Cody Shares His Experience
It seemed so alluring. The forbidden aspect of it. An illegal plant to alter my mind. A new way to perceive reality. The kids who were smoking it carried themselves with a kind of coolness, like they were getting away with mischief—relishing in the pleasure of their clandestine operations.
Marijuana. What a flower. When I first smoked cannabis at age 16, I almost passed out. Everything in my visual field of perception started flashing in freeze frames. I rolled onto my bed and started making funny noises, but with the help of my brother, I relaxed and surrendered to the change. The flashing stopped, and I was...STONED. Stoned to the bone. I felt like a child again. My body felt lighter—as if floating—and my thoughts were clearer. Yet there was a distance between my thoughts and my sense of self. As the silent observer, I was witnessing thoughts and feelings as if watching a movie. It was awesome.
Naturally, I got passionate about marijuana. I smoked it with friends, and it became the cherished pastime of my high school days. I tried some psychedelics too. LSD, mushrooms, peyote. Those really changed my perception of reality! The world was glowing with a liquid luminescence. I saw geometric shapes and mysterious faces that seemed to come from another realm. I read books about mystical experiences on psychedelics, and boom, I had found my magic bullet. Well, maybe there were a couple magic bullets in the mix (pot included).
But something went wrong. I started to treat the substances less as sacraments and more as candy to be consumed leisurely. I took thrill in the mischievous aspect. I used the cleverness to boost my persona and popularity. I went downhill quickly. One of the negative symptoms that started to arise was paranoia. Not paranoia about the cops or some hidden enemy, but paranoia about my own self. I started to feel paralyzed and unable to communicate. The childlike lightness was gone, and instead, I was feeling totally fried. Burnt, crispy, toasted.
I backed off the pot and psychedelics and started drinking alcohol more adamantly. Benzodiazepines too. The Xanax and Valium really mellowed out the anxiety! Pills and booze...the new chemical diet for my regimen of mind-altering substances. But, before long, I racked up a couple DUIs, fractured personal relationships, got kicked out of a prep school, dropped out of college, and foresaw impending doom.
I backed off the booze and pills. I started to exercise vigorously (tennis, running, swimming). I enrolled in the university again. Amazingly, I found a woman to move in with. She was very creative and liked my poetry. I liked her modern dancing and sensuality. She also kept me in check—reeling me in when I tended to drift back into the madness. Classic co-dependence. A grown man using his romantic partner as a disciplinarian.
Things were going okay. I got good grades, graduated college with a degree in religious studies, and landed a decent job with the state government. I hadn't done psychedelics in several years, but one of my next door neighbors kept praising his experience with DMT (dimethyltryptamine), the so-called "spirit molecule". So, with the approval of my fine, female companion, I decided to try it.
The DMT trip blew away all other previous drug experiences by a long shot. When I inhaled, the room started melting in fractal patterns, I closed my eyes, and zoom!—off to another dimension my consciousness went. I found myself in a vast space made of pure light. No shadows. Only the prismatic expansiveness of inner, radiant light. The light was not shining ON the landscape. The light WAS the landscape.
Everything was made of light, including two heavenly beings who graced me with their presence. They had human qualities and a color that was reminiscent of the ethnic tones of India. One was male. He was meditating in a sitting posture with eyes closed. His presence glimmered with an unshakable bliss. His smile exuded tranquility, wisdom, incredible strength and benevolence. He seemed to know I was there, but didn't flinch or move. Before I knew it, the other female being started swimming at me and engaged me directly with her eyes. Astounding, mesmerizing, beautiful, full of love and compassion. No amount of adjectives could describe the intensity with which she was melting my heart with her gaze alone.
At some point, I realized I had to return to my Earth body. When I came back and opened my eyes, I felt like I had been gone for years. My sense of time and space was warped. My friends in the room said my eyes had only been closed for about five minutes. I was pretty stunned, and I could barely describe the scenery to them. The trip was so dreamlike, yet real.
That was the first and last time I ever did DMT. Realizing how powerful it was, I knew that pursuing more of it would be a glamorous and sophisticated trap that could consume me if I let it. I moved forward from DMT but kept drinking. One night, while my girlfriend was out of state, I decided to take benzodiazepines in celebration of her supervisory absence. Lo and behold, I ended up blacking out and falling off a balcony, which gave me a bad concussion, as well as a loss of my sense of taste and smell (fortunately, those senses have gradually returned). The balcony debacle was the last time I ever took pills.
But, I kept drinking. We got married and moved to San Francisco. She wanted to pursue her dance career, and I was willing to get any kind of job in support of her dream. We moved out there, and the stock market crashed. All hiring slowed down significantly. I struggled to pay rent by working temporary assignments and borrowing money from family. I was frustrated and lacking a deeper purpose or calling. I managed to make friends at the neighborhood bar, and one night, I got really drunk. I had been fighting with my wife about our unstable situation, and I did something really hurtful to her and myself. I cheated on her.
For a month or so, I tried to swallow my wrongdoing, but the guilt was overwhelming. I told her. She was shocked. I had to move out and stayed with my cousin in the city. After a while, she agreed to work it out, contingent upon me not drinking. We went into marriage counseling. There was some progress, but I wanted to start drinking again and promised I would manage it this time. My bargaining led to my downfall. Shortly after my promise, I stayed out all night and disregarded any need for change, accountability, or sensitivity to the delicate matter. She began the divorce process.
I found a private counselor, and I told him I thought I needed to get sober completely. He encouraged me to go to Alcoholics Anonymous. I started going to meetings and continued to see him. He was not an average psychoanalyst by any measure. We did vision quests in the Native American shamanic style. Other times we would stare at each other silently without trying to conjure up any particular topic—just experimenting with our energy in stillness. Once he held me up in the air with his legs to recreate a childhood memory of pretending to fly. He opened up my mind to an inner world I had previously tried to access with drugs, but this time, I was sober. At the same time, I started to hang out in a small, tucked away shop very close to my apartment. The owner was a mystic who practiced esoteric forms of prayer and devotion to higher beings (similar to what is found in Kabbalah). He taught me some of the prayers, as well as a technique to activate my third eye. I would bring my mandolin to his shop to accompany his guitar playing and singing. He sung about ethereal characters and visionary panoramas. We even played a gig at a high-end tea cafe in the city.
Between the radical counselor, shop-owning mystic, and AA meetings, I was getting a heavy dose of spirituality and sobriety. It came at a perfect time, because coping with the divorce by drinking probably would have been detrimental and disastrous. During that period, I was walking dogs to earn money, and my bosses were two women who ran an excellent dog care business. From the beginning, they trained me to be a dog whisperer, and we could take a pack of up to 24 animals (each of us keeping an eye on 8 apiece) and set them loose on the beach—with no leashes! What at adventure! That job taught me how to stay calm and super focused. The trick was to be both loving and dominant with the dogs. They liked me, but they respected my command too. The two women were survivors of some horrendous child abuse (being raped by their own fathers), and they were heavily involved in a support group where they found freedom from the past. It was a niche community of folks with a similar history that wanted to thrive and progress beyond the stage of victimhood.
As the divorce was finalized, and I realized there was no chance of getting my wife back, I decided to move back to Florida. My core family was there, and so many doors had been shut in San Francisco. Though I had found a new passion for spiritual practices and the inner world, I could not land a substantial job or leverage my heart to keep trying on the Pacific Coast. I returned to the Gulf of Mexico with plenty of prime learning experiences and close calls (making it to final rounds of interviews at big companies like Pixar Animation Studios, the headquarters of Facebook, and Pandora Internet Radio). I had acquired what I needed in California—a sober, spiritual quest—and perhaps I had left something of value behind for the people who guided me along the way.
When I got back to Florida, I drove a rental car up to northern Georgia to stay with my grandparents. On the first half of the trip, I turned the car into a makeshift sweat lodge. It was a hot summer, and closing the air vents achieved the desired boost in temperature. I was sweating profusely for a couple hours until I hit the Florida-Georgia line, then I stopped for a break and cleaned myself off. The sweating was very detoxifying, not just on a physical level, but emotionally too. I was sweating out pockets of fear and anxiety, and I could actually identify the blockages in my body as they were purified in the form of perspiration. In Georgia I opened the air vents and commenced with chill-out time. Whereas the Florida segment had been filled with heat and emotional purging, the Georgia chapter was turning out to be serene and meditative. I was soaking in the lush, green scenery and letting my mind wander.
I finally reached the mountainous area, and my mind had grown very peaceful. There was a sharp acuity in my sensory perception, and I found myself focusing on single strands of hair on my arm. I could feel the strands of hair feeling the air. Indeed, I was feeling the feeling of the feelers. So simple, yet so sublime. A pleasurable sensation at the base of my spine started to stir, kind of like a warm tickling in the nerves. It prompted me to sit up straighter. I did, and suddenly, BOOM!—I was blasted with energy! Like a thief in the night, this surge of ecstasy shot up my spine and illuminated my whole body. From the tips of my toes, to the tips of my fingers, I was glowing with an intense aliveness that radiated with a perfect mixture of warmth and coolness. I put some attention on my crown chakra, and I could see a huge lotus flower in full bloom. It was the material made of pure light, but this was no DMT flashback. I was totally awake and aware, and driving—moreover!
This peak experience compelled me to do some research, and I found lessons about kundalini on the Advanced Yoga Practices (AYP) website. Yogani's writing resonated with me right off the bat. I devoured the material and incorporated practices like Deep Meditation and Spinal Breathing Pranayama into my daily routine. I started to feel the stabilizing effects and knew these methods would be a way to refine my pursuit of higher consciousness. In the beginning, I went overboard with practices and have since learned to utilize self-pacing in all aspects of life. Less is more, as they say. But, that peak experience in the car had me craving for more, so it was a natural tendency to push the accelerator as hard as possible. Such is the nature of desire and balance.
Back in Florida, I didn't even have a job, but I soon stumbled into an excellent, non-profit medical organization where I continue to work today. Several years have passed since that kundalini blast in the car, and I continue to evolve and allow my character to be shaped by life's events, internally and externally. After spending a few years immersed in the AA fellowship, I couldn’t help but notice that something was missing. The psychology of the 12 Steps tends to regard those who have been addicted as inherently defective, like there's something fundamentally wrong with us. Supposedly, we have a disease. It's kind of like the Christian dogma which labels humans as sinners. I have found this to be false. Instead, I have discovered that every individual possesses a flame burning deep within them. This flame is the seed desire of bhakti, or devotion to a chosen ideal. The flame refines and purifies our nervous system so that we can become optimal expressions of divinity in the present life. The challenge and adventure of existence is learning to cooperate with that flow, and to find our unique vocation to serve the broader collective.
I'm still very much a novice on this spiritual path, but I've found some amazing tools that need to be shared (mainly from AYP, but other resources will also be included on this website). These techniques have enriched my life on a very practical level, and that's what the journey is all about. My relationships at work, at home, and beyond, are starting to flourish because of the integration of these old-school methods. These principles and practices are ancient, but they can influence our modern condition in ways that are remarkably fresh and spontaneous.
If I've discovered anything, it's that the path is not so much about clinging to peak experiences as it is improving our moment-to-moment quality of life and inner well-being. In fact, it seems possible that life can be an ongoing peak experience of ecstatic bliss, even in the most mundane circumstances. When we tend to the fire of our bhakti, then everything else falls into place, and the outside circumstances reflect the inner radiance that shines forth from within. In the end, it's an inside job.
Thank you for reading, and may you find your way...forever merging with the Source of who we are.
Love. Unity. Lightness of Air.