There’s No Place Like Home

I have a theory that I’ve been seeing my life from the wrong perspective.

I’ve often had some stay-at-home tendencies to my personality. I realized this about myself a few years back, and once I did, when new experiences and new challenges would arise, I would take it upon myself to push through and experience everything life has to offer. However, often I forget that I can be that guy. That guy who thrives rather than merely survives. He who experiences/lessons head-on because he’s looking to grow as a human being. Though often I forget these lessons and disciplines. Often I conveniently forget that I learned how to push through those tendencies years ago – most specifically when I moved alone from Oregon to Nashville at age 22 to pursue a music career. Now, at the age of 24, I try to think of the movie, “Yes Man” – for those fans of the underrated Jim Carrey masterpiece (masterpiece?) – and take on the challenge when asked.

I grew up as a fat kid. No way around that. I, in turn, essentially learned to think of myself as lesser than the other kids on the playground. I let that outward appearance quality – or lack thereof – define me for much of my life and there are still many trailing thoughts wherein I still associate in the same way with myself. It made me resist the outside world. I used to believe that outside is where you go to get hurt, because you’re lesser than everyone else and they know it. But fuck that.

Yes begets experience. Experience begets confidence. Confidence begets happiness.

But when you consider yourself a bit of a homebody, heading out into the outside world is a considerable task because you know – or at least think you know – that you’ll be so much more comfortable at home with a family-sized meat-lovers pizza and Netflix. This is of course not true the more you truly consider it. Sitting on the couch with a metric fuckton of pizza, Netflix, and at least a half-gram J is only ever truly satisfying when it’s been earned. As they say, you can only truly appreciate the sunshine after a day of rain.

So how do we go about taking on these outside-world tasks when our home is so inviting, safe, but – honestly – a little boring? I remind you that this article is only a theory… but I believe it starts with learning to disassociate from your physical structures and begin to craft your ideal (or dream?) home inside of yourself – in your psyche. Wherever you are, that’s home.

Give that last sentence a second read.

When you really sit down and think about it, is there a more true statement? In your physical house, you can move upstairs. You can move to the basement. You can move into the attic. You can switch bedrooms. You can move into the yard. Periodically you move into the doghouse (am I right fellas?). You can move into a new house, but wherever you end up, you still take yourself along for the ride. Therefore, your home has no physical dimensions. Your home has no boundaries. Your home is expansive and limitless. Your home has no roof. Your home is filled with things that can’t be stolen. And, possibly most importantly, your home doesn’t have a landlord. You own it in its complete and infinite entirety. And not only that…

It’s mobile. It goes where you go.

What a great concept! Makes your current house look a little weak by comparison right? Realizing this is the first step towards becoming more flexible, happy, comfortable, and confident wherever you go. Life is unpredictable and it favors the prepared. But how can I prepare for the unpredictable, Mr. Sweeney? I’m glad you asked. I believe it takes more than concentrating really hard (hey…good effort) everywhere you go on being home in that space. I believe some mental disciplines begin with physical disciplines that can then translate to a mindset. The mind controls the body, therefore using that body to perform certain actions will translate into greater mental control. It’s like self-reverse psychology or something.

So let’s jump into a few.

TAKE COLD SHOWERS

Take thirty seconds and google cold showers. I’m talking to you. Yeah you. Go on Google and check out the lengthy list of articles espousing the many – and I mean many – positive benefits of cold showers. I’ll list just a few here real quick off the top of my head. Not going to site these, seriously just google it.

Combats depression
Great for hair and skin
Supports and grows mental toughness
Builds will power
Increased alertness
Increased Brown Fat (the good fat that burns calories)
Increased weight loss
Improves circulation
Improves immunity
I take a cold shower every morning. And I can speak from consistent personal experience that it is one of the greatest discoveries that I’ve made in my 24 years. Tired? Cold shower. Feeling ineffectual? Cold shower. Got the blues? Cold shower. And, most importantly, it can kick a hangovers ass. I consider it to be meditative in nature as well. Once that icy water hits your skin, there’s very little else you’ll be thinking of beyond the coldness of the water. It brings you into the NOW, hippies. As in, welcome home. You begin to focus only on combatting the feelings you’re currently feeling. Breathing gets very rapid and you teach yourself to slow that breathing down. You focus on your breath and few thoughts enter your head beyond the current moment. We’re all supposed to live in the moment, right people? Therefore I see it as a meditation of sorts, and you can just as well use music in the practice as well. Often, I do.

MY PERSONAL METHOD FOR COLD SHOWERS:

There are many sites with their own versions of a cold shower. It’s a flexible practice and can be done in many variations, and there’s nothing wrong with switching it up now and then. But if you’re looking for a shortcut, here’s what I do.

Turn shower on in the hot position
Take normal shower – soap/body wash, shampoo, brush teeth, whatever.
Apply conditioner
Turn shower as cold as it goes
Wash conditioner out and withstand the cold for 2-3 minutes
Turn shower off
Feel like a fuckin’ champion
Often I’ll set up a quick shower playlist before getting in. One song for the hot section, 2-3 minute song for the cold section, and a kickass tune to accomplish finishing your cold shower. That cold blast of air that usually accompanies getting out of the shower becomes a thing of the past.

Recommended songs for cold shower portion:

99 Problems – Hugo
We Will Rock You – Queen
I’m Shipping Up to Boston – Dropkick Murphys
Good Times, Bad Times – Led Zeppelin
First Date – Blink 182
Shakedown on 9th Street – Ryan Adams
Take the Money and Run – The Steve Miller Band (…Billy Mack is a detective down in Texas *clap clap clap clap clap* [Just because it’s a cold shower doesn’t mean it can’t be a good time.])
Man up.

Or woman up.

Just go take a cold shower.

BECOME A YES MAN

Simple-ish. Much like the cinematic tour-de-force that is “Yes Man” starring Jim Carrey you need to begin to embrace the word Yes. Home alone settling in for a nice evening to yourself? If (insert name) calls you up for a night on the town, you’re damn right; that town’s about to be painted red. Your dad invites you hunting on Thursday morning around 4am? Start packing the liquor for all the victory drinks you’ll be sharing in the morning. Find yourself at a Sturgill Simpson concert and someone passes you the J? Hit it. Realize that being open to an experience opens up the whole world. Realize that in that moment, no matter how far you are from your four walls, you’re still home. This is where you are right now and it’s yours to explore this new section of your home. See what’s in each room and know with each new door you open, a new set of riches awaits. A new set of skills will be acquired. Now, of course don’t go off the deep end, but you’re an adult, I think you can handle the subtleties of the parameters of this rule.

EAT RIGHT & EXERCISE

Simple. Find what works for you and make it into a sustainable and enjoyable lifestyle. The only thing in your way is you. And have a cheat meal once in a while. Why fuck around.

BE AWAKE FOR THE SUNRISE

Early risers are successful. As a general rule, I think we’d agree, right? Become one. Find the alarm clock – whether a radio alarm clock or an app or whatever you fancy – that wakes you up and doesn’t let you go back to sleep. And when it goes off, all you need to do is get those feet on the floor and one of the hardest tasks of the day is already accomplished. Stand up. Stretch. And get your day going. I personally prefer to exercise in the mornings (and sure, I’ll accidentally miss a day or three on occasion, but consistently getting right back on your program is part of the discipline that will strengthen) because it knocks an obstacle out of your way in the morning and will get you in the zone for going out and getting what you want. Follow this up with a cold shower and you’ve got a true recipe for success. Step outside and breathe in the morning air. Drink fresh brewed coffee and watch the sunrise. Hell, it’s Saturday, make that coffee a Double Bloody Mary.

Do these things. You have to. You agreed to be a yes man right? Well then, welcome home.

 

-Thompson

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Acid in the Jungle

We got acid. Finally.

He had mentioned to me that we’d be in touch, and that was a month ago. Flipping through my phone, I realized I hadn’t reached out to him in a while. I sent him a message that morning, and by the afternoon I had word back that he was leaving Seattle and would meet me at my house that night.

I grew up with the notion that bad people did drugs. Or good people did drugs and they turned bad. Drugs. The common denominator in many ruined lives. The unsung hero in many others, however.

What people fail to realize is that bad people will do bad things. Good people will do good things. Good people will do bad things and bad people will do good things. Black and white, life is not. Drugs and drug-use are a very applicable thread to explore this idea.

This is not a dangerous drug for appropriate users. It’s not associated with negative connotations for a reason. Cocaine and violence. Meth and mugshots. Heroin and junkies. What do you associate with a psychedelic? Hippies.

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Now what is a hippie truly? When you get down to the bones of it, a hippie is against war; in support of love in all shapes and sizes; communal; and heavy into consciousness expansion. While war is necessary sometimes – though not every time – aren’t the hippies onto something that we should all be in support of? If we could eradicate war, isn’t that technically the highest and best goal? Will it happen? No. But that doesn’t negate the idea’s beauty.

As for love and community, shouldn’t we love everybody? Shouldn’t we all share with each other to the best of our ability? This is all starting to sound an awful lot like Jesus when you put it that way.

Now… consciousness-expansion, let’s talk about it. We each technically own nothing. You can buy all the stuff in the world, but in the end it will either be destroyed, converted, or go to someone else. It’s not yours. At most, it’s a lease with which you have full autonomy.

But you. You. Once you’re gone, you’re gone. No one else can use the collection of shit that you’ve learned over your life. All they can do is take what they’ve learned from you. But no one is the same and no one can be duplicated. Ever.

Therefore, we should be able to do with our bodies and minds whatever we want, so long as it doesn’t impede on someone else’s freedom.

Your mind is fantastic. It’s vast. It’s confusing. Sometimes it’s out to get you – have you ever stopped at the drive-thru on your way home, knowing full well you started your new eating program today? Your upbringing, experiences, failures, religion, and events that you go through in life shape the specific prism that you see life through. Every last person on Earth sees life through their own filter. That’s what quickly makes every person you meet interesting.

Therefore, your mind is worth exploring. It’s worth going on an adventure into. And like any adventure it will require preparation. You don’t know what you’ll run across in the jungle of your mind. You’ve collected a lot of shit over the years that goes into the makeup of your mind – friends, family, first love, broken hearts, births, deaths, contemplations, etc. Most of that is within your mind but you don’t access it every day. Many of those items you won’t revisit for years, and sometimes you never do. But life is lived through experience and you experience life through your filter.

But what if you had the opportunity to take that journey without a filter? What if you could look at the life you’ve lived, but stripped of the – very natural – bias that each of us abides by? If you could look at emotionally-charged events with an objective filter-less viewpoint, wouldn’t you be able to sort out just what it is that you’re actually looking at? Psychedelics remove that filter.

I cannot recommend this to everyone. Some people just aren’t wired for it. And hey, if that’s you, more power to you! That is not me.

But if you decide to take this journey, make sure you’ve done so after considering the potential pitfalls that may await you. Make this decision with the complete presence and fullness of your mind. Do not take it lightly. Much like an adventure through the jungle, you need to prepare. You need to know what to do if something goes awry. You need to have done your due diligence and studied the history of the terrain. Read up on safety instruction and have a backup plan. Know that once you’ve started this journey, you have already passed the point-of-no-return. You will go on this journey whether you like it or not, and you’ll be glad that you came prepared. The only way out is by completing your journey.

Bad trips happen. Whether on a psychedelic trip or in the jungle. You know who usually has the bad trip? Your comrade who hadn’t adequately prepared. Sometimes they happen to you even if you’ve taken all the precautions. However, if you’ve done your due diligence, the bad trip only leads to a beautiful story.

To continue the jungle adventure metaphor, to lack preparation means to fail. Lack of preparation leads to death in the jungle (keep in mind that no one has died as a direct result of the ingestion of psychedelics, but you get the metaphor). However, if you came prepared and an unexpected downturn arises, all it makes is for a better overall trip upon reminiscence.

Consider this:

One group’s trip to the jungle went smoothly and unaffected by external influence. They took pictures, laughed a lot, and had a very enjoyable time.

The second group’s trip ran into some trouble. They accidentally went over a waterfall and had to crawl to the shore, avoiding piranhas and other underwater deathtraps. Upon finding that their raft required repair that couldn’t be finished until the light of day, they had to camp far from their intended target. Luckily, they had done the correct preparation for a potential tragedy. They read the articles on surviving the jungle with it’s myriad opportunities for a gruesome and much-feared demise. They made it through the night, fixed the raft and made it to their target, sprinting on the tarmac to catch the outgoing flight back to The States.

Who had a better time?

Sure, the first group had a great time and now have a beautiful memory of an adventure with friends. They were prepared and luckily didn’t need to resort to those preparations. Nothing wrong with this, and it’s a very healthy activity to engage in with good friends. Highly recommended, should you be inclined.

But the second group. Holy shit do they have a story that they can take with them for the rest of their lives. Though it seemed like a nightmare at the time, they found that through this hardship, they learned more about themselves, what they care about, and what they’re made of, than many others could have learned in fifty uncontested adventures through the vastness of the jungle. Taverns across the planet raise their glass to you, sir.

A third group went, didn’t prepare, and no one has seen them since.

Always Be Prepared. A quick tip of the hat to the Boy Scouts of America.

A psychedelic trip takes you to you. Not you, like you think you know you. Just you. There’s a reason it’s been so highly touted as an alternative medicine to cure everything mentally-related with no side effects (should you take all the safety precautions). It’s non-addictive, because it loses it’s potency if done too often in succession. It’s been known to alleviate symptoms of depression, general anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic attacks, intrusive thoughts, social anxiety, seasonal affective disorder, and the list goes fuckin’ on

It introduces you to the highest version of yourself. It takes the reigns back from all the negatives trying to control your life and put you squarely back in the drivers seat.

Comedian and well-educated psychonaut Duncan Trussell essentially describes it this way (and I paraphrase):

“Taking psychedelics is like getting into a helicopter. This helicopter takes you above the broken city that is your soul’s consciousness (this applying to depression, intrusive thoughts, anxiety, PTSD, etc.). This helicopter takes you above this burning city with it’s sewage overflow, tire fires, crumbling buildings, and general disrepair. It takes you far above to where the air is clean and you can see the whole of the city in total clarity. You are able to fully take in the enormity of the destruction. You can see each individual issue and realize that when you look at the problem as a whole, it’s not nearly as overwhelming as it looks from the ground. You fly around discovering issues you weren’t even aware of and develop a plan for repair. And then you land again. Now it’s time to go to work cleaning up.”

I can say from personal experience that this is perfect metaphor. It allows you to see each problem in an unfiltered light. It allows the real you to take an unbiased look at your demons. Your darkness. It begins to shine a light and the darkness will eventually disappear. Thought it doesn’t come without work. The metaphor of going to work and cleaning up is as literal as it is figurative. But it allows you to work on yourself with you at the reigns, not all of your bullshit hangups trying to drag you down.

Upon looking back, my second LSD trip changed my life. The first was a lot of fun with friends, but the second took me for a ride. I took it in the wilderness – again, with friends – by the edge of a crystal clear, ice-cold river. The sun was shining and the clouds were swirling, often going off like fireworks chasing a shooting star. The evergreens above me glowed with a brilliant splash of greens like I’d never seen before. The rocky crags of the mountains shone in complete detail and with sharp contrasts to the myriad colors of the planet that surrounded them. I felt terror for a some time in the beginning; afraid of this journey I had undertaken. But as the trip went on, I discovered that I brought the tools and had the temerity to see it for what it was and truly enjoy it. As the saying goes, instead of fighting the current, I just lifted my feet and floated downstream. Once the darkness receded, I’d never felt so alive and connected to everyone and everything around me. Life became so simple. I emerged from the trip with the most intense, profound peace I’d ever experienced in the whole of my life.

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We were here.

I was diagnosed with possessing the unique characteristic of a serotonin count lower than 99.5% of people in the world. In lamens terms, I know the darkness of depression and anxiety. But this… this gave me the most beautiful and spectacular and loving peace that I had not known in all of my days. Within that next week, I discovered that I saw life differently. It showed me the steps I needed to take to become the better, kinder, happier, more loving person I always strived to be. It gave me my life.

But sometimes you forget.

You forget what you learned.

Somehow you gave the reigns up again. Somehow gave the reigns up again. That darkness is always waiting.

But now I know more than I did before. I did one tour through the jungle and I forgot a few tricks I learned. But I know more than I did. I’ve been through the jungle once and I’m not afraid to go again. No trip is the same. Every one provides new lessons and new insight. And if a trip is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. Don’t forget the lessons you learned and don’t be afraid to step into the unknown where few have the courage to go.

Take the adventure, the views are spectacular.