'Self-Observation guided me out of addiction and depression.'
My Edge is My Depth
Growing up in a working class environment in Northern England, my mental health didn't feel supported, neither at home nor at school, and beyond my teenaged years my escape into addiction kept me in a constant state of survival. As an adult, I stepped into the role of a high-school teacher and continued to see how people suffered, teachers and students, due to a lack of education of our inner experience. I knew then that I needed to find a way to heal and create balance for myself and beyond that help create a shift in our culture.
Fast forward a few years, after becoming trained in yoga and other holistic healing methods, I cleaned-up and simplified my life and began focusing on personal growth. During the lock-down, a time when many of us recognised there was a much wider need for support, I began teaching online and realise that there was a new direction emerging for me guiding holistic development. Since then I have been inspired to create solution focused programs to help others journey along their own path of transformational.
Time of Change
Many of us have begun our conscious awakening and realised that we are disconnected from our bodies. We are becoming more aware of the trauma that we need to process to begin to live a more balanced and connected life.
But how many of us know how to make these changes within ourselves?
Believe me when I tell you that change is possible.
Not only is it possible, but it can also become a constant and invigorating process. Once your body-mind system has developed the skills, continual personal growth can happen on a deep level. Profound shifts can happen in an efficient and effective way on a weekly, if not daily, basis.
I hope to inspire others who are at the start of their personal development journey, by letting them know just what is possible. Yes, it does take time to heal and you need to be committed to doing the work.
But moments of growth are always available.
From Separation to Connection
8 years ago I made the decision to unplug from the life that I was experiencing in pursuit of freedom and inner truth. I had no idea then, that moving to India with the hope of starting an art pop-up project would bring me to this point.
I am witnessing the emergence of my reborn self, not only through spiritual awakening but a metamorphosis that has shifted my entire being away from the conditioned mind and the desires that would drive it, evolving into a more expanded and holistically matured version of myself. This journey has led me to cross oceans and live in mountains: from the Atlas in Morocco, to the Himalaya in India for an initiation in an ashram of the brotherhood of Kaluntak nath Peeth, then spending 3 year living more reclusively in the mountains at the north of Ibiza. I have studied a range of healing modalities as well as created and refined my own approach to integrative yoga practices. I have taught myself how to approach shadow work through the body and discovered ways to process information at a higher order than I thought could ever be possible for me. Unlocking the truth of my potential has been a breakthrough in awareness into understanding our true capacity as beings. But it was not always this way for me. It has been a long journey for me to rediscover my true nature beyond the marginalised experience that had me disempowered my entire life.
This is how this shift unfolded.
Growing up in the culture of working-class Britain, there wasn’t any space for men to learn about their emotions or sovereignty. If there was, I wasn’t aware of it.
Despite being provided for, I spent most of my life feeling deeply separated from everyone else. Adoption, race, queerness, sexuality, fear, and childhood trauma fuelled my emotional malaise and I felt cut off from everything. In this place of isolation, I developed fragments of a personality to help me survive and escaped into an active social life as a way to cope; medicating myself through deep social anxiety and depression. Living in this way, I fell into the projections of how people and society saw me and my mind created an illusion of myself that was ungrounded and . I was affected by racial stereotypes and I began dealing drugs, defaulting to anti-social behaviour and acting irresponsibly.
In my mind, I was an outsider, so what did it really matter?
The culture at this time glorified the outsider in film and music. I was affected by the romanticism of being a ‘rebel’ and found resonance in losing myself in the nightlife, the superficiality of an image, and living for parties at the weekend. This was the only answer to the questions that I was unconsciously running away from asking. I never knew how to truly look at myself head-on; living my life with a lack of self-awareness and low integrity was all I knew.
Within me lay a whirlwind of confusion: I was someone whose body held trauma and unprocessed emotions, disconnected from being present. My reduced level of awareness cut me off from what was really going on in the world around me. As a person who is unable to connect to their body, I had no comprehension of my level of disconnect and having had no emotional education I was unable to express my feelings effectively. I was caught in a vicious cycle of victimhood, shame and survival.
Despite a level of anxiety that I had been on and off medication since the age of 17, I pursued a degree in fashion technology at Manchester University, later creating my own fashion line and then working in retail. I was moving through life with a continual hangover but with some sort of ease due to my natural creativity and my ability to have a laugh.
A Catholic school sex education left me naive to the realities of keeping myself safe, and at the age of 24, I tested positive for the HIV virus. This news was like being given a life sentence. I remember the doctor at the time telling me that with medication, I probably had around 15 years to live. This hopelessness of the diagnosis added to fuel my depression. My diagnosis was 20 years ago and gratefully I am now in good health.
At the age of 28, in an attempt to drive my life forward seeking more independence, I moved to London and sometime after did a Post Grad Certificate in Education and half a masters in art education. Alongside this, I acted out for many years living a hedonistic life, yet managing to function holding down a part-time job in teaching, whilst hosting tables in a nightclub in the evenings. I continued to escape reality through decadent partying almost completely detached from any real truth and somewhat deluded by the construct of whom I perceived myself to be. Predictably, the pain that I was unable to process laid the foundation of my compulsive sexual behaviour.
My marginalised experience within a patriarchal system that had a considerable impact on my conditioning. As a POC in majority 'white bodied' spaces, my value felt placed in relationship with being an addition to other peoples lives, rather than learning how to make choices to honour my own experience, which created in me a co-dependent need to fit-in. Looking back I can see how my low self-worth and value was based on my perception of other peoples reaction to me and my self-image was informed by how I thought others responded to what they saw of me. It was an illusion.
In London at this time, the gay scene was hit with the trend of ‘chemsex’. I was wiped out by this wave and swept away in this addiction for several years. The extent of my struggle was probably clear to those around me, unconscious of the pain that drove my desires, and with no awareness or intention of how to stop. I was unable to find a way to fix my need for the love which lay beneath the surface. I learnt to wear a mask and live life at a superficial level, half drowning in my addictions, dodging the waves of shame, anxiety, depression and behaviour that I often had no conscious control over. Performing on the outside whilst in denial of the suffering deep within.
I focused on fun and laughter to keep my energy alive, at times this was borderline hysterical but it worked to dissolve the pain and angst that lurked under the surface of my mixed-queer identity. Dancing amidst my mess of depressions, disruptions and my coping personalities, that were desperate to find safety and connection, I sought to annihilate the anguish of my inner-life in all the wrong places not realising how real love could heal my body.
I was defenceless to the undercurrents of toxicity that had been swelling beneath the surface of my mental health:
The conditioning of my self-image - narratives of systemic-racism that formed a structure of self-beliefs that I was in some way less than other people or only of values to other (gay) men as a fetishiesd object of sexual fantasy.
The repression from living within a patriarchal system - I had been taught to deny the emotional experience, too often my own emotions had been ignored, which led to a lack of integrity and a lack of recognition of what my real needs were.
A need to seek external validation through sex - It was socially acceptable to repress the inner experience and escape into a party lifestyle and gay sex hook-up culture. Beyond taking drugs and drinking, my porn and sex addiction was a way to find relief from a body and mind that was often filled with pain and confusion.
My party boy double-life was unsustainable, I was repressing too much personal pain and after years of socially acceptable substance abuse and narcissistic behaviour, I began to realise that I was heading for a burn-out.
Haunted in the reality of my shadow. I went to work, went to parties and enjoyed the escaping but then had no way of stopping the urges of desire from taking over my experience. I was totally unaware of the consequences of my actions and was lost in the compulsions of narcissistic want. Living between the lines of reality and fantasy and believing that the illusions of my mind and expressions of my survival behaviours were the total reflection of the person who I was.
With the emergence of hook-up (sex) apps, I defaulted to the option of finding all of sexual experiences that I had been watching. My darkest hours would begin during my alone time. It began with drinking after work then getting high on drugs, watching pornography and looking for sex. The craving would usually start during the day. From around lunch-time I knew what I would be doing that evening. I would search online for sex not looking for real connection but looking for men who looked like the men I saw in the videos I was watching, men who were interested in acting out the fantasies these images created in my mind. I was so desperate to feel intense experiences and feel accepted by men, that I sought out extreme experiences. The drugs kept me numbed and out of my mind. I had no connection to what my body really wanted or needed. I acted dangerously, with a total disregard for my well being and for the safety of others, living my life through the expressions of several survival personalities and no continuity between experiences. I could switch-codes depending on how lucid I was and the situation that I was in. In work I was a teacher, I was a performer and needed things to be frivolous. On the dance floor I could disappear into the freedom of the flashing lights. In the shadows I was a sex zombie, devoid of any soul, unconsciously acting from the programming of pain.
I was susceptible to programming due to my lack of a sense of self and slowly conditioned myself to behave and react in ways that were causing more trauma. The sexual paraphernalia that was freely available on the gay scene, which elevated the ideal of the white bodied masculine male left me desperately reaching for what I didn’t have. Sex was a competition, a sport, it was about the body, the size, the intensity and performance. It was more about the relationship to masculinity and power than it was about love. There was no real intimacy in these experiences and often I allow my boundaries to be crossed, not realising, as a man I too have the right to acknowledge inner consent. I was never present enough to witness what my body really wanted.
The shame that lay buried under my wounds clouded my awareness I became unable to make healthy choices and I became totally cut off from my truth, my soul and my spirit. I found myself in a couple of situations where I was so mentally vulnerable and dissociated that the narcissistic men I have been with have actively manipulate me into situations and scenarios in which I felt abused, humiliated and yet immobilised in a state of trauma that left me without any personal boundaries or an ability to leave the situation. I have spent many years working through the shame and pain of these experiences, accepting that in my own weakness and desperation I gave permission and opportunities for fantasies of rape, depravation and abuse, accepting that I submitted myself to the power of toxic masculinity because my low self-worth and a sense of inferiority resonated at the frequencies of these dark moments and I mistook this resonance for an expression of aliveness.
It was after a rock-bottom period that I knew I needed help from something greater, beyond what I had access to, as I couldn't seem to find it what I needed through the normal channels of the NHS, AA meetings and support services.
I found meditation in 2016. It had been a very challenging year; I was trying to deal with another sexual assault. Throughout my life, I had been the target of both racial and homophobic physical attacks, but this most recent incident had been an attack that left me drugged and unconscious in a park in Brazil. Meditation became my hope, a chance to find some relief from the chaos of my mind, and through my practice, I had my first glimpse of something beyond the mental labyrinth. At this time I also turned to art as a therapeutic way to acknowledge my feelings, shifting the energy that powered my sex addiction into a creative process. I found much relief in being able to express my inner world on paper and canvas, putting into image and colour what I could feel but couldn’t yet verbalise. I found a lot of acceptance and support from friends and family and I felt inspired. I began to realise that life was a creative potential and that my path ahead lay beyond the new choices I was yet to make. I packed up my life in London, leaving behind my experience of disruption, and travelled to India embarking on my life-changing journey of self-realisation and healing.
Since 2017 I committed myself to overcoming the temptation to escape my inner suffering. I have been fully committed to living a more balanced lifestyle since Jan 2018; fully abstinent from substance-fuelled sex since September 2019, and (hard) drug and alcohol-free since November 2019. I was liberating myself through my sobriety.
The unworthiness of 'not feeling man enough' had been one of the more complex patterns that I have needed to unpack and unravel because of the amount of layers to this programming. The deep sadness that was locked in my body due to never knowing my biological father and my sense of being emotionally unsupported and in some ways disregarded by other paternal role models, caused layers of beliefs around not feeling worthy or important. I believe that many men from working class background experience similar self believes and it take a lot of self discipline to rise about that programming and access your true potential.
My biggest revelation has been the recognition of how the idea of the 'White Hero', presented in the films of my childhood, had an impact on my lifestyle choices. As a child of colour, I was not able to relate directly to the white hero in the movies, I instead found myself resonating with the female characters (rather than the side-kick) due to the humour, colour and the playfulness that usually accompanied the feminine stereo-type. There was also the unconscious desire to feel safe that was being presented, which created an emotional cord allowing for deeper programming of my desires to take place. Through the exposure to these films, I learnt to emotionally position myself within the patriarchal system in relationship to the white hero. This resulted in a some misalignments to my sexuality, gender and sense of importance in the world. Having looked at all of this, processed my deep sadness and found the true center of my personal power, I now can see the really potential in my gifts and talents and how to show up fully as a valued member of society.
It has been with the grace of a higher power that I have found my way back towards a lighter experience and expression of life. I have been blessed with the miracles of healing and transformation and the shame and toxicity that had a hold over me in the past, has been burned away from my system. I have been 'reborn' as a new expression of myself and recognise that I now have a second chance to choose to show up differently in the world.
Learning about self-responsibility and owning the choices that I have made in life, has meant re-learning about my entire body and emotions within it, as well as how to meet my own needs so that I no longer cause myself or anyone else pain. I now understand this as the process of learning self-love.
What Can Be Achieved
This is a summary of what I have achieved and overcome through self-healing and personal practice;
Following 20 years of heavy drug and alcohol use, I have worked through anti-social behaviour and escapist desires and now mindfully experience each day as a new opportunity to grow and expand into the future that I choose to create for myself.
I have worked through immobilising depression and social anxiety by resetting my beliefs connected to my worldview and self-image.
Observed and transcended the patterns of my survival personalities - People Pleasing, Narcissism and being a Workaholic. I’ve learnt how they were formed in me, what triggers them, and understood how to feel safe and dissolve constructed those automatic patterns.
I continue to shift my perspectives to understand the shared space and work towards improving my relational skills and responding to the needs of others.
Learning to say no to others, resolve guilt and discern my life path.
Identifying my holistic self-care needs and learning to meet them for myself.
I have been working through the trauma linked with racism and homophobia and re-framing the self-image that held me in a belief of inferiority to a new self-image that feels aligned with the essence of who I am.
Healing from emotional burn-out through effective relaxation and learning self-regulation practices.
Surrendering into the acceptance of being without a stable home or a job for several years and finding the self-motivation to embark on a new heart-lead venture.
I have implemented practices to help me overcome being too un-grounded in life and avoidant of my emotional experience learning self-responsibility, focus, discipline and emotional processing skills.
Re-parenting myself to develop skills in compassion, self-love, self-care and positive self-talk.
Developing a healthy sense of self and enough self-awareness to feel at peace with my life experiences.
Learning what my boundaries are and how to maintain them in a positive way that honours my needs.
Learning to face and overcome fears, pushing myself to achieve my personal goals to build authentic self-confidence and nurturing an embodied belief in myself that I can evolve and grow and create the life I want to live.
If I Can Do It,
You Can Too!
Self-observation provided me with the foundational tools I needed to learn to relax my mind and body and accept the stress my nervous system was under. Learning about the body’s emotional landscape and how to process and integrate the emotional experiences of my life has been the key to my development, I model the support that I offer to others on this mindful approach to our emotional life.
Learning to self-reflect at a deep level takes time, but I have discovered more inner truth through my practices than I ever did in my years in therapy. There are a lot of therapeutic approaches out there to choose from, but I soon reached the conclusion that to feel fully empowered, learning skills to become self-reliant is vital. I know first-hand that all the answers to the problems of my mind and behavioural patterns were found in my body. This is why I am now so passionate about teaching others how to connect to their bodies and process emotions through self-awareness practices.
I have developed an approach to transformation based on various practices and aspects of yoga - an understanding of subtle energies and greater powers combined with a range of science-based tools and techniques that work in unison to create efficient, effective and lasting change.
BODYBRAIN ALIGNMENT and BBA.Education provide holistic education to support individuals as they awaken their bodies to their emotional truth and their creative potential in life. By supporting their journey home to their true essence via body-mind alignment, I help them to (re) discover the beauty of who we really are as individuals.