“There are only two ways to live your life: as though nothing is a miracle, or as though everything is a miracle.” ~ Albert Einstein
To some people, 25 years of my life appear to be non-discursive and willy-nilly; to others, those same 25 years appear to be a miracle.
January 4th, 1985, I am 18 years-old riding in the passenger seat of an automobile driving from Port Chester, New York to Stamford, Connecticut. Suddenly the car skids into a guardrail and my face is smashed off of my skull, my femur is shattered into hundreds of pieces, and I have numerous other traumas and broken bones. From photos taken by the fire department, it is impossible to believe that I survived. During the following two years of convalescence and rehabilitation I start asking philosophical questions about the nature of reality, why events take place, how human beings perceive and process phenomena, why is there so much suffering in the world, how the universe is functioning and if it is ordered in some way, what is humanity’s place on planet earth, etc. Thus begins a 25 year odyssey searching for the meaning of life and happiness.
I take my Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania, then a Master of Arts degree in philosophy from the University of Connecticut. For many years I live in Paris and Manhattan attending every philosophical lecture, artwork, play, film, exhibit, concert and class I can find. I spend a year working in the musician Paul Simon’s office, produce Russell Donnellon’s “Ursa Minor” CD, and then primarily derive my income by working on screenplays with French film directors such as Chantal Ackerman, Luc Besson, Élie Chouraqui, and Laurent Boutonnat.
While visiting Koh Samui, Thailand in 1994, I crash into a low-hanging doorframe. There is no hospital on the island and a woman offers to heal me with her hands. I scoff at her but have little choice. An American friend chuckles at me as this stranger performs Reiki healing and cauterizes the gash in my forehead without ever touching it. She tells me that I am leading an unhealthy Western lifestyle and that I need to study Buddhism, Hinduism, yoga, meditation and various forms of healing. Over the course of the next eight years, I write, direct and edit an award-winning mystical short film, study parapsychology at Duke University, then take a second Master of Arts degree in Religious Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara concentrating on the history of Hinduism, Buddhism and Kabbalah. I continue to earn my living as a screenwriter and script doctor, having two feature films produced that I view at the Cannes Film Festival.
October 2003 I meet a woman. We have a torrid affair that puts into question everything I believe about romantic love and relationships. Over the next seven years I complete a yoga teacher training program and enroll in a third Master of Arts program—this one in clinical psychology. I abandon screenwriting and devote myself to teaching yoga, doing my 3000 hour psychotherapy internship, passing my Marriage and Family Therapist and Professional Counselor licensure exams, and devouring every psychology book that I can get my hands on.
In 2010 I am living in Berkeley, California, working as a psychotherapist intern and yoga teacher and attending sundry classes at various institutions. One day a sprightly woman enters my yoga class and as I watch her climb into the ideal downward dog position a light flashes in my head. I walk over to this stranger and suddenly whisper, “How would you like to make a yoga DVD?” She smiles and nods ‘yes.’ In that moment, all of the seemingly disparate pursuits – music, film, writing, philosophy, spirituality, and psychology—collapse into one and my life’s purpose is revealed: to raise consciousness about our culture through educational DVDs. The woman and I make the best-selling DVD “Yoga for Depression and Anxiety” and then I go on to produce, write and direct “Mindfulness for Depression,” “Mindfulness for Anxiety,” “A Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness Meditation,” and “A Beginner’s Guide to Happiness.” This DVD series provides the platform for me to teach at the Esalen Institute and write 200 Huffington Post articles and the highly acclaimed New World Library book “How to Survive Your Childhood Now That You’re an Adult: A Path to Authenticity and Awakening.”
For some people, my life during those 25 years—living in Paris, spending time in ashrams in India, going to film school, working with French directors, studying with the Dalai Lama, producing music, getting three graduate degrees, becoming a yoga and meditation teacher and psychotherapist, etc. – would seem non-discursive, non-sensical and somewhat scattershot.
And yet, those three seemingly random and disparate traumas—a car accident provokes me to study philosophy, a head injury provokes me to study spirituality, a dysfunctional relationship provokes me to study psychology—in retrospect seem miraculous. For since that day in 2010, I have been living my life’s purpose and all of those experiences that I lived through now contribute to the powerful sold-out workshops that I teach entitled “Cultivating Meaning and Happiness through Mindfulness and Yoga.” My philosophical background enables me to quickly demonstrate to my students that their belief systems may seem rational but are inauthentic; my spiritual background in Buddhism, Hinduism and Kabbalah enables me to provide students with fresh understandings regarding how the universe is operating and what their place in it is; my psychological background enables me to provide students with scientifically proven tools to ensure that the stay at the upper ranges of their happiness spectrums for the rest of their lives. A miracle!
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