I’ve always been fascinated with fire…first playing with it, then fighting it, and now one of my core spiritual practices is a fire ceremony. Anyway rewind a few years…

I was a 20 year old college student/ firefighter-EMT and it was 3am. I was dead asleep when I was jolted awake by the squeal of my fire dept pager. The call was for a fire alarm at the house next door to me. This particular night I just did not feel like getting out of bed as 99% of the time, fire alarms are false. So, I threw on the scanner to see what the police would say when they arrived. I did not expect what was to come next or how that day would forever change my life.

I laid there for about 2 minutes still half asleep expecting to be cancelled. My mom was visiting town and so if I didn’t have to lose sleep, I wasn’t going to as there were plenty of other folks who would go.

“Second floor fully engulfed” crackled over the radio.

Holy shit. I flew out of bed, struggled to find the pair of jeans to throw on that I wore under my bunker pants, threw on slippers or flip flops or whatever was closest, ripped a tee shirt putting it on and ran out the door.

I ran downstairs, out the back, jumped in my car, through the lights and siren on, and then looked up.

The entire second floor of the house next door was in flames. These are what we live for and they don’t happen very often.

carI somehow managed to make it to the station faster than I ever have before despite the 2 minute delay. I don’t remember those moments but I think I was doing about 85 through the center of the sleeping farming/college community.

Typically I would make the 3rd or 4th truck out. This time I made the first engine out.

I ran into the station, through on my gear, and jumped in the truck and began testing my air pack.

Being on the first engine, myself and my partner were the first ones in. If you’ve never been in a burning building, it’s kind of a unique experience. First, it’s like walking around your house with a blindfold on as you can’t see anything at all so becoming disoriented is the norm which is why you try to bring a hose with you so you can find your way back out.

Secondly it’s hotter than hell. Imagine the hottest day in the desert you can imagine. Then take it up a few notches. And you have about 40 pounds of equipment on you.

Thirdly, it’s loud and noisy and finally, you don’t really know if the next step you take is going to be on a floor that may or may not support your weight. So, it’s kind of a special feeling. LOL.

Dragging a fully charged hose, we ran up the stairs to the second floor with the familiar Darth Vader in and out breaths that come with breathing from a tank and at the top of the stairs, I felt something under my feet. I immediately knew what it was and dropped the hose and told my partner “I have a victim.” I grabbed the shoulders and he grabbed the knees and we went back down the stairs out to the front lawn.

The 21 year old guy was unconscious but breathing. By this time a few more trucks were arriving and the ambulance brought up the airway bag. Since I was the most highly trained medical person on the Fire Dept at that time, I pulled out the oxygen and began ventilating him when I had that “oh shit” moment that we never look forward to.

I was feeling resistance as I squeezed the bag that is connected to the oxygen tank and the mask that i was holding over his nose and mouth. My heart skipped a beat as I realized.

I was having a hard time getting air in.

In a burning building scenario, the hot air causes the trachea to swell and if the swelling (tracheal edema) is bad enough, it pinches off the airway. That’s a very bad thing. I was not going to let this kid die and have to see his parents on the front lawn the next day.

Tried to get a breathing tube in but the swelling was increasing and we were only a few minutes from the hospital so I handed him off to an EMT who begged me to go to the ER with him but the chief wanted me back with my partner in the building. Off he went to the ER and back thru the gates of hell I went.

Ambulance-225x300It took hours to get that fire under control and we were on scene for nearly 20 hours. I recall having assistance from every surrounding town. The second floor of the building was completely destroyed and the building condemned until it was gutted and rebuilt. I remember not being able to see anything and having to navigate this enormous structure using just my hands to guide me and the hose I was pulling as a lifeline – both to find my way back out and to prevent a flashover scenario.

A flashover occurs when the temperature gets so high that everything spontaneously combusts. The hose can be used to force smoke and heat out a window by creating a stream of moving air that follows the water. Interestingly, until a hole is cut in the roof or fans are setup to release the heat and smoke, dumping too much water creates a lot of steam that can burn.

This fire was really a beast.

Will never forget that day.

Incidentally I later learned that young man went on to become a dentist.

When I was in professional bodyguard school, I took particular interest in the psychology of stalkers and counter-stalker tactics. Probably the thing that irks me most in life is control dynamics and people who feel the need to attempt to control others…that has led me to the work that I do with stalkers and the writings that I do on balanced masculinity.

A friend recently sent me this article and most of it is pretty accurate so I thought it appropriate to share here. It’s likely most female readers of this blog have encountered at least one unstable stalker situation that was awkward at best and downright scary at worst….and charming at first.

10 signs for spotting a sociopath

#1) Sociopaths are charming. Sociopaths have high charisma and tend to attract a following just because people want to be around them. They have a “glow” about them that attracts people who typically seek guidance or direction. They often appear to be sexy or have a strong sexual attraction. Not all sexy people are sociopaths, obviously, but watch out for over-the-top sexual appetites and weird fetishes.

#2) Sociopaths are more spontaneous and intense than other people. They tend to do bizarre, sometimes erratic things that most regular people wouldn’t do. They are unbound by normal social contracts. Their behavior often seems irrational or extremely risky.

#3) Sociopaths are incapable of feeling shame, guilt or remorse. Their brains simply lack the circuitry to process such emotions. This allows them to betray people, threaten people or harm people without giving it a second thought. They pursue any action that serves their own self interest even if it seriously harms others.

#4) Sociopaths invent outrageous lies about their experiences. They wildly exaggerate things to the point of absurdity, but when they describe it to you in a storytelling format, for some reason it sounds believable at the time.

#5) Sociopaths seek to dominate others and “win” at all costs. They hate to lose any argument or fight and will viciously defend their web of lies, even to the point of logical absurdity.

#6) Sociopaths tend to be highly intelligent, but they use their brainpower to deceive others rather than empower them. Their high IQs often makes them dangerous. This is why many of the best-known serial killers who successfully evaded law enforcement were sociopaths.

#7) Sociopaths are incapable of love and are entirely self-serving. They may feign love or compassion in order to get what they want, but they don’t actually FEEL love in the way that you or I do.

#8) Sociopaths speak poetically. They are master wordsmiths, able to deliver a running “stream of consciousness” monologue that is both intriguing and hypnotic. They are expert storytellers and even poets. As a great example of this in action, watch this interview of Charles Manson:

#9) Sociopaths never apologize. They are never wrong. They never feel guilt. They can never apologize. Even if shown proof that they were wrong, they will refuse to apologize and instead go on the attack.

#10) Sociopaths are delusional and literally believe that what they say becomes truth merely because they say it! Charles Manson, the sociopathic murderer, is famous for saying, “I’ve never killed anyone! I don’t need to kill anyone! I THINK it! I have it HERE! (Pointing to his temple.) I don’t need to live in this physical realm…”

http://www.naturalnews.com/036112_sociopaths_cults_influence.html

Me: “How many was that?” Uldi: “638” Me: “How many are we doing?” Uldi: “Today just I think 1000.” 1000 continuous Hungarian gymnastics ab reps (makes crunches look like a pina colada) after 1 hour of continuous non stop jumping…I think I counted about 900 reps.. Yep, I need a drink….or 7. Sometimes I wonder what I got myself into. (I secretly love it) Not sure whether I should even attempt laughing for the next 2 days however

More coming soon….

Amazing how true this is….and how hard it can be to see in the moment. We spend so much time trying to control timelines yet then we look back and can realize how much better things flow when we allow rather than struggle with the timeline

“”In a wonderful essay called ‘On an Apparent Intention in the Fate of the Individual,’ Schopenhauer points out that, one you have reached an advanced age, as I have, as you look back over your life, it can seem to have had a plot, as though composed by a novelist. Events that seemed entirely accidental and incidental turn out to have been central to the composition…

“Another astonishing way to look back is to pick up some diary entries or notes that you kept a long time ago. You’ll be astonished. Things you were convinced you had realized more recently will all be pinned down there. These are the driving themes of your life.”

Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss

It was a warm spring day in the desert. I stood under the high noon sun staring at a fence in front of me. My task was to run towards the fence, take off from a small ledge about 3 feet from it, and fly over the fence. It sounded easy, it looked not quite as easy as it sounded, and I discovered something extraordinarily frustrating.

Even though I had the skill and height to clear the fence which we developed through hours of jumping over picnic tables, jumping off the ledge, and jumping with my weight vest, with each attempt at it I would drop my feet onto it in mid-flight and push off. I was already over the fence and my feet would stop me. This continued through several sessions.

My coach Manu, who is not only a Cirque du Soleil acrobat but also one of the original parkours guys from France stood there watching me. I didn’t want to let him down and that frustration compounded the self frustration of this seemingly unconscious thing my legs were doing without my permission.

And then something curious happened.

I flew over the fence…and I flew over it again…and again…and then took a step backwards and hit the top.

And then I got it 12 times in a row. That fence had come to represent obstacles in my life. It had become a physical model of my own fears and insecurities and things I wanted to soar over in my life.

My point in sharing this story is not to suggest you should go out and jump over the closest fence but rather to invite you to look at the “fences” in your own life. What are physical models that represent your fears, doubts, insecurities, walls, obstacles etc? Can you use these physical methods to overcome the obstacles?

Obstacles are a natural part of our path. They provide us key opportunities to learn very valuable lessons. And yes, sometimes they are thrown in front of us by others’ free will and life itself. There are many spiritual practices around the world that deal with obstacle clearing. Indeed, one of my own core spiritual practices is an obstacle remover.

Since the physical, mental, and spiritual cannot be separated, it can be very useful to create physical models for mental and spiritual growth. These physical models then become a tangible representation of the non physical realms and since the two really are one and the same, they allow us to grow more quickly.

This is the basis of my martial warrior tradition.

The video below is one of the imperfect attempts. I kept it so you can see what I meant about second guessing myself and dropping my foot on the fence.

I am working on an article that will fall into both the Moments with Sensei and Creating Abundance Series….this one is all about an experience I had with my parkours coach which showed me how physical challenges relate to obstacles in our minds.

So invite you to think about your own personal fences…what obstacles do you experience in life that can be directly tied to obstacles of the mind that are so often unconscious? Let’s explore this together!

Growing up I was something of a slob. It was so bad that I would spend all day cleaning my room or the garage only to have my mother come home and say “That’s clean?” Incidentally my mother used to comment on how neat I kept things on the ambulance when I was a medic and well, I think I owe it to my patients to know where everything is.

Anyway, during one of my early visits to study the native spirituality of Japan from Rev. Koichi Barrish, the first non Japanese person in history to be ordained a priest of Shinto, we were sitting with some other guests who were there and he noticed some of my clothes weren’t folded. Always seeming to be particularly tough on me he said (in front of everyone) “Siclari, get your stuff in order. When I traveled with my teacher, his clothes were always perfectly folded and everything was meticulous.”

That moment marked a turning point in my life. I could no longer be comfortable with things in a state of disarray around me.

Indeed one of the hallmarks of Shinto, and indeed anything truly spiritual, is purity – the purity of returning to the basic bright state of connection with self and between self and great nature/universal energies. As with all things in life, the external reflects the internal and a neat, organized, and clean space mirrors and creates a neat, organized, and clean internal state and vice versa.

As a suggestion, I recommend cleaning your personal space at least once a week and making an effort to keep your desk, clothing, and personal items arranged in a neat order. You may find doing so alleviates chaos in your life and draws more abundance, happiness, and connection with the divine. And it will save you time looking for misplaced items too. J

As always I am forever grateful to my teacher for such a simple yet powerfully life changing lesson.

Last week I was practicing my very inconsistent back handsprings and I noticed something curious:

When I commit 100% to the movement, I land on my hands however when I commit 90%, I land on my head. And landing on my feet hurts less!

This reminds me of something my teacher, Ajari Jomyo Tanaka, once said (paraphrased)

Put your Spirit into what you do…this is best.

In today’s fast paced society, how easy is it to get sucked into the consumption mentality? Examples abound of quick fixes, magic pills, and entitlement. However, I am constantly reminded that anything truly worthwhile in life is usually on the long path. All of my proudest accomplishments took years and my latest acrobatic quest is going to take a while as well.

BUT, isn’t it the journey itself that is ripe with lessons, fun, and countless personal discoveries? Perhaps the ancients and their wisdom got it right…perhaps the most important investment in life is how and what we commit our body, mind, and spirit to…

Here is my very first attempt at a rings routine… naturally filmed at the end of a 2 hour session:

Last night I was with my massage therapist and he mentioned that every week when he works on me, he can feel changes in my body. As we talked a bit, he suggested I regularly blog on my progress of this body reconstitution project. I like his suggestion and so here goes.

This week is the first week of month 3 and I am full steam ahead and feeling the changes. Uldi wouldn’t let me get into a gymnastics gym until I dropped the 20 pounds so finally we’re in a gym and it’s pretty amazing. Notable for this week is the fact that I am no longer allowed to climb a rope using my feet. (which hey, I thought it was pretty cool to be able to climb a rope any which way!) Now I have to start sitting on the floor in a straddle and climb the rope with only my arms. Let’s just say it’s well, interesting.

This week was also my first time on a trampoline which was really cool. I felt like a little kid again…actually I spend lots of time feeling like a little kid which could be because I am surrounded by them at the gym or because I am constantly covered in white chalk like I was in 3rd grade. I, however, refuse to accept any notion of my being too old for this training.

Uldi has me doing much of my training in a weighted vest which I just increased from 20 to 30 lbs. Yesterday, Alvin and I went for a run from his house to a hill and then he dropped the bomb that our workout was to run up the hill and then immediately back down and then drop immediately into 20 reps of a core exercise where he stands behind me and I raise my legs vertically towards his chest and he pushes them back down. That was to be my rest period and we were to repeat this set 10 times…in the weight vest.

Today as I was a bit sore from Monday’s training on the rings and rope, Tuesday’s power tumbling, and yesterdays weighted run, Uldi decided he was going to destroy my core…and said “Don’t schedule anything fun tomorrow because you won’t be able to laugh.” 100 of the exercise I described above followed by 100 crunches, 100 v-snaps (lying flat, hands and feet meet above your stomach), and a few hundred other moves followed by plank and knee raises on the parallel bars, I think he may be right. He then reminds me if I stop eating like a pig, I’ll have that 6 pack soon.

Side note: My food intake is now 80% from a chef at an organic farm who prepares my meals with simple ingredients all gluten and dairy free and sends them to me. But hey pigs eat at organic farms too so he may have a point.

Physically I feel stronger and lighter than I ever have for sure. My flexibility is increasing and I can see clear changes in my body.

Mentally I am more determined than ever. One interesting thing about acrobatics is that it can’t be done 95%…each movement has to be 100% or nothing otherwise you risk injury. Such an endeavor can tend to bring up fears and doubts which Manu, my free running coach, pushes me through pretty intensively. I am loving this mental aspect of constant transcendence of fear.

Spiritually I feel lighter and freer. One of the things that occurred during the first 6 weeks of weight dropping was that some old baggage that was being stored in my tissues processed through and I had to let go of a few things. It was a first hand experience of how issues get stored in the tissues. My body rebelled and was angry at me for about 6 weeks. But all is better now and my spirit is soaring. For me this project is my path in 2012 to become physically, mentally, and spiritually not just stronger than has ever been possible but also fully integrated. One of the things that is most important to me in life is the attainment of spiritual and material/physical balance because it can be so easy to lean one way or the other. So this is my own personal challenge to integrate that.

The universe is also giving me an opportunity to work patiently on my patience. This lesson is coming in several forms, one of which is my physical training which I cannot push too hard lest I risk injury. Patience has never been my strongest quality but it’s one that I need for my next movements in life so I’m all for it. The thing about patience is that I can’t dive in head first cathartically like I do with fear. It’s kind of the opposite approach. I have to be patient with my own patience…it’s something of the yin aspect of the spiritual element of this training. The yang aspect would be commitment. So, patience and commitment in 2012.

How about you? Have you tuned into the lessons the universe is giving you in 2012? 2012 is a powerful year for many reasons….

Uldi and I had a little fun today. After telling me my first attempts at a front flip look like “a dead cat that the neighbor found in his pool and threw back,” we made a little tongue in cheek video about my training. Enjoy the Eastern European sarcasm as much as I do……without having to be told you look like a dead cat!

Part 2 in a series on creating abundance

When we go through intensely emotional experiences, usually in time they pass and we feel better. Oftentimes however that feeling of relief is more aligned with repressing the negative emotions than it is with actually transforming them and letting them go. Letting go can be one of the more difficult things in life as we seem to have a propensity towards holding onto the past. These repressed emotions can end up stored in the deep recesses of the unconscious mind (as well as physical body tissue) and direct and control our behaviors for a lifetime without us having any conscious awareness of why we are being compelled to think and act how we do. Even when we are aware of the “baggage,” it still can control us in ways that we do not even realize. It is natural for us to use our negative experiences to create walls and barriers that “protect us.” This is done with the benevolent intention of keeping us safe, however sometimes the maps we use to navigate the territory of our lives need to be upgraded. If you ever find yourself frustrated that your GPS doesn’t have what you’re looking for, you know what I mean.

A big aspect of moving towards the freedom of complete actualization is living from a higher state of awareness of both unconscious and higher consciousness aspects of our selves. When we do this, we can put aside our egos (For clarification here “ego” is not implied to be a bad thing but rather that aspect of our human selves that can keep our insight and vision limited) and move into harmony with higher universal vibrations which in turn draw more abundance and prosperity into our lives. Each emotion has a particular energetic vibration to it and the lower emotions of fear, sadness, defeat, anger, and jealousy cause us to make decisions from our ego/human self. We all do this, of course, however when we are willing to let go of the lower vibrations and align ourselves with love, compassion, mission, vision, strength, and purpose, our entire lives can shift.

Understanding and letting go of past baggage is a big aspect of this moving towards freedom and when we do this, we open the door to even better opportunities. Use the present to deal with the past in order to create the future which then becomes the present. All there really ever is is the center of now.

Now that I’ve delved a bit into the metaphysical, let’s get very practical.

Recently during the physical and emotional detox I underwent during my the first month of my 2012 self reconstitution project, (a few posts below on this blog) it became apparent there were a few things from my past I had to let go of in order to make room for far better opportunities. Based on my experiences, I offer the following advice to anyone wishing to or needing to let go of prior emotional traumas that are still with you on some level.

Decide you are ready and willing to do it at all cost and dive in with both feet. Commit. The power of commitment cannot be understated. When we commit to something, we block obstacles and hindrances.
Give your higher consciousness permission to heal it for you. Our bodies are built to heal when we get out of our way and allow it.
Realize that aspects of it will be difficult as you will be bringing up dark sludge that you had kept hidden within your shadow self. Allow yourself to be okay with that
Find a material object that reminds you of or is connected to the experience. Take this object and thank it for all it taught you. Tell it you are now releasing it and all negative associations and emotions with it back to the universe to make room for new and better opportunities.
Either throw the object off a cliff into a body of water or burn it in a fire. If you burn it in a fire, I recommend throwing salt on it. State that you wish that all negativity is thoroughly and completely purified.
Come up with a mental image of the situation you are holding onto and picture yourself letting it go. (For example…perhaps your image is of bags of rocks that are holding you back…you then just imagine cutting the rope that connects the bags to you)
Find a trusted friend or therapist to talk through the history of the experience. This will allow you to look back from a more detached perspective and disconnect emotion from fact and to understand why and how you held onto the negative emotions. Do this until the experiences no longer evoke negative emotions
Don’t spend too much time on it. Once the emotions process through, let it go and do not continue dwelling on or talking about it. It is not a part of your past. Take the lessons, leave the rest, and move forward
Don’t hold onto any items that are connected to the person or situation.
Give yourself permission to open to the even better opportunities that you just made space to attract.
And that’s it. It’s actually a pretty simple process though it can be difficult. There is no need to spend ten years in therapy. If you truly follow the above steps, you will have released the trauma faster than you might think possible. That was the case for me.