Santa Barbara

I woke up the next morning, joints and muscles aching.  I could hear Nadine, her intern Dan, and Nadine’s son Michael hustling about the house, getting ready for Nadine’s big yoga class at the Santa Barbara library.  Nadine teaches a type of yoga that is geared towards parents and their infant/toddlers.

I was so sore, I thought about asking Nadine if I could stay another day and recuperate, but decided not to bring the subject up until later on.  As everyone was getting ready, I made all of us a simple breakfast of toast with almond butter and white peaches.  Nadine asked me if I was good with a camera.  I said I was alright. She gave me the job of taking promotional photos of the parents and the kids that she could put up on her website.

Running late, we drove like hell to the library and began setting up.  Dan showed me the different settings on the camera.  Nadine introduced me to the library staff and another worker.  Then the parents and their kids arrived.  There were a lot of them, I’d say about 40-50 people.

Everyone seemed to be having fun.  There were large, medium, and small-sized rubber balls that you could work with while doing the yoga poses.  As Nadine led everyone through each pose, they sang songs Nadine and written and taught to them.  Some kids ran up to Nadine and volunteered to help her demonstrate how each pose was supposed to look.  All the while, I made my way through the class and tried to take as many photos as I could.

It was all very surreal.  Yesterday, I was hiking along the beach, into Malibu, hitched a ride into Santa Barbara, joined a church service, sought out shelter, and this morning I’m a volunteer photographer for a yoga class.

Life is strange. 

After class, we went out to eat.  Nadine asked me questions about my pilgrimage.  The night before, we talked about it briefly, and she compared what I was doing to the wandering sadhus of India, and said that she was a yogi herself.  So when she struck up the conversation once more, I let my guard down, and told her what had gotten me on this journey, including the mystical experiences I started having years ago.  The kundalini awakening.  The out-of-body experiences.  The praying in tongues.  I talked about my travels to Peru, Guatemala, Israel, and my first peace walk.

Before I got to the end, Nadine interrupted me, and I could hear worry in her voice.  As gently as she could, she expressed concern about my mental health, particularly when I mentioned my OBEs.  She suggested I look into my family history for instances of mental illness.  She felt I was needlessly putting myself in danger by wandering out into the world without reliable access to food and shelter.  When I told her I was only trying to follow what was in my heart, she said that it may “feel” like intuition, but it could simply be a pattern of programming – one that was attracting me to dangerous situations.  

She said that I needed to be in a low-stress environment, and that if I was in fact dealing with a psycho-spiritual phenomena such as kundalini, it needed to be an environment that was stable, like an ashram, as opposed to be just wandering about in the world when all sorts of dangers could befall me.

The word “schizophrenia” was mentioned, and that broke my heart.  It wasn’t the first time that someone suggested that I had it.  What frustrates me is that once someone says there’s something wrong with what’s in my head, it immediately negates the validity of everything I experience when I’m in altered states of consciousness.  The idea of “trust yourself” or “listen to your heart” are rendered meaningless, because my basis for decision-making has been compromised.  Unable to distinguish between what’s real and what isn’t, a schizophrenic is fundamentally untrustworthy, according to society.

I don’t feel sick.  I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong with me.  I don’t feel like what I’ve been experiencing is pathological.  I can distinguish between stimuli coming from my external environment and that which is arising from out of my interior life.  I don’t feel like I’m going crazy.

I feel like I’m becoming the person I was meant to be.

One thing she said did hit home.  The energy still runs rampantly through my body.  It’s hard to write (which is why I haven’t been writing posts very often – more on that in the next post), read, meditate – even as I write these words, I feel the energy massing around my face, the crown of my head, my third eye, pulling me into a trance-like state.

There have also been instances where I feel like I’m not alone.  That I’m surrounded by a presence or presences.  I didn’t write about this in my previous post, because I was concerned about how crazy it sounded.  But I feel like my behavior has become so erratic and incomprehensible to some people, I need to provide some account of my internal experiences; people may think me mad, but they’ll at least see the method behind it.

While I was in Malibu, waiting for my friend to pick me up from the bus stop and take me to Santa Barbara, I was sitting on a bench.  I was so tired from the day’s march that I could hardly lift my head or keep my eyes open.  I began to despair; how could I continue with this walk when I had so little endurance?  I tried to get myself into shape during the weeks leading up to all this, but clearly my efforts had been insufficient.

I turned myself over to God, and opened myself to the flow of energy that seems to originate from the crown of my head.   Immediately, I hear an inner voice say, Daryl, look at me.

I looked up in the direction from which I felt – or thought I felt – this presence was emanating.  I tried to tune into it with my mind’s eye – my imagination – and with that eye, I saw a face staring at me.

Take my hand.

I reached out mentally towards this presence, and clasped it, for lack of a better word.  I heard or felt this presence praying over me in Hebrew.  My kundalini energy began to surge, and I was able to open my eyes and lift my head.  New life had been breathed into me.

I can give no rational explanation for this.  Was I communicating with some external being?  Was I communicating with some hidden aspect of my mind that contained a reservoir of strength, hope and power?

Who knows?  Such experiences fill me with wonder and dread.  Not everything I’ve encountered in my mindspace has been beneficent.  This process has kicked open the doors to my shadow, releasing parts of myself that I’ve kept locked away and hidden.  As I reflected on my desire the previous night to be feared as opposed to being overcome with fear, I had to wonder if I was truly capable of handling this energy on my own.  How stable was I?

Maybe it was time to seek out a master…

When we got back to Nadine’s house, I went out into her backyard and prayed, connecting to the source of power that I wrote of earlier.

“Keep going or turn back?” I asked.

You found what you were looking for.

I began to tremble.  And as understanding began to dawn on me, I wept.

For the past 7 years, all that I’ve struggled with has been in relation to the inadvertent awakening of my kundalini energy.  The traveling, the peace walk, reading countless ancient texts…

I’ve been trying to find some sort of system, some frame of reference to help me understand what’s been happening to me.  After my first peace walk, I decided that there could be no reconciliation between what this energy was turning me into and the man I needed to be to survive in the world.

If I surrendered utterly to this power, I would be destroyed – there was no way I’d be able to relate to anyone or anything around me.  My bizarreness, my growing inability to conform to social norms would alienate me from my fellow human beings.  I would wind up alone and destitute.

Because the more I let go, the more dissatisfied I grew with the current state of affairs in the world – the rampant destruction of our planet, our dependence on an economic system that values monetary gain over human and non-human life, our inability to resolve territorial disputes without resorting to murder and genocide, just to name a few.  Something was terribly wrong with the world, and something was terribly wrong with my participation with and reliance on a system I found to be abhorrent.

I tried walking across the country on a peace walk.  I tried organizing a homesteading project.  I went on marches.  I joined Occupy Wall Street.

And at the end of the day, I decided that, above all things, I needed to survive.  I needed to be happy.  Sure, it’d be nice if the world was a better place, but I needed to look out for me, my family, and my friends.  Besides, none of my sentiments and none of my mystical experiences and high-minded ideals would help me deal with the practical issues of living in the real world.

If I wanted a secure, stable life, complete with food and shelter, with friends and family, I was going to have to push all that down.  Go back to being a writer.  Get a staff job on a TV show.  Make money.  Make movies. Write plays.  Build a life for myself.  Once I did that, I’d have all the security and stability I would need.

I tried.  I really did.

All attempts to crush the life growing inside me failed.  Kundalini could not be denied.  Would not be denied. And I didn’t want to deny it.  How can you oppose an enemy when all you want to do is defect?

I decided that wholeness was more valuable than security.  More than life even.  What’s the point of living if you’re living as a fractured person?

Whenever I connect with this power, I’m told that God will provide me with everything I need.  I’d been hearing that message for years.  Time to take it at its word, even unto death.

My walk, thus far, had accomplished two things.

It re-oriented me, cleared out all the bullshit that I’d been feeding myself for the past year, reminding me of how precious and uncertain life is.

It also showed me that I hadn’t been abandoned.  People have helped me, supported me, and expressed their love towards me in a variety of ways after I embarked on this latest pilgrimage.

Surrendering to God isn’t a death sentence just because I have no foreknowledge as to how my needs will be met.  I just need to trust and listen.

I had stepped out on faith and had been aided.  And now it was time to learn to master this energy.  I would need to stop my walk for the time being.

I didn’t want to stop.  I wanted to keep going.  I couldn’t bear another failure.  I felt I had the strength.  If I could be given another day of rest, I knew I’d be as good as new.

But intuitively, I knew that taking a slight detour didn’t signal the end of my pilgrimage.  It meant I would be able to enter a deeper stage of purification, which is what the whole pilgrimage had been about.

And calling it a detour made me feel less guilty.

Nadine let me stay with her for two more days.  We went on hikes, and I volunteered a couple more times for her yoga classes.  Then I was back on a bus to Vegas to grapple with and master kundalini.

I thought things were going to get easier, since I’d be in one place and not on the road.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.


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