FABx Stories Worth TellingStories Worth Telling


A Little Girl's Journey to Heaven and Back

It was the mid-1980s, somewhere in the middle of Canada—you know, the tall part of America! Now there was actually a very, very fatal illness sweeping the nation, and little children were getting very sick. If they were cheated, they had disabilities. It was called spinal meningitis. It's orally contracted. And what happens is it goes into the spinal column, and it affects the nervous system. And, in effect, actually, the fever affects the brain so much that it can shut a small child down. Now the 1980s. Tape decks, VCRs, station wagons, come on. Great decade! Budweiser was king, and Donald Trump was just a mere mortal wearing boxy suits and buying real estate. But I really wanna tell you about a little girl's journey, her brush with death, her glimpse at the other side. And that little girl is me. I was sitting eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the stairs. I loved to sit there because I could watch all the foot traffic move around the house, but I was really hot, like really hot. And Oh, I love this sandwich. I'm not hungry anymore. What's happening to me? Oh, I'm gonna go to the kitchen and talk to the adults cos they always know what to do. So I go to the kitchen, and I pull on Auntie Gina's shirt, and I'm like, "Auntie Gina, can you feel my forehead?" And she leans down, and she puts her hand on my forehead, and she says, "Oh dear, this child is really hot. I'm really concerned about her." Well, I scurry away because I'm like, Oh no, I've done something wrong now. Oh no, why am I so hot? And I put my little head through the banisters on the stairs, and I look out, and I listen to the adults as they make a commotion and talk about the hospital. Oh no, not the hospital. I really, really don't wanna go the hospital. That's where people go when they get really sick. Sure enough, they're throwing things into a bag. They're acting a little funny, and it's just a circus, and we're running out the door. And the hospital—clean, clinical, bright white lights, beeping sounds—doctors, nurses being called to all different floors. Surely a doctor comes and stands right in front of me, and he assesses me immediately. And he says, "This child is very sick. We think she has spinal meningitis. If we test her, we might lose her. Let's get her immediately to intensive care." I'm isolated in a room. I'm dressed in white. I'm sitting straight up in my bed. I now have intravenous being put into my arms—medicine running through my body. I don't know what's happening. My mother comes and sits on the corner of my bed, and she says to me, "Sweetheart, do you know what you have?" "No, I don't." "It's spinal meningitis, sweetheart." "Spider man ingitis? Oh, that sounds really scary." "Yes. We're very concerned for you. You see, we need you to make it through the night." "Okay." And with that, she got up, and she exited the room and went into the hall. It had grown quiet now, and night was falling. I sat in my bed, medicine running through my body. Exhausted. And I fell asleep. Sure enough, I woke up to something coming down next to me. A spider. Oh, okay. I'm gonna close my eyes. I'm gonna get myself really nice and tight like a board. And hopefully, this will go away. I open my eyes. I turn to the right. What-what is going on over here? Three unidentifiable shadowy men standing next to my bed. So I now have a spider and three men over here. Oh boy. This is what she was telling me about. If I close my eyes really tight, I think, Yeah, this is gonna go away, right? Yeah. And it does. That was a close one. Okay. But now what's going on now? Oh my God. I'm in a hospital, and I can hear dogs barking. There are three, four, five dogs in the room with me. They're barking so loud. They're snarling. They are drooling, and they are attacking my bed. They know I'm vulnerable, and they're coming for me. They're gonna take me down to Hades and present me to Persephone. What is going on? They oh, they can't get in. Oh, thank goodness. They can't get in. They keep attacking it, but they can't get in. There's a bubble around my bed that's protecting me—some kind of a force field. Thank goodness. Okay. I'm just gonna wait this out. This is just gonna go away. Yeah. Daylight is breaking. I can see it now. And like a good vampire movie, I know those dogs are going away, and they just get off of me, and they slither away through the cracks of the room. And the room is bathed in this warm white light. And I'm like, Oh, thank goodness. I've made it through the night. But now what's happening? I thought this was all over. No, it's not. It's not over. Oh my gosh. I'm getting up outta my body. I think they call this astral traveling, and I am looking back at myself. Phenomenal! Wow. And I can feel something beautiful and warm coming from behind me. Oh my goodness, what is that? Wow, that feels so good. And I can hear string instruments. Oh, it's beautiful. "Beloved. You are at a checkpoint." "Oh, a-a checkpoint?" "Yes, beloved. You see, you are now at a place where you can make a choice. How do you want to choose? Do you want to go back into that life, or do you want to come back behind the veil? We must warn you that if you come back here, you will have to work two times as hard. You see, beloved, the life that you have chosen, the contract that you have chosen is for your soul's evolutionary process. And the souls that you come into contact with will also evolve. It's a very multi-layered process, you see, my beloved?" "Yeah. I-I understand. Okay. Uh, so if I go there, how long will it take exactly?" "You see, beloved, for us it's a very quick timeline. Blink of an eye, really. But for you, once you will be embodied, time will move quite slow." "Oh, okay. I-I, okay. And what's . . . what's gonna happen? Can you tell me a little bit about that?" "Well, beloved, you see, there will be great global catastrophes. You will witness genocide. You will see abuse of human life and source life on the planet. There will be technological wars, famine, and you will feel it all." "Oh, okay. Sad." "Yes, beloved. And you will have a heart—an empathetic heart. And you see, there will be hardship, heartache, and your heart will break." "I understand. What else?" "Well, beloved, there will be beauty beyond belief. There will be human connection, joy—pure joy—humor, surprise, and elements that you can only experience if you choose to contract this life as a human." "I see. Well, I-I suppose I accept that, and I understand. Yes, I agree. I agree to this." And with that, I felt my body, my spirit slip back into my body, and I was looking back at my family, connected again. I could feel their collective hearts beat, their prayers answered. Their little girl had made it through the night. She wouldn't be taken from them too soon in this life. I felt cells regenerating and blood pulsing through my body. I was going to heal. I was going to make it. You see, there's actually many of us that have an experience like this. In fact, one in ten people that's admitted to the hospital has what is called a near-death experience, but because of fear or shame, embarrassment, we conceal this immaculate experience. We don't share it. And yet it's so beautiful to know that there's something beyond this. To know that it's pain-free. To know that we have to live without regrets here. That this is our training ground. That this is our playground. Our learning, our schoolhouse. I hope this message is something you can take with you tonight. Death is really very simple, you see. It's just a transformational doorway. A transformational doorway for the mystical energy that is spirit and spirit never ends. Thank you so much. Thank you so so much for being my audience for that story—that's the first time. Thank you so much.

Accepting All Aspects of Me

I'm in the desert, scantily clad and a beautiful piece of cloth wrapped around me, adorned in jewels and bindis. Now, mind you, this isn't my usual attire. You'd usually find me in a business suit, walking into offices of CEOs as a management consultant, giving them advice on what to do. But this isn't any desert. It's Burning Man. And it's the first night of my first burn, and I've lost my friends. And I'm in this world of strangers and lights who are practicing these rules of radical self-expressionism and radical acceptance. And in that place, I'm just lost with how at home I feel. And I feel this urge, both a physical urge and an emotional urge, to push the edge. You see, I had to pee, but I don't wanna go and find a bathroom and leave this behind. I'm almost wondering if this is a place for radical self-acceptance. "I should just pee right here." And I begin to think, What if someone points at me or tackles me, or the cops come out, or a helicopter comes out with a spotlight on me. And I begin to think, I wanna know how much me can I be here, and still be accepted. So I pull over a little piece of this loin cloth that I'm wearing, raise my hands up to the air, yell out a loud scream and just begin to pee right there in the middle of the playa. And courage was born inside me again. You see, I lost my courage very early in life. You can say it was yelled and beaten out of me by my parents. You can say it was strangled out of me by cultural expectations, religion, and society. You can say it was washed from me slowly from eighteen years of school. And I found myself as an adult without much courage, living a very mediocre life. Of course, it didn't look that way to others. I had a beautiful high-paying six-figure job and a condo in downtown that was part of the Parade of Homes and my dream car. And everyone said, "You're doing it," but I knew it was mediocre. I had also succumbed so much to being the good boy, to doing all of the things that lacked courage, that I had actually taken a vow of celibacy blocking out those things which today I use so much—love, connection, pleasure, bliss—all so I could be the perfect virgin husband for my perfect virgin wife that my family would arrange a perfect marriage for me to be in. But it didn't turn out that way. I'm in bed in a room in the dark with a naked man beside me. And in this moment, I'm feeling more free than I've ever felt before. And I feel so much energy moving through me, through the room, through us, and something comes over me. You see, I met Corey in Cleveland, Ohio. He's a twenty-two-year-old white boy from Texas that I met on a night out with my coworkers at work who wanted to go out to the gay bars. And I said, "Sure, let's do it." And at first, I didn't think much of him, but as the night went on, something happened that I felt this deep desire to take care of this man. Maybe be taken care of by him as well, but to love him and to just be there for him. And inextricably, not knowing what was pulling me, I found myself knocking on his door to borrow a drill just so I can hang out with him. And over time, our connection got deeper and deeper. We began spending so much of our time together. We even began traveling together, and it was in Peru where everything came to a head, and he said to me, "Jaymin, I want you to be my boyfriend."I could just feel the looming dooming feeling of judgment and finger-pointing and all of this. I don't know. Ugh. It's too much to think about. But another part of me felt really brave, and some courage lit up, and I felt more alive in me than ever before. And without worrying about what this meant about me and who I was or what all this is, I just said yes to him. And so we're here in bed in the dark, laying together. And before I can even think fully, some of the most truest words I've ever said just fall outta my mouth into this dark void. And I say to him, "I love you, man." And in this timelessness, I heard a voice come back from the other side of the universe, and from within me, and from his mouth all simultaneously saying, "I love you too, dude." And I felt more free and alive in that moment. You could feel the courage break apart all the walls around my heart that held me back to all the things I wanted most. And in this brave moment, I let it all in, and it changed my life. I've had many choice points throughout my beautiful life that I'm so grateful for, which have asked me to be courageous. I left my corporate job and started to become an entrepreneur that led me to incredible success beyond anything that I could imagine for myself. I had the courage to marry the woman of my dreams, even though it meant my mom not talking to me for five years and never meeting her grandchildren. It gave me the courage to show up when my second son was being born in an emergency situation where no one could get to us, and we couldn't get to anyone. And I had to look at my wife and just say, "Baby, push," and catch this baby as it came into this world. It gave me the courage to leave behind everything that was keeping me in mediocre shackles and come here to Bali, halfway around the world, where I live with my wife and my kids and our dog. And we live courageously every day. I can't imagine a life without courage because of these moments that have cultivated the courage inside me even though it was my normal for so long. I can't imagine a life that I'm living that other people think is great, but I know is mediocre. After cultivating this courage inside and committing to living it every day, I can only live a life that is fully lived. A life where I allow miracles to happen every day, and I have the courage and the audacity to believe that everything is possible. Thank you.

Asking for Help and Getting a Piece of Myself Back

So let's go ahead and address the elephant in the room. I know what the burning question is and, yes, I do give fifty percent off all manicures. And I think that's worth it. It's fine. Okay, now that the mood is a little bit light, let's go ahead and get down to the brass tacks. On August 28th, 2011, I opened my eyes to white fluorescent lights—confused, dazed. I can't move my mouth. I can't talk. My eyes are darting from side to side. What is going on? A nurse walks into the room—her eyes just as surprised as mine. She looks at me. I look at her. She darts out of the room. The next thing, a man walks in wearing a white lab coat. Comes in. Pulls a breathing tube out of me. He says, "You're gonna be all right, son. Welcome back." Moments later, I pass out. Next time I wake up, it's not a doctor I see. It's my family. It's my mom. I'm still confused. I have no idea what's happened. "What's going on?" I say with a raspy voice. "Where am I? What's going on?" My mom leans in, gives me a kiss on the forehead, and says, "Sweetheart, it's gonna be okay. You're gonna be all right." The extent of my injuries was very, very severe. And I had a long, arduous task of recovery ahead of me. I went from being this very independent, successful military man to someone who was completely now dependent on the people around me. And so this transition that happened so fast, it was very jarring, to say the least. And I was very angry. And when I say angry, I mean, I was an asshole. To this day, I still feel sorry for those nurses that had to deal with me and my grumpiness because it'd be 3:00 a.m. I still hadn't had the strength to lift my arms up and scratch my head. 3:00 a.m. in a medical ward, "Nurse, nurse, nurse." I got other military guys telling me, "Casio, shut up." I'm like, "Man, my head itches. Please, nurse, please come scratch my head." Months would go on, and slowly I would regain functionality in my legs. And then the day came when this one big heavyset black African American man and another African American woman stood me up for the first time in six months. And I'm screaming at them. "I can't do this. I cannot do this. This hurts. Put me back." And they yelled back at me, "You're gonna do it, man. You're gonna do it, sweetheart." And this repeats itself for the next three months every day until eventually, I'm walking back. One step, two steps, three steps. “Okay, that's enough for today. I'm gonna go sit down, back in bed, and go back to sleep. Maybe tomorrow we'll double that.” I went from being this really independent man to relying on people. And that was a very hard transition. And at the time, I kind of criticized and, I guess, tortured myself mentally for asking for help. But eventually, after months, I could walk out of that hospital on my own. And then I got a piece of myself back, which was nice because once I could finally walk back into that hospital, find those nurses that put up with all my bullshit. I went up to this one woman who was there the whole time when I was there. I was like, "Ma'am, I'm so sorry for being such an asshole." She's like, "Hey, sweetheart." She's from southern Florida. She's got a nice thick Southern accent. She's like, "Sweetheart, you don't have to apologize for anything. You were one of the good ones." We embraced. Finally, said our final goodbyes, and that was it. And here I am today, standing in front of you all. Thank you.

Awakening the Power Between My Legs

I'm in an open-aired villa in Bali, standing in the garden with my feet on the grass, looking up at the full moon. My left ear is being penetrated by the sound of someone moaning. Almost like someone is about to orgasm. In my right ear, I hear this screaming, slapping sound. Someone is being spanked and REALLY enjoying it. Basically, around me is this sound of laughter, joy, and pleasure. In that moment, I put my hands on my ears, and I'm thinking, Just please make it stop—the sound. Just make it stop. What am I even doing here? And so this moment marks the end of a two and a half, three-week phase in my life a few years ago back here in Bali that changed my life completely. A year prior to that, I finished my master in innovation management and left traveling because I was inspiring to become this tough-ass businesswoman and career lady. So I thought it was time for an adventure first. At the time, I was doing yin yoga teacher training with Tina Nance, and she kept asking this annoying question, "How much can you feel? How much can you feel? How much can you feel?" In those classes, I was thinking, Seriously, lady, shut up. I can't feel anymore. Meanwhile, I kept on being invited to all these places I didn't know about. And so I ended up at my very first ecstatic dance where you dance barefoot, no alcohol, no talking. And within five minutes, I was going crazy. I was having the best time of my life. And I felt something just unlocking. And that led me to my very first contact dance, where I ended up rolling around on the floor with a bunch of strangers sweating all over them. And that led me to my very first sacred sexuality temple party. In other words, a sex party. And so, in that moment, under the full moon, I found myself being triggered by the sound of other people's pleasure. It was in that moment that I realized Tina made an impact. "How much can you feel?" Well, in that moment, I was feeling a lot. I was feeling how deeply blocked I'd been. I didn't voice myself. I didn't moan during sex. I didn't communicate my desires. I was taught to stay quiet and to stay silent. And so that's why during my five-year relationship, I never had an orgasm with him, and he never knew. That's why I thought I was broken. Because I didn't speak up for myself, not only in the bedroom but basically also not anywhere else in my life. And so, in that moment, I realized that could be different. There was a different world out there, but I was scared shitless because that meant that I had to feel. I had to feel how I've been lying to myself. How I've been pressing away and disregarding this part of me that had been screaming for attention for years. And so, in that moment, under the full moon, tears started rolling down my face in a seemingly endless stream. Now, the next morning I woke up with what seemed like the biggest hangover I've ever had in my entire life, and not from alcohol but from all the lies I'd been telling myself. But stuff started shifting after that moment, after those few weeks. And I suddenly felt the pull to stop with the birth control pill I had been on for over a decade. And then I ended up going to all these workshops, trainings, online courses around my menstruation cycle, my body, my intuition, contrast, sexuality. And during that time, I got the idea to teach and host naked yoga workshops. Yes, you heard that right. People without any clothes, bending forwards touching their toes. So how did I end up from studying innovation management to now suddenly wanting to teach naked yoga? What are people going to think? What are my parents going to say? And am I seriously gonna throw away everything that I worked for over the past years? And so, I found myself back in the Netherlands talking to my mom about this decision that I was about to make. Am I just forgetting about these past three weeks and this past year and just go down the corporate career path? Or am I letting those three weeks in Bali take me onto a whole different path? And in that moment, my mom asked me a question, and it's probably a question you've heard before. "What would you do if money wasn't the issue?" And so that night, I booked my ticket back to Bali. Two months later, I packed up all the courage I had into a suitcase with no plan, no certainty, no savings. I was feeling scared. I was feeling confused. My friends and family were confused, but I knew I had to go back. And so I got on that plane, and I moved to the other side of the world. I ended up starting my own business. And from there, step by step, I got onto the path and doing the work and the mission that I'm on today. In those three weeks, what happened is that I got really curious on what made me ME, and it made me realize that I was taught to hide, to blame, and to shame basically everything that was at the core of who I was, that was at the core of being a woman—my menstruation cycle, my body's wisdom, my intuition, and my sexuality. And so me going off traveling and exploring the world was actually me looking for an initiation into womanhood, for an initiation into being human. And so those three weeks basically blew apart every single structure and belief system that I was taught. Those weeks showed me that there is nothing wrong with me. Like there's nothing wrong with me! It's amazing. And they showed me that freedom exists. And so ever since that moment, I've been following my intuition, picking up breadcrumb after breadcrumb. Ended up from teaching naked yoga to guiding women closer to their bodies, into their intuition, helping them connect to their cycle, and now helping them unlock their sexuality, their core feminine, creative power—the power of their pussy. So did everything suddenly become easy? Hell no. I still crumble. I've been falling down and getting back up more times than I can count. And still, sometimes I wonder, Wouldn't it just be so much easier to get a normal job? And in those moments, when that happens, I come back to my body, and I ask her, "What is it that you desire?" And every single time, she guides me back on the path that I'm meant to walk. So world, watch out because I'm on a mission to help every woman ignite the power of her pussy. Because when I did that, I started to radiate and shine and follow my desires. I started to follow that which makes my soul go wild from excitement. I became my most juicy, sexy, authentic self. And I take actions from that place instead of a place of shame and blame. And so now I have the absolute honor to gift that to other women. So women remember this, the core of your power lies in between your legs. So will you meet me there?

Born Ready for Life

You see, I love words. Words are powerful. And sometimes you hear some words from some friends and they will stay with you for quite a long time. Like these three words a friend shared with me, "Revealing is healing." So today, I would like to reveal to you the story of how I began my journey into this life. And to be quite honest with you, everything I'm gonna tell you I wish I didn't tell you, but I'm gonna do it. When I was six years old, I'm starting to journey into life and into school. I'm just like every other boy of my age except I've a strange name, my hair is very red, and I've got many freckles on my skin. No big deal, but I'm also the only one like this in the school. And one day in the playground, a group of boys come and they stand all around me. There are many, and I'm alone. And they start to scream at me some very intelligent stuff like "Carrot hair, carrot hair, you've got rusty skin." I'm six years old. The only thing I get is that I'm scared. They continue. And one comes and pushes me, and I'm falling. They are laughing, and I'm crying on the floor. To be honest, I hated it. So imagine this on repeat over many years quite a few times. I had to learn to live with this fear looking down. And I never know when the next treatment of humiliation would come around. At some point, I told myself that I need to talk about it and ask for help. So who's the first person you talk to? Your mother. "Mum, at school, there are boys. They always make fun of me. They call me names all the time, and they hurt me. Mom, please do something. Help me." "Listen, it's nothing. It's just words. They won't kill you. Get over it, okay, and stop it." Now you see those words—they felt like they were killing me. I felt unseen, and unmet, and unworthy. And I get it. My mother—she's a schoolteacher. And the only thing that matters to her is the good grades. And I can do that quite well but for the rest. The shaming, the humiliating, the bullying "doesn't matter" means to me I do not matter. So, as you can imagine, I had a poor level of self-esteem as I grew up, and I had to live like that because life goes on. So me and my good grades, we had a mission—destination; find a job. And eventually, I did. I ended up working and as an executive in a bank, and it's not exactly the dream job. I'm working far too much, and I'm burning out. My dad passed away, and my girlfriend at the time had a great idea. She disappeared overnight. Not happy. I'm depressed. One day I'm waking up, and everything feels blurry. My mind is foggy. I can't make sense of anything. And I can't recognize where I am. All I hear is beep beep beep, beep beep. Somebody comes. This man is a nurse, and he tells me, "You're in hospital, in the intensive care unit. You had a bad accident. You cannot move for the moment. Be patient. We're taking care of you." I don't understand. All I know is that I'm in this bed, and my body's plugged to many machines, and there's many pipes in my body, and I can't move. I'm just waking up from a coma that lasted fourteen days. And I'm on my way to the third of three surgeries—long, complex, and major surgeries. So days go by in this intensive care unit. And eventually, with time, things got a bit better, and I'm taken to a patient room, and one day a doctor comes, and he tells me, "We think that you intended to end your life when you drove that car into a tree." "What are you talking about?" I have zero memory of anything. Zero. But there's one thing I get is that to him, there's something wrong with me and I'm trouble. And again, here I am filled with shame and guilt. To be honest, I felt crap. And I start to understand that they have a plan for my life—a plan that I don't like—and I start to feel the trap. And there's no way I'm gonna let myself go there. So a few months later, as soon as I could, I found myself a place somewhere, anywhere. And I got myself out of hospital, and I left behind all the medical programs. I'm twenty-nine. I'm rather crippled. I'm alone, and I'm scared for my life. But I know I have to do something. I have to fix myself. And I have no idea how I'm gonna do that. Eventually, at some point, I managed to pick myself up, and one step at a time, day after day, I got there, and it wasn't like I go from there to there, more like this. I had to bring myself back up many times, and I received some very mysterious help along the way. And I learned a lot. So I embarked on this journey of self-healing and bodywork. And eventually, I got there. I spent the last seventeen years trying to fix this body so it can be functional. And this is now part of my daily life. And it will always be. And I kind of like it like that, in fact. But what happened to the other part of me? What happened to this scared boy, the part of me that was keeping me hiding, taking no risk, and playing little in life? I realized that instead of walking towards life, I was walking away from life. So I still had to fix that part. And something had to happen. Early this year, as I'm enjoying my morning routine, not the one you're thinking of—the French one, coffee, croissant in a café—I meet a very inspiring person, and I feel extremely motivated when she talks to me about her upcoming course starting in two days. Something inside feels this is right for me. So within five minutes of knowing her, I said, "Deal. Please sign me in. I'm coming." And I'm excited. I'm gonna start a course learning to do something I've been wanting to do for a long time—if not all of my life. So we are halfway into the training and my initial excitement changed a bit to slightly uncomfortable, embarrassment, and fear. I think I've made a mistake. This wasn't for me. I don't have what it takes. And naturally, I opened up to the teacher about it, and she listened. She said, "I get it. Why don't you go home and watch a few more videos of other students who did the course and try to find inspiration? See if it works for you. And we'll see how it goes from there." Sounded like a good idea. So I go home that night and get on my laptop and get online. I watch one video after the other, one video after the other. And as I'm watching, I can see there's one thing in me that says, "Oh yeah, me too. I'm gonna do that." And there's another part of me who says, "No way. I don't have what it takes. There's no chance I'm gonna do that." So you see, that night I'm split, and I can't sleep. I'm anxious, and I'm nervous, and I don't know what's going on. I'm in my bed. I'm tossing and turning, tossing and turning. And I'm trying to figure out what is this all about? And in the middle of this tossing and turning, I start to have flashbacks and some vague memories. And I start to connect the dots. I'm afraid that I can die from shame and humiliation. It's all about my initial trauma of public humiliation in school. That night there's a frightening monster just came out of the dark, and I'm scared. So at this point, I have two options. I go for it, and I face it. Or I quit. I resign, and I give up, which will feel like I'm driving my car into the tree one more time. And also, I would have to tell everybody, and I would have to face the shame of telling them one more time. And that's not me. That's the old me. So I consider that. "Trust me, trust the process. Use the framework I'm giving you, and you'll be just fine. Do as I tell you. Trust me. I know my stuff." Those were the words that we heard at the beginning of the training from our coach. And it sounded doable, and it sounded easy. So I had to remind myself of those words, but also of my intention that I had taken many years ago to transform myself and to overcome the hurdles that were in my way—my own limiting beliefs. So I took a firm decision that I'm gonna go for it. And eventually, with the practice with the team, I crafted my story. Not one time. God knows how many times I repeated over and over again. And I got there. I mean, I got here. I got here, and I didn't come here alone. I brought with me a six-year-old child. And me speaking in front of you here is him beating the beast from the past and taming the ghosts. When I was a child, I loved any kind of superhero. We do that, right? But I thought about it many, many times until I understood that it was just because I wanted to be like one of them—out of my wound of feeling unworthy, inadequate, or not enough. So I met a superhero, and he's six years old, and I know where he lives. You see, life has extremely mysterious ways and powerful ways to make whole again that which was once broken. And my mom was right. These words didn't kill me. Though they nearly did. And my friend was right that "Revealing is healing," but I found something else. That "Healing is also revealing." Let me explain. My journey of healing myself has revealed to me my strengths within my weaknesses. My termination within my fears. My capacities within my doubts and my beauty within my vulnerability and my many scars. Now, I am no different. I know that all of you, all of you here tonight, without exception, you all have many scars of many types, and they're beautiful. They make you beautiful. They can reveal your inner gems, your inner treasures, which I hope you'd see for yourself. But more importantly, they do not define who you are. Our scars do not define who we are because it's up to us to choose how we're gonna write the story. And in life, a real story never has an ending. It only has new beginnings. So my new story goes like this. I'm forty-five, and I'm a lucky man living on the gorgeous island of Bali surrounded by amazing inspirational people. I'm coming back, and I'm ready. I've got two powerful and amazing friends that will be always there for my life. Fear—hello, fear. Vulnerability—hello, vulnerability. With these two guys, I'm walking towards my life, and I'm willing to welcome what's coming my way. I know I might have to pick myself back up again more than one time because that's life. And I know also I will. My beautiful heart is now open and willing to share more of it. I'm ready. And now if you were to ask me, "How do I know I'm ready? How do we know when we are ready?" I think I would simply tell you that I was born ready for my life. Thank you.

Breaking Down the Walls of Separation

I'm five years old. And I find myself wearing my first suit. It was a matching replica of what my dad was wearing. Just think classic Men in Black. We were in Las Vegas at one of the most iconic hotels in the entire world—the MGM Grand—at my father's company convention. While holding my dad's hand, walking through the casino, we saw it. Lit in bright lights, surrounded by people with their film roll cameras taking photos. As we got closer, my grip got tighter, and there it was—the grand prize that the casino was advertising—one million dollars in $20 bills in stacks of $10,000. Now gripping my dad's hand with all my might to get his attention. In his face, I can see the excitement that we shared. Smiling, I said next, "Dad, I'm gonna be a millionaire." Once we made it back home to the Boogie Down Bronx in New York City, where I was born and grew up, I started sharing my excitement of becoming rich without having a clue what that would entail. My excitement got so bad that my mom one day snapped at me and said, "Look, boy, shut up." After this experience, I felt it was no longer safe to express. I isolated myself. I couldn't relate to others. They just weren't interested in talking about the same things that made this heart beat a little bit faster, that consumed this mind day and night. You see, while the other kids were sitting up straight doing what they were told and getting high out of getting good grades, I was daydreaming. I was doodling. I was masterminding in my mind what I deemed to be a compelling future. When I got home from school while my sisters were doing homework, I was listening to my dad's personal development and business tapes in Spanish. Over the years, hundreds of them. What resonated about these tapes and what fueled my drive was that everyone that I listened to shared how they were just like me, often misunderstood, misfits, rebels, troublemakers, the ones who saw the world differently and who weren't fond of rules. Thanks to this habit and others that were later developed, before my nineteenth birthday, I made my first $100,000. Before my twenty-second birthday, I had broken the sales record at one of the most iconic brands in the entire world. Before my twenty-fifth birthday, I had helped my clients generate tens and tens of millions of dollars. And I was miserable. In fact, the moment I knew it was after leading a two-day, all-day and night business seminar, which I call a top lion, for over two hundred people who had traveled from all around the country to be there. It was the fifth time in a series that was supposed to be hundreds all around the country for thousands of entrepreneurs. And because it wasn't New York City this time, I invited my family cos I wanted them to share this experience with me. After two full days, it was the closing ceremony. And I asked everyone to stand in a massive circle around this grand ballroom with beautiful chandeliers. And I asked who would be willing to share what the last two days were like for them. Person after person after person said, "This experience changed my life. My life will never be the same. I've been to every event under the sun and this by far was the best." After everyone shared what they got out of this training, I looked at my dad, who was standing by the entrance of the ballroom to my right, and I see tears falling down his cheeks. In his eyes, I saw what I can only describe as proud. And I imagine if I can hear his inner dialogue, it would've said something like, "That's my boy." In that moment, I felt something I lost when I was nine years old. As I arrived home from school, out was walking my father suitcase and bags in hand. I knew. I immediately dropped my book bag and ran to my dad with all my might, and I dropped to my knees, and I grabbed my father's legs. As I looked into his eyes as I was crying, I said, "Pa, please don't go." I knew my parents were going through a hard time, but none of us expected this. My mother grabbed me, and without saying a word, he walked out. I blamed myself for my parents' divorce. And now here we were in this grand ballroom with tears falling down his cheeks. I finally felt I did it. Everything I ever wanted to do with my existence to make my father proud, to have him witness me having done it—the materialization of that moment we shared when I was just five years old. I felt the tears coming before I stopped them. And in that moment, an undeniable feeling of truth arose inside of me. And it was that I had been living my life to get my dad's love, to get my dad to come back. Every action surgically taken to show him that I am worthy, to show him that I am significant. And in that moment, I can clearly see that none of it mattered to me at all. And this was confirmed when I woke up the next day, feeling my entire body sore in every part of my body from giving my heart and soul on that stage for over thirty hours over the course of two days. And I remember the first thought that arose in my mind, and it was Now what? Now what? I had just done everything I thought I ever wanted to do with my existence. And I felt nothing. That's when I knew I couldn't do it anymore. That was the last time I facilitated that training. One week later, I find myself on a plane to a tiny island in Thailand. This is me walking away from it all. Everything felt like it was crumbling, including my identity and who I thought I was. I had to get away. Maybe this is how my dad felt when he walked away from me, my mother, and my three sisters. My experience in Thailand only intensified things. I literally could not focus and do basic tasks that my business required to thrive. I became a person I did not recognize and found myself in a love affair that broke me open in ways I now see were necessary but were so painful. One day I'm sitting at a busy cafe attempting to get some work done that my team had been waiting on for weeks. And it started to rain. And when it started to rain in walked this couple and they see two empty seats positioned directly in front of me and they say, "Can I sit?" Then the next words outta this guy's mouth whose name I would later find out was Chris was, "It looks like you're working on something important." "You could say that." And just like that, we went on to have a beautiful conversation. Now when I say we went on to have a beautiful conversation, what I mean is we spent all the time talking about me, which is something I would only realize much, much later. And somewhere in that conversation, I asked, "What's your story? What do you do?" I can't remember exactly what he said, but it was something along the lines of, "I help people who are ready to wake up wake up." Looking at the clueless look on my face, he went on and said, "Basically, it's the next step from where you are now." Now I was very intrigued. I asked him to tell me more. "Well, it's hard to explain, man. It's really something you have to have a direct experience of to understand. If you feel called, I can give you an introduction section." "I feel called. How do we connect?" And we exchanged contacts, and I walked out. The longer I stayed on the island, the more lost I felt. During a sunset walk on the beach, I remember hearing my inner voice say, "You need help. You need help." And in that moment, I remembered what Chris said. "When you're ready, just get in touch." Now I was ready. And what Chris put me through next, I cannot put into words. What I experienced that day was the beginning of discovering who I would be if my father was dead. I was confronted with questions I could no longer ignore. Who am I beyond my father's approval? What might I discover about myself? What would life demand of me? And how generous would I be with my one wild and precious life? What Chris started to teach me that day was a very simple practice to take total responsibility for my inner world. To let go of what no longer serves me by relaxing into my heart's truth, no matter what, no matter what over and over and over again, especially when I don't feel like it. Whenever I was lost in my mind wrestling with my ego to find the comfortable place to rest, Chris would have me repeat a simple mantra, which was, "I don't know. I don't know anything." Sitting there in the unknown. Empty with no desire to fix, prove, protect, fight, or even blame. That's when a drive infinitely more powerful than any other force I've ever experienced in my life arose. It whispered into my mind a question. "Do you or do you not want to know what's beyond yourself?" "Yes. Yes, I do." Now in life's infinite wisdom, she met me by showing me where my limits were, where my openness and presence stopped, where I was seeking certainty and significance rather than growth and contribution. Going through this was the hardest thing I've ever gone through my entire life. It was an ego's death, but I leaned into it despite the uncertainty of it all. And the more I did, through how I showed up moment to moment in my life, the more life showed me it's not about me. It revealed to me how, when I get out of the way, my presence can impact the web of life and my existence matters by itself. And how to the proportion I hold this presence, I can experience what it's like to feel free from the chains of suffering and how when I'm free of suffering, I can contribute to breaking down the walls of separation between myself, others, and how others relate to their mission— to create a more connected humanity and world through my God-given gifts, which is a whole new way to do business and build brands that matter for generations to come. Because what's business about at the end of the day? Is it about validating our own egos, or is it about creating a dream come true result for those we have the privilege to serve? After this realization, I wanted nothing to do with this stage until I knew it would be different. Until my clarity of purpose was so abundantly clear that it radiated out my presence so intensely that it could not be ignored. Until it was no longer about feeding this monster called my ego, which I created to meet my need for certainty and significance. Until I cared more about what the universe wanted from me than feeling safe in this fragile heart. Well, now here I am. Here I am. Was it easy? No. In full transparency, it still isn't at times. I had to give up the safety of the illusion of control, which means I had to master the terrifying act of being vulnerable—the one thing I wanted to avoid since I was five because it wasn't safe. To be different and to be generous. Shutdown after shutdown after shutdown. Rejection after rejection after rejection. It never felt safe to be me. And let me be clear. I don't want it to come across as if I have it all figured out or that everything always works out because it doesn't, but life is not here to be lived perfectly. It's here to be lived generously. And to me, what that means is what I give while I'm here matters. This is not a belief or a knowing. Through experience, it is my truth as I've seen the miracles. So here's my generous invitation to all of you. If you're anything like me, and you too know you're here to be generous with your existence and a vessel for other people's growth in some way, some shape, or some form, I say, let's do that. Let's not let our past or our current awareness of what's possible limit how generous we can be with our existence. I believe part of our destiny is to align and lean into the vastness of our future, especially when our mind says, "That's not a good idea!" But you know. You know. It's step by step, experience by experience, to become the person you've always wished to be. To get out of the way and let life be generous through you. My name is Pedro, and I believe in the power of being generous.

Breaking Free

It's the morning of the big day. A festival to celebrate the anniversary of the new Innovation Lab, the greatest achievement of my career at the global economic powerhouse, the IMF. I've been in the auditorium since 6.00 a.m. setting everything up with my team. We're about to open the doors for the opening ceremony. And when we do, a flood of gray/black suits are gonna come in. I'm so enjoying the contrast that I've created, with the bright pink and yellow and teal balloons throughout this space. My vision has come to fruition, and I can't wait to see how people react. As the suits begin to walk in, my excitement builds. The managing director, one of the most powerful women in the world, takes the microphone. She says, "I want to recognize the person that made this all happen." I stand up a little bit straighter, and I'm ready to step forward. And then she says the name Travis Wagner. Now, just to be clear, that is not my name! As I graciously clap for Travis, my heart sinks. You see, two years ago, I had it made. I had the sexy red sports car with the sunroof and the Bose sound system, a walk-in closet overflowing with sheath dresses and heeled shoes, and other First World essentials, a UN-issued blue badge that whisked me past barricades and security guards and inside the headquarters of the global financial empire in Washington, D.C. A pretty much guaranteed paycheck for the rest of my life. Acquaintances, accessories, and assurances—I had it all. I'd always loved the world of business in the marketplace. My dad taught me the value of working hard, and he clued me in that the point of life was to stay busy. Turns out I was amazing at both of those. I remember one of my first summer jobs. I'm sixteen years old, driving in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic, but I don't care because I have a job, and I'm in love with the glamor of the nine-to-five routine. I'm listening to the morning radio, the windows down, drinking my French Vanilla Dunkin' Donuts coffee, and I can't wait to arrive in the office. As I walk in, I smell coffee. I hear the clicking of keyboards and the chatter of gossip from the odd cast of characters around me, and this warm feeling of familiarity rushes over me. I'm part of a community. I have a place. I belong. After that, I had a whole string of blue-collar jobs. I just loved the fact that I could walk in, get myself hired, and start getting a paycheck, whether it was at the gas station, fast-food restaurant, the clothing store at the mall. By the time I finished college, I had at least twenty jobs on my résumé. Soon I found myself in the capital of the United States at a fancy new job building my career. I worked hard. I had a title. I had an office. I had a reputation. And yet, despite having more than I'd ever had before, more success, more security, more opportunity, I couldn't help but notice that as time went on, something was missing. I wasn't happy. Somewhere along the way, I'd lost that spark. I remember talking to my dad one day, and he said, "Do you think you'd ever be able to go back to waiting tables?" He knew how much I'd loved working at this trendy Italian restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara at the end of college. And then I thought about it for a minute. And I realized that no. I'd become jaded and entitled. And the higher I climbed, the more my ego was all up in it. I didn't recognize the woman that I'd become. For more than a decade, I had been trading my time, my energy, and most importantly, my passion for someone else's idea of success. While I was playing this game of validation and acceptance and making money like everybody else around me, it was sapping my energy and suffocating my soul. Life was passing me by while I was languishing inside these polished concrete walls of compromise. I was living someone else's dream. So that morning, when I heard Travis's name announced on the microphone, it was both heartbreaking and the permission I needed to walk away. Three months and two tantra events later, I'm standing on the curb at Dulles International Airport, waving goodbye to my brother and sister. I've sold my car, packed my life into a storage unit, and handed over my responsibilities at the Innovation Lab. You see, what not everyone knew about me was that I had a double life. Part of me was Sensible Susan, who loved structure, followed the rules, and knew how to get the job done. The other part of me was this woo-woo wild woman, the insatiably curious seeker who wanted to taste and experience life fully. I'd been dipping my toe in that woo-woo river for many years, but now I had the freedom to jump in fully. And once I unlocked that door, there was no stopping me. Just like those jobs back in high school, college, I was taking it all in. I was traveling around the world, dancing at festivals, signing up for workshops, trying the latest tantra techniques, checking out all the spiritual hotspots. I was alive. You see, Sensible Susan had been delivering on someone else's dream and playing the game pretty well, but it wasn't until I gave myself to that wild woman fully that I started really living my own life. I started discovering what abundance means to me. Who am I? And what do I value when the old identity and everything familiar has been stripped away? What's left? What is worthy of my time and my energy? Earlier this year, I moved to Bali. I traded my high heels for flip-flops, those concrete walls for the jungle canopy, and the crush of bureaucracy for the cushion of heart-centered community. I found freedom. I found connection. I found incredible beauty and celebration and that magic I'd been craving. And most of all, I've been dreaming whole new dreams about what's possible for myself and the planet and starting to build that new paradigm from my own vision, weaving a new world into existence in every moment and living life on my own terms. I'm part of a project team that's about to launch something epic. It's gonna change the world, and I'm supposed to be sitting down talking about strategy. And instead, I'm stirring this huge pot of cacao and making sure that it's just the right blend of sweet and spicy. And just like those balloons at the party back then, I'm putting my own special magic into this place. This is how I wanna show up right now. The difference between then and now is that I don't need validation for my cacao and for my wild woman. She's fully present, fully accepted, fully integrated. And at that moment, I realize that I've broken free. Free from that constraint of societal programming and free from living someone else's life because, let's face it, if I was listening to that programming, I should be married by now. I should have full-grown kids. I should have a car, and a mortgage, and a pile of debt that I'm working my way out of. And guess what? I'm not. I'm not even wearing a bra.

Claiming Life!

I'm sitting in a restaurant in Rio de Janeiro. Across the table is Sarah. We've been traveling around South America for the last six weeks. It's meant to be one of the most amazing romantic journeys. I mean the most romantic city in the world, but I feel nothing. I thought I'd be falling madly in love, but we are falling and drifting apart. The next day I wake up in a hotel room in Rio, and I know it's over. I feel this knot of dread. I know I've gotta break up with her. I don't how to tell her. I'm just baffled, and I'm confused. My mind has been hijacked. All I can do is frantically panic. And I can only think All I've gotta do is just get outta this hotel room. I freeze and I start packing up my bags and I start packing up my suitcase. And all of a sudden, Sarah wakes up, and she's like, "What are you doing, Chris? What's going on?" And all I can say in my panicked state is, "I-I'm sorry. It's not meant to be. This isn't gonna work. I need to break up with you. I'm sorry." Twenty-four hours later, she's booked a flight back to Australia. We don't even hug goodbye. And like that, the girl that I thought I was gonna spend the rest of my life with . . . it's over. Two months later, I'm back in Australia, and I'm taking a look at my life. And on the outside, my life looks amazing. Looks really successful. But on the inside, I'm empty. I've been in an engineering career for the last ten years that I'm bored with. I'm now single. I'm lonely. I'm thirty years old. What am I doing? I think Did I even want to break up with Sarah? Maybe I made a mistake. I sent her a message, and I say, "Sarah, I'm so sorry. I think I messed up. I wanna get back with you." I don't know if she's ever gonna respond back to me. She doesn't respond. So I book a flight to Tasmania to spend some time with my family over Christmas. And as the plane hits the tarmac, I check my phone, and there it is. There's a message from Sarah. She wants to speak with me. And now I'm like the guy outta that romcom, that guy that messed it up. And I've got this one chance to make amends, to win back the girl. What do I do? I book a flight straight back to see her. And this time, when we're sitting across from each other, she's the one that feels nothing. I'm gutted. She says she could never ever trust me again after what I did to her. I'm devastated. I send her one last message to let her know I'm so sorry for the pain that I caused—I had no idea. And she replies. She says that sorry isn't good enough. And she proceeds to tell me every last little flaw about my character. She tells me I'm passive-aggressive. I don't even know what that is. I've gotta Google it. She says that I'm judgmental. I'm egotistical—I gotta Google that too. She says that I'm disconnected to my feelings. Like, wow, this is intense. This is the most criticism I've ever got from anyone. And then I reflected back to that day in Rio. I didn't even know myself. And I thought maybe, maybe she's right. What if I don't even know myself? What if I'm blind to this? The next morning I wake up, and I've got a very specific recommendation from my sister for a very specific book from a very specific guy, Tony Robbins—the self-help guru. Right now, I'm thinking I can do with some help. Anyway, I go straight to the bookstore, and I grab the book, and it's called Awaken the Giant Within. I take. I read it. Holy moly! I'm hanging off every word—every page. This guy's deconstructed my whole entire reality. Oh, this all makes sense now. I get it. I really get it. I am the giant. It's me. I'm the giant. I get it. It transforms my life. Everything changes. I go from being oblivious to being obsessed. I got the source code to my reality now. I learn more in the next thirty days than I have in the last thirty years. Wow. This is big. This changes me. I start showing up so much differently. I'm telling my mates that I really care about them. And instead of shaking their hand, I'm hugging them. I'm looking people in the eye when I'm chatting to them. I feel connected to people. I even ring my dad, and I tell my dad that I love him for the first time in my life. I'm changing at a rapid pace. I don't know what's going on, but this is good. This is so good. I really feel alive. And that's just the beginning. I realize I'm changing from a boy into a man. And I've just activated beast mode. All of that criticism became my fuel. It activated this hunger, this deep yearning inside of me to know who I really am. And I go on the next six-month journey of awakening. I truly awaken this new man inside of me. I get back into my life, and I'm going to seminars on weekends. I'm going to all these workshops—learning about myself. My friends think I've joined a cult. My dad's confused cos he thinks I'm into all this weird fluffy duck hippy stuff. But it's okay. He knows I love him. And I'm even sitting at my desk during the day in my engineering job, pretending to work on spreadsheets while I'm listening to podcasts and TEDx talks and audiobooks, feverously just documenting and writing and capturing all this wisdom. It all shifts. One day I'm scrolling through my Facebook feed, and an ad pops up. "Ever thought about becoming a life coach?" I don't even know what life coaching is, but there's something about it that resonates with me. I click it. And before you know it, I'm on the phone to some guy, and I've signed up to a year-long life coaching training course. But on the first three-day training of that course, holy moly, this is what I've been looking for my whole entire life. I found it. I knew there was more. I knew there was more. And I found it. And I didn't even know what coaching was, but I knew that was something for me to explore, something to expand into. So the next six months, the beast mode goes up a notch. I put everything I got into this coaching stuff and I'm actually pretty good at it. I helped one guy get off crystal meth. I helped a girl pretty much recover from the same crap that I went through. And it's not even the most important part. The most important part is I feel alive. I know why I'm here. I got a reason for being here, and it's incredible, but I have no idea how this is gonna work out. I don't know anything about business. I don't know anything about coaching, really, but I realize I need to make a decision. I've spent ten years climbing the ladder of success, leaning against the wrong wall. And I can see a path in front of me. I don't even know what it is, but it feels right. On that day on the drive home, I asked myself, Why? Why am I still in this job? And in that moment, I decide to take my decade-long engineering career, and I walk away, and it's liberating. It's also the most scary, crazy thing I've ever done in my life. What's my dad gonna say? But it feels right. And what I've realized to be true is that life is the ultimate contact sport, and I'm not here to play a safe game. And life—she's a tough teacher. She gives you the test first and then the lesson afterward. But bless it because all the adversity, all the chaos, all the suffering, all the confusion—it all exists. And it's there because it contains the seed of wisdom for the awakening and for the expansion of who you are meant to be. And I realize this whole time through the chaos, through the confusion, through the suffering, through the joy, through the love, through the adventure, through the whole lot, life has been conspiring in my favor, even when I didn't know it. Thank you.

Connecting with the Spirit of Nature

I wanna share a little story about my growth with the connection to the spirit of nature. Actually, I grew up just a few kilometers away from here in the village of Nyuh Kuning, and my beautiful, amazing late mother, Linda Garland, the queen of bamboo (We love you, Boo.) taught me that to embrace the world, to embrace the spirit of everyone around us, we must surrender. We must surrender to the universe. We must surrender to everything and just let the universal energy come in. And from there we get power. And growing up in Nyuh Kuning, in beautiful valleys like here, I would run around like a little Mowgli boy and climb coconut trees, fall off coconut trees, jump into rivers, fall over rocks, and learn how the spirit of nature worked, how the ecosystems and the people of Bali respected nature. And I wanna bring you to a time in 1988, when a holy man named Daaji, Gus Daaji, some of you may know, came to my home in Sangingan, the home of my father, and he blessed us on the full moon. And Daaji was an amazing, powerful balian, as they call it. And, you know, in the middle of his mantras with the offerings five meters away, he would throw up a flower, and it would land right in the glass of the holy water. I mean, Michael Jordan had nothing on Daaji. I tell you, it's amazing. And this power and this connection with nature and the spirit of nature was so strong in Daaji. I grew up alone a lot when I was young because my parents were overseas building houses for the rich and famous. So a lot of the time, I was with amazing people like Daaji, and we would go around Bali and pray in the different phases of the moon, no moon, full moon, and basically find every excuse to go and dress up in pakaian nadat and hang out in the temples and eat lots of yummy food and and watch the wayang kulit. It was an amazing childhood. But then, ten and a half years of age, I found myself extracted from Bali and plopped into a British boarding school in Singapore. No idea what to do. My brother had gone there, so of course, I had to follow suit. I remember a few weeks after arriving at the boarding school, I was in the cafeteria, big smile, like, Hey, how you? You know, full Bali style. And this guy, this Singaporean guy, I remember he came up to me. He's like, "Dude, why are you so happy?" and I was confused. And then I was like, "Oh no, no, no, I'm-I'm not happy." And I stopped smiling, and I got more and more of these weird kind of interactions. And, unfortunately, I slowly learned to kind of like fit in to this energy that was in this urban environment of a very strict regimented boardinghouse. And I learned to lie to fit in. I learned to be part of the pack, Lord of the Flies kind of stuff, and luckily I had some good friends, good people around me, friends and family who challenged me slowly. They kind of whispered it at first cos I was trying so hard to fit in. "Why are you trying to be someone you are not?" I had completely disconnected with who I was with this amazing spirit and really a core compassion that was free to express in Bali, and there it was all protected. And I got horrible grades in school, and it was just very hard to connect with people, and slowly I adapted, and I learned how to listen to people and just kind of go from their high frequency to help them calm down. And I would just be a listener and a few very good friends actually helped me to do this and stay calm because I would be very kind of nervous about the condition of everybody around me. So I was always checking is everyone okay? Does everyone like me? And it was really this seeking of a kind of love that my self-love was conditioned on whether those around me were loving me. And slowly, I learned that love comes from the inside. I had to be like my mother—surrender, just let the energy flow. If the energy is a high energy, slowly it will calm down. This too will pass. And I was bullied a lot, beaten to buggery. Even though I went to a boarding school, they fought the small kids, and they even bet on us. It was pretty hardcore. I got smashed in sports, bashed my knee, broke a patellar tendon, da da da. When I was in medical care, they burnt my guitar. So kids in boarding school . . .! But I slowly learned that if we do not connect with the spirit in ourselves, with the spirit around us, and the spirit in those around us, we can never be happy. And Daaji would always talk about Tri Hita Karana—this amazing philosophy here in Bali, and the way he said it to me as a child was very simple. He said, "It's three definitions of happiness, human to human—happy, human to environment—happy, human to God, to the divine—happy, and you must have all three happiness to truly be happy. And growing up in Bali, it was like by osmosis, you kind of followed this way. But to then be extracted out of it and actually to try to kind of intellectually comprehend it and then go past the intellectual orgasms and whatever of it and actually go back to a place of the authentic real feeling of it was a slow long hard process for me. And I guess, in the end, I had my mother, who was this amazing beam of light compassion for the planet and for the people around her, and my father, who was this kind of eclectic traditionalist. He was very into Hindu rituals and animistic rituals, and antiques, and the plural lineage of Indonesia's amazing religious past and giving me all the routines. I then put this together to understand for the first time how I could connect with the spirit of nature around me. And it took me about, I think, twenty-two years to figure it out and really be in a place of resolve and be okay with what Daaji had told me when I was seven, eight years old. This energy when I'm working, when I'm in a city, I can now go and escape and just try to connect with either a tree or maybe just some bushes, or maybe it's just some grass and soil. And I can put my hand to the ground and give my connection, my frequency. And I can try to release all the crap in my head and all the emotion, everything, and just reconnect. And this is something that I've been learning to do, and it's still a long journey, of course. I guess if I had one thing to share, it's that a lifelong learning of connecting with the spirit of nature is something that we all need to invest in every single day of our lives. And especially for the future generations, Gen Z, Gen Alpha, Gen whatever. If they do not have this connection with nature, they will not have the spiritual and heart tools to create this sustainable future that we all are praying will come to be. So may we all learn together every day to connect with the spirit of nature and help to spread that to everyone around us. Thank you.
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