Transforming Into Your Ideal Self
This is an article about changing your life. Consciously.
When I was 21 years old, I made my first major conscious act of transformation. The set of circumstances that led me to that point in life are interesting but not important for this story. I was at a life junction that could have led me to a very successful career. I had just finished audio engineering school and had invested a small fortune (for a 21 year old) into building an in-home recording studio capable of recording full bands. I was in a band, I lived in a community of musicians, I had very cheap rent and a very large basement that could be used as a recording studio. It was perfect and if I would have continued on that path, I would have established a grass roots network of musicians who would have sought out my skills and ability to record them. I would have made money and also further developed my skillset. That was 14 years ago. I would have been an awesome audio engineer by now but that was not my destiny, it seems…
I had a sort of spiritual crisis during the Christmas season that year. We had a blackout in my college town due to an unusually heavy snowstorm and during that week I found myself sinking into a depression as I reflected on my life and the state of the world around me. As I said, everything should have been going very well and externally it was, but something inside of me was off. It took me a week of electricity-less self reflection (a very rare thing in todays world) to realize I was out of balance that I needed to find a way to remedy it. I turned to the Tao Te Ching, a little book that I used to consult for life wisdom. As I was reading its poetic offerings, a solution occurred to me.
I would change my life. Completely.
It was a lucky moment to have such an inspiration. I was living in a small midwestern college town and I had some friends who were making plans to move to the East Coast. I hadn’t ever lived outside of my home state so the idea of relocating seemed fresh to me. I was somehow wise enough to know that a mere change of scenery wasn’t going to transform my reality, which is what I knew I needed to do. I had to go deeper, to take the change a step further.
I decided that my best option was to sell everything I owned and start from absolute zero. This included all my music gear, recording equipment, clothes, furniture, iPod, entertainment items, childhood possessions, everything. When I arrived in my new home, I needed to know that there were no material possessions with the weight of the past holding me down and dictating my choices for the future. If you have never done anything like this, you might think this sounds a little naive or silly, but let me tell you from the many times I have done this now, possessions have weight and I don’t mean pounds or kilograms. Possessions have a sort of spiritual weight, a mental weight, the power to prevent you from doing something spontaneous like relocating to the other side of the country, changing jobs, leaving a marriage, speaking to a stranger, joining a club, or any of the millions of other things that people fear to do but know in their heart they should.
The innocent ideals that I had at that time have of coursed changed but the sentiment remains the same. You must always change and grow. If we don’t grow we die, even if it's only a little bit in our heart or mind. We are either growing or slowly dying. I learned this over the following years and I still believe it to be true. Don’t misunderstand me, I was scared. I was nervous. I really identified myself with my possessions and the persona that I had built as a musician and audio engineer. Everyone does this. We learn to do it from the world around us but we rarely learn how to hit reset. This is what I was doing, fumbling around for the reset button until I found it.
For the next two months, I did pretty much what I set out to do. I led a very simple life that consisted of hanging out in our new rural Connecticut town, exploring with friends, lying quietly in fields, biking, reading, cooking, meditating. I was in a cocoon. Building up my energy. Meditating on what would be Step 2. Resetting and relocating my life was only the first step in my transformation and I was still far from being a fully realized human. I now realize that the actual act of relocating was not important, it was just the convenient thing for me to do at that point. I could have undergone the same transformation in the woods or at a retreat center. I could have gone on vacation. The intention is what matters and the action only helps you to actualize the intention. For me, it was moving across the country, for you… only your own self reflection can tell you.
I knew I needed to give my life some sort of meaning. I needed to find purpose. I had taken the first step to escaping my previous path but I needed to go further. Traveling sounded like just the thing…
I left Connecticut. I went to Mexico. I went to Seattle. I booked a ticket to Europe but missed my flight. I fell in love with a girl and moved to Brooklyn. I hitchhiked all the way to California and then all the way back, learning physical and social survival skills in the process. I hitchhiked, ate food out of countless grocery store dumpsters, met many new friends and faces, and slept in many parks. I think I was trying to break myself. I wanted to push myself outside of my own boundaries and norms. I wanted to rewrite my social mores. I needed a shock. The whole experience lasted about 7 months and by the time I got back, something actually had changed in me. Maybe many things. I remember running into a friend in California and telling them that I could literally feel my mind expanding as I was experiencing the many micro-cultures of America.
When I look back on that summer, I see it as the time when I first saw the face of God. Growing up without religion, it was not hard for me to look at the myriad interconnected moments that filled that summer and abstract them into an expression of Universal Consciousness that was supporting me and guiding me. I still believe this. In the face of every person that gave me a ride, or let me crash their couch or befriended me as I walked around aimlessly, I saw the secret and complex inner-workings of the Universe. It was a mind-altering realization that has forever changed the way I see cause and effect, willpower, and the power of a positive attitude.
Maybe so far this is sounding like the setup for a New Age farming community life in Colorado. But that’s not where it went. I got back to my normal life after 7 months and I was content with what had happened. I didn’t escape society or live off the land. I didn’t permanently shed myself of material culture but in fact quite the opposite. The thing that changed and the thing that was important about the experience was what was going on inside of me, what was driving my life forward. I had found my purpose.
For those who have never attempted to shed their innate materialism, to break all habits, to rail against cultural norms, I can tell you that it’s liberating. There is a deeply held fear that if we lose our possessions, we have nothing. If we lose our status, if we lose our money, if we lose our friends, we have nothing. During that summer of liberation, I got down to $50, with no money in the bank, no job, no possessions of value. I had purged everything I owned that wasn’t sleeping gear in my backpack. I (temporarily) cut ties with my friends and family, girlfriend, job, and essentially soiled my reputation for reliability among my peers. I put myself self in a situation that made me feel like I was in serious danger of total life failure, yet I continued on and didn’t fail in my purpose.
What I gained from all that was a deep understanding of who I was and what it meant to be Me in the world. I also gained a deeper understanding of what the World meant, which is critical for someone in their early 20's. It was a rite of passage, a ritual of adulthood that something inside of me knew I needed. I learned about control and was able to discover what kind of control the situations around me held on my mind. And I shed it. I shed it all until I got down to the bare bones of my core. I laid myself open to my own inspection and was satisfied with what I discovered. I let go of the idea that I had any control on the world around me and in return I learned how to control my mind to make a positive experience out of any situation that I faced.
When I look back upon this part of my life, 14 years later, I can see so many themes and patterns that grew out of that summer. My purpose never stopped pushing me to change and evolve. Since then I’ve moved to Chicago, then to San Francisco, then to Scotland, then to Bangkok. The bug for travel never left. I planted that seed deep inside of me because I discovered that traveling has a therapeutic value to it. Traveling has the power to reset, to cleanse, to clarify. It also helps you to grow and to keep changing and learning by exposing you to different cultures whether that be the micro change from Chicago to San Francisco or the mega change from San Francisco to Bangkok.
Another important lesson I learned from that experience is the power that each person holds inside of them for shaping their own destiny. If you overcome the fear of quitting your job and leaving your life you will (hopefully) quickly learn that you have the power to do anything you want. Fear is our only hurdle and once we overcome it, we know exactly what we are capable of. We gain a stronger understanding of our potential and our personal power.
Learning to live in a fearless way is true magic. Lots of people have told me they have a dream but something has prevented them from pursuing it. It’s really easy to give our fear some other face; Career, Dog, Family, Boyfriend, Lease, the list of obligations goes on indefinitely. I’m not advocating recklessness but I ask any person that truly wishes to transform themselves to be honest in you self-reflection. Take time. Be Quiet. Listen. Take more time. Talk to people about this but not too much (they are usually more afraid for you than you are). Take risks. Shed your fear. If your fear is embedded in material things or un-serving personal relationships then maybe take a page from my book and do the same: shed your life and see what remains. I think you will be surprised to discover there is a beating heart that yearns to live, a strong mind that’s full of ideas, and a body that has the willpower to enable you to do anything you wish to.
I shed my life several times and it has always served me well. Over the last 14 years, I have consistently made a habit of not letting fear rule my decisions and so I continue to grow and learn and evolve into the fully-realized human that I dream of being. Over so many years, my vision for myself has become more complex and sophisticated and each time I shed my spiritual skin, I also become more able to be complex and sophisticated. I think anyone that follows this pattern will eventually be a super-human of sorts. It’s a hard path and it’s scary, and people will try to convince you that you’re wrong. Just keep listening to the inner voice of your heart and you will be ok. It’s worked very well for me, to say the least. I wish you the best of luck in your shedding and your transformation.
About the Author
Justin K Prim is an American gem cutter and gemologist living and working in Bangkok, Thailand. He has travelled all over the world, study various types of meditation techniques, psycho-spiritual healing therapies, as well as his trade skills of audio engineering and gemcutting. He is in the process of publishing two books, the first is about a spiritual quest through the UK to find the hidden heart of Merlin the wizard, and the second is a book about the worldwide history of gemstone faceting. He has explored careers in spiritual counseling and energy healing but now works as a Gemstone Faceting Instructor in Bangkok as well as writing articles, producing videos, and giving talks about gem cutting history.
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