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The Inner Child: A Suicidal Eight Year Old

My story begins at a fracture point in childhood. There was a crescendo of events which eventually lead to me writing over and over, "I HATE MYSELF," in a journal. I had assumed responsibility for an error in being born. It was an imagined error, obvious to a young mind stretching to cope with a broken household.

I lived with my Mother and Stepfather with weekend visits to my Stepmother and Father two hours away. It was almost like living in two different worlds. In one world I witnessed constant arguing and suffered under the thumb of emotional abuse. In another world I was...a kid. There were times when I cried on the way back from weekend visits.

So one day after scribbling my daily mantra in a journal, I wrapped a plastic bag around my head and tied it with intentions of killing myself. There was a very deep sob and so much sorrow behind it that vomited from my mouth. I was done. Something moved me to take the bag off though, and whether it was the body's natural reflex or something else, I leaned back against my bed and decided to close my heart.

I decided never to be hurt again.

It's no wonder that some years later I'd feel trapped by a prison of my own design. It felt like a little boy was on an island by himself, guarded by an array of magical creatures, while waiting deep inside a dungeon. This feeling caked over well into adulthood. The only thing that could get through was death.

My best friend was hit by a train in ninth grade. His death pierced through thick layers of determination to thwart off feeling and I shut down under the weight of unbearable loss. It was in that experience though after weeks of staying in bed that I touched a twinkle of inspiration. Somehow I knew that everything was okay. There was something in me that was much stronger than the sorrow and years of pain I had tried to ignore. It was bigger than any dreams I had at the time. It was an unshakable resolve, alive and deeply compassionate. I wanted to tell as many people as possible and, having grown up spending a lot of time in the church, I became fascinated with becoming a preacher.

My work in the church as a teenager and young adult is directly connected to the values of my inner child. Somehow I became a youth leader and was eventually asked to help build a youth program for ten to thirteen year olds. This began a completely new chapter in my life where I started listening to the eight year old.

The Message

There has always been this nagging feeling to share a message that helps others. It probably doesn't help that many people, from family and close friends to total strangers, have encouraged this. Running alongside this deep desire to share testimony about how remarkable life can be is a fear in the lack of credibility to the message. It hasn't really felt authentic, until now.

I've seen over the last few years that when you not only step out of your comfort zone, but put full, unconditional trust in the universe, it responds. You become open enough to notice an unmistakable magic that permeates all experience. Life truly is remarkable, and I've seen it firsthand.

The message hadn't felt authentic because it wasn't lived yet. It was an ideal, and ideals are meant to be challenged. Otherwise, how would you know their value?

It isn't easy to challenge ideals. I'm always reminded of two very cold nights in San Francisco where I was hungry, begging for food. I was there after following an intuitive pull to travel up to the Bay Area from Los Angeles. A mother visiting from London with her toddler had picked me up on the side of the rode near Malibu and we rode up to San Francisco together. Everything up to that point felt like divine guidance, and then I was stuck. Not only stuck, but the more I reached out and begged, the more people ignored me. I became invisible. It wasn't the first time, but it was so significant because the ideal of a benevolent universe responding to unconditional trust had been crushed, and with it, another layer of arrogance.

Every personal ideal is rooted in arrogance. Being crushed under the weight of it futile self-importance opens the door to discover how tremendously okay everything is. It's a strange paradox to go through feeling abandoned to know beyond a doubt that you're not.

So my message isn't that everything is okay if you believe it. Believing might be a step, but it seems to me that putting belief into action really proves it to yourself that you have nothing to worry about. You have to leap in order to know you've got wings that come up from behind you, instinctively.

My Guru

A project which has been a long time coming, something that my entire twenties were geared toward, is Brian Lathai.

I wanted to create a brand from the ground up that featured a personality, but a personality that wasn't necessarily me. A character, essentially. Stephen Colbert is a great example, except where his message revolves around politics, mine would revolve around spirituality. It's not simple commentary though.

One of those most fulfilling experiences of my career has been to work with kids as an assistant youth pastor. I looked at the Sunday School model and knew that for me growing up, it wasn't very effective. Staring at poorly drawn images of Jesus on cheap comic book paper while an old lady doused in perfume spent more time berating us for behavior was what Sunday School. I wanted to create something different.

The model that was developed was to use personal experience as a way to demonstrate God's love. I encouraged my staff to be open about their struggles and talk about ways they saw God working in their lives. As a result, we created a brand new ministry from the ground up which grew to over 300 students. Not all of them showed up at once, thankfully, but overtime we built a family that was different than anything seen in the church. Personal experience works.

Over the last few years I've come to a place of personal freedom. It's not a freedom that's owned, but one that's recognized every day and I feel it's my purpose to share what that's like. Brian Lathai is a vehicle for sharing freedom.

This feels...good, and that's why I'm doing it. I've learned to follow what feels good. I'm excited to keep this blog going as a way to discuss what it's like on this end of things. That's to say, this blog will remain personal, while Brian Lathai, and everything published under that brand, will remain impersonal. In effect, Brian is my guru.

Living EDC

Let me start off by saying that this year's EDC was completely different than the first time. That's probably expected. A friend mentioned after the first time that it would never be the same, and so that rings true.

That said, I'm speechless.

Don't get me wrong. It was great, and not-so-great. There were fantastic moments and moments where I waned to end it all, but not in a suicidal way. I was just overwhelmed by everything and needed a break.

I tend to get lost at raves and music festivals. Like, one moment I'll be with friends and the next I'm simply gone. Nowhere to be found. What happens is I feel absolutely free to go exactly where I want, how I want, leaning all the way on whatever feels right to carry me along.

What's interesting is I've felt more and more free over the last few years. So while going to EDC the first time was like an introduction to going with the flow, this year was an affirmation that I'm already flowing.

Friday and Saturday nights I tried chasing a particular kind of experience; the doorway to the rabbit hole. Drugs and raving helped knock on that door, so I was hoping to relive that experience by drinking and dropping pills. The first night I had an amazing time, but a good deal of it was spent sitting down trying to find my way out of being crossfaded. Tequila. The second night I mixed a bad pill with a good pill and rolled between self-loathing and mindless bliss. A good amount of time was spent meditating, again trying to find some sense of being grounded.

I almost didn't make it Sunday night. Some friends were in town and wanted to hit up a club with the friends I had been riding with the whole weekend. There was a drive in me to be at EDC though, and things really worked out when a friend offered her unused shuttle pass. What a gift. Without it, I wouldn't have known how much all of this has meant over the last few years.

The last night of the festival I finally gave up trying to chase a high and let go to the feeling of simply being under the electric sky. It was during Zedd's set that it hit me: I'm at EDC, again, after all that happened. I looked up in awe as tears streamed down my face. So much of that night was an affirmation that I didn't have to chase a high, chase being in the moment or chase being in the flow. I'm there.

I can be me, and everything is alright.

I'm going to Electric Daisy Carnival, again

There's usually a lot of hesitation involved with sharing what the story has been over the last few years. Part of that hesitation is that it doesn't feel like me. A very faint part of myself is what clings to that story. The rest of what comes up just kind of vanishes, meaning there's no place to stick a flag and declare being finished. That was said a lot in an attempt to describe the shifty nature of spiritual awakening. Yet as life continues to be what it is, the story of spiritual awakening sits further and further in the back.

However, this is worth spilling some words over.

My brother dropped me off at the airport to catch my flight to LA. We did the normal thing, hugging and saying brotherly goodbyes and he wished me well with, "have fun at your festival." I'd spent some time after my first EDC back on the east coast in Philadelphia, and we had a chance to talk. It was obvious how amazing the experience at EDC had been and how much it changed my life because it was all I talked about. That and being a wizard.

I laughed, "Oh, I don't think I'll be going to that this year." He smirked, "Yeah, okay."

Three months later, to the day, I'll be heading to EDC.

It was tough making the decision to come to Los Angeles, because I really had no plan or vision or anything. There was simply a strong desire, like a homing signal as one friend puts it, compelling me to be here. I was confused. The first few weeks were riddled with, "Why am I here?" Even considered going to a psychic.

The signs couldn't be ignored though. It wasn't only the signs, highlighting key decisions at times, joking at other times, but also the synchronistic flow of events. To call it "Divine Timing" almost cheapens what the experience is like, but that's what it is. It feels like guidance, as if someone is behind you with their hand gently on your shoulder and are moving you effortlessly through a crowd. It's comforting, because even though you may be staggering, you feel this presence with you to carry the weight of having to figure out the next step.

Even though there are no plans, there's so much support. I feel very safe. There's a guy they call Mooji who says something like, "it feels like you're sitting in the lap of God." I don't want to talk about it too much, because talking about it takes away from simply being in it. I want to be in a position where I'm so dissolved in That, that my words are His words, my actions His actions. It feels like, for whatever reason, getting involved with EDC and the culture of peace, love, unity and respect is purposeful in continuing that dissolution. Maybe it isn't.

Maybe I'm supposed to simply have a good time and enjoy life in every moment. Either way, I'm grateful.

Thank You Magic

I'm in Los Angeles, again, after having spent about two years in Philadelphia. Los Angeles has been a background thought since the first time I moved out here in my early twenties. There's something about the air that tugs at a specific part of me which is otherwise tucked away.

It isn't simply being away from the small town I grew up in. Time has been spent in Colorado, the Bay Area and across the country a few times. Nothing compares to the stale ripeness of L.A. It's a funky town.

There's an energy that swells up and creates a certain kind of perspective which I honestly can't explain. It just feels good, but in an innocent kind of way. Sort of like a child might look at the world with untamed curiosity and openness.

Much of this is owed to simply relaxing and allowing the moment to be whatever it is. Everything settles into a deeper love which is the simple attentive openness that underpins every experience. The moment is sweetly alive.

Part of what points to this is synchronistic events. The idea of synchronicity floats around spiritual conversation and is often brushed off, rightly so. Firstly, no one really knows what it is. The suggestion is that there is some meaning to coincidences. Like the Law of Attraction though, when this is discussed only as a concept, it gets distorted.

The experience of synchronicity is akin to a close friend peaking from behind a tree, as if to say, "Peek-a-boo!" It's a game of hide and seek. The fun part is that there is only one person playing at a time, and that's you, with yourself. So it's more like playing peek-a-boo with yourself in the mirror.

When that's laid over the concept of every coincidence having meaning, the concept buckles. How surprising is it to notice yourself in the mirror? There are moments however when you're walking through the mall or a row of storefronts and suddenly catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. It's unexpected. That's synchronicity.

In a moment, you recognize that everything is in order. It's perfect. You're confronted with that as a fact through direct experience.

Speaking of storefronts, there was one earlier with a sign in that said something like, "You'll never see the magic if you don't look for it."

How do you look for magic?

In every story that has a magic worker, what's obvious is that in order for the magic to work, there needs to be some kind of ritual. There must be a practice of arranging myself or the environment in a way to evoke the mojo. Right along with that is the idea that those who practice must actually practice, building up some kind of stamina to be involved with The Work. (I'm totally stealing The Work from actor jargon, because I'm in L.A., so of course.)

Noticing the magic comes from practicing. One kind of practice is appreciation, which is adding value to something. Ram Dass, one of my favorite spiritual entertainers, says something like, "When you see a tree out in the forest, you don't judge it by saying it's too fat or ugly. You simply look at it and admire it for what it is. So I practice turning people into trees." What would it be like to add value to everything and every experience? That's the practice.

Going back to Law of Attraction for a moment, the way it's described is that the more open you are to a certain kind of experience, the more the Universe provides that to you. If you want to be angry or depressed all the time, you'll always be presented with reasons to be depressed and angry. If you want to be happy and blissed out all the time, you'll always be presented with reasons to be that way.

It's another way of saying that the way you think about the world is how the world appears. The confusion of Law of Attraction as a concept is that the bait is that you can get anything you want. You can't. You can certainly have any feeling you want though. The car, money and job are ways to get the body-mind system into feeling whatever it is those things would provide. The more attention there is on the feeling, the more there is.

Still using appreciation as an example, it's possible to feel appreciative of what there is and as a result, grow deeper in appreciation. Simply saying, "Thank you" to whatever happens is a ritual. Someone cuts you off in traffic? Thank you. The little old lady is taking her time putting her groceries on the belt? Thank you. Someone close to me disappointed me, again? Thank you.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Those are the magic words.

Going with the silence

Guilleromo Del Toro's Pacific Rim is a fantastic action film that has many underlying characteristics of a spiritual narrative. One is the concept of The Drift.

The Drift is the space between personal thoughts, thoughts shared with a copilot and the computer system for a giant mech warrior. The Drift is silence, they say. That seems to be analogous with the Flow or even the Force, to stay with the film theme. It is a space where thinking is left to the side and the entire experience becomes a harmonious flow of events. In the case of Pacific Rim, that translates into a mech warrior fighting giant monsters called Kaiju.

How does that translate into daily life?

The key point about The Drift is silence. Attention shifts away from constant focus on the chatter to the availability of the moment. Open world games are a cool way to demonstrate this.

In a game like Grand Theft Auto, there are certain objects in the environment which are simply available for you to use or interact with. Of course there are cars, but there are also weapons or even trash cans that can tip over if you kick them. The object of the game isn't to steal every car, use every weapon or kick over every trashcan, but all of that is simply available. The moment is available in the same way. Everything is simply here.

Opening up to the availability of the moment is simply noticing the silence behind everything that's happening. This is where tools like meditation come in handy.

In meditation, you're training attention to come back to the silence and to notice it more frequently. The more the habit builds, the more it becomes a way of experiencing reality. Attention begins to rest more and more in silence. Going with the Flow then becomes going with the silence.

This reduces the mystery around going with the flow. It doesn't need to be a mystical experience that's out of touch with ordinary life, but can be met right here. It's impossible to live and experience reality without doing so in the flow.