Spirit Ride by Luis
Submitted to Naropa's Admissions Office
April 10, 2011
The Writing Request:
Naropa University is a place where transformation happens. Our students examine who they are, their roles in the world, and how they want to meet the world and change it for the better. In a minimum of one page, please tell us about a transformational experience you have had and how it enhanced your ability to see another person’s view, alter your own view, or engage with the issue or your community in a new way.
In December of 1976 I had what we in the south gently call a ‘nervous breakdown.’ I admitted myself to a psychiatric facility in Plainview, Texas and was there for three weeks. The previous summer, I had taken acid (LSD) three or four times with a lover and was also eating marijuana brownies at the time of hospital admission. I had been attending court reporting school and was recently divorced, experiencing a lot of stress and pressure. I was definitely having some sort of psychotic break, although I now believe that schizophrenia was a misdiagnosis. I’ve added a short story in the box for sample writings about the day in January of 1977 when my parents and I were told that I suffered from pseudo neurotic schizophrenia. This diagnosis led me to much introspection and self discovery, with some good and some bad therapeutic help along the way. I became a chela of Eckankar in the summer of ’76 and was talking about reincarnation, karma, and soul travel during my hospital stay. As you might imagine, this was not well received at High Plains Baptist Hospital. And although I knew I was in the midst of a spiritual awakening and a core identity crisis, I narrowly missed being sent for shock therapy treatments. At some point I realized it was important to become a bit more, ah, sedate and compliant if I was going to get out. I spent the entire year of 1977 under the influence of heavy anti-psychotic drugs, and began to take the dose down on my own, weaning myself from the medicine by early in 1978. I got back to Austin, and the adventures continued, with a suicide attempt in early 1979 and two visits at the State Hospital. I continued to experiment with street drugs, as a from of self-medication, which added to my mental imbalance.
During the mental illness episode, I felt that everything around me was offering support, love and guidance and that I was protected and cherished by all that exists. Songs came on the radio at just the right moments, with profound messages for me. It felt that everything was happening just as it should. At some point, I believed that my father was a shaman and had created all that was in the world, just for me. I found a lot of humor in what was taking place, and kept everyone around me laughing. My memory of a sense of oneness with everything and everyone is still with me and was reactivated and enhanced by a kundalini awakening I experienced at a Tantra workshop in 2000. As I look back on the psychosis in 1976, I can see that it was a spiritual emergency and awakening, but no one around me understood that, or knew how to guide me through it.
The stigmatism of mental illness has softened me to the hardships of others. My view of people and their trials and tribulations has forever changed. I feel that I can relate to anyone, in any kind of condition, because of my walk through the mental health industry. I continued my studies with Eckankar until I obtained the 5th initiation, which is into the priesthood. I ended my outer relationship with the organization a few years ago, because I saw the need to transcend all teachings and institutions. My meditative practice these days is more about my daily connection to nature, breath and the Divine Feminine. I want to continue practices that allow me to be in the zone of oneness and wholeness that I experienced in the midst of that nervous breakdown. The teachings of sacred sexuality have helped me cultivate that presence and understand how to help people heal with it. I would likely not have had the life of study in the esoteric realms without the breakdown and the interest and connection to Eckankar. I’m grateful for both.