True Stories: From Screenplay to Screen Play

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Photo taken at the back lot of Universal Studios

Disclaimer: This true life event happened in January 2010

It was nearly a year after I left the army. What a relief to leave the grips of an organisation that wanted to control my life — if not the world — and not have a say in it. I left the army with all the benefits and decided to do some schooling. Not knowing what I wanted to study, I went back to NYC and suddenly remembered the school I had had my eye on before I left high school: New York Film Academy. I thought since I would be able to study in the city, and receiving all the benefits from attending, I could save as much money as possible for whatever I next wanted to do. However, when I visited NYFA, they told me that the NYC branch didn’t accept the GI-Bill that was created that year, but the Los Angeles branch did. I was extremely nervous about going to California, but finally decided to go ahead with it. Being in LA, where all the movie magic happens, was a once in a lifetime chance. So, I jumped in my car and drove over to LA where I would meet the roommates I had assembled and start my studies as a filmmaker.

After the first two days of school, I thought it was the most amazing thing. My class mates and I got to play with cameras on the first day, the second we were writing a small screenplay (or script), which we would film in the back lot of Universal Studios — yup, I had definitely made the right decision. The next day in the back lot, I was standing in an old western bar, listening to the coordinator who was explaining the rules and safety regulations. All the different programs studying film making were given three actors to work with, it turned out that I was the first one to start filming my small story, which involved an exchange. It was the very first time directing actors to do a short film, I felt extremely nervous and did my best to be a Director.

The actors that I received were exactly what I needed for my story, one woman and one man, however, I was missing an actor. It took some time for the final actor to come and I thought it was going to mess up my film. The coordinator, herself, came to me and apologised for the wait. She offered me a young actor, who turned out to be excellent at acting as well. I considered myself lucky to meet those actors that day, they listened to everything I told them and adjusted themselves the way I needed. Looking through the lens of the camera and seeing the actors bring my material to life, giving direction, well, the most amazing feeling rushed over me and I could see the instant creation of motion picture in front of me. I remembered all those times in my life when I used to watch bloopers of movies I loved. I used to laugh and wish I could be apart of a creation that many people in the world would see — it still fills my heart today and drives me to make more films. When I finally sat down at the end of that day, I thought about where the nervousness went and how fluid I was in the middle of everything. It was one of the happiest days in my life.

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How to REALLY Communicate

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Photo taken at the Tor, Glastonbury, UK

If there is one thing that has room for improvement, its interpersonal communication. There are only a few people out there that are really good at it, and well, the rest have a lot of catching up to do — including me. That does sounds harsh, but lets be honest here, communication wasn’t taught in standard schooling and isn’t practiced enough in a constructive way. The majority of the time, learning how to communicate came from watching our parents and feeling our way blindly through society. The communication I refer to is the common everyday interactions that tend to lack any real substance. How to REALLY communicate, requires a few key elements.

Trust:

In society today, trust is the element that is dangling in the wind — the point of view of the city life style. In small communities, trust is a whole lot stronger because people tend to know everyone anyway. However, trust plays a major role when communicating, it requires a certain level of vulnerability in an individual. Human connection is lacking in our modern day and, as time progresses, this connection will become weaker and weaker, if we let it. Not only is trust among people suffering, trust within ourselves is wavering as well. Learning discernment, and paying attention to how you truly feel are important factors to building trust within the self — this, in turn, will be reflected in our reality when communicating with other people.

Thinking:

Too often we don’t think deeply enough before speaking. A lot of the time there are reactions to what other people say and not enough responding. To react means to take what the another person says personally and immediately reflect back to that person an equally or more hurtful statement. To respond means to hear what the person is saying, understand how the person feels and use empathy. Its also important to be as clear as possible when conveying ideas and feelings with another person, as well as listening carefully.

If someone is in the position of the speaker and is leading a conversation which involves requesting something of another person, it’s best to be as clear as possible in order to not create confusion. In a marriage, a wife may say to her husband, in an irritated tone: “We never talk about anything,” implying she wants to talk about something more in depth. The husband could take this as an attack or criticism. He could also think: “We just talked about what to eat for dinner.” To communicate more effectively, and get what you want, the wife could say: “It was such a beautiful sunny day, how did you feel during work today?” This has the potential to open up a person for connection, more than hearing something that sounds like an antagonistic statement, rather than a clear request.

If the person in the position of the listener is left in a place where he or she feels they have to react rather than respond, its best to pay close attention to what the speaker is saying and choose a response that appropriately fits the situation. For example: A customer may say to a store employee: “You’re an asshole for not letting me use the restroom!” As a response to that customer, the store employee could say: “It seems you’re very frustrated at the moment, since you really need to use the toilet, however, next door has toilets that are open to the public.” The store employee does two things here; first, he or she doesn’t take personally what the customer has said to him/her; and secondly, assists in providing a solution that would fulfill the customer’s need. We all know the need to use the restroom has the potential to prevent us from being calm. In other situations, listening could require additional empathy, refer to my blog about Listening.

Finding the Bravery:

To open up and connect with another person you don’t know demands a lot of courage. A lot of people out there, including myself, are genuinely shy people — undercover introverts. However, if the desire to make connections is there, certain steps need to be taken. The first step is to assure yourself that the other person is NOT going to destroy you. As a person taking initiative in starting a conversation, it can be nerve-wracking, as negative thoughts about how the other person will perceive you seep into your mind. You begin to sweat, stutter, or loose track of what you wanted to say to begin with — take your time. The second step is to be confident in who you are, that means don’t be afraid to talk about yourself, but don’t forget to listen to what the other person has to say about themselves too. Often times, when you start a conversation, you find a common interest and things progress organically — that’s the goal! The third step is to realise that not everyone is going to want to connect with you right away — or at all — and that is perfectly fine. Keep in mind that the people who come into your life are meant to, even if things look horrible.

In short, how to REALLY communicate requires, trust, thinking, empathy and responding. With these tool at your disposal you’ll see yourself much more clearly and thus you’ll see other people a lot more clearly, too. You’ll establish connections that’ll be much more solid and long-lasting — that’s what it’s all about. We’re here to connect with each other and grow, spiritually, emotionally and mentally.

Authenticity and Blogging

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Photo taken in Dominican Republic

Throughout the last eight days, I have been participating in a thirty-day blog challenge with a close friend of mine from NYC. With each blog I’ve worked hard to produce pieces of writing that are authentic and close to me, however, some online magazines that republish blogs and articles have told me that one of the blogs I sent them for submission was in too much of a “bloggy” tone. Until this day I have no idea what that means, but it does raise alarm bells in my mind.

Being overall grateful to even get this kind of reply, I had to really think about my style. I strive to be as authentic as I can, writing in a way so that it feels like I’m speaking with you face to face. My favorite book, “Hector and the Secrets of Love,” has the style closest to what I want to achieve in my writing. The whole reason I decided to take on this blogging challenge is to practice how to use words in the best possible way. For the longest time, I believed my writing was the most horrible thing on the planet, and that my imagination can go far beyond the limitation of grammar and punctuation. However, being a film-maker and wanting to write my own scripts, I had to focus on creating texts that touch people’s hearts in a way that films can’t do.

I’ve spent a lot of time in my life being different and standing out; from presenting Japanese as a language portfolio in high school in order to graduate— Spanish being the only language taught at the time— to marrying my wife and taking her last name. I continue to ask myself: how authentic can I be when I do anything? As the years go by, it’s becoming harder and harder to be very different in a world filled with people all doing the same thing. Nonetheless, I still find some way to surprise myself and the people around me.

Blogging is certainly not an easy thing, especially on a daily basis. Spending a lot of time daydreaming, I tend to create things in pictures more than textual concepts. For so long, I’ve been training my awareness in order to take these daydreams and turn them into films, which was challenging enough. Now, bending my mind to be more aware of the philosophical concepts going on in my mind and translating it into text is new territory I’m venturing into. For those who know me, they would say I have a certain kind of wisdom to me. Blending the elements of blogging, visuals, philosophical concepts and wisdom into a 500 to 2000 word document without boring the reader sounds right up my alley for achieving authenticity and distinguishment — the joy of making my own words.

Only a few more days (21) until this challenge is over. I’m not exactly sure if I’ll keep writing every day after that but I’ll be sure to type away with a new heightened state of awareness. The keen desire for authenticity in all the things I do really drives my creativity and motivates me in life, and, it’s a fine time to take control and embrace this hidden talent in me. No need to worry, you have talents too, and they’ll be there until you are ready to see them.

Closer than you think: Happiness

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Taken in Central Park, NYC

In the middle of eating dinner with my wife and her sister — the most delicious dish of leek, PSB (purple sprouting broccoli), and cauliflower smothered in cheese with garlicky spring greens — we had Brian Buckley’s Band playing in the background. As my wife and her sister chatted away, I was sitting in the lap of happinesses. There is something mystical about the combination of great food, great company and great music. The happiness felt incredibly nostalgic, with a mixture of childhood memories, and continual sensation of the feeling you have when you get goosebumps. Those prolonged moments of bliss were so astonishing my wife and her sister didn’t even notice my joyful tear drops. Some questions arose in my mind as I was experiencing it all: Why can’t I feel like this all the time? I pondered and realised that all the worry, disappointments, anger, negative thoughts were holding up this grey brick wall and preventing me from feeling happy in every moment.

There are endless amounts of articles, websites, youtube videos on the subject of happiness and how you can obtain it. Ten, seven, three essential ways; all encouraging people in to keep reaching out for it. Many people think they need to have a specific job, person or car to experience this seemingly untouchable destination of happiness. The most difficult thing a lot of people will avoid; is face themselves. It’s too painful, too sad, takes too much time— a genuine cop out, excuses practiced so well as children that we now carry with us into adulthood. Happiness is behind all those difficulties, waiting like a treasure to be taken. Cultivating evasive justifications, procrastination and resistance is what’s causing all the misery. To make it more complicated, the thoughts that are associated with discomfort, anger and angst, lead people away from their happiness.

People aren’t stupid. Everyone knows exactly what makes them upset and, at the other end, incredibly joyous. We all think that it’s not alright to feel the bad things we feel — we learn this growing up. However, it’s important to remember that “negative” feelings are still valid feelings and they need just as much time and freedom to express themselves in order for us to access happiness, just as we put the time in work to make money. If we invested the same amount of energy into actually giving ourselves empathy, hugs, words of encouragement; that grey wall would diminish quickly.

Pay attention to your thoughts! When you’re becoming angry or sad, take note as to what you’re saying to yourself. When you’re feeling light in your body, smiling,977A0386F take note to what you’re saying to yourself. Do this often enough and that trusty good ol’ subconscious of yours will take over for you and that happiness you want will shine brightly. Many of you will want “practical” ways of doing it. If that’s the case, then you’ll need a pen and paper and to write those thoughts down — better yet, use your smart phone, get a note taking app and type your thoughts in, write the situation and feelings associated with the thoughts. In the end there really are no steps, you just have to pay close attention to yourself. Don’t be so quick to throw out ideas as to what is creating your emotions; really dig in and find the core of how you’re feeling. Happiness is much closer to you than you think.

Kambô; From Poison to Medicine: Session 1

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Taken the night after the Kambô ceremony

There once was an Amazonian Shaman named Kampu. His people fell ill and he had done everything he could to cure them, using all the medicinal herbs known to him. Kampu journeyed into the forest and, under the effect of Ayahuasca, was visited by God. A large frog was handed to him and Kampu was shown how to take the white secretion from the frog and apply this as a new medicine. Shaman Kampu returned to his people and cured his fellow tribesmen. After he died, Kampu’s spirit lived on in the frogs and his people continued to use the poison to stay active and healthy. From: Kambô, The Spirit of the Shaman.

Kambô works closely with the heart and with the immune system. The frog, Phyllomedusa bicolor, secretes a poison which contains antibiotic properties that have been shown to be very powerful treatments for diseases such as Parkinson, AIDS, cancer and other maladies. In other words, the poison has the potential to reset the body to a much healthier state. And, on an energetic level, this medicine can raise the frequency of body.

My wife and I heard about Kambô through a spiritual teacher we follow, our interests were piqued. We did our research and found a practitioner in the UK. A total of three sessions are sufficient in order to have the full effect of the medicine, so our first session took place in Glastonbury —the heart chakra of the world. My wife was much more nervous about this ceremony than I was, due to the fact that she hadn’t ever tried anything like this. For me, as long as I know it’s safe, I’m willing to try anything at least once.

The frog secretion has a strong effect on the intestines and bowels and results in deep purging, the most common of which being vomiting. My wife and I had to fast leading up to the ceremony, beginning the night before. At the venue, before the application of the poison, we had to drink six pints of spring water —this definitely helps to keep from dry heaving and whatever needs to come out can come out smoothly. Other people attended and we all sat in a half circle and I watched as each person, one by one, would go up to the practitioner and get their poison applied to them.

As you can see from the photo above, a number of dots are burnt into the arm. Usually it’s in a straight line, and typically it’s from the top of the shoulder downward, but since I had my tattoo the practitioner was creative and went around it. Seven dots is the basic start if it’s your first time as a man, five dots for a woman. The practitioner did all seven burns first and then applied one dot of the frog poison. This was to get the body prepared a little for the rest of the application. As the practitioner prepared the rest, I began to feel my heart pounding; almost like how you feel if you have been running for a long time. I could feel the blood flowing and the heat rising in my body; “Oh shit,” I said to myself.

After all seven dots were applied I went to my spot next to my wife and continued to observe how I felt. I look around briefly as I could see the shadow of agony in some people’s faces as they were going through their process. I learned a while back that to fight things, only causes more pain. I closed my eyes and tuned into the sound of my heart beating louder and louder. My body temperature raised rapidly, I could feel the water coming out of my pores on my forehead. A helper sat next to me and spoke with a gentle voice, I couldn’t hear him since my heart beat drowned everything out; as if ascending to a high altitude, things around me became quiet. I couldn’t focus on anything outside myself anymore. At this point I wanted to purge, I wanted this stuff out of my body, whatever it was! Whatever was causing me agony at the moment I wanted it out. It felt like something was digging into my being, drawing up things in my body so I could purge. I begged my body to let it go and nothing. The helper was blowing palo santo incense to help bring up what needed to come out, I leaned to one side of my body, a small bucket between my legs ready to catch what I purged. My body held on as it may have had its own resistance to the poison. Until finally, release.

After a while I started to feel a whole lot better, those five to seven minutes felt so much longer. I could finally hear the helper who was next to me again as I accepted his encouraging words. My body started to cool down, I could feel sweat all over. A deep relaxation settled over me and all I wanted to do was lay down, my wife next to me still going through her process. I curled up under a small blanket we had brought with us and I basked in the peace of mental silence, I almost felt like I was laying in a field of tall grass on a summer evening.

Twenty minutes later my wife and I left and got something to eat. I was in complete zen mode, as every step I took was perfectly placed. Any movements I made were with grace and care; that night we slept very well.

Since my wife and I couldn’t do it three days straight, as it’s done in the USA, we’re left to do our sessions with a month gap between them. In the next Kambô blog I’ll explain what I went through and felt leading up to the second session. Until next time.

A Walk in the Sand Dunes

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Taken near Eastleigh, UK

I was leaving from my weekly college class the other day, the sun shining directly onto me in the direction I needed to walk in; you can see from the photo above. I was in a state of detachment from the world and the people around me. I looked up, the sun rays engulfed me and immediately I felt like I was walking in the middle of a desert. With traditional Japanese music playing in my wireless headphones, my journey to the train station turned into a stroll through a sand dune.

I could see myself dressed in a long brown cloak with white wool clothed material, along with a grey turban to shield me from the suns rays; walking in a vast desolate space filled with gently blowing sand. I hold a long rope that sagged in the middle, three feet in front of my camel, I walk. A clear sky, filled with an unbelievable amount of blue that you can almost touch, the sun was fixed in front of me on the street. I could imagine only seeing my foot prints behind me as I walked in a direction that only had sand as far I could see. The sounds of the music in my ears made me feel like I was a lonely merchant walking to a far new land in search for products for business and trade. As I come to a crossing, a car passes in front of me, I approached the other side walk stepping over a puddle; I blink my eyes and see in my sand dune, the heat waves rising off the ground in the distance. A small pain in the ball of my right foot propelled me to imagine the hot sand going through my sandals, the slight frictionoman-sand-dunes_1124684c between the sand and my barefoot giving me a massaging sensation. The shuffling of what was in my backpack made me think that my camel and I were walking through the hot desert than actually being in our modern city street. I walked by a school where small children were playing outside, the thought of hearing the winds moaning in the distance as I place one foot in front of the other through the sand. Feeling more removed from my current reality, I bask in my imagination that seemed much more fulfilling.

I raised my head up to the sun, letting its warmth fill my face. I imagine being at a small oasis, poring cool water over my hot sweaty head. The soothing feeling of these opposing sensations fill my heart with calmness and tranquility. At the train station I stand in a stairwell, I can hear the wind making a gentle whisper near the hand rail. I move closer and I place my hand out as the wind seeps through my fingers. The sand falling through my fingers at the oasis, the orange light of the dusk sun. The world I’ve created is coming to a close as the train pulls into the station. The music drowns out as reality is back in motion.

The Inner Children 2

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Taken at the Glastonbury Tor, UK

Revealing another one of my inner work experiences, which involves taking a feeling to explore and guiding it towards integration. For this particular feeling some very new discoveries and old mysteries emerge.

I started with the feeling of unworthiness. A current situation that resulted in me feeling this was not receiving attention from the friends I consider close and dear to me. Moving to England had taken its toll on me and I needed them the most, those that were back in New York City. Once again I settle into my meditative state and allow the feeling of unworthiness consume me. It rushes over me like a flame on paper, sinking to my stomach (solar plexus) area, vibrating like the sound a rock makes as it hits the bottom of an empty drum.

“When was the first time you felt unworthiness?” My inner voice mutters, as I poke energetically through the darkness, waiting for an image to appear. In a matter of moments a memory appeared when I was about 12 or 13 years old, a girl I liked with long black hair and pale skin play-fighting with another one of my male friends. Play-fighting on my couch in the first apartment I grew up in, the younger me had invited her to the apartment because he was very fond of her, but because he was overly shy he asked his other friend to join them. The younger me watched as I could feel from him the unworthiness of being unable to have her touch and receive her playful smile. However, I knew it wasn’t the original birthplace of unworthiness. I watched it for a while longer as I could feel the emanating rays of unworthiness coming from the younger version of myself.

It took a little longer than normal. Since I do the process so much, I would automatically assume the origin of a feeling would appear around the toddler age — a thought of daycare emerged. This version of myself was roughly 3 to 5 years of age. At that age I was very attached to my mother, whenever I was taken to daycare I would become very upset when my mother left me there. I would cry because she left me, an aspect of the origin of unworthinesses revealed itself. I couldn’t believe how little it took to feel unworthy, just this action, but then something else revealed itself instantly. The head care taker, a beautiful woman whose name I still remember till this day, held me in her arms. I watched how this woman held the younger me as if I were her own. He, the younger me, looked at her with great intensity, he was in love with this woman. What I felt from my younger self lit up my entire body like a christmas tree, immediately, tears of uncontrollable happiness flooded out of my eyes. The tender feeling of concentrated love beamed into the younger me as the care taker looked right back into his eyes with the same intensity. A mixture of romantic love and motherly love filled my mind, her dark hair with fair white skin, the birth of my preference in women.

Part of the inner child work (if you choose to go further into this) is to change aspects of the past with a version that would better suit you. By recreating this memory you realign the energy of yourself that has been distorted. Watching the immense love coming from the care taker I decided to assign her as my mother. The current version of myself materialised in the room and I stood with both of them, my hand around my caretaker as the younger me in her arms. As soon as that happened I was propelled to the first memory of my 12-13 year old version of myself that had been watching the girl he liked having fun with his other male friend. I appeared behind him and put my hands on his shoulders. He looked up at me and we both looked at the two playing, my caretaker also emerged and knelt down next to the younger me. She stroked his cheek and the intense feeling of love encased him. This version of myself had dissolved into my being and filled the empty shell that had been displayed to me before (in previous post). I proceeded by asking the younger me: “What would you like to do now?” He said confidently, “I don’t want my friend to be here, I just want her with me.” And so we made it so that the girl was alone with him and it was revealed to me the possibility that that girl didn’t really find the other guy interesting but had wanted to be just with me the entire time. I felt an instant release in my current body, which filled my heart.

This process was so intense that afterwards I felt exhausted. The rest of the day I was depleted and slept really well that night. A discovery within discoveries happened in that session, one in which I’m extremely proud of.