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In 1999, I began a two-year apprenticeship with author Stuart Wilde. If you are not familiar with the work of Stuart Wilde, you can find his twenty books on Amazon. I first read Whispering Winds of Change and was hooked. I have noticed how some authors seem to literally grab me by the throat with their words, as if to say “This is true!” Hemingway, Thoreau, Whitman, Jed McKenna, Bukowski and Castaneda all had the same impact on me. Stuart passed just a few years back driving the winding bucolic country roads of Ireland, an apt departure for a remarkable being. Back in 1999, Stuart was very alive and fully embodied his mystical, magical, powerful, take no prisoners self. This is when my journey with Stuart Wilde began.
After reading several of his books, I felt I had found a kindred spirit. Therefore, I searched for live Stuart Wilde events and found him at a presentation in Sipapu, New Mexico in the fall of 1999. Following that experience, and feeling Stuart’s immense energy and charisma, I knew I had found my teacher. Consequently, my wife and I flew from San Francisco to Sidney, Australia a few months later to attend a more intimate intensive weeklong gathering of 20 spiritual seekers at his large castle like home in Milton. On the fifth day of the event, after spending most of our time training on the subtleties of meditation and energy, Stuart asked me to go out into the local woods and find a big stick. He gave me very specific instructions: Five feet long. Two to three inches thick. Smooth surface. Stuart handed me a saw, and off I went. Two hours later, I returned with the perfect stick. I had no idea for what purpose I had found the stick, but I was proud of my stick. Stuart carefully examined the stick, accepted the stick, and that seemed to be the end of that.
The next day, mid morning, Stuart asked all the blokes to meet him outside at the driveway in the front of the house. There we found a big hay bale. “Hmmm. What is that for?” I thought to myself. There on the hay bale rested my stick. Stuart had wrapped a white cloth around one end of the stick to create a protective handle. He proceeded to give us instructions for what was going to happen next. One by one, we were going to approach the hay bale, grab the stick, and take massive whacks at the hay bale. It was important, Stuart said, to use all of our body and strike with everything would could for as many times as we could until we felt complete, or totally exhausted. Equally important, Stuart instructed us to yell out loud the target of your anger and rage. This would make the experience more real and more cathartic. Immediately, upon hearing these words, fear started to settle in amongst my newfound band of brothers.
Allow me to step back from the story and address the fear. Having now experienced and led men in several hundred of these hay bale rituals, I have observed that the primary fear is “how will I compare to the other men?” “Can I do this?” “Can I truly let go and allow rage to consume me?” I am often surprised by how difficult it is for men, even when given full permission and group agreement, to let go and fully express their rage. I have no doubt that every man does the best he can. However this ritual demonstrates the self imposed barriers we place on ourselves. The great majority of men walk away from the hay bale experience feeling they did not give it everything they could. All men experience a breakthrough, however the little voice in our head whispers we could have given more. Fear stops us. In the end, this was a huge lesson for each and every man who did the hay bale ritual. It opened up each man’s inquiry into his own relationship with fear and self-expression.
One reason Stuart became my mentor for two years, the thing that always impressed me, was that he showed no fear. He never asked anyone to do anything he would not do, and he did everything full out. So when we started the ritual, Stuart was the first to go. He grabbed the stick and swung it over his head and hit the hay bale hard. He yelled out “Stuart, you fucking wimp!” and then again “Stuart, you fucking piece of shit!” and on and on, taking it out on himself, and all the lies he told about himself. Stuart had kicked the door wide open, and now we were to follow.
I was inspired. I went next. I apprehensively walked up to the stick, grabbed it and felt the weight of it in my hand. Then I took my first swing. Oh, it felt good. After a few tentative whacks, I forgot that anybody else was watching. My whacks at the hay bale became more intense. My target was god. I cussed at god. I yelled about how he had lied to me. I yelled about what an asshole he was for creating a planet with so much death and pain and misery. I called god a fucking hypocrite. I continued to whack the hay bale until I was ready to collapse. I gave it my all and felt complete as I walked away. When I returned to my place in the circle around the hay bale, I felt changed. I had never expressed my full masculine presence in that way. Never had I been given permission to fully self express, and speak aloud my deepest anger and rage. My body continued to tremble for several minutes, the effects of the adrenaline coursing through my veins. I felt like my balls grew in size. My inner warrior had been released. But I was not done, not by a long shot.
Then I watched as each man, one by one, took the long walk toward the hay bale. I observed how each man had his own way of striking the hay bale. Some whacked it as if with a baseball bat. Others, like me, raised the stick way over my head and brought it down with all the force I could muster. As it turned out, I was not the only one who had an issue with god. He was definitely the number one target. On and on it went. One by one, I saw men transformed from my friendly workshop mates to rage filled creatures who had quite a bit of rage to express. Over time, I relaxed, feeling complete, and ready to resume our more subdued and subtle mystical activities.
Next, Stuart said, “Now that you are all warmed up, we are going to do it again!” “For fuck’s sake,” I thought to myself, “what’s left?” This time, Stuart did not need to go first. I wanted to lead, and see what I had left inside me. I walked up to the hay bale with absolutely no idea who or what was to be the target of my rage. I picked up the stick, my stick, and started to hit the hay bale. Whack. Whack. Whack. And then, the name of an ex girlfriend that had broken my heart started to erupt out of my throat. “Carol!” Whack. “Carol!” Whack. “You fucking bitch!” Whack. On and on it went. The second round allowed me to go to a much deeper place of hurt and despair. With each whack, I was releasing the pain and freeing myself up of that gut wrenching memory. The second round was longer, more rage filled, and far more self-expressive. I found a new energy that sustained me, even when I thought I had given everything during the first round. Finally I was complete. My body trembled once again. I threw the stick at the hay bale and walked away. As I returned to the circle and I saw Stuart smiling. My buddy said to me, “I don’t know Carol is, but I hope I never meet her.”
Many men had a similar experience. The second round was much deeper, and more profound than the first. Once I had gotten the fear and self-consciousness out of my system, a whole new level of self-expression opened up. The superficial Jay had to take a back seat to a more authentic and real Jay. No longer was I a sensitive new age guy who discounted his masculinity. Now I was feeling like a real man. Jay meet Jay.
Over the years, I have led the hay bale process in my own weekend workshops. The hay bale ritual is powerful in its simplicity. Men are given permission to rage and fully self-express. I have seen men take whacks at god, their wives, their mothers, their fathers, their girl friends, that childhood bully, and at themselves. I have seen men in the depths of fear, take that long walk to the stick, and let it all go. It is liberating to see such courage. It is inspiring to see men take full responsibility for their fear and rage. It is enlightening to see and begin to understand the dynamics of our own fear and rage.
Two incidents stand out amongst the many hay bale rituals I have seen. The first took place in Santa Rosa, California. During our morning circle, in which we introduce a topic and each man is required to speak as open heartedly as possible, one man shared a gut-wrenching story about how his father has sexually abused him. Tears rolled down his eyes as he told his story for the first time to another human being. This often happens. Men, in a safe and confidential environment, inspired by the vulnerable sharing of others, often release painful experiences for the first time. No one who heard his story remained unscathed.
As this man approached the hay bale, we all knew that the target of his rage had to be his abusive father. He grabbed the stick, and placed the end of it on the hay bale. I had never seen this before. Crying profusely, he was literally unable to lift the stick up and take a whack. I cannot begin to imagine how conflicted he must have felt. As boys, our dad was our hero. However in his case, his dad was also the devil. After a few minutes, as the leader, I instinctively took action. I asked him if I could take a few whacks to get him started. I was definitely feeling the rage towards his dad, especially seeing the devastating impact on his now paralyzed son, so this all happened very naturally. I began whacking the hay bale, swearing up and down about how horrible he (the dad) was to betray such a sacred covenant as father and son. I was so enraged that I began gouging the stick into the hay bale, as if I was stabbing the abusive father with a lance. Suddenly, the stick bounced back and hit me in the face, putting a nasty gash above my right eye. Blood flowed. Everyone looked in terror, concerned I may have lost an eye. I told everyone I was ok and headed off to the bathroom. But before I did, I said to the man, “Kill that fucker. Do it and free yourself!” I understand he was able to begin whacking the hay bale and the healing had begun. He was a man finally becoming free from the grip of horrible events from his past.
The second incident took place in Sebastopol, California. We had one participant who was very reserved and quiet. He was the last of the group to go. Everyone else had taken their whacks in the first round. We all looked at him. He expressed that he felt he did not have the same kind of rage living in him. He shared that in his family, he was never allowed to fully express himself. Then one of the participants spoke directly to him: “What if this is your last chance on earth to get this shit out of yourself?” That seemed to light a fuse, and he proceeded to take his whacks. Afterwards, he too was a man transformed. You could see it in his face, and in the way he confidently walked around and interacted with us all.
Do I hate god? Do I hate my ex girlfriend? Do men hate their wives? Do men really want to inflict physical harm to any of these people? No, of course not. However, we do often have conflicted feelings. The hay bale process is a powerful technique to release painful memories, and allow more energy for love and appreciation. I know when I carry around pain and hurt feelings; it is hard for me to be present with another person. These experiences I have shared are a safe and very effective way to purge those feelings. I would liken it to taking your car in for a tune up. Over time gunk builds up, and it is good to get a regular cleaning. Otherwise, these feelings may be expressed in far more harmful and often violent ways.
My two-year stint with Stuart Wilde, in Australia, in America, in England, and in Ireland was a time of profound learning and personal transformation. You could not hang out with Stuart and not be changed. Stuart was a tough teacher. Many of the lessons he shared with me had a very hard edge. He exposed many levels of what he called my dark side, those qualities like competitiveness, female objectification, and dishonesty that I had never had to the courage to look at and claim as my own. It was a hell of a ride. And it all began in earnest the moment I picked up that big stick and started whacking away at my own painful memories that early December morning in Milton, Australia.
Many years ago, my good friend David, a very successful business owner, suggested I read a book with the crazy proposition that I could work four hours a week (rather than the forty I was expending) and be just as productive. The book was aptly titled “The 4 Hour Workweek.” I ordered the book on Amazon, read the book, and was intrigued by many of the concepts and ideas and “hacks” presented in the book. I immediately obtained a virtual assistant from India to handle many of my daily tasks. I began to think about how often I started and stopped a specific task, while being interrupted by emails and phone calls. My efficiency increased overnight. I learned to turn off my phone during the day to avoid interruption, and allocated 30 minutes at the end of the day to return important calls. The 80/20 rule took on a whole new meaning. If you have not read the book, do yourself a favor and buy the book now and read the book (Click on the image).
While I learned a great deal about my own efficiencies, I noticed something else, something even more profound. Tim’s book placed the seed of world travel in my mind and heart. For the first time, I saw world travel as a viable goal, affordable, and doable. I still remember my utter giddy joy as I read about how inexpensive it could be to travel to a city in South America. Although I had lived in England for one year, this book opened my eyes once again to the magic that lives on the road, and specifically on roads outside of the United States. What one man can do, another can do. Why not travel and see the world? Why not? The Four Hour Workweek was like a beacon in the night. It was a siren song. It was an invitation to live an amazing life. I am not being grandiose when I say that I was reborn during my initial reading of Tim’s epic first book.
Next, Tim Ferriss wrote and published “The Four Hour Body.” This substantial work of experimentation and research sparked my interest in foods, macros, weight loss, and muscle gain. I credit much of my 45 pound weight loss, and subsequent and ongoing self-testing I have undertaken to the fabulous material presented in “The Four Hour Body.” My life will last a bit longer, and my daily experience is much simpler, healthier, and life affirming, all a result of what I read in the second book. Tim wrote a third book, “The Four Hour Chef,” which I have not read. My interest in cooking is not that profound, although I understand the book is more about advanced learning techniques than how to cook a quick omelet. I will get to it.
Best of all for me now are Tim’s podcasts. Tim Ferriss’ well-deserved notoriety has given him access to some of the best and brightest amongst us. The podcasts are long form conversations, each one filled with powerful realizations, guidance, and seeds of greatness. I listened to Arnold Schwarzenegger and was filled with the power of possibility of what one man can do with a life. I listened to Pavel Tsatsouline (Olympic strength trainer) and transformed my time at the health club from workouts to practice. I stopped pushing myself to failure, and implemented four sets of five. Now I enjoy my time at the gym, rather than gutting it out every day.
Through the Tim Ferris Show (Click on the image), I have listened to some amazing lights in the world, people I had not heard of such as Maria Popova, Sam Harris, and Peter Diamandis. Maria writes a simply gorgeous blog called Brain Pickings that she shares with the world on a weekly basis. Sam Harris speaks and writes and debates about reality and consciousness and meditation. The greatest praise I can heap on Sam Harris is that he is Christopher Hitchens 2.0. Peter Diamandis, author of a fantastic book entitled Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World, shared the question during his podcast “Why not take your 10 year plan, and do it in the next 6 months?” That is a powerful way to see the world, and Peter has demonstrated the validity of this paradigm with his remarkable life. Each podcast of Tim Ferris is like an unopened Christmas gift. I don’t know what I am going to get, but I am sure I am going to learn and grow and be filled with challenging and potent ideas.
What is possible? So often during and after many of Tim’s podcasts, I have to check my ego at the door, and take a hard look at my life. My sense of accomplishment takes a beating. But in that humbling experience in which I say something like “Wow, _______________ (fill in the blank with virtually any of Tim’s guests), he/she has done so much and continues to do so much. What have I done? What have I been doing? How can I do more? How can I make a similar impact on the world?” I often feel small, and in that feeling lays a desire, a passion, a deep search for who I really am, and what I really will do in the world during this lifetime. I often don’t know what is possible until I see someone else doing it. Tim’s podcast are like a cold bucket of water poured over my head. It’s a wakeup call, a yelling in my ear of “Hey Jay, wake the fuck up!” I like it.
I seem to use the word powerful quite a bit as I write about Tim Ferriss and his body of work. Much of my bromantic feelings do come from a shared love of power. When I think of power, of course I can envision the hulking physique of an Arnold Schwarzenegger or the wealth of a billionaire investor like Peter Thiel. But in Tim’s world, we can also see the power of a Sam Harris, who has cut through the bullshit of religious dogma and duality like a surgeon. Power comes in a variety of forms, and while many of Tim’s guests are physical performance enthusiasts, there are a fair number of consciousness enthusiasts as well. This balanced ebb and flow of creativity and ideas keeps me engaged and insures my loyalty to all things Tim Ferriss.
“Freedom lies in being bold.” Robert Frost
Let’s talk about meditation. Tim often asks his guests, “What do the first 90 minutes of your day look like?” As we have discovered, nearly three quarters of Tim’s guest include meditation as a vital part of their daily routine. As an avid meditator for the past 20 years, I found this knowledge of other’s meditation habits to be an open invitation to join Tim’s Tribe. I am amongst my own. Success shows up in balance. Light and dark, Yin and Yang. Tim’s work is shattering the myth or illusion that success is exclusively about power and money. Success may just show up in a smile on your child’s face. Success may be found in a profound moment of stillness when you feel connected to every thing. Success may actually be about walking away from public adoration and taking a Thoreau like walk into solitude and family life.
I have heard some people say that vision boards are shit. When used as purely a visioning tool, I would agree. But a vision board used as an anchor for sustained action is a powerful tool. Above you can see my vision board from 2012. On the left side, you can see (it’s a bit dark) an image near the word Travel. This is a picture of Tim and a friend from somewhere in Vietnam. I can remember feeling, deep in my heart at the time I first viewed this image, “Why Not?” “Why can’t I travel the world, see exotic destinations, meet people from different cultures, and share it all for the growth and education of myself and anyone else who cares to read or watch what I put out into the world?”
In May of this year, I traveled to Vietnam, was guided by a beautiful woman through Saigon, and met many wonderful people. The practical application of bringing a vision to reality, of prioritizing our activities, the focus on the one thing, all emerge triumphantly in Tim’s work.
My greatest praise for Tim Ferriss comes in the form of my emulation of his life. I love Tim’s life (at least what I see of it). Now, over 5 years into my own Tim Ferriss style life experiment, I am experiencing a path similar in many ways, while still being quite a distance from where I am going. I have used my body as an experiment, now walking the earth at 190 pounds, rather than the 235 pounds I use to carry around. Now I work online, and am not bound to any one location. I live in Thailand for the time being, and who knows where I will go next. I have recorded 3 episodes of my own podcast, called The Men’s Room, and am excited to one day have Tim Ferriss himself as a guest. I created Indigo Yak, a course that will show anybody how to meditate. And I wrote my own book, Radical Freedom, which shares a variety of steps one may take on the road to spiritual freedom.
My life, now at 56, is filled with a hope for the future. I see the unprecedented exponential growth of knowledge, and feel the energy of an immense energetic movement like an 80-foot wave rumbling under my feet. I am finding my way. Aren’t we all? I read books and listen to podcasts and know others are feeling the same way. Gratitude fills my heart. I have seen much of the world and know we are all the same. There is coming a time when us versus them will seem silly and obsolete. One by one, we are waking up to myths that bind us and hold us down. Tim Ferriss’ work allows us to embrace powerful ideas that emancipate us.
I will conclude this homage to Tim Ferriss by sharing how much I appreciate the courage he continues to demonstrate by putting his words, images, sounds, and heart out into the world for all to experience in their own way. It is inspiring. Tim Ferriss is, in my life, a rock star. He shares my love of performance with my dedication to spiritual growth. He is a writer, a creator, and one who brings together amazing people for the benefit of all, truly a catalyst for change. Tim Ferriss’ gift to the culture cannot be over emphasized. Certainly, my life has been altered, and I trust the titanic shifts will resplendently continue. Long may Tim create! Long may he share his vision! I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.”
“There is a loneliness in this world so great that you can see it in the slow movement of the hands of a clock”
― Charles Bukowski
I hear quite a bit of advice. Some people have an Aha moment, and feel compelled to share it in the form of words of encouragement. One bit that is shared often is this: Love Yourself. While this is no doubt well intentioned, it actually makes someone who has this challenge feel worse for they don’t know how to accomplish the task, which in turn creates more self-loathing. “Why can’t I love myself more!” You might as well tell a blind man that he should go look at a Van Gogh painting. I look at this image and am filled with awe, beauty, and the touch of God. I can even share my rapturous feelings with a man who can not see, but it does not do him much good. I can only imagine the feelings of frustration, regret and downright anger that arise. It does not work.
“With love you don’t bargain. There, the choice is not yours. Love is a mirror, it reflects only your essence, if you have the courage to look in its face. ”
Love is the law. Love is the truth. Love can be as harsh as it can be beautiful. Therefore, it takes courage to look at your essence, for you, at your core, are love. It takes courage to begin the process of knowing yourself. It is easy to look and see all the good stuff. The trick is to look at the dark stuff, come to terms with it, appreciate it, and rather than pretend it does not exist, integrate it into your being. I have discovered that I am competitive. I relish the thought of winning and another losing. I have rage and anger and impatience that live within me. I have the capacity to kill. These are just some of the components of my dark side. It is my journey to discover these aspects of myself and come to a place of acceptance. In order to truly experience authentic love of any kind, this has to happen. Otherwise my love is a partial love, a pretend love , the kind of love bandied about in silly love songs. It wears off and does not stand the test of time. Since our love is incomplete, we look outside of ourselves for more. And so we have a culture that celebrates finding love in another. We hear expression like “You complete me.” What we thought was love wears off and families are broken into pieces. If only more looked within wherein lies all the answers.
So where do you start? The elixir is in the poison. You dive into the hurt. I have never met a human being that did not have some feelings of self-loathing. Often it is self loathing, like the pain from a persistent pebble in our shoe, that awakens us to action. It’s the discomfort that creates the yearning for something greater. It’s only in the acquisition of self-knowledge that we begin to appreciate the brilliance of our human condition. It’s this appreciation for the universal condition of all beings that begins to look like self-love. But it is not self-love. It is love. As the Bukowski quote indicates, many suffer from loneliness, or a feeling of being uncomfortable in the present moment without the company of another person. However, once one begins to experience love, time spent alone transforms into a panoply of experiences, rich and full of joy and inner contentment.
“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.” ― Pablo Neruda
Love is not something you direct at yourself or at a chosen other. Love is a state of being, a place you come from in every moment of your life. In fact, the idea of loving just yourself or just another, will upon ruthless examination, seem non-sensical. When you arrive in life at where you started in life, love is everywhere, like the constant beat of life in your heart. I love you. This is true. I love me too. You is me. Me is you. If you want to feel the real deal, you have to do the heavy lifting. Invest time into knowing yourself and into understanding who you are through and through. It is as simple as writing your name on a piece of paper, then write “Light Side” on the top left and “Dark Side” on the top right, and begin writing. It’s OK to admit to all aspects of yourself, especially to yourself. You will be surprised at the catharsis that occurs when you undertake this simple little process.
This love, the great love, the golden love, is available right now. It is in the air we all breath. It is in the sunlight that warms your skin. It is in the tone of your friend’s voice. It is in your lover’s breath. You don’t need to look for it, for it can’t be found. Life calls upon each of us to dive deep within our own being, and in so doing, we begin to clean the lens of our perception. The love is here, more love than we can imagine, the kind of love that has obsessed poets like Neruda and Bukowski and Rumi for lifetimes. It is so powerful, and can be so overwhelming, that we often lean back towards what is comfortable, and socially accepted, while the keys to the kingdom of heaven slip out of our hands. Can’t you taste it? Are you ready to undertake the hero’s quest to unearth the grail? Grab my hand and let’s jump into the abyss.
About the Author
Jay Cradeur is an author, blogger, internet marketer, world traveler, and coach. Jay has helped thousands to achieve their dreams of financial independence. As an internet marketing coach with a focus on personal development, Jay may be able to assist you in reaching your goals. You can work with Jay for a 100% refundable fee of $49 by clicking on this link and committing to your future. Work with Coach Jay.