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$ilence: The Investment of a Lifetime

  • "Quiet the mind and the soul will speak."

    –Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati


    In my younger years my mind was constantly combing over impressions I may (or may not) have made in social settings. This led me into isolation where I would rethink every exchange and question how I came off to other people. 

    My mind was obsessed with how people judged me and what they might be saying about me. I was such an insecure soul partly due to my lack of resolve. I was angry, unforgiving and felt victimized.   

    “Loneliness is caused by an alienation from life. It is a loneliness from your real self.” 

    –Maxwell Maltz

    But after two visits to the first and worst therapist I’d ever see, I knew with the right therapist I could get out of my isolated state and share my thoughts with a nonjudgmental professional. For some reason that realization brought about some peace.

    But what really led me to true peace of mind were a series day long meditations. I did them once in a while,  not every single day, but they were so necessary.  I've been to several retreats, forums, workshops and classes for personal development, but sitting still for an entire day, watching the shadows of my window frame gradually descent from the ceiling to the floor and back up again was unquestionably the best investment I'd ever made in myself.

    Forcing myself to sit still, free from distraction brought up so many buried thoughts that I had packed away deep in the corners of my mind.  These thoughts were the root cause of my ongoing negative internal dialog and poor self-image.

    Simply by sitting still for 7-12 hours without any distractions, random, heavy, burdensome thoughts I'd never even considered would pop into my mind, front and center. Once I'd gotten over the shock of this random blast from the past, I'd evaluate it, get some clarity and with that the thought would become light as a feather.

    Then out of the blue another random blast from the past would emerge.  These thoughts, beliefs and ideologies were held captive in me for at least two decades, some a little less.

    "I hoped that by quieting my surroundings I'd eventually quiet my mind and it worked." –Romany Malco

    Sitting still to clear my mind was almost like summoning each thought to the Commission Board for its parole hearing. Not only were these thoughts held captive in me, but I too was held captive by these thoughts and it was time to set them free, in turn liberating myself.

    I recently met the man who financed "The Secret" and I told him I felt it was a diluted version of many teachings that came before.  I mentioned "Psycho Cybernetics" by Dr Maxwell Maltz, and the venture capitalist admitted, "The Secret" was watered down to enhance its mainstream appeal.

    But the reason I bring up this particular book is because on a subconscious level these buried thoughts influence and molded my self-image. Dr Maxwell Maltz, author of "Psycho Cybenetics" cites the following:

    “…many people ‘see themselves’ inaccurately, their perceptions distorted by unchallenged and often erroneous beliefs embedded into the subconscious mind.”

    As a reconstructive plastic surgeon, Dr. Maltz found that for some, the removal of a practically unnoticeable scar changed their entire self-image. The shyest, most withdrawn would become an extrovert and the life of the party. A salesman who’d been hitting his glass ceiling for five consecutive years would go onto double his monthly average, and so on.  

    But there were other patients for whom the removal of a scar through plastic surgery did little to remove the psychological scaring from within. This brought focus to the 99.5% of the world who could not afford plastic surgery. What about them?  Dr. Maxwell Maltz left his practice to investigate the notion that unresolved emotional scars from the past could be removed by changing one’s self-image. Eradication of these internal scars usually resulted in happier more fulfilling lives and “the greatest port in the world: peace of mind.”

    “The ‘self-image’ is the key to human personality and human behavior. Change the self-image and you change the personality and the behavior.”  – Maxwell Maltz

    So though it seems extreme, my all day meditations have been the most liberating experiences of my life, hands down. I’ve benefited so much from these sabbaticals of silence that I once did it for two weeks straight. Let me clarify.

    I’d gotten to a point in my life that was a total fail. I’d broken up with a girl whom i knew loved me dearly, my business was falling apart, I was losing my house as I couldn’t afford to pay my property tax and I hadn’t worked as an actor in 2 years.

    I concluded whatever I touched turned to shit so I’d might as well “Let go,” and that’s exactly what I did. 

    – Romany Malco

    For two weeks I’d wake up, grab my surfboard, boogie board, guitar, books, lawn chair, water and sunscreen then head to the beach in time to catch the sunrise. I’d stay there sometimes until midnight. Whenever I grew hungry I’d rush to the store, buy a small box of salad and top it off with some sort of protein. Frugal because I only had $973 to my name. I’d use the restroom at the market if need be and rush right back to the beach.

    As for the house, I put it up for sale. It was causing me too much stress. I spent my days having fun and thinking about things that energized me. Fuck being cooped up in a house focusing on all the ways I’d failed.

    "Ain't nobody got time for that!"     

    – Kimberly "Sweet Brown" Wilkins

    Within a week and a half I had a revelation while sitting at the beach one night. I heard my voice coming from an external source that I could not identify.  Taking heed to that voice changed my life forever.  I will not share that particular revelation as I do not want my awakening to influence the "Ah-ha! moments" of others. But I assure you it was a simple, yet necessary step that I would learn to take again and again. That became “My Secret.” 

    Within four days I booked the show Weeds and within a week of that I booked “The 40 Year Old Virgin.” I went on to book yet another show as well, all within a two week period. My social life flourished and the peace I felt within became the armor that protected me from the morally bankrupt industry I was reentering.

    I knew from previous experiences investing in my undistracted solitude was extremely empowering, but this time I’d been blown away. I now put this silent sabbatical into practice anytime I feel unclear or unfulfilled and I recommend it to anyone who’s willing to invest such time in themselves.

    “If you make friends with yourself you will never be alone.”   –Maxwell Maltz

    This post was inspired by Sara Sharifi who asks, "you talk about the 24/7 negative internal dialogue and then meditating 8 hours a day. 8 hours? Really?? That sounds like a huge leap. How were you able to quiet the mental chatter? I find it difficult to quiet the mind sometimes."

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