Part eighteen, and final in this series.
The final theme of "Mental Muscle" Spiritual Boot Camp was accountability. To kick off the week, James Mellon asked Boot Campers to explain why we took Boot Camp in the first place.
Back in January, my intention was merely to bring focus to James and The NoHo Arts Center for New Thought by writing this series. I was so grateful to have found James and the community he's cultivated that I felt compelled to "give back." Any benefit for me was not at the forefront of my thoughts at all.
After the first session of Boot Camp, I knew the series was no longer going to be a mere exercise in publicity. I could tell that "Mental Muscle" would involve an intense dissection of my thought process. Going through it half-assed wasn't going to serve me, let alone James or NoHo Arts.
I was scared. That first night, I found myself on the verge of hyperventilating because I wasn't sure what I had committed to. The self-doubt made it very difficult to choose "the word" that would follow me through 16 weeks. As my mind raced, I flashed to an experience I'd had when a friend invited me to sit in on a class taught by actress Dee Wallace.
I hadn't done any acting for years until that class. After one of the scenes I was participating in, Dee said to me, "You know how to play this, but I see you stepping outside yourself to think about what it looks like to the audience."
She walked towards me and put her finger on my forehead. "You're thinking it here." Then she put her hand on my chest. "You're not feeling it here."
A chill went through me. Dee instantly helped me understand I had a 'disconnect'. I also immediately recognized that the 'disconnect' existed not only in my acting choices, but in the way I was living my life. I knew things, but I wasn't sure I felt them with every fiber of my being.
The memory of this experience helped me settle on my word, which I was asked not to reveal outside of Boot Camp until the 16 weeks were over. I also decided I would never use the word during this series, and boy, was that hard!
My word was connection.
In the first private blog I wrote to James and Boot Campers, I expanded on my desire for connection. I wrote, "There are so many levels where I want to connect. I want to connect to new friends; especially new, close friends. I want to connect to a partner. I want to connect to a fulfilled life in Los Angeles. I want to connect to a larger world. More than anything, I want my intellect to connect with my spirit and my heart to connect with my head."
Through "Mental Muscle" I have accomplished 90% of what I wrote. I attribute that to the fact that I held myself completely accountable for every step of the journey. Nothing escaped my examination, as evidenced throughout this series. I've exposed a great deal of what's been going on in my head. Now, it's time to share what all of that hard work has brought me.
I've developed some of the strongest, equally balanced friendships I've ever had. Last year, I was ready to chuck the goals and dreams I had because I wasn't happy in Los Angeles. I thought the unhappiness was completely geographical. In finding a community I undeniably belong with, it is clear the issue was never L.A.
Before this year, I was strictly an entertainment writer. If someone had told me I'd write a piece about an arts program for California state prisons or friends trying to end world hunger, I probably wouldn't have believed it. I am no longer limited in the scope of what I write. The world is larger.
In terms of my intellect connecting with my spirit, there is no better example than what I chose to do for James' final Spiritual Boot Camp directive. We were asked to put together a "spiritual resume" and apply for the job of God.
The happiest of people I see have a light in their eyes. I equate the light with spirit, or God. During my initial conversation with James, I told him I wondered if people saw that light in my eyes. If they didn't, I needed to find that light.
For my spiritual resume, I found my favorite photo of me as a baby. The smile on my face is huge and the light in my eyes is brighter than anything. I scanned the photo and used Photoshop to place it next to a recent favorite photo of me. On my baby picture, I wrote "God Is." On the photo of me as an adult, I wrote, "I Am." In between the photos, I inlaid my word "connection."
Then I created a second image where the photos were faded, and on the baby picture side, I wrote, "The eyes are mine. The light in these eyes is me. It energizes me to see this and know I have no greater evidence of God as me." With that, I came to peace with The God Question.
The photo of me as an adult shows me in a Superman T-shirt. The words read, "The smile is mine. The smile on this face is the truth. I have grown into a hero. Paul Katz is a super man. The light has never left."
My spiritual journey continues, as does my accountability.
God Is. I Am. All is well. And so it is. Namaste.
Spiritual Boot Camp begins again in the fall of 2010.
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