Where I am Today

So much has been changing for me recently. On certain matters it feels like I change my mind daily. But far from feeling uncertain or adrift, I’m feeling confident that I’m on the right path.

I thought it might be useful briefly to recap where I am today and some of my beliefs. These are subject to change and revision!

I’ve started reading about the work of psychologist Carl Jung – it’s fascinating. Many of his ideas seem to chime with intuitions or part-formed ideas I’ve been mulling over recently.

We each hold a divine spark within ourselves, in our unconscious mind. Some people can go their whole lives without realising it’s there. But others of us, myself included, keep getting hints and fleeting connections with our inner divinity.

This divine spark is potentially God-like. It’s like a physical embodiment of what we’re all capable of. It’s pointing the way to being the very best me.

Now, when I think of God, I’m referring to this God-like potential inside myself, this little slice of heaven.

One way (maybe the best way) we can get in touch with the God inside us is through meditation. When we’re still and pay attention… we can start to feel a deep inner peace. We “wake up” in a very real sense.

I now view meditation as an essential part of my spiritual journey.

In mid-August, I took a huge quantity of DXM. I refer to the following 2-3 weeks as a Spiritual Awakening. Chemically, something happened inside my brain which enabled me to become more closely in touch with my unconscious mind, including the spark of God or Higher Power within me.

My Spiritual Awakening isn’t just a singular moment in time. It’s an ongoing process. Every day, I’m waking up more. There’s also a tight correlation with another kind of waking up… every time I bring my conscious awareness back to the present moment (i.e. being mindful), that’s another form of waking up.

Through these two forms of waking, I’m getting closer to the real me and also the me that I’m capable of becoming – the best version of myself.

I’m now thinking that this true purpose of life… or at least the true purpose of my life. It’s to manifest the divine spark within me as much as possible in my everyday life. It’s to become Holy – the best version of me possible.

This won’t happen overnight. It’s a daily process, requiring continual effort.

I will make mistakes, I will forget things and need to re-learn them. I’m embracing a model of “two steps forward and one step back.” In other words, I’m being kind and patient with myself. I’m not going to quit just because things don’t seem to be working so well on a particular day.

I still have some reservations and reluctance regarding the official 12 Steps and the associated “stepwork”. I really dislike dogma – it’s necessary to be generic in order to deliver teachings in a way that’s suitable for the masses. But I am not the masses.

I’m determined to keep thinking critically and keep integrating the 12 Steps teachings in ways which resonate deeply with my other beliefs. I’m not just going to accept things on blind faith – that’s simply not who I am. I would be insulting my inner divinity by uncritically accepting everything I’m told.

I do have a “self”, but it’s not constant. In fact, in my case, it seems to change more frequently and more radically than most people’s. I don;t see that as a weakness, I see it as a strength.

I think of my sense of self as like an eddy in a stream. Over time, it may appear to hold a mostly consistent form, but it’s also ever-changing in many small ways.

Having a loose sense of self makes it easier for me to ignore my ego, which often just gets in the way of my spiritual development. It’s important for me to stay humble and open-minded, willing to re-evaluate my thinking at any point in time.

I don’t need to be right all the time. It’s far more important for me to be kind, both to myself and to others.

I want to embody the spiritual principles of Truth, Love, Courage and Humility in everything that I do. Again, I don’t expect to be perfect. I will make mistakes. But these mistakes are necessary and I’ll welcome them. Every “mistake” is an opportunity for learning.

I’m going to keep building the gap between stimulus and response in my own mind. I’ll do this through a daily meditation practice. This will have a huge effect on reducing any feelings of anxiety, depression or addiction. In essence, I’ll become free.

I’ll take personal responsibility for my life. I’ll pray for guidance on how best to do this. When I pray, I’m praying to the inner God-like potential that lives in my unconscious.

I’ll use the Serenity Prayer – this seems to embody the concept of personal responsibility.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

The Serenity Prayer

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The Dogma of 12 Steps

I knew something needed to change…

For the last week, I’ve been wrestling with certain aspects of 12 Steps again.

I’ve tried “surrendering” to my Higher Power and to my program…

… but that’s simply not who I am. I’ve always been someone who questions everything.

Some people can simply accept things on faith, ignoring stuff they find problematic. I’m not like that.

But I didn’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. I didn’t want to quit 12 Steps altogether. If I could find ways to make it work for me intellectually, I wanted to keep going with it.

Well, the good news is that I’ve found ways past all my sticking points… For now!

I wasn’t comfortable with anthropomorphising my disease of addiction. “Your disease is trying to trick you,” just didn’t make sense any more. Now, I see it merely as a need to stay aware of unhelpful thinking patterns.

I was struggling with the concepts of God and Higher Power. But now I see that God is in all of us. We each hold a divine spark. We just need to get in touch with it and manifest it in the world to the best of our ability.

I’m not happy with the traditional 12 Steps. So I’ve been researching alternative, secular versions. And I think I can find a set which work for me. I may customise them to be uniquely right for me.

It’s really important to me that I stay intellectually consistent. If I feel like I’m fooling myself then 12 Steps isn’t going to work for me.

I’m also fed up with the dogmatic nature of the “step work” workbook. I want to tackle the 12 Steps in my own way, with no pressure to adhere to dogma.

I’m aware that I change my mind a lot. I’m not very consistent over time.

But at least I’m not burying my head in the sand to things I find problematic.

I’m being true to myself. I’m honouring the divine within me.

And it feels right.

Do I Still Experience Any Psychosis?

Short answer: very little and only rarely. It’s not disturbing and doesn’t disrupt my day-to-day life.

Longer answer: The most pervasive symptom is one that I experience multiple times per day. It’s a belief that certain numbers are significant.

I frequently look at my watch or phone and see number patterns which seem significant.

For a while, 444 and 11 were very significant to me. They seemed to represent death and destruction. By coincidence, 3 people died around that time (444 is the number 4 (death) repeated 3 times). And also, I ended my friendships with two close friends, represented by 11, which also happened on 11th September (9/11, Twin Towers). 444 can also represent a spiritual awakening, which is what I’d been calling my psychosis.

So, back to today…

The times with repeating numbers seem to be the most significant, like 12:22.

Times with 4 repeating numbers are the most significant of all, like 11:11.

Even times which are palindromic (the same when reversed) have some degree of significance, such as 13:31.

What do all the times/numbers signify? I don’t know, but I decided they were lucky in some way. It helped me feel comforted, like the Universe was looking out for me.

But, now the psychosis is 99%+ over (at least it feels that way), I’m trying to interpret these experiences through a scientific lens.

It seems to be my brain’s pattern-matching ability going into overdrive. These times stand out as slightly unusual, but then my brain makes the leap into bestowing them with special significance.

The depressingly simple fact is that we forget all the times we look at our watch or a clock and the numbers are not significant or repeating. We only remember the ones that stand out.

I have depression and addiction issues. I often feel the urge to escape from reality. Perhaps these psychosis symptoms are a manifestation of that desire.

Since being a teenager I’ve always liked the number 29 and felt it had some kind of special significance to me. But I didn’t obsess over it.

And the number 8 has always been significant to my wife and I.

I’m pretty sure these numbers are just a bit of curious fun… they don’t dominate my life or cause me to come up with elaborate meanings for their significance.

And these times I’m seeing on clocks every day… again I’m pretty sure it’s just something curious, my brain spotting patterns. Nothing magical or supernatural at all… unfortunately.

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That’s A Sign! (No, That’s Psychosis)

I’ve written before about my obsession with the numbers 444 and 11 during the peak of my drug-induced psychosis. But I don’t think I’ve told many people about another strange occurrence which happened at about the same time.

My work colleague was describing to me a picture which her 4 year old daughter had drawn. The picture featured three people: my colleague, myself and another colleague. In my mind, the 3 stick figures were arranged in a triangle.

Instantly, I knew – this was a sign. There was some special significance in this drawing. It was telling me (or us) something important… we just had to decipher the correct meaning.

That was over two months ago. I’m pretty sure any last traces of psychosis have left me now… which is a shame because there were so many benefits!

For a while my colleague joked that “the [alien] mothership is talking to you!”

I still haven’t worked out what that picture means. For a while I thought it was predicting the order in which me and my two colleagues were going to leave the company. But we’re all still there, happily employed.

And so, with some sadness I’ve had to accept… there was probably zero special meaning or significance in my colleague’s drawing.

Instead, the rational scientific explanation is that psychosis had ramped up my brain’s inherent pattern-spotting ability to the point where it was seeing patterns and significance where there were none. It was magical thinking.

Of course, I remain open-minded. Every now and then I’ll be sure to think back to that picture and see if any new events have transpired which explain its significance. I may well do that for the rest of my life.

My real life is pretty boring now. On my low days I often experience suicidal ideation. The peak of my psychosis wasn’t like that – life felt exciting and new and motivating. I was uncovering mysteries (real or imagined) continuously.

I suspect that a psychological phenomenon known as “motivated reasoning” was a factor in my psychosis. In other words, we believe certain things because we want them to be true. I was believing in fantasy because I was desperate to escape reality… and the after-effects of a pretty hardcore drug trip made it easier to make that leap.

In a couple of weeks I’ll hit 90 days clean. Right now I feel more sad about that than happy. If I stay clean for the rest of my life, I’ll never get to experience those feelings again. I’ll never explore alternate universes inside my own mind… except when dreaming.

It’s no wonder I can quite happily stay in bed 12 hours per day at the moment.

It’s also no wonder that some people choose to believe in God, despite a lack of hard evidence. Their faith gives them hope and keeps them alive. There’s tremendous power in that.

Shiny New Things

OK, let’s hold our horses here. I need to take stock.

In the last few days, it would seem I’d gotten myself into “shiny new thing” mode with respect to meditation.

Lots of us experience this “grasping” – we’re looking for something exciting to change the way we feel, as some sort of escape from everyday reality.

I was looking to meditation to change or raise my state of consciousness. It seemed new and exciting, like visiting a foreign land… or taking drugs and exploring the interior of your own mind.

Yep, “shiny new thing” mode seems to be closely related to addiction. And for that reason, as an addict, I ought to be especially wary of it.

It’s ironic that I would (accidentally) use mindfulness as the object of addiction, given that if used correctly, mindfulness has potential to reduce exactly these kinds of addictive urges.

Many of us are familiar with this kind of grasping. It’s at the core of retail therapy and materialism… we get excited about a potential new purchase (often this pre-purchase stage is the best part of the whole process).

Then we buy the shiny new thing… and it makes us happy for a short time.

But very quickly it becomes “normal”. Our happiness returns to baseline levels.

And so we begin the hunt for the next shiny new thing, be it new clothes, a car, a new job, a pay rise, a fancier place to live, a new partner… you get the idea. The cycle repeats.

I’m slightly embarassed to admit that I engaged in some retail therapy last night. A few times recently, I’ve bought videogames thinking I would love them and would definitely play them and get my money’s worth out of them. But then quite often I’d buy the game and immediately lose interest in it.

Well I’m not doing that again! I’ve clearly fallen out of love with videogames.” I’d say to myself.

But then I’d do it again before too long.

Fortunately, I’ve received some wise advice from Meredith Hooke at ZenSmarts. She’s a certified meditation instructor. I’m honoured that she’s taken the time to help me.

“For my own spiritual practice, meditation and mindfulness help me remember to keep coming back to what’s real and not touch what isn’t real – by not touching the “I” thoughts. “I” thoughts yearn for something to change. And yet it is this yearning that creates the despair. Be aware of this thought disrupting you. It’s just a thought. Nothing is wrong, except for the thought telling you something is wrong. You’ll be much more accepting of what is if you didn’t try to change it. “

“Know this is a process. Our grasping (addictive) tendencies are very strong and take time to weed out. Just remember in every moment that you come back to the stillness inside you have woken up. The more you come back to the stillness the more you will trust it. I promise you – just keep coming back- no matter how many times you follow the grasping as soon as you realize you’re doing it – let it go and come back to the stillness inside – this is where you want to be. ❤️ “

Meredith Hooke, certified meditation and mindfulness instructor

Doesn’t Meredith just beam with kindness and compassion!

Thank you so much!

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“Dead in a Ditch”

At the start of September, Boris Johnson said he’d “rather be dead in a ditch” than agree to a Brexit extension. Which he’s now done.

Yet mysteriously, the last time I checked, he was very much alive.

Any remaining trust or goodwill the public or fellow MPs had towards Johnson has surely evaporated. He is the epitome of sickness at the heart of a corrupt and failing system.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post saying that I quite liked Boris, despite his disregard for the truth. I no longer feel that way. We cannot trust anything he says. He’s a pathological liar who has shown himself unable to stick to his word or uphold basic principles of decency.

It would not surprise me if some nutcase decides to take the law into their own hands and attempts to make Boris’ “dead in a ditch” a reality. Obviously I hope that does not happen, but with the current political climate on both sides of the atlantic, that kind of thing wouldn’t surprise me.

Not only that, but I believe Boris has needlessly put other MPs’ safety at risk with his reckless use of inflammatory language.

I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt before. That was mistake. There was already ample evidence this man is a pathological liar who cannot be trusted. He has no principles. He has no honour. He doesn’t deserve to hold any position of public office. He ought to do the decent thing and resign, but of course he won’t.

Events on both side of the atlantic appear to be reaching boiling point, heading towards some kind of messy, explosive, ugly climax.

Whilst experiencing drug-induced psychosis in August, I felt the two dates of 9th Nov 2019 and 29th Nov 2019 were significant. I felt something very bad was going to happen, possibly a terrorist attack, but also that I might play some role in reducing the severity of the impact.

What will transpire on those dates? Who knows.

Hopefully, absolutely nothing bad will happen.

Perhaps something bad will happen but it will be entirely limited to my own subjective experience, my own inner psychological world. I’d be content with that – I certainly don’t wish for any harm to come to anyone else.

The most likely option is that absolutely nothing of any significance will happen on either date. I was psychotic, after all. And, to the best of our knowledge, no-one can predict the future.

When you experience psychosis, it’s common for everyday experiences to appear to hold unusual significance. Perhaps it’s just the brain’s innate pattern-matching ability going into overdrive and drawing impossible conclusions.

No matter what happens on the 9th and 29th November, I’m now thoroughly fed up with Brexit and with politics in general. The entire system is corrupt. I don’t have faith that it can be reformed from within. My gut feeling is that the entire thing needs tearing down and rebuilding from first principles… ideals like Truth, Courage and Love need to be at the centre of public life, baked into the foundation of our political system.

Will it happen? I doubt it. The most likely scenario is that mankind is going to utterly destroy itself and the planet, probably before 2100 AD. As Stephen Hawking suggested, the human race is too stupid and too ignorant. And we’re doing nothing of significance to tackle either of those problems. Really, it’s a wonder we haven’t wiped ourselves out already.

Have a happy Monday night, won’t you. Close the curtains, shut out the dystopian world outside, turn up some loud music, and attempt to numb your senses to the senselessness unfolding in the world around us.

Good night 🙂

Manifesting Divinity

“Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this Divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or mental discipline, or philosophy—by one, or more, or all of these—and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.”

Swami Vivekananda (via Wikipedia)

Manifesting your own divinity – that’s the ultimate goal in life.

Be the best version of you that you can be. Take personal responsibility.

This is the core of all religion.

Clever chap, ol’ Vivekananda.

[Thanks to Richard Grannon (Spartan LifeCoach) for bringing this guy’s teachings to my attention.]