What gives me the right to talk to you about how to live your life without anxiety? What is it about my life that qualifies me to feel that I have the answers?
The context for these videos
This is the second in a short series of videos in which I am picking stories from my own life to share with you – and using them to illustrate how I have achieved a life in which I feel I have become enormously rich terms of emotional wealth & well-being. In each video I use one of the Anxiety Freedom cards to illustrate my message. And the reason I’m doing this is to show you how you too can live a life free from anxiety and stress.
Please let me know what you think by commenting below!
In this video I’m going to be sharing with you what I learned from taking LSD. Now, just to be clear, I don’t condone the taking of psychedelic drugs, and this story happened 45 years ago, and it nearly killed me. But I did learn some important lessons from it, and that’s why I thought it was worth sharing.
To set the context, this is the second in a short series of videos in which I’m taking stories from my own life to share with you in order to illustrate how I’ve achieved a position where I feel enormously wealthy in terms of emotional and mental health, and I wasn’t always that way, I should say. In each video I’m picking one of the Anxiety Freedom Cards to illustrate my message, and the reason I’m doing this is to show you how you too can achieve a life free from anxiety and stress.
And the card that I’m picking today is the observing self.
And this is a part of you which is pure awareness. It’s the part that stands back and sees the bigger picture. It watches your life unfold as you go through the rollercoaster of daily life, but it doesn’t get involved, it’s pure awareness. And it’s, you might say it’s a metaphor, but it’s kind of a part that, of something that’s within every one of us, and we access it when we’re calm and relaxed and relatively still, when we can see the bigger picture. And you’ll see later why this is relevant.
So yesterday I spoke about, well, in the previous video, rather, I spoke about a time when I was 15, and my mum said something that had a big impact on me, and in some ways it shaped me to becoming a psychotherapist later in life. In this video we’re skipping back to 1973 when I was 17, and engaged in normal teenage behavior, which basically is taking daft risks.
And to explain the shirt, I started playing guitar in 1964 when The Beatles were in the charts, but when I was a teenager, Jimi Hendrix was doing his thing. And I was hugely inspired by his playing, not so much the noisy stuff, I liked the more lyrical, the gentle side of Jimi Hendrix. And so in the spirit of the three things that were always gonna be in my life, which were sex, drugs and rock and roll, I thought I’d share a little bit of Jimi. So let’s play this. This is the introduction from “Little Wing.”
So yeah, a little bit of Jimi Hendrix for you there. Let’s go back to ‘73, then, what happened? I was with three friends, and we took off for a weekend in North Wales in a caravan and in a Fiat 500, so it was one of those really early Fiat 500s, the tiny ones, and we all packed into this car and drove off to North Wales. And we all took LSD, and none of us stayed sane, stayed straight, which was a stupid thing to do anyway. And during that trip I had an experience where I was absolutely, totally convinced that I was about to die.
It’s hard to put it into words now, it doesn’t make sense now, and in fact a lot of what I experienced I can’t really put into words. But it set me on a path of wondering what had happened to me and trying to make sense of the world. And also, the thing that really freaked me out at that time is that I had an experience which I can only describe as realizing that time was not linear. Now, I know that sounds crazy, stoned, and all the rest of it, but for me it was absolutely real. And it was so frightening that I honestly thought I was going to die. And what did it teach me? Well, it taught me not to take LSD, for one thing.
I was educated as a scientist. I was good at maths, physics and chemistry, and I did engineering at university. But this experience taught me that there’s something that is essentially mysterious about our existence in this world. And embracing this sense of mystery and questioning it has helped me to stay balanced, I think. So although there’s a logical, analytical, scientific side to me, there’s also a part that understands, or doesn’t understand, embraces a sense of mystery in life, and I think that’s healthy.
The other thing it taught me is that living through an experience in which you’re certain that you’re gonna die helps you to live a better life. It helps you to prioritize and value the things that matter in life.
And thirdly, our sense of time is personal. It isn’t linear the way we think it is. And in fact I know that when I play guitar and get completely lost in it, time can stand still. And I just like to play with this idea that time, you know, Eckhart Tolle, “The Power of Now,” he writes about being in the moment, and in a sense in my therapeutic work I use a lot the idea that the past and the future are stories that we tell ourselves. They don’t exist, you know. You can’t breathe in the past, you can’t breathe in the future, you can only ever breathe in the present. And there’s that lovely saying, the past is history, the future is a mystery, and all we have, really, is right now. And it’s a gift, and that’s why it is called the present. So yes, for me time isn’t linear, but it is created by narrative, it’s created by the stories that we tell ourselves about the situation that we’re in.
And the final thing it taught me is that you can survive anything if you just keep breathing.
So please scroll down, leave a comment, let me know what you think about this. I’d love to hear your comments and to hear where you stand on this issue.
So just to summarize, we’ve talked about the observing self, a story about me being 17 years old and taking LSD in a very risky and rather stupid way, but it inspiring me to learn more about myself, more about the universe. Please comment below, and whatever else you do, don’t forget to keep breathing.