Contributed by Douglas Boter
I’m not your typical guru.
To quote Oh from the movie Home, “I don’t fit in. I fit out.”
It’s no surprise then that my spiritual path involves creating workarounds. I was desperate to become enlightened, yet the traditional ways of doing it didn’t work for me. So if you too secretly hate meditation, even though wish you liked it, or think you must be doing it wrong, this might help you.
If you are desperate to try ayahuasca prepared and blessed by a real shaman, or to find a guru that can show you the meaning of life, you might find great value in what I have to share. If you have a collection of crystals, oils, and incense, and can speak eloquently about each and their purpose, but still have never really found what you have been searching for, this might be the missing puzzle piece.
Because these were all things I saw as catalysts to get me from where I was to where I wanted to be, yet left me scratching my head at the bus stop.
An Education In Judgement
I grew up in an affluent neighborhood in Texas. For those that don’t understand the significance of that, it means I got an education in judgment, on both a superficial and a deeper, spiritual level. Basically, that’s a recipe for misery, unless you happen to be very successful, and then it’s merely a recipe for general discontent. I have ADHD, so failure was a close and loyal friend of mine, and I did not yet understand the concept of judgment.
Eventually, I became suicidal. I had tried so many times to succeed at different things only to fail, that trying at anything just made me feel bad. I tried to kill myself several times which made me feel like even more of a failure, having not even succeeded at that. Some of my attempts were pleas for help, some were to just distract me from my emotional pain using physical pain and some were times I actually did things I sincerely believed would end my life. Trust me, I only share this that it might help others because it’s very painful to remember and embarrassing to admit.
I had tried and failed so many times, at so many different things, that trying at anything just made me feel bad. I tried to kill myself several times which made me feel like even more of a failure, having not even succeeded at that. Some of my attempts were pleas for help, some were to just distract me from my emotional pain, and some were times I actually did things I sincerely believed would end my life. Trust me, I only share this because there’s a chance it might help others. Because it’s very painful to remember and embarrassing for me to admit.
Want To Stay In Touch?
When I failed at my first attempt to leave home, I had to move in with my dad in St. Louis. Having already burned bridges with my mother, I made the decision that I was going to get my shit together. So I got a job and started going to church. I felt that a lot of my issues were alcohol related, and I figured that God didn’t want me to drink anyway, so when I learned that there was a group for alcoholics who met to stop drinking using Christian principles, I was in.
I was surprised to learn that it was just a standard AA meeting and it had nothing to do with Christianity. But since they kept telling me to keep coming back, I did. In fact, eventually, I stopped going to church but kept going to that AA meeting, at least until they were kicked out because the church found out that they were helping many people like myself, without using Christian doctrine.
Though I no longer believe I’m an alcoholic, I do believe the main reason I’m not is that twelve step programs teach basic emotional skills. Skills that are necessary to be a functioning adult.
Searching For Enlightenment
I studied self-help, spirituality, the metaphysical, religion, psychology, and philosophy for years. I read books, I watched DVD’s, I listened to books on tape, I listened to gurus, inspirational speakers etc. It’s all I talked about. It became my identity. Still, what I really wanted was enlightenment, and even with all the effort I put in, it seemed so elusive.
I saw enlightenment as the ultimate goal, even though I didn’t really even know what it was. It was a buzzword that perked up my ears every time. I even tried to do the thing that I hated most of all just to achieve enlightenment.
Meditation, Or Lack Thereof
For a while, I was obsessed with out of body experiences because it seemed like getting a backstage pass to enlightenment without the hassle of “clearing your mind of thought.” I became very discouraged with all of it as time went on though because even though I tried so hard, my efforts produced little results. As I came across the many methods that people used to obtain enlightenment, meditation was always at the top of their list. Always.
So eventually, I stopped reading. I stopped listening. I stopped repeating stupid affirmations I didn’t believe anyway. I stopped bothering people with my philosophies. I stopped my pursuit of enlightenment. I still wanted it, but at that point, I came to the conclusion that it was something unobtainable, at least for me, since I wasn’t willing to meditate daily. Besides, at that point in my life, I had learned enough to be quite content and being content was the greatest experience of my life thus far.
Of course, it didn’t take but a few months after ceasing input that I started having “ah ha” moments. Apparently, I was meditating in my own way and didn’t even realize it. I drove a truck for a living then and would spend hours just thinking. My first “ah ha” moment was a theory I had of how I could actually get affirmations to work for me.
The first requirement for an affirmation, such as “I love myself”, is that to some degree, you have to believe it. Some say that doesn’t matter because if you say it long enough, it will become your truth. But if it’s not even within the realm of possibility, I don’t think it matters, because you won’t be able to keep saying it.
So my first, “work around” was to repeat this affirmation to myself:
“You are perfect and beautiful and I love you.”
Only I said it about other people, mostly random people. In theory if I said it enough about other people, eventually I would believe it about myself.
I’ll be dammed if it didn’t work. It took about a couple of months but I could actually say it with confidence about myself. Not only did it work, it came with a wonderful, unexpected side effect. I did more than
It took a couple of months, but I could actually say this affirmation with confidence about myself. Not only did it work, it came with a wonderful, unexpected side effect. I did more than learn to love myself. I freed myself from judgment.
I always judged myself harshly, and because I judged others, I had always assumed others judged me. I cried tears of gratitude with my new found realization. You have no idea how freeing that was.
Afterward, I wanted to share it with the world, so I wrote a book about it. Me, the guy with ADHD, wrote a two hundred page fictional novel called The Guru Delivery. The book is about a truck driver and an unlikely guru who teaches him many things, including this lesson. The only reason I was able to finish it was that I was motivated by the thought that it might help keep someone out there from suffering as I had.
Shifting Our Thinking
The second workaround was getting past the meditation wall. With the discovery that affirmations, if done correctly, can be effective, I began to change my whole reality by focusing my thoughts for a few minutes every day on that which was in alignment with the reality I wanted to create.
I came to understand how our subconscious minds are designed to create our realities based on our predominant conscious thoughts (or beliefs). Not only do they cause us to do things (subconsciously) that produce a result based on them, they cause us to be more aware of examples of that reality’s validity. I had been subconsciously creating my reality my whole life but since I’d been basing my thoughts thus far on observation rather than intent, it felt like life was as I observed it to be, which unfortunately was extremely out of alignment with who I am.
Meditation seems to do this in a more indirect way. It’s like telling your subconscious that these thoughts are not as important to you as the state of being you wish to be in so you release them, trusting that your subconscious will guide you. When you do that repetitively, your subconscious begins to reduce negative, emotional reactions to observation (actually it literally does so physically by way of releasing specific peptides from the hypothalamus) which of course also reduces stress and begins to direct you toward more positive experiences. So even though It’s not my go-to (did I mention I have ADHD?), I’m certainly not anti-meditation.
All that effort to find enlightenment and it finally found me.
Of course, it was in a completely unexpected way. When you don’t exactly know what it is you’re looking for, you might not recognize it right away when you find it. Though I had kind of hoped it would come to me as a Buddhist monk yanking me from my physical body and whisking me off into the stars while it explained every intricacy of the universe (or at least something mystical like that), it couldn’t. It expressed itself to me in a way that felt so in alignment with who I am, I can’t even pinpoint the moment it happened. It’s a clarity about the perfection in everything and my harmony in it. It’s something that can’t express itself to you until you (your thoughts) become aligned with who you truly are. I had always imagined that an enlightened being would express themselves in a certain way, so in order to become enlightened, I was trying to emulate what I thought that was.
In sharing the workarounds I used to get further along my spiritual path I want to make it very clear that though they may or may not be methods you want to adopt, the real gift I’m trying to share is that you already have all of the answers within you. You don’t need incense and massage music playing in the background while you chant ohm for hours to become enlightened. You don’t get points for it. A lot of people in the new age movement recognized the problem with judgment in religion, yet turned around and simply gave sin a new name, “ego”. If approached the right way, the so-called ego can be your biggest asset. It’s your expression of the divine.
Shifting our thinking so that it becomes in greater alignment with who we are, gives us the ability to see the universe as it is, perfect and beautiful. One of the wonderful side effects of sharing our true selves with the world is that we become the greatest benefit to others. It was an honor to be able to share this little part of me with my fellow gurus.