By Hakeem Alexander
(Exercising Your Mind)
“Fear, the worst of all enemies, can be effectively cured by forced repetition of acts of courage.” (1)
Keeping it Real
The idea I desire to impart here is a summary of my own personal experience, regarding some major benefits of practicing Healthy-Living and Self-Defense, from an improved mental health perspective. I have, through self-determined efforts and forced repetition of acts of courage, experienced radical shifts in my behavior, personality and internal communication. This has become overtly apparent to me upon a retrospective analysis of my activities, and the feedback I have received in the form of concrete results. Taking personal responsibility for my circumstances and allying myself with mentors and other productive relationships, has proven invaluable in this transformative process.
I am offering these alternatives to drugs and “traditional treatment” for mental health because my personal experience and much documented and hidden evidence proves them to be less effective in the long-term. Not only are the so-called traditional treatments not effective, they are dangerous and more likely to enslave you to a mortgage; an engagement until death. And it is these mainstream, medical treatments that will certainly be the cause of pain and death.
Alternatively, these anecdotes will give you a glimpse of how my adoption and adaptation of martial arts, hypnosis, and nutrition, have been integrated into a personal system of Healthy-Living and Self-Defense. I am certain this will encourage you to be courageous in taking responsibility for any of your own Personal Exploration Topics; whether you have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, or just want an edge over the daily contributors to stress in our backwards world.
“In Reality Therapy we emphasize behavior; we do not depend upon insight to change attitudes because in many cases it never will” (2)
Many years ago, for reasons I have yet to specifically identify, my thoughts became increasingly distracted by fear and paranoia. The resulting actions were irrational, and many times led to me being arrested, jailed and involuntarily committed to mental health institutions for treatment. Fortunately I was not held in the hospitals for long, primarily because I did not have medical insurance. I would usually be kicked out the back door of these hospitals after three days of observation, and the state was no longer paying for my stay.
The improvement in my ability to internally and externally communicate, and effectively act upon my environment are not merely artifacts of maturation. For I have observed and know many persons who’s criminal and illogical functioning continue, and even hasten into degeneration as they age. In addition, the reasons for my degradation, I previously noted having had difficulty in determining, can be inferred due to the circumstances of my recovery. These factors when omitted from my activities and motivations, for purposes of observation, quickly prove to be the therapeutic resolution, as my thought processes begin a familiar declination into misery in their absence. in effect, upon resuming these protocols, the foul symptoms vanished. It was taking personal responsibility for maintaining these curative conditions, that yielded success.
“Gaining insight into the unconscious thinking which accompanies aberrant behavior is not an objective; excuses for deviant behavior are not accepted and one’s history is not made more important than one’s present life” (3)
Having witnessed the sinful hypocrisy of my religious leaders and church-goers, experiencing first hand traumas within my nuclear family, along with disturbing encounters with extended family members, racism from police, and living in hostile, urban neighborhoods; I was primed to blame other people for my inner turmoil and violent frustrations as this pathos-laden allegory might suggest. Many well-meaning, therapists, counselors, teachers and other so-called authority figures, even encouraged this outer-directed mind-set as being justified.
Interestingly enough, one of the main motivations for my self-recovery, came from my heavy paranoia, strengthened by the horrific conditions I observed and experienced in the “care” of state hospitals and institutions. All of this under the observation of licensed medical and health care professionals, FDA approved, and “traditional treatment.” I didn’t want to get locked up by those real crazy people any more!
However, no matter how much I isolated myself from God, felt alone and distrusted my own family and friends; despite the complexity of any paranoid delusions, regardless of the intense despair, depression and near crippling fear I was deeply feeling -I somehow decided to be vigilant. Perhaps it was because I trusted no one, that I felt the only solution was to take matters into my own hands. In some way, I realized that one of my primary afflictions was insecurity and fear. Therefore, I determined to make of myself one who is so able to respond, that I could abolish fear by my very being through forced repetition of acts of courage.
“…especially strong emotions are better seen as strong signals, sent by an especially powerful soul in need of new direction or special fulfillment.” (4)
Random Acts of Violins
A major turning point came when Jose Canelo introduced me to the art-form known as Capoeira. It was a perfect match for my deluded, fantasy ridden mentality. Instead of being directed to focus on one activity, I was encouraged through Capoeira to sing; play instruments; dance; play games; and learn how to fight -all at the same time. It was as if the slaves from Africa who created this art on Brazilian soil, launched a major rebellion right under the noses of the slave masters. The slaves were forbidden many forms of expression. At one point they could not, sing, play instruments, dance, play games and especially not learn how to fight! But indeed they responded with the greatest possible action – they combined all of these prohibited activities into one and threw it in whitey’s face concurrently!
Since some of my fears were of being raped, killed, or otherwise physically dominated and destroyed, I viewed Capoeira as a means to focus all of my experience with street-fighting, punch-outs and other hostile confrontations, into a fantastic, graphic-novel style form of personal self-defense. Capoeira has effectively saved me from a possible fate of violent death. I became so obsessed with Capoeira, to the point of daily practicing between six to nine hours at the sunny Fort Lauderdale beach. As a result of this, my skills and confidence grew enormously, and I was finding myself less-frequently in hotheaded altercations.
In my pre-school years I was very advanced in contrast with my peers. I was even elected for a test that would have given me scholarship to an accelerated learning program, but I refused. I was extremely articulate and able to read at a high school level before I was in kindergarten. But sometime between thirteen and fifteen years of age, I began to lose my ability to focus and concentrate. My reading comprehension diminished and memory gave way to morbid distractions. Having greatly enjoyed literature, I took it upon myself to recover this faculty, and began writing poetry as a way to vent my growing escapist mentality and suicidal ideation’s.
“The turning point in the lives of those who succeed usually comes at the moment of some crises, through which they are introduced to their ‘other selves.” (5)
Browsing the poetry section of the local bookstores, I happened upon a section called ”
Self-Help.” Being just the adventure I had begun, I immediately recognized this as a sign, and quickly adopted the habit of frequenting this section of every bookshop I visited. To conquer my social anxiety, I volunteered as a presenter for an open-mic poetry night at one of these book-sellers. Prior to that, I joined the school bands, chorus, theatre and, a Satanic Death Metal band, not affiliated with the school, named Acrimonium.
Besides the fact that I would count every individual object I could, like bathroom tiles and was preoccupied with numbers; it would appear I was also a bit obsessive-compulsive. What began as a mean to overcome public anxieties turned into a fanatical drive to get involved with all manner of look at me stuff. But looking further back I realize it all started as a way to drown out persistent and intense audio hallucinations (voices) during my waking hours and synesthetic hallucinations (visions, bodily sensations) during the night. I would wake up to demons, black dogs, aliens, succubi and other frightening bogeymen.
One way of dealing with this was to turn on the radio and sing loudly to whatever pop was on. Later, having had much bedroom concert practice, being a front-man for several Death Metal bands gave me an excuse to give in to sudden outbursts of demonic sounding guttural growls and screams. While I was suffocating the voices, everyone else just assumed it was some sort of rehearsal or showboating from an incoherent pompous blowhard.
One of the great benefits of sharing my creativity and public performances, was positive feedback. Before I was fearful everyone was out to get me, but now I had reason to doubt that. Some of the more persistent underlying fears were diminishing rapidly.
“When a man acts in such a way that he gives and receives love, and feels worthwhile to himself and others, his behavior is right or moral.” (6)
An effect of being paranoid was creating delusions to justify the fear. One of the reasons I rationalized that others wanted to do me harm was because not only was I worthless, but I was a burden to them and society. But after experiencing more acceptance of my music, poetry and other art, these limiting beliefs were greatly reduced.
We help ourselves by helping you
An amazing opportunity and responsibility was presented to me by the Art Director and owner of the Miami Art Department, Jerry Blohm. Jerry hired me for so many music video and feature film productions taking place in South Florida, I was too busy and grateful for negativity. It remains to be one of my most impressive life experiences. By simply entrusting me with duties crucial to these productions as a prop assistant and set-dresser, and not micro-managing me as many insecure supervisors do, Jerry was integral in my building of character. Now, I wasn’t just showing off my talents, I was actually part of a productive and much sought after team. With this boost in confidence and new skills learned from the Miami Art Department, I relocated to California. It was not as fun out here in L.A. working in film and T.V., and I longed to express myself as before had given me such a feeling of freedom.
After I wasn’t making money in film any more, my sister Natasha soon sent me four-hundred dollars which I put to use as tuition for a Optimum Performance Trainer certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. My brain was now overflowing with creative ideas of how to utilize certain credentials to boost my independence and earning power. However, I was struggling with many internal conflicts; I continued feeling a bit paranoid and quite delusional.
So, desiring to take personal responsibility for the situation and continue the momentum of forced repetition of acts of courage, I sought out a good school to learn psychotherapy. I visited a few of the institutions. They were all pretty much the same. Like jails. Very similar to the one I was first taken to when out in California when I was fifteen. I became quickly disillusioned by the prospect of being party to some poor, fearful person’s torture and the overwhelming reality of many years of brainwashing called university. I opted instead for a promising program to help people in the same way I was helping myself; through personal motivation. I discovered America’s First Nationally Accredited College of Hypnotherapy; the Hypnosis Motivation Institute.
“…every psychotic may be a potential sage or healer and to the extent that negative psychotics are burdens to society, to that extent can positive psychotics be assets. … recognize the positive potential of psychosis — a potential so overwhelming that I am almost tempted to call psychotics the evolutionary vanguard of our species. They possess the secret of changing reality by changing the mind; if they can learn to use that talent for positive ends, there are no limits to what they can accomplish.” (7)
Exercising Your Mind
Having had previous experience with the Church of Scientology, and being exposed to their demonized interpretation of psychiatry and hypnosis, I felt quite liberated to trust my own instincts to explore what hypnotherapy had to offer. I immediately recognized many of the techniques as those I had been practicing for many years as self-improvement methods. Some of the techniques were formalized versions of my own intuited processes. Others were eerily similar, almost exactly like what I learned from Scientology. As a matter of fact, almost everything took on the appearance of watered down versions of hypnosis from my enlightened perspective. Recognizing the potential for self-improvement, I immediately applied the techniques to myself and others.
After recognizing how often I had been in trance states without realizing it, I put this new knowledge to work. After a woman came to me and was relieved of a fourteen-year struggle with arachnophobia after three, one-hour sessions, I was convinced. Further case-histories yielded similar results. I was then learning and reading and retaining at an alarming rate that still continues today. I was helping myself immensely and noticing vast improvements in my clients and friends also; just by exercising a natural function of the mind. I was replacing ineffective behaviors with more workable ones and strengthening the behaviors and thought programs that were already successful.
“…the ability to see visions and endure various hardships is highly esteemed among many hunting peoples. …A close look at history shows that those whose perceptions ranged from the unusual to the bizarre have, from time to time, had great influence on art, politics, philosophy, religion, and science, greatly altering not only the viewpoint, but also the actions of our entire species.” (8)
The Only War to Wage is Within
It is very telling that I have experienced such tremendous positive results from practicing non-invasive behavioral strategies and physical exercises. This has been in the form of reading, writing, dancing, playing music, practicing martial arts, hypnotherapy and yoga. It has only been in the last four years since December of 2005 that I have experimented with Orthomolecular nutritional strategies. The first nutritional methods I seriously applied were those of John Kappas, founder of the Hypnosis Motivation Institute. He provided the groundwork for what he called the hypoglycemic diet. After notable personal success with this diet, I was more open to this form of logical and natural behavior modification through diet and nutrition.
Although I am using the term Orthomolecular and find the theories and research supporting it to be quite substantial, the type of orthomolecular nutrition I practice
is somewhat different from the standard model. The Orthomolecular protocol calls for mega-doses of vitamin supplements, and elimination diets of products like dairy, wheat-gluten and exitotoxins. I have amended this to include a broad range elimination of an entire food manufacturing process. This is the conventional agriculture that I avoid. It is laden with pesticides, irradiation, sewage, antibiotics, hormones, nanoparticles and Genetically Modified Organisms in the form of plants and drugs injected into livestock. Instead I choose and consume Organic foods. I also filter my drinking and shower water, sunbathe for vitamin-D optimization, and include the use of medicinal herbs.
My basic program can be summed up as a seamless integration of Capoeira and Yoga as Exercise Science applications; Hypnotherapy as Behavioral Science therapies; and Orthomolecular Nutrition as Biochemical remedies. Through the years I have organized and refined all of these skill sets into a Healthy-Living and Self-Defense practice that is quite effective. It is deceptively simple. I call it KappaGuerra. This word rhymes with Capoeira (kap-oh-where-duh) and intentionally so. It offers the opportunity to heal and express with music, dance, martial-art, yoga, nutrition and many other of the best, non-medical methods of motivation and self-improvement.
“We must open up his life, talk about new horizons, expand his range of interests, make him aware of life beyond his difficulties” (9)
Quotes / References:
(1) Napoleon Hill; Think and grow Rich, 1960
(2) William Glasser, M.D. ; Reality Therapy, 1965
(4) Peter R. Breggin, M.D. and David Cohen, Ph.D; Your Drug May Be Your Problem, 1999
(5) N. Hill, 1960, Ibid
(6) W. Glasser, M.D., 1965, Ibid
(7) Andrew Weil, M.D.; The Natural Mind, 1972
(8) Abram Hoffer, M.D., FRCP (C); Healing Schizophrenia, 2004
(9) W. Glasser, M.D., Ibid