1, 2, 3… Om…
I was sixteen years old when I dropped out of high school—a rebellious, angry kid who smoked, drank, and was always partying a lot. I didn’t have the dreams I thought other young people had for their futures.
I didn’t even know how to dream.
So, I wound up getting in a lot of trouble. Arrested at seventeen, I had the option to go to jail or join the military, and I chose the military. But it was a nightmare. From the minute I arrived at basic training, I was ready to call my mom and get out of there. Of course, that wasn’t going to happen.
Then the U.S. invaded Iraq, starting the Iraq War. Terrified, I asked anyone who would listen to me what I had to do to get out of there. I didn’t care how they talked to me; I didn’t care what they threatened me with—I was going to do anything to get out.
After Basic Training, an Army chaplain mentioned that an Article 15 would get me discharged. The list of things a soldier can do to get an Article 15 include getting arrested, getting pregnant, getting a tattoo, refusing to show up to formation, even getting severely sunburnt.
I did practically all of them.
Then I decided to shoplift from the PX—the on-base military retail store—to get arrested. One afternoon I walked in, looked directly at the security guard, grabbed a ring from a case, put it in my pocket, and walked out the door. Of course, they stopped me and called the military police. All of a sudden, I started thinking that maybe I’d gone too far.
What if they put me in Fort Leavenworth?
Unbelievably, after some creative thinking, I got out of it. They realized I wasn’t going to give up—I was going to do anything to get discharged. I met with my commander, and ultimately, they discharged me and sent me home.
As relieved as I was, I also remember getting home and feeling worthless. Between leaving the military and my dad dying, something in me clicked.
I realized if I kept living the way I was living, it was going to kill me.
I needed to free myself.
Mindfulness is all about learning to sit with our “is-ness”—that essence of whomever we are, whatever we’re doing, and whoever it is we want to be. If we can learn to sit with our own is-ness, we can learn to sit with the is-ness of others, too. That’s the equanimity of mindfulness that ultimately frees us all. It’s the idea that: I’m just sitting here, containing where I’m at and what I’m experiencing, which allows me to let you do the same thing.
My story is a perfect example—I teach people how to free themselves because I learned to free myself.
When you’re ready to free yourself, consider these three steps to inner freedom:
- Flow with whatever comes.
- Use what comes to your advantage.
- Learn to be completely self-sufficient: “Create your own earthquake.” Then your mental process feeds itself inspiration without the need for outside stimuli.
If you practice mindfulness long enough, at some point, you finally realize you’re grateful for everything that’s happened to you because it’s taught you to be different, or better, or more.
That’s true freedom.
Want to learn more? There’s a book for that! Click here to take the first step towards greater awakening, awareness, self-love, and personal transformation.
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