew there was no chance of that flying, but our handshake – and real looking in each other’s eyes – were just right, perfect.

A minute after we drove away, I let out a big exhale and said to Steve (driving me back to my car), “Wow!  That was a big deal!” And then, completely unbidden, the words that popped out of my mouth were, “I’m glad that 30 years is over.”  And I laughed – a very hearty, very happy laugh.



Telling ourselves an empowering story

For the last six months, I have been telling myself a story of “waking up”.  On June 26th – after a very difficult year and finally just bottoming out and truly giving up hope for my life, something snapped: I saw clearly all the lack of integrity that had slipped into my life and made a 100% commitment to take it back.

Or actually I just saw a lot of the lack of integrity – as I clear up one area on non-integrity, the next one surfaces. It seems maybe never-ending, but each area of my life I put into integrity just makes me happier and stronger – makes my life better.

I have been non-stop happy for six months.  Michael Singer (The Untethered Soul) defines “enlightenment” as “unreasonable happiness”.  That’s been me for the last six months – happy without any reason for it, or even in the face of some problem (infected foot that put me in the hospital, an overdrawn checking account) that would usually have made me unhappy.

And, for my psychiatrist, that six months of being happy is all the proof she needs that I am “manic”.  After all, I have been diagnosed as “bipolar” for 30 years.  (I no longer agree with this diagnosis.)  And – very gradually and in complete collaboration with her – I have for several months been weaning myself off the potent concoction of three psych drugs I had been taking.  And she sure doesn’t get this business of “spiritual transformation” – to her, that is just more proof that I’ve been going off the deep end.

Resist from party
A “highly spiritual” customer of mine saw this picture the other day and claimed that “Resist” is not a spiritual word.  Wow! “Resisting” shit that wants to hurt you has in the past and continues to save my ass.  

The only four times I have gotten sad or scared in the last six months have happened the day after she – or one home health worker who followed me when I left the hospital with my foot infection still active – have directly attacked my newfound spiritual and personal happiness.  They have directly said to me that this all – all the wonderful things that have happened for me over the last six months – is all just “mania”.  That I will wake up one day, probably soon, terribly depressed – and that depression will probably be long and very deep. I will probably become a big suicide risk. And that being depressed then will confirm that I have been manic for the last six months – and that therefore none of my good experiences have any validity.

Is it already clear to you just how cruel and utterly wrong this stuff is?  And these nasty messages worked!  While, in the moment, I clearly and calmly pushed away these destructive ideas, they actually slipped into my unconscious.  Thirty years of psychiatric hypnosis, in which I believed the idea that I had a “mental illness” – and that only the doctors’ drugs held any possible respite for me – went to work on me overnight.

By the morning, the undiagnosed “psychogenic” pain that greets every morning – and that for the last six months I have found no longer intimidating and have, with more or less effort, always pushed past – that morning loomed very oppressive and frightening.  My whole story had changed and I was believing that I probably had really been “manic” – and that now I was “depressed”, and that basically everything had turned to shit.

In that state, I started to tell myself that these last six months were “just a story I had told myself”.  It took me a few days to realize, “What is not a story we are telling ourselves?”  Everybody has got a different story about the nature of God or the meaning of life.  So much of our life is determined by whether we tell a story that we are a winner or a loser – or whether life is benevolent, on-our-side… or whether the deck is stacked hopelessly against us.

What about the psychiatric hypothesis is not a made-up story?  None of them knows what “bipolar disorder” really is.  It’s just a name/diagnosis they made up, so they could go ahead and try to treat it.  “Mania” and “depression” are just medical names they made up for some behaviors that they still do not understand.  The drugs they use to treat this “disorder” are totally trial-and-error – they just try one after another until one seems to help, and it never helps all that much.  (One very benevolent psychiatrist, who I trusted a lot, said that usually the drugs never help more than about 5% – but “that’s still 5% less suffering!”)

Stanislav Grof, in his ground-breaking “Transpersonal psychology” book The Stormy Search for the Self, describes the healthy and required process of “spiritual emergence”.  When that life-challenging process is not well-supported, it can get messy.  When the person starts not looking so good, Grof says that the healthy “spiritual emergence” process has dipped into a “spiritual emergency.”  That’s where other people – having no idea about a healthier resource – start calling in the doctors/psychiatrists. Then things tend to really fall apart.  

Yeah, but at what cost?  They pretty much all have some pretty potent side-effects.  When I told that same, very high-integrity psychiatrist who I saw for three years, that a friend of mine claimed that the reason I don’t cry any more – after many years of having healthy crying available to me as a wonderful release – is because of my meds, he agreed.  He said, “Probably that is actually the cause.  These ‘mood stabilizing’ drugs tend to mute our emotional highs and lows – and to also somewhat muffle everything in between.  You just need to decide whether the trade-offs are worth it to you.” And, lost in pain as I was – pain for which no one had a good explanation or a direction for how I could leave or transcend it – I chose to keep making the terrible trade-off.

I have always greatly preferred the terms “expanded” and “contracted” to the pathology-based terms “manic” and “depressed”.  They are purely descriptive – not pertaining to any “illness” – and for me they are very descriptive, they really capture what it is like for me.

I have always had very strong ups and downs.  Everybody has them, but mine have always been – and probably will always be – kind of dramatic.  In my “up”, expanded cycle, I am happy, creative, productive, emotional (full of powerful genuine human emotions), funny and loving.  What’s not to like about that?  But even one of my most beloved psychotherapists – a 30 year Buddhist with a very high consciousness and a loving nature, and who genuinely loved me – told me that, because I didn’t seem to need a lot of sleep in this state, it was therefore “disregulated” and no genuine friend to me.

When I am expanded, I don’t just fill the room – I fill the universe!  I know that I am one with everything – that, in fact, I belong everywhere I go.  I touch the divine.  I am completely in touch with core spiritual truths, which meditators spend their whole lives trying to touch.

But then my energy turns down and all this wonderful and genuine spiritual awareness is cruelly snatched from me.  Is there any surprise that I might feel bad?  Lacking a shaman or other genuine spiritual teacher to explain all this to me – and to help provide me with tools to ride out this rollercoaster – I flounder, I become lost.

Living in a materialistic society, which does not understand or care about spiritual experiences, I don’t have anybody saying to me: “You are genuinely touching God – it is the real thing!  Now let me teach you how to integrate that glimpse, to ground it…and to hold on to the truth of it when your energy turns down and all this connectedness is harder to grasp.”

That is my new story about my powerful energy swings – which I will never again refer to by pejorative, made-up names from the destructive psychiatric story.  I am on a hero’s quest – not a mentally-ill, crippled, damaged life.

I will find people and resources like my Jubilee Spiritual Community, with its wonderful new minister who totally affirms that I am whole and complete – and whose music (“Amy Steinberg” – five albums on Pandora) helps to ground those ideas in a powerful, emotional, gut experience.

Shine, Be Glorious album cover
“People think I’m an ordinary human – walkin’ and talkin’ like the average Joe, go with the flow.  But underneath this skin I’m in, is an Infinite Soul Superhero.” (Amy Steinberg)

And given that I no longer think of myself and my life as sick, I am free to be very, very grateful.  Thank you, God.  Thank you, Life.  Thank you, Majo.

(Since I first wrote most of this blog post, my energy has actually taken that dreaded “turn-down”.  And you know what?  Now that I know, in my guts, what it is – just lower energy, not “depression”, not “mental illness” – it is really not such a daunting foe.  I have a harder time getting up in the morning – but I do it.  I need more sleep overall, but I still manage to have fulfilling days.  I am not sad or discouraged – partly because I know in my heart that all the wonderful things I experienced over the last six months were real and good – and awarenesses I can keep building on.  “It’s all good.”)

“Whaddya think Panchita? Caffeine high?”

Pancho and I are driving north on Kimberly Avenue, my favorite alternative route to North Asheville.  (Let’s face it – Merrimon Avenue is a big pain in the ass, right?). Sitting in the driver’s seat, I am completely rocking out to our new Jubilee minister Amy Steinberg‘s Simplistic Logistics of Existencewhich is a totally badass rock ‘n’ roll song .

Raw Material
Four of Amy’s albums are on Pandora. Her songs range from inspiring to rocking to inspiring and totally rocking.

I say to my little chihuahua, sitting quite contented – and almost always focused on me – “Well what do you think, Pancho? Caffeine high?”me-and-pancho in car - selfie

Let’s review: after two days of no caffeine, I decide – when my water bottle turns up empty after lunch – to have a Coke from the Sonic drive-thru. Then, while we are waiting for our car to be repaired at Curtis Hi-Tech in East Asheville, we wander down to Filo coffee and pastry shop, where I have a 16-ounce coffee – and then the refill is 50 cents, so that’s a no-brainer.

So could this be a caffeine high? No question.  (I have been pretty sick with a cold all day.  This is such a blast! A little vacation from being sick.)

“Do you have any problem with this being a caffeine high, Pancho?”

Pancho had no problem with it. Nor do I.