Reminders For Living An Activated Life

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As the day unfolds you’ll be pulled in many directions. Maintaining a vision for the outcomes you desire will help you steer your ship in the direction towards the end result. There will be people who need you. Be there for them. But make time for yourself and be sure to always put your own mask on first. There are many responsibilities to face each day and you must do them with purpose, honesty, and integrity. Do not kid yourself and lie to yourself. You must remain honest, even when that honesty hurts and creates emotional situations. You’ll never get anywhere in life if you’re not being honest about your thoughts, actions, beliefs, and feelings. Each day you are the captain of your ship and you can either do what’s needed for an activated life or you don’t. Each choice is entirely your own and each decision has a result. Choose wisely. Accept failure as part of the journey as well. Do not be discouraged by failure. Use it as a tool to learn and to improve.

Here are your reminders for living an activated life.

- Be Disciplined in everything you do.

Whether it’s your workouts, your work, or your family. Be disciplined to get the job done.

- Meditate

Do not go too long without being alone in solitude to meditate on your day and life. Always make room and be disciplined with it.

- Work Hard each day

In your workouts, in your jiu jitsu, for your wife and your kids. Work hard in all aspects of life.

- Exercise

Do not go many days in a row without sweating and exercising. For your mind and body exercise is a drug. Use it to fuel your passion and align your thinking. Your health depends on how you treat your body. Discipline yourself to stay committed.

- Eat Healthy Foods

Sure you like chips and salsa and good craft beer. It’s okay to enjoy the fruits of your labor and unwind with snacks and beer, but discipline yourself to maintain a healthy nutritional plan for ninety percent of your days. Eat greens every day. Eat fruits every day. Enjoy fat and meat. Reduce as much added sugar as possible.

- Love your family

Above all else in your daily routine, love your family and show it. Be there for your kids. Listen well to your wife. Make time to spend with them quietly and enjoy time away from routine. Family is always first. Work, friends, hobbies come after. Family is everything.

- Be Prepared

Like your hike in the mountains, you brought a snake bite kit and saw a deadly venomous snake. You were prepared. Be prepared for anything to happen and make sure your family is as well. Prepare yourself for the day. Prepare yourself for your nutrition. Maintain discipline to always have what’s needed.

- Be Simple with your things

You don’t need fancy toys. You never enjoy them and there are more important things in your life. Be simple with your purchases and take care of them. Know how to fix things like you did your furnace. Do not spend more than you make. Discipline yourself and practice the minimalist way.

- Practice Jiu Jitsu

Always make time to practice your art of choice. You feel better after a good session. You learn and quiet your mind. You meditate and release monkey energy. Jiu Jitsu changed your life. Honor that.

- Write Daily

Writing is a meditative tool for you. You release many thoughts in your introverted mind and get them on paper. This is good. Continue to do so and be disciplined with it. Even on vacations. Practice each day and reach your goal of five hundred words a day.

- Keep Working To Improve Your Sleep

You’ll only be as healthy and activated as possible if you sleep well. For years you have sacrificed sleep to help others. It’s time to put your mask on first and do what’s best for your mind, heart, and body. You’re a better person when you sleep enough. You never operate at your best when you lack sleep. Keep practicing and working hard to make more time.

- Read daily

Reading is a meditative tool but it’s also important for your growth as a person. Living an activated life requires a commitment to learning. The best place for you to learn right now is through the books on your shelf. Make time every day to relentlessly read.

- Share Your Wisdom

What good is learning and understanding something if you don’t share it? You are here to help others. Share the things you learn through your reading, writing, experience, and meditations.

- Guide Your Kids

You know what’s it like to hit rock bottom and you know what it’s like to pick yourself up. You learned from mistakes you’ve made and right decisions you’ve made. Guide your kids with your wisdom of experience but do not push.

- Enjoy Your Life

Have fun with friends and family. Throw parties. Go to parties. Make time for the outdoors or sporting events. Have a picnic with your family. Throw a surprise party for a friend or loved one. Have fun every day and laugh. Go to a comedy show or rock concert. Enjoy life.

- Live the lifestyle of a Warrior

And continue to study the art of warriors.

- Show Your Gratitude

Journal your appreciation for the good and simple things in life, as well as the trials and tribulations. Make time to write each day what you are grateful for.

- Set Goals and Dream

Be disciplined in each day to reach the goals you envision. Dream on and dream always as dreams are what creates reality when you apply action. Never say it’s impossible, you never know what can happen with effort.

 

Thoughts on Filling The Void in Your Life

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The wiser I get through knowledge, action, failure, and success, and experience, the more I begin to see how foolish some people are in their way of life, their vision of reality. I’m included in those people. Life is strange and the way we live is even stranger. Working, waking up at four in the morning, consuming more food than we need, more gas than we need, shelter too big for what’s needed, resources, and materialistic garbage is not for me. I realized very early in my business that I don’t want to be a fancy materialism based facility. I don’t, and you don’t, need towels, water fountains, showers, fancy art work, hardwood floors, and shiny objects when what you are coming for is a workout. The point of coming to the gym is to train and anything beyond the essential tools is pointless. The same goes with my life. I have way too much shit right now and getting rid of it is a big priority. I don’t need it, I don’t want it. It’s useless. What I need in my home is love, companionship, happiness, and fun. Beyond the basic needs of food and water, there is nothing more that I need. Filling it with useless material junk is a waste of energy, money, and space.

A Zen Buddhist quote says “To seek is to suffer. To seek nothing is Bliss.”  The seeking of things beyond essential needs is an ego related matter and often times we fill it because of a lack of knowing who we are within or to fill a void we feel is left by something beyond our own self. Men around the world seek to fill pieces of their self through cars, cigars, homes, boats, electronics, and drugs. Women around the world seek to fill pieces of their self through shoes, make-up, boob jobs, and more. Often times when we seek something, say through a possession, we find that the void in our lives we wish to fill is still empty. That is because things that money buy can’t fill your heart and soul with what you really desire. What you really desire is purpose, truth, and love. Some times people who were never loved as a child, told they are beautiful or enough, have lives in which they obsess about a particular thing, like sex, money, a perfect body, drugs, cars, music shows, and more. They want to fill the whole in their heart. Sadly they don’t realize or understand that the whole in their heart needs to be filled from within first and by giving fully of who they truly are.

Buddha once said “Better than a thousand hollow words is one word that brings peace.” Look at that through action instead of word. Better than a thousand hollow actions is one action that brings peace. That brings YOU peace. Often our actions are not aligned with our true self. Our actions can sometimes be cries for help. Drug addicts are crying for help. They have shame and embarrassment and often don’t know how to ask for help. There are times when the help they get isn’t what they need. A drug addict who is in deep emotional and mental pain will not be cured of their addiction through rehab and most talk therapy. They need to confront the pain within and find a way to accept it, own it, and become bigger than it. A hollow action (rehab) won’t end the suffering, but one look within to see the pain may. It is your actions that form your life.

If you don’t feel loved you can act by becoming promiscuous to fill the void of love, but often you’ll find that being promiscuous doesn’t do the trick. Instead of acting through sex, act through giving love to something else. Confront the demon of why you don’t feel loved and work at that point to make change. We can’t put gum in the cracks of our lives. You have to mend the cracks with both pieces and apply acceptance.

Accepting the pain of emptiness one might feel is a stepping stone to improvement and fulfillment. Rather than using things like a big home or alcohol to feel fulfilled, attack the feeling of not being fulfilled and accept it and then thank it and then work on filling it with self love. If we look close enough and wad through the deep mud of pain we will find enough self love to drastically change our lives. Objects can’t make you happy unless you accept that happiness is already a part of who you are. If you feel you need more money, fancy jobs, bigger houses, or longer vacations, the first place to look for those needs is going to be your mind and your heart. It’s hard to battle the feelings and thoughts that cause pain, loneliness, and emptiness but you’ll never live activated and in charge if you don’t sweat a little. You have the courage and the strength to hold your sword out front and defend and attack. Now act.

BETTER TO SIT ALL NIGHT THAN GO TO BED WITH A DRAGON. Zen Proverb.

5 Things That Don’t Matter When You’re Homeless

I once crashed in a home that was for sale. There was nothing left in the house except my sleeping bag, a milk crate, and a black and white television with rabbit ears. There was no heat and it was starting to get colder each day. I consider this moment of my life as one of the greatest lessons I’ll ever learn. It taught me a lot about the need for action, responsibility, and the ability we have to survive with much less than our consumerism implies.

As I look back in my journey from that point of my life to where I am now, I realize the need for stuff isn’t as great as a need for me as it is for some. Material possessions were few and far between and at one point I let it all go away, leaving me with absolutely nothing. Noticing much of the way the American society operates, here is a list of 5 things that don’t matter when you’re homeless, but seem to matter to most of us in society.

1. The Food We Eat and Where We Get It

Doesn’t matter when you’re homeless. A weight loss diet is not even in question when you’re struggling to survive. The time comes when whatever you can eat, you eat, even if it’s a fish you just caught out of a polluted river. Fast food might be bad for us but when you have a dollar to spend on food, you’re going to straight to McDonald’s or Burger King. Going hungry is not a fun thing and when you feel hungry after missing lunch and can’t go on “starving”, remember, some people are eating leftover Chinese out of your dumpster.

Taken by Dominyka Grucyte / Download High-Resolution

2. A Comfortable Bed and Air Conditioned or Heated Home

Now that summer is here we’re all happy and grateful for our air conditioned homes and vehicles. But when you’re homeless that doesn’t matter much. Sure it’s nice to be comfortable but when there are more important things to worry about, the heat or cold is the least of your concerns. The same goes with a nice plush bed with a fancy comforter and piles of pillows. I slept in some pretty shitty places. Under a bridge on rocks next to a river, on a hardwood floor with a sleeping bag, my car, my friend’s recliner, and on various floors around the journey. When you’re homeless, you can rest your head anywhere and be grateful you’re still alive.

3. The Perfect Job and Good Benefits

Anything will do. Shoveling shit, cutting grass in hundred degree weather, flipping burgers, pushing carts, and digging trenches are just fine when you’re homeless. It’s amazing how we lack gratitude for the nice things we have in life. It’s much different spending a few years as a homeless drifter than when you have your head on straight. Most people look for a nice salary, benefits, and paid vacation when looking for a job. Homeless people just want to work for dinner and maybe enough to get a motel room for the night so they can shower.

Picture by Ryan McGuire

4. The Latest Fashion Trends.. or just looking normal.

Clothes are important because they protect us from the elements and help us survive in the climates we choose, and that’s it. A homeless person doesn’t care about having a hat sideways with a cool t-shirt, a nice pair of designer jeans, and shoes to match the outfit. They don’t care about having a Coach purse or dress for every occasion. A hand me down Mickey Mouse t-shirt will do just fine and don’t throw away those muddy sneakers. Someone will wear them. The Warrior Dash collect thousands of pairs every race and they donate them to people who don’t care what brand they are, they’re just grateful for the protection their feet have.

5. Free Time For Fun and Games

Most homeless people are in a life and death struggle to find food, water, and shelter and just make it through the day. Trips to the beach on July 4th or a camping trip with a bunch of friends in the fall don’t matter when you’re homeless. Life is a camping trip. Fun and games are important to our happiness and sanity but when in the hard struggle homeless people face, they much rather have some direction on where to go to find work, food, and shelter. While you’re playing poker with your buds or out on the lake enjoying the awesome weather, there are people walking a lot of miles to find their next bridge or food kitchen.

Most of these things are great to have when you can and we all enjoy the comfort of knowing we have good food, a place to lay our head comfortably, a decent job, clothes to wear, and free time for doing what we enjoy- but the fact is most of how we go about it is all wrong. We live in an ungrateful society, not all of us, but most of us. We feel like it’s our right to be GIVEN a job, food, clothes, and vacation days to have fun. The entitlement attitude many people go about with in their lives is a disgrace to the people before us and those who “aren’t entitled”. Next time you feel unhappiness come about as the result of your material possession being “not good enough” or upset you’ve been pushed out of your comfort zone, remember the people who are laying on a sidewalk in a cardboard box. Some of the most grateful and happy people in the world are those who are not tied down by the things you take for granted. Being the richest, sexiest, fittest, or most fun person doesn’t matter in the least. What matters is the goodness that comes from within.

Picture by Ryan McGuire

6 Things I Learned From Being Homeless

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It’s very easy to sleep anywhere, at any given time once you’ve been homeless. Whether it’s the front seat of your car, your friend’s couch, on top of a bunch of rocks and plywood under a bridge, or on a floor in a home with no heat during the late fall. But, you kind of get used to it. Sure, a nice big bed with some fancy comforter and sheet set is excellent and it feels good to rest your head on a pillow, but when you don’t have that- anything will do.

Being homeless for several years helped me become the person I am today and if I had to go back and experience those hard times again, I would. That experience taught me a lot about who I am and the life we all live. When you’re homeless, you learn who your true friends are, you learn how deep that “family love” really is, and you learn what it takes to survive.

Most of the lessons life taught me have been used to help build myself back up to a “normal” existence. Even though there have been hundreds of hard learning moments while couch hopping and scavenging, these 6 tips are the most important life lessons being homeless taught me.

1. What you think you need you probably just want. 

Go to the local mall on any given weekend and watch as thousands of people move in and out every hour shopping for new clothes, merchandise, and other gadgets. Women shop for the latest fashion trends while some men look for the newest Air Jordans. You can spot several people with more than one bag while they walk into the next store. When you ask them why they’re buying those things, they usually say they “need” new clothes.

When I was homeless, at one point, I had two pairs of jeans, three t-shirts, three pairs of boxers, two pairs of socks, and one pair of shoes. At one point, I had just the clothes on my back. That meant I was dirty for days but when it boiled down to it, I didn’t “need” a closet full of the latest fashions. I also didn’t “need” a cell phone, a fancy and comfortable bed, a car, or much of anything else- except food, water, and any kind of roof that would shelter me from the elements. A simplistic existence that when you look at it seems pitiful, but in reality, just basic stuff for our survival. Not having anything but the clothes on my back taught me that everything else in life beyond what I ate was purely based on my wants. When I go to purchase something new nowadays I can see that I don’t need any of it, I just want it, and when I can’t have it- it’s simple to understand that I can survive without it.

2. Having a Plan for Life Will Help You Not Crash and Burn

Floating through life as a lazy dude with no passion and plan led me straight to becoming a bum. I didn’t have a plan for anything. When I graduated high school I went to college and quickly quit. The day after I quit was the first day of not having any kind of plan and it ultimately screwed my life up. Having a plan, even a basic plan, for what you want to do with your life will keep you on your feet and moving forward.

When the road ended for me, there wasn’t a plan B. I crashed and burned and spent three years homeless because of it. If I would have looked forward by just one year and planned on several action steps I could have completely avoided those tough times. Failing to plan caused me to fail and fail badly. Now, as I march forward with life trying to be the best version of who I am, there is a plan for what to do next, where to go, and how I want to do it.

3. Food is for Fuel

Have you ever gone fishing? Did you ever keep your fish to eat for dinner later that night? Did you ever catch a fish out of pure survival so you can get fuel for your body? At one point in my homeless life I had no choice but to fish for dinner. I was out of options of places to go for food or people to ask for something off their plate. It’s horrible to ever have to experience such a thing, but millions of people do it everyday. Billions of people in this world eat food purely out of enjoyment and it has stressed our farming to the max. Everywhere we look there are fast food joints, supermarkets, diners and restaurants. The majority of us do not consume food with the thought that what we eat is for our survival. We eat it to enjoy the taste and to satisfy our hunger pangs.

Being homeless helped teach me that food is for fuel. When you’re running on empty you feel like crap. But when you can savagely devour a fish to put something in your belly you begin to feel a little better. The fuel we get from our food helps us stay alive and we have to look closely at the relationship we have with food. Do we just eat something to have it and enjoy the taste or do we eat it for a purpose?

4. The Harder The Conflict, The Greater The Struggle, The Better You Become as a Person.

We grow the most when we’re faced with difficulty. Our struggles define who we are at a deep core level. A person who has never faced a real struggle has never truly lived and we can’t be afraid of those tough times. The fight we put up against those difficult times will mold the warrior within all of us.

As I move forward in life I often come across struggles and difficult events, but instead of fleeing from the stress I look back at when I was homeless and see what I had to endure and how I was able to overcome those tough times. They made me a better person, they taught me more than a book or mentor could ever teach me, and I’m thankful for being able to have become a better man because of that experience.

5. An Affirmation or Positive Intention Can Change Your Life- sometimes Overnight.

I hated being homeless. I knew it was entirely my fault and I had nobody to point the finger at except myself. At one point I wanted it to just end. I didn’t want to have to go another day being sick, broke, hungry, and dirty. I just wanted to live a normal life and have something to look forward to.

All it took was a positive affirmation, and at the time I had no clue that was such a thing. One day I woke up and said enough was enough. I asked the universe to help me, to help change my life, and show me a sign of what to do to get out of hell. Overnight everything changed when I got my second chance at life.

My affirmation, at the time I called it a plea for help, opened my eyes to reality and set me on a course of self improvement that continues today. From here out, every day, I use positive affirmations and have positive intentions for everything I do.

6. Never Give Up

When I lived under a bridge, I wanted to jump off that bridge. Before I got to the deepest point of my rock bottom, I gave up on life. I gave up my motivation to try and become a success. I quit my jobs, I quit being a friend, I quit being a brother and a son and I completely withdrew from life. My mind was filled with negative thoughts and feelings and I just wanted to die. But something inside me was telling me to keep trying and I listened.

It’s hard to experience the feelings of wanting to die and wanting to be the best fucking person you can be. It’s an inner battle that slices up your guts and pours forward the greatest of the hidden emotions in your heart. The inner soul always wins and the negative feelings get crushed by the idea of not giving up and trying harder- one more day- one more time- one more chance.

Don’t ever give up trying. That next day I got my second chance and have since become a part of the best person I can be. That would’ve never happened if I chose to stay stuck in my negativity. You can always try one more time. There is always someone who can help. Never ever give up.

“Rise and rise again until lambs become lions” ― Robin Hood

While my experience of being homeless is nothing compared to the millions of people currently homeless or those in third world countries who don’t have the nice things we have, my homeless experience has taught me much about our reality and life. It has given me knowledge and experiences that I can share with you and it has given me a drive to help people make the most of their lives. The lessons I learned from being homeless happened for a reason and now it’s my turn to pay it forward. I’ll be opening a new program shortly designed to help people overcome their struggles. For more information contact me here: activatefitnesspt@gmail.com

The Day I Became Homeless

As a kid growing up we used to frequent my Grandmother’s house. It was a home stuck in the 1950′s. Linoleum roll out floors with a green hue, a range oven with a pull string fan on the wall, blue carpet that seemed like it was always brand new, and the furniture… The one couch in her house had to be 50 years old. But it too, looked brand new. Her dinnerware was white with gold and brown designs and not one piece had a chip. My grandfather and her used to sleep in separate beds, no bigger than a twin size each. In the basement, where my brothers and I would generally spend our time, were my Grandfathers tools. He was an electrician who had thousands of different tools, screws, nails, and pipes of all sizes. On his workbench were pieces of paper like an oversized dollar bill which we would use as fake cash when we pretended it was a hardware store.

The garage was simple. Buick about 30 years old with 10,000 miles on one side and a grease and oil stained workspace in the other bay. A mower, a bucket, and a few gardening tools were all that took the space. I remember one time hanging out in the garage, with my brothers pretending we had an auto shop, when I slammed my thumb in the riding mower. Took the nail clear off. Ouch.

My grandmothers home was minimalist in nature. Simple, easy to navigate, effective, and clean. Not so much comfortable in my opinion. I could never find a chair or way of lounging there that made me feel relaxed. It was a proper home. Sit up straight, elbows off the table, keep shit clean or else!

I tell you this because throughout my life it never changed. NEVER. From as far back as I can remember until the last day it was part of our family, it looked and felt the same.

It was 2006 when I went to live with my grandmother. She had taken a bad fall and needed help and I wanted to change my situation. I was a free loading, lazy, worthless person who wanted no responsibility and nothing more than to just hide out of sight. The perfect moment came when I decided to go stay with her. Nobody to tell me what to do, how to do it, and not a care in the world.

Basically, I took advantage of the situation. I made my nest in the upstairs bedroom that was very bland. Hardwood floors, white walls, a bed too big to be a twin but too small to be a queen, a wooden end table with a single lamp, and a wooden dresser with maybe 3 drawers. It looked as if it was built the day before and furnished that morning, with relics of the 50′s.

During my time spent hiding out in her home I worked briefly at a lighting store, got fired, and acquired a warrant for my arrest. Fun times. The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series and a friend of mine, a huge fan, watched the game with me on a black and white Television with rabbit ears catching the signal from space. I stole checks from her and forged my father’s name so I can eat and go hang out with friends. Sometimes I’d go downstairs and sit and watch the Yankees game with my Grandmother. She couldn’t see the game but could hear it. The television was too small for her to see and the people in most other shows spoke too quickly for her to understand. It was perfect for her. I wonder if she even liked the ballgame?

As the days rolled along and my grandmother was moved into an assisted living facility, the house went up for sale. I knew my time was limited, but for some odd reason I chose to ignore that. Never did I think, “What am I going to do when the house sells?” I thought I’d stay there, always, like a stuck pig.

In time, my father had an estate sale, a dumpster in the driveway to throw out the relics of the past, and he stopped coming by as often as he did. The furniture was gone, the furnace turned off, the dishes gone, the kitchen table sold. Nothing left except my sleeping bag, a milk crate, and that black and white TV.

Being unemployed there was nothing for me to do, so I thought. To pass time I would read the bible. But why did I allow time to pass? Just like that? No resistance, no future thinking, just the here and now with no motivation or desire. Spending a good year in that home I should have been working on getting my stuff in line and setting up my future. Problem is, I never thought about it. I just did what I had always done and didn’t give a fuck.

Then the day came, warrant still active, that my Father took the key, told me to leave, and the house transferred ownership through the closing. An era of family locked away with the turn of the key. For many years our family lived there. Good times and bad times. We used to spend New Year’s Eve there with my grandparents when my parents went and partied the night away. Always never making it to see the ball drop. We used to ride on my grandfather’s lap as he mowed the lawn and when the cicadas came, we played with the shells. It was sad to see that house go.

When I was told my time was up I had not a clue of what to do. My car became my home and I will never forget that day. The day I told myself I was homeless.

A Guide to a Quick Meditation

Meditation is continuing to prove it’s effectiveness on my life. Whenever I get a moment to sit and relax and let go through meditation I do and at first it wasn’t easy. Thoughts come at you from every direction and it is very hard to relax the mind. But, practice is the name of the game. One meditation won’t make you a master at peacefulness so this is something I’ve been trying to do on a regular basis. Much like scheduling your workouts for the week. You should plan ahead and find the time.

One of my favorite authors and meditation guides is the late Stuart Wilde. He mentions in most of his work that meditating for 24 minutes each day is all one needs. 1 minute for every hour of the day.

Many people believe that for proper meditation you need to sit in the traditional lotus or crossed leg position for effective meditation and for many in today’s society, who are not flexible enough, it is far too uncomfortable to allow for proper meditation. Meditating while sitting in a chair is just as effective.

Below is a quick meditation that will calm you down, help you relax, and can clear your thoughts….

Finding a quiet place.. Sit on a chair with your feet flat in front of you, legs at a 90 degree angle.

Sit up straight and try not to use the back of the chair. (If you have to that is fine. Some people place a pillow behind their back. You can also sit straight up on a cushion on the floor, up against a wall, with a pillow behind your back while you try to sit in the cross legged position. Hands in your lap or on your knees.)

Keep your hands on your knees, palms down, or in your lap, palms down.

Close your eyes.

For this quick meditation listening to something such as Weightless seems to work well. Of course, you don’t have to listen to anything at all. When I float, which is a form of meditation, I do not listen to any music.

You can also find a variety of different audiobooks, podcasts, and albums on iTunes that can be used during meditations.

As you sit there with your hands down on your knees and your eyes closed, listen to the music and focus on your breathing.

Inhale gently and slowly, hold it for a moment, and exhale slowly.

Keep repeating this for the duration of your time in meditation.

The first few times you meditate will be hard. You will feel uncomfortable, distracted, you’ll want to scratch those annoying itches, touch your nose, hear the outside noises, and move around. The more you focus on your breathing and not moving the better it will get.

This is a quick and easy meditation. I’ve been trying to relax for quite sometime now and find myself just going back to the beginning over and over again.

Sit on a chair, hands on knees, palms down, back straight, eyes closed. Inhale slowly and gently, hold for 2-4 seconds, exhale slowly and gently for the duration of a guided tape or meditation music. That’s it..

Simple and effective.

 

Becoming Awake and Alive

The day I heard the question “If you can do anything in the world and not fail, what would you do?” was the day my journey to becoming awake and alive began. Before I asked myself that question I looked back over my life. Barely graduated high school, quit college, lived a reclusive life for over 6 years, and became a couch drifter as a result. It wasn’t a surprise to myself when I realized I had no passions, no skills, and nothing in the previous 8 years of my life was purposeful.

So what would I do if I couldn’t fail?

Stay living as a recluse?

Go back to college?

Keep wasting time?

Own my own gym?

Being away from the weights and now 60 pounds overweight I laughed at myself for saying own a gym, but inside there was nothing funny about it. I spent a few weeks pondering the question and looking at what it would take to own a gym and soon enough, I was on my way down that road.

Along that path, 5 years now, I have changed completely. Before I had a carefree attitude towards life, and I can see the peace in that but now, I am driven towards reaching goals. What was once a wasteful existence was now a life aimed at achieving success, providing for family, and developing myself into the best I could be.

As I got back into the gym I quickly regained my love for weight training and over the next 2 years managed to lose 60 pounds of unwanted body fat and changed my physique completely. Once I saw success I opened the books and began learning about the human body and the art and science of strength training. It didn’t stop there though. Alongside the reading and studying I was doing to become a trainer I began studying about the mind, the soul, the laws of the universe and other topics through self help material.

Which has led me to here, right now, a changed man, a smarter man, and a driven person, with purpose. The long hours of reading, writing, and doing has helped develop my mind beyond the “how to’s” of life and into who I am and why I am here.

Helping people has been something I was always interested in. When I lifted in my parent’s basement at 14 years old I imagined myself helping people get big and strong. When I was getting my life back on track and looked over the causes of where I ended up, I wanted to help people avoid those tough situations or grow out of them.

That’s why I started this new facebook site: Becoming Awake and Alive

The Fan Page is a community site I decided to launch to help people on their journey of self-improvement. I’ll also be sharing stories from many different people all over the world on how they changed their lives and became Awake and Alive.  Becoming Awake and Alive is about realizing your full potential, using your imagination, asking questions, seeking the truth, and being happy with where you presently are. Whether you’re someone who wants to start a business from scratch or someone looking for small splashes of motivation and inspiration I hope you check out the fanpage and enjoy the content as it comes out.

 

 

From A Homeless Loser to A Home and Business Owner.

In my twenties, a good portion of the decade, I spent too much time living as homeless person. I didn’t actually live much on the streets but it was a lifestyle of couch hopping, living out of a suitcase, and hoarding whatever meant anything to my life in my car. Jeans with grass stains and old sneakers basically falling apart, a t-shirt two sizes too big as I wore the same contact lenses for several years straight.

During this time I didn’t have any money. No savings or checking account and part of the time, no job. The hustle and flow of life when you’re broke and homeless is a struggle both mentally and physically. I remember eating the cup of noodle soups for dinner, skipping breakfast, maybe getting a few things off the dollar menu for lunch, and Frozen TV dinners were consumed the most. If I even ate three meals in a day. Sometimes it was only 1 and here and there I went hungry because there was no food.

All of the actions of my past led me to the pit I was in and I take full responsibility for going down that path. When I finally realized I was homeless and a total loser it was time for a change. Luckily I went to the right that decisive day and my life changed for the better.

I often find myself still living the hard life of being broke and homeless. It’s not something you ever forget and my turn to a minimalist style life is easier than it is for most people. Having nothing and not needing anything makes it easy to live the simple honest life.

When things started turning around, and I was working, my life progressively got easier as well. There was no worry about where I’d sleep, what I’d eat, if I ate at all, and I had money. Money truly isn’t needed for our survival but unfortunately society is tied around it like pigs in a blanket and we need it when we don’t live as mountain men. I was forced to play the game.

Within a few months of my life getting back on track I met the most important woman ever in my life. My now wife Jamie. We met at a bar during the after party of a going away party for mutual friends. Her beauty and smile smacked me across the face as I noticed her walk in that night and my life as I knew it would never be the same. There was something magical about her and how she helped turn me into a driven man with a purpose. I’d never sleep on the streets again.

As our relationship became more involved and our love for each other grew the discussion of marriage and owning a home came into the picture. I freaked out. Owning a home was something I thought I would never do and getting married was a cardinal sin of the pact I made with my homeless self years ago. It’s funny how easy a woman’s eyes can change your mind and melt your heart. Sucker punched with a lovely smile and a fulfilling hug.

To get married and buy a home, I needed more money and after a few words with her father and other people close to me, is was clear my lazy ass had to fire up the turbocharger and get to work. My first second job was in the outdoor section at Lowe’s in Hillsborough, NJ and as I worked almost 80 hours a week for several months I learned a tough lesson.

If you want something, you have to go get it. Nobody will bring you anything you desire. If it’s worth it to you, you’ll find a way. Under our skin is something more than we’ll ever understand and we are truly capable of so much more. At first the two jobs was easy and I was coasting through each day with a determination to make as much money as I could so we can buy our future home. But as time drew closer to our wedding and with everything else life was throwing our way, it got to me and I cracked, but not without learning some important lessons about work ethic and attitude.

I left the Lowe’s job right before the wedding and through that experience I learned what hard work is, how we can do so much more with a little more effort, and that anything I wanted to accomplish in my life was all possible with my own dedication and persistent consistency.

Before the purchase of our home and our wedding I began a little bit of soul searching as I wanted to find my passion and purpose in life. Coming from a past where High School was a huge joke, with no college education, and years out of the workforce living an almost reclusive lazy life, my skill sets were zero. The only thing I could do well was use my body for manual labor. Digging ditches, shoveling, raking, laying brick, and spreading mulch was about the only thing I knew how to do.

What I ended with was something I thought about as a 14 year old day dreamer when I worked out in the basement at my childhood home. When it was time to lift, I was alone, but never truly “alone”. There was always something going on as it wasn’t a basement gym, it was Corona’s Gold’s Gym and quite a few people trained hard alongside of me, even as figments of imagination. I remember saying one day when I was lifting doing 100 rep Barbell Rows with 40 pounds that one day I’d own my own gym. A place where people would come and work hard at their goals, lift heavy, and make awesome changes in their lives. My purpose, my passion, was set many years before I was married and one day I’d own my own gym.

The work began slowly as I trained myself and studied everything I could find. Many hours spent reading the forums of Bodybuilding.com and T-nation.com as well as AnabolicMinds and many other sites. Articles from Arnold, Reg Park, Mark Rippetoe, and Alwyn Cosgrove. I signed up to take the NASM Certified Trainer test and began studying at 4 in the morning, hours before I had to get up, and every free moment I had between work.

As I was studying and reading more into the lifestyle of a trainer I realized that if I were to ever get to where I wanted to be, I had to go my own way and not work for anyone else. This could have been a mistake as in the trenches apprenticing is very helpful, but my work ethic and desire would not fail me.

One day I was sitting in my office reading a report from Alwyn Cosgrove when I decided I would start my own training company. I had zero money to afford any equipment, advertising, and I did not want to be a slave to someone else in their gym.. their dreams.. not mine. I began searching for outdoor workouts, equipment-less workouts, boot camp style training without weights, and so forth and I ran into Zach Even Esh’s work. This changed the game as I realized I could take my training anywhere I wanted with a minimalist program and get people results. Activate Fitness was born!

Nothing was ever concrete along this journey and it could have went either way. What helped me move forward with becoming a homeowner and a business owner was a deep passion to never live homeless again, to love and support my wife, and an attitude of “Never Gonna Stop Me!” I saw my dreams and they struck me deep within my core of existence and I promised myself I would succeed. Nothing would stop me. No failing allowed. Starting a business with no money was not easy and for a long time I trained people for FREE. Then I brought them to my home where we trained outside in my driveway, in the elements, and I charged them $5 a class and only held classes Tuesday and Thursday. Renting space was the next step and I was lucky to find the opportunity I found, but I couldn’t even afford the rent with my clients. But that didn’t stop me as I did it anyway.

Many long hours, sleepless, selfish sacrifices, and a deep desire and thirst for knowledge helped me grow from a worthless homeless bum to a business owner, husband, and father. 6 years ago if you said any of this would be the way it is I would have called you crazy. Right here and right now I want you to know that if you have dreams you MUST follow them. We fight our inner self and battle our emotions as we think about fear and the unknown and never take action on what we see our dreams to be. They WILL come true. Just do the work and BELIEVE in yourself.

3 Beliefs To Instantly Make Your Life Better.

What makes a good life or any life better? Does it come from a bigger home or a higher paying job? Would a new car make your life better or would a fancy dress for a high society evening filled with some of the richest people in the world create feelings or opportunities towards a better life? Does extra or newly found family time sound more satisfying to your happiness than any material possession can provide?

Most of us seek a “better” life and if that wasn’t true we wouldn’t seek objects outside of our inner self.  We wish for better circumstances, more pay, a chance to win the lottery, tax breaks, and the only thing these wishes do is create unhappiness because we fly way outside of our self and escape the true reality our ego fights to keep hidden. Allowing ourselves to become a slave to our ego has us unfulfilled and thirsty for something we believe is out there that will make everything easier, more comfortable, relaxing, and ultimately better.

There are ways to instantly make your life better that do not cost you any money and do not physically exist in front of your face. They are beliefs that will create an inner harmony and allow you to breathe much better and see clearer, beyond the imaginative reality our society lives in. Below are 3 beliefs that can help you instantly make your life better.

1. Less is More. 

There is a lot of clutter and useless possessions in the average American home. We have so much that our basements are full, garages packed, and we need to go forward and rent space at a storage facility. We hold onto the past with a tight grip afraid to let go. Most of the rooms in our homes are full with decor. Hanging plants, pictures on the wall, desks, chairs, ottomans, more pictures, some statues and a thousand little rocks in a glass jar with a fake flower sit around our house and “stuff” up our living space. All of the possessions we hold onto and purchase in hopes of happiness create a stressful atmosphere inside our homes. There are thousands of houses, maybe millions, in the United States that are way too big for their owners lifestyle. A fat mortgage payment and a career designed around being able to afford it, even if we hate it and it sucks the positive energy out of our life. Most of the average American’s life is spent working to pay off our “good” debts such as a home, college education, and new car every few years. We were raised with the idea that these items are “needed” and “that’s the way it should be”. Yes, we need shelter and a car is important based on how society operates, but it removes energy from our lives that can ill effect it if we allow so. Material possessions create stress when they are not in harmony with our inner self. Start removing some old “stuff’ you don’t need and slowly begin to remove clutter from your life. Don’t buy into the happiness comes in a designer store propaganda as well. Shop for necessity only and take care of your purchases so they last long. A new wardrobe or electronic gadget every season is nothing more than addiction.

2. I am Happy. Happiness flows through my blood not through money or circumstance.

I used to think people around me would make my life happy. When I bought my new Jeep I sank into the ego and believed happiness would come because of my shiny new vehicle. I used to believe that a big salary or nice profits as a coach would bring me happiness, until I realized I have all the happiness I’ll ever need already inside of me. Meditation and floats in the tank have brought a new awareness to the battle that goes on inside our minds. The ego fights for acceptance, encouragement from others (significance), material goods, and money to help pay for all of it’s wishes. The inner self wants serenity, strength, and peace.

Happiness only comes from inside of your mind and spirit. It doesn’t matter if you’re a millionaire or living in poverty. We can all be happy with our lives when we find it inside. Material possessions own you, you don’t own them. They tie you down, stress you out, and push you further from the truth of you being a limitless and eternal entity full of happiness. Most of the time when someone experiences “near death” and they are brought back to the Earth plane they talk about how happy they felt and the bliss of their state of being. This is how we truly are. Outside circumstances and ego blankets it from our worldviews and it’s up to us to look inside and find the truth.

3. Time Off, Free Time, Away Time, and Alone Time are Necessary for a  Better Life.

Most Americans work 9 to 5 jobs. 40 plus hours a week and in reality, it doesn’t need to be that way. The only reason we “need” to work 40 or more hours a week is because of interest and debt. Without interest and debt we could all easily get away with 20-25 hours a week unless it’s a high demanding healthcare, labor, construction, or driving type job, as a few examples.. We need breaks from the high stress of work that society creates through it’s consumerism and materialistic tendencies. All work and no play is very unhealthy and it clearly leads us to disease, frustration, and feelings of being unfulfilled. That doesn’t mean a long weekend or once a year week long vacations.

Waking up earlier than you need to each day to spend time alone, meditating, walking, lifting, reading, or writing should be disciplined into your life. When you wake up before the sun comes out and the world starts to turn, it’s just you and this time is one of our most stress free moments during the day. Make the most of it. When I started training to be a personal trainer and educating myself on self improvement and such, I would wake up almost 2 hours before I actually needed to and work on myself. It was the most productive time of my life.

Alone time can help you shut your ego mind down and help you hear your inner voice on a deeper level. Camping trips, fishing, hiking, rucking, meditation, the isolation tank, and so forth are excellent for spending time alone with yourself. Try being alone and find a way out of the 9 to 5 life and make more free, special, time in your life.

“It has occurred to me that the thing you have, that all men have enough of, is perhaps the thing that you care for the best, and that is your leisure – the leisure you have to think; the leisure you have to be let alone; the leisure you have to throw the plummet into your mind, and sound the depth and dive for things below.” 
― James A. Garfield, The Works Of James Abram Garfield

Free time, the desire for less, and finding your true happiness already inside of you can and will instantly make your life better. We often look outside of ourselves for the keys and the answers to life’s hard questions. Try and start small. Remove one thing you don’t need from your home and wish it luck elsewhere. Close your eyes breathe in deep, exhale slowly and say “Today I am Happy.”. Schedule some alone time into your life this coming week. With the holidays here it may be tough because it’s family time but be disciplined and find at least 30 minutes alone. You will instantly feel better about life.

 

My Isolation Tank Experience

With the stresses of life on my shoulders and the rapid pace of existence, I walked into the Yoga facility where I would experience my first “float” as they call it, and I felt entirely out of place. The pressures of daily life, the thoughts speeding through my head, and the loud music I play at the gym, I’m not accustomed to a relaxed environment and the yoga facility was eery in a way. Not being used to the quiet and a serene feelings it gave, I felt as if I did not belong here. The smells of relaxing fragrances and a peaceful calm of the gentlemen at the front desk set the tone for what would be an amazing experience inside the tank.

The owner of the Yoga facility gave me a tour of the facility, a breakdown of the floating experience, and would show me exactly what I had to do. A faint light of amber color with a very minimalist style decor, much like a room for meditation, the float room is beautiful and the effects of the beauty are felt right away as you begin to relax before you even get into the tank.

When you go to float in the tank, the first thing you need to do is take a shower to remove as much of the body’s natural oil as possible. Once the shower is over you head over to the tank and step inside. The tank looks like a coffin. White on the outside with a greater height in the front where the door is as it narrows down towards the feet, still roughly 2 or 3 feet tall at the back end. Smooth, no decor, with a door that you enter as you step in with one foot followed by the next. As you stand in the tank you can feel what seems like warmth but is actually skin temperature. The water feels almost slimy and thick as it’s filled with over 800 pounds of Epsom Salt. When both of the feet are in the tank you squat down and gently sit in the water. The high salt content makes you float instantly when you let the pressure go so you need to be slightly careful as you close the door behind you.

Once inside it is as black as the room appears when you go to sleep at night and close your eyes. In fact, when inside, you can open your eyes and close your eyes and tell no difference. Open eyes is like they are not even open. The first of many tricks the mind plays. As you close the door and lay down you float and in the beginning, or my first time, you move back and forth a lot before settling into a peaceful stillness.

The first time I was in the tank my muscles reacted in violent spasms that were uncontrollable, signaling my tense muscles letting go of the stress held within. Since you wear earplugs to prevent the salt water from getting into them you really can’t hear much of anything, but there were a few sounds I heard. Every joint in my body was cracking as I moved to find out what position I’d like my arms to rest at. You can either put them straight down to the side, on your chest with fingers locked or unlocked, or you can extend them over your head. My first time inside the tank I couldn’t decide. As I moved constantly the joints cracked more and more and the spasms became quick and frequent.

Many people float to release stress, some go to heal injuries, others go to detoxify, and a few go for the meditation like state you are in when you let go inside the tank. For me, I chose to go to release stress, heal my knee, and visit my spiritual self. Again, during the first time, I could not let go of my mind and thoughts as I tried to just be one with myself and meditate. I kept thinking about the spasms, the cracking, did I or didn’t I hear something, was someone going through my wallet and phone as I was inside, was there a camera watching me float naked, was my time up? Time goes right out the window when inside the tank. The man told me I had 70 minutes and once the time was up the water would begin to move. I should have clarified what he meant because as I floated and moved, the water moved, and every few minutes I thought my time was up because it was moving. When the time is through it’s like a hot tub stream of pressure that is unmistakable for the end of the float session.

Even though my mind was going 100 miles an hour inside the tank and I felt like I couldn’t relax, my body told me different as I exited the tank. After my first session I felt like I had slept for 8 hours and I had this calm peacefulness to my mind and body. Outside I noticed the cars driving here and there and how I knew exactly what the driver was thinking. He or she was rushing to get to where they had to go with a mind full of the future, but in that moment I was different. The only thing I cared to think about was how awesome right here and right now felt.

The second time I went floating I was very anxious to get inside with my plan of letting go completely with nothing running through my mind. How silly. When you’re all alone in a dark chamber with nothing to do besides stay still it is extremely hard NOT to think. My mind continued to fly through the thoughts of the past, present, and what I perceived the future would be. And then something weird happened. The water started moving notifying me my time was up, but.. Did I fall asleep? I had to have, I thought at the moment, but only until a couple days ago did I realize I wasn’t asleep but I was in the deepest meditative trance of my life. Once I got out and took a shower I felt angry, like someone waking up from a 10 minute nap who truly needed 40 minutes. But if I wasn’t sleeping, why was I angry?

This last time in the tank a week or so ago was definitely the best time I’ve had inside. My body was ready for the float, no spasms, no joints cracking, no nervousness or planned expectations. Just me, my deprived senses, and the now. A couple of moments from the past were replayed in my head as I drifted through space and several “aha” moments about my career, my purpose, the gym, and my family were shown to me through what I believe has to be my subconscious mind. Glimpses of things not to do and what really lies beneath the surface of who I am. Lost in time, floating through space, stress free and ultimately limitless in thought. Again it felt like a brief moment inside I may have fallen asleep but it was the trance you to seek when meditating or floating. An escape from everything in reality with visions of the true nature of self. No lies, no conformity, no laws or regulations. Just you and your spirit self floating into the fray, growing, bonding, enjoying our destiny as it should be enjoyed.

Floating is no longer about relaxation or stress relief. It’s more, it’s about finding my true inner self and bringing it out to live the existence it’s been fighting 31 years to live. There is something much more than our ego inspired lives and it’s hiding right under our noses. We feel it. We fight for it and become emotional over it without even truly knowing what it is. Inside the tank, you feel the truth behind all of it.