Note: Read Finding Space with Patrick Ananda – Part One Here
Writing presents one with an amazing opportunity to connect with like-minded people. In today’s internet savvy world, a post that one uploads from art gallery in Malta can be read by a Italian art aficionado over at the Los Angles County Museum of Art. Regardless of topic, good content almost always gets shared, and in an instant can spread across the world.
I discovered today’s guest blogger and interviewee, Patrick Ananda, when I was 19 by clicking Facebook link posted by a now fairly famous Canadian magician. I have been following his content ever since.
Patrick’s advice often breaks the script of what one would expect from traditional “self-help” sources. He shakes things up a little. Through his direct approach to personal development, he avoids all fillers and strips growth down to the bare essentials: you and your relationship with yourself.
The key to mastering that relationship is often found in the subject of our last article, space. It is my pleasure to not only interview Patrick on the subject, but to also get his raw and often radical thoughts on personal growth. I’ll let him take it from here.
How To ACTUALLY Create Real Change
It all begins with a choice.
At some point in our lives – not when we kinda want it… Not when we’re somewhat curious about it… Not when we have nothing better to do – but when we are at the point where we are just completely broken, completely out of breath, out of hope and out of time, we are faced with a choice; change here, now, forever… Or live the rest of your life unhappy.
How did you first get started in personal development? Was it a gradual process, or did you go through something that thrust you down this road?
I began my personal development journey when I was faced with the above-mentioned crossroads. I took an honest look at my life; I got kicked out of college, I was getting kicked out of the house, I had few real friends, I was fat and I was lonely. I decided I was ready to do whatever it took… whatever it took to find myself. I went off to Armenia on a humanitarian mission and it helped open my eyes to real suffering, but also to real kindness, to real joy, to real peace. I suppose it’s a gradual process but not in the way you would think. Most people would see it as consistently learning more and more about self-development, which is great for a time, but ultimately, real growth comes from knowing more and more about yourself. The role of self-development, and coaches like yourself and I, is to ultimately help others put the understanding into context. It’s a backward rationalization almost. Knowing yourself is to feel yourself. Self-development gives you the language to express that feeling.
Is your professional success due in part to aspects of your personal life?
Haha what personal success? I’m alive. I woke up and took a deep, unencumbered breath. I made a healthy breakfast of eggs, polish sausage and fresh tomatoes. I’m sitting at a computer in an apartment far from war, suffering, death, disease and poverty. That is my personal success. That might all change tomorrow, but if today I took a deep breath, that’s a damn successful day in my opinion. Really think about it. The Buddha said in the Dhammapada that if you truly understand your own mortality, all your arguments, anger, bitterness and resentment will fall away.
Wow. I definitely agree that reflecting on your own mortality can bring you into the present moment and teach you to recognize the success you are already experiencing. However, sometimes we get caught up in our daily lives and lose track of this eternal truth. Are there any routines we can follow to remind us to be appreciative?
Breathe. Just breathe. Everything else is noise. Something interesting happens when you are fully here and now. Your past story is not relevant. Your future worries do not exist. There is just the now, in this room, here. And you get to that by just breathing! And then you begin to notice how often you are elsewhere. While driving you are thinking about other things, while walking, while eating. Even when talking to someone we aren’t really listening, we’re just thinking of the next thing to say…
Every moment is the most beautiful moment in your entire life – don’t be off somewhere else, missing it…
Take us through your own morning ritual. What does an average Monday morning look like for you?
Actually my average Monday morning is the same as my Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; The moment I open my eyes at 5am, I take a deep conscious breath and say ‘thank you’. Then I light incense, get down on my knees, press my face to the floor (because all things were made by Him) and pray. After that I meditate for 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of creative visualization and 20 minutes of yoga. Whole thing takes about an hour. After that I have breakfast, make tea, check my schedule for the day and spend about 2 or 3 hours writing.
Many personal development coaches seem to have experienced a breakthrough moment where they suddenly realized that they have learned or experienced something that the world could benefit from. Have you had a similar experience? If so, can you describe that moment for you?
Haha I don’t pretend to have THE truth. In fact I don’t know anything at all – it’s not my place to know. I think most desire for self-help is actually fuelled by self-avoidance. It’s almost like meditating. Your mind wanders off and you have to gently and carefully bring it back into itself. In the same way, most of my clients come to me because they want to avoid themselves – they want to avoid the pain, they want to avoid the exploration and they want to avoid the experience. But ultimately my job is to gently bring them back into themselves, and give them the strength to face whatever comes until they finally break through to the other side, which is profound peace. When did this happen? When I experienced my own transformation, a guy I knew was going through a depression. So I told him ‘hey, I’ve been doing this… Why don’t you just try it for a week?’ Within 3 months his transformation was staggering. 6 years later he is as close as a brother, my best friend and business partner. That was it really. He told me ‘dude, you’re really on to something, you need to write about this’ and it gradually turned into the Centered Man Project.
With your coaching clients, what have you noticed is the most common obstacle people face? How do you recommend your clients address it?
Self-avoidance. That’s what it’s always about – and it isn’t really their fault either. Our culture is entirely self-avoidance based. You’ll see products advertised as time-savers, I’m even seeing self-development and dating products designed to ‘knock two years off your learning curve!’ Which is garbage. Why escape your own experiences? Why skip out on life? All you would be doing is learning MY truth, not your own truth but MINE, based on MY experiences, MY failures, MY hurts, MY pains. Ultimately it’s just more noise, more distraction and more self-avoidance. What it comes down to really is that we are too top-heavy! We’re stuck in our own minds, in the voice in our heads constantly narrating our lives and we actually think it’s us! All we ever have to do is drop below that voice and into our bodies. We need to become heart-connected, as men and women. We need to come from our deepest truth, our most profound desires, and our completely open, vulnerable and loving heart space.
Along the way, you have connected with some really cool people, whose work has inspired you the most (what I’m really asking is who should my readers check out)?
Hahaha without a shadow of a doubt, the most comprehensive, complete and profound book I would recommend is the Bhagavad Gita (the translation by Eknath Easwaran is my personal favourite, both for it’s brilliant commentary and it’s plain English language). I would also recommend the great spiritual classics; The New Testament, The Tao Te Ching, The Dhammapada. Any self-help book or blog (including my own) should be read for entertainment, as I mentioned above, as a means of putting your self-discovery into context, and not as a means of gathering more noise in the mind, and to continue avoiding yourself!
So how do we step out of this self-avoidance trap? How do we reduce the mental noise?
–By creating space—
The Buddhists have a really interesting concept (does it show that my degree is in Religion?).
In Buddhism, when one were to achieve enlightenment, even after it happens, there is a slight waiting period where bad luck will happen to him or her. Why? Because when the debt collector knows you are leaving town, he comes knocking at your door. In the same way, when you attain enlightenment, your previous karmas catch up to you, you pay your dues and only then do you move on to profound peace.
How is this relevant? Well, drug addicts go into a period of withdrawal. For a few weeks they can’t sleep, they can’t eat, they toss and turns and finally, they get that blessed night of rest. The same is true for mind-addicts!
Picture it like a fuse. We spend our lives lost in thought and we keep fanning the flames, over and over and over again. And then we think ‘okay, it’s time to change’ so we buy self-help books and programs and we immediately try to change everything. Now our old-self is fighting with our new-self for prominence, neither of which is actually you! It’s ultimately more fanning of the flame, more noise up there, another identity to cling to.
So where does that leave us? There is an brilliant contemporary Hindu saint called Sri Ramana Maharshi, and he was most famous for teaching with silence. His disciples would come to him asking “master, who was I in a past life?” To which he would respond “who are you now?” The student would say “well… I don’t know” and Maharshi would smile silently.
It’s in the silence that you come to know your truth. It’s through space that you come to understand yourself.
If you want real, lasting change, you must first create space for it.
You must have the courage to just be with yourself – to turn off the phone, disconnect facebook, forego the distractions and let your fuse burn itself out. That’s a scary thing! And few people actually go through with this. But once you do, your life will never be the same.
When you truly feel the profound well of joy and peace that exists within you, beneath the story of ‘poor little me’ that you keep telling yourself, beneath all the mind-created problems, beneath the interminable chatter, when you really feel it, your life will never be the same. No one will ever be able to take that away from you. You will never feel as if you need anything or anyone to make you happy, and then, at that moment, for the first time in your entire life, you are free – you are you.
“Do you have the patience to wait until the mud settles and your water is clear?” – Tao Te Ching
Patrick Ananda is a self-help coach, a modern day spiritual guru, and a beacon of transformative light.
To get a copy of Pat’s FREE ebook 3 Magic ‘Hacks’ To Instantly Boost Your Confidence and check out more of his work, head over to www.centermanproject.com.