Episode 11: Meditation on the Street

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Today's guest spent several years living on the streets of several California cities. In 2004, he hit rock bottom, and received a wakeup call. He realized that it was time for him to take responsibility for his life, and to start making some changes. He put himself into a drug rehab program, and then into a halfway house where he began to practice yoga. It was that yoga practice that first brought him to OneTaste, where the community became his true family. In the roughly fifteen months since his arrival, our guest has grown healthier in mind, body, and spirit. He now works as a massage therapist, manages OneTaste's massage studio, and dedicates part of his time each week to OneTaste's Fill Up America program, collecting and distributing food to the San Francisco's homeless. Tune in to hear our guest describe his journey from a life of solitude to total immersion in the OneTaste community on this episode of A Taste of Sex.

Transcript

Meditation on the Street

Announcer: This program is intended for mature audiences only.

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J: Imagine letting go of you. That is the you created by your job, your skills, your partner, your family and friends. What if you let go on it all? Who would you be?

Hello, and welcome to “A Taste of Sex”, a reality audio show on life in an orgasm-based community. I'm J.

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Each week we peek into the private lives and thoughts of community members who live and work together at One Taste Urban Retreat Center in San Francisco. On this episode we explore that place of nothing, of zero, where you cannot rely on the trappings of identity for ego or self-esteem.

We do the exploration through One Taste community member who lived homeless on the streets. We'll hear about the walking meditation that was his life, hitting bottom and his reorientation into regular society. Tune in and turn on.

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J: Let’s see, I met our guest early spring of last year, summer of last year when I first started coming to One Taste. I was coming to the in groups quite often. That's where I first met him and was introduced to him through a friend.

I know when I first met him there was a heaviness, a cloudiness to who he was; you know how he was interacting. And I could totally see it. He needed to go on a cleanse or something, it was that kind of a feeling.

Guest: It’s kind of funny, my folks used to always tell me this story about when they were kids, they had it kind of rough. You know, it was like the Summer of Love with the hippies or whatever. They went and lived on the streets and did drugs and just down and dirty stuff, right?

So I kind of like had a - how do you say it - a glamorized idea of how this lifestyle was. Anyway, by the time I was an adult it was kind of like I basically got pushed out of the nest. My parents kind of both individually told me to hit the road, literally.

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So I was on the street after high school. I lived mostly in California. I'd go back and forth between San Francisco, Santa Cruz and LA. In the winter it was LA because it would get really cold up here. I actually really liked the lifestyle after awhile. I would go back and forth between having apartments and having jobs to just kind of like giving it up and just going and living on the street again.

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I would wake up usually really early, you know right around dawn when the sun came up. There wouldn't really be anybody out on the street. I'd get up. I’d have slept in my clothes. I usually didn't have blankets or anything or a bag. I would just wear a lot of layers of clothes.

So I would wake up, walk around, look for a half drunk couple of coffee or cigarette that somebody put out, have a smoke, a little coffee, find like a half eaten Danish. Living in the places I lived like San Francisco, Haight Ashbery or Venice Beach in LA, always people just leave their leftovers out because it is a tourist area. So people come and buy something just to buy it and then they don't even eat it. So there is just like this abundance of leftovers.

And then I would usually just walk. I would just walk. A good portion of my day was just walking. It was just like my meditation. I would just walk and walk and walk and just look at people and watch the business people in their suits going to work, watch the women in their workout suits come from the gym and just observing people. You know, lost in thought.

I would fall asleep and I would think about all the people that I saw that day. I would think about all the beautiful women I saw and I would think, “None of those beautiful women would want to have anything to do with me. I stink. I have been wearing these clothes for the past three weeks. I haven't taken a shower in that time. I ate garbage today. And I have nothing. I have no money. I have no car, no place to live. I have no future. What would any of those women want to do with me? Why would they have anything to do with me?”

And then I would get lost in this thought of that is the way the world works. If you don't have things and people don't want to know you.

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I had become really ill and I had actually visited a doctor and he gave me some medicine. He told me that if I had not come in and taken this medicine that I would have died. I don't know if he was telling me the truth or not but it kind of scared me and made me go, “Hmm.”

So not very much longer after that, within the next week, I got in a fight, like a fistfight. I don't fist fight that much but I got in a fistfight with this guy who was like, really big, strong, you know, gangster guy. He clobbered me and he just beat me down. There was like glass on the ground and I had glass caught in my body. A year later I pulled out a chunk of this glass that had caught in my elbow.

I’m like, “Fuck, I'm 25. And I haven't been to college. I haven't had a job in god knows how long. The last job I had was like at Starbucks or something like that - nothing against Starbucks.” You know, I realized I wasn't going anywhere. And I didn't want to keep doing this. I started to lose my hair a little bit in the back. And I was just like, “I don't want to continue with this lifestyle. I don't want to be an adult living on the street.”

My idea of an adult was 30 years old. Like I always thought that when a person gets to be 30 years old than they are officially an adult, right? Because there are the teenagers, still kind of a kid. Twentysomethings are still kind of like ‘party, good times’. And then at 30 you've got to grow up.

So I kind of had this in four or five year plan. So by the time I am 30, I want to stop fooling around, have a job, have a place to live, a community of friends and someone I am having sex with. Very realistic goals, right? And it was kind of like the movie “The Secret”. You know when you manifest your reality. I was like, “OK. I'm going to do this. And this is the amount of time I'm allotting for myself to do this. And it’s going to happen.”

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J: This is “A Taste of Sex”. You could say that the moment our guest decided to manifest a new reality was the moment he started from zero to build himself up again. That same day he walked into what he thought was a market, ready to spend his last two dollars on a juice, only to find himself in a rehab center.

The coincidence seemed the voice of fate. Though not a heavy drug user, he talked his way into staying for the next year. He never second-guessed his decision but the reorientation was not easy.

Guest: I had a lot of resistance. It was really hard, you know, making such a drastic change. It was like my body was rejecting it at first because my body was used to being free and not having any rules or not having to be indoors and stuff like that, not having to sit down at a table and eat with a fork and knife.

So it was like I was like throwing it up at first. It was like, “blah”. You know, I didn't - my body was rejecting it like it was poisoned to me. I would just be screaming on the inside wanting to like run screaming from the place back into whatever - back into nowhere where I came from.

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It was really hard for me to connect with people. I had a lot of fear and I just really was contracting. I was not engaging with people. I didn't know how to. I had forgotten how to. It was just like turning that switch on in my mind, like saying, “OK, I'm going to choose to allow myself to be seen and allow myself to be vulnerable in front of this person and trust them and fully be present with this person and experience a connection with this person.”

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I was at the halfway house and I started doing yoga. I was doing yoga at One Taste. Like the instant that I walked through the door, I knew that this was what had called me to this mission, to making this decision to change. It was like, “OK, this is what this has all been leading up to is this place. And this is where I am meant to be.” It was very clear in my mind that this place was calling, had been calling to me.

J: What are we doing here?

Guest: So we are filling up bags of groceries today. It's a food drive we do on Fridays. It's a program called “Fill Up America” and we are filling up America, one bag at a time.

So we take food from the food bank and we go and pick it up and we take it here. We distribute it into like 150 grocery bags and then we had those out to people in need throughout the city of San Francisco.

J: How is it for you? You were once homeless and now you're handing out bags to the homeless.

Guest: So, yeah, I actually don't usually say this, I never liked using the word homeless when I was homeless. I always said that I lived outside. You know, there are moments when I realize how lucky I am to be in this position now and it makes it so much more enjoyable to be able to give back to people that need help. I am here pretty much every Friday.

J: I have seen such a huge change in him. I've seen him kind of progressively get cleaner and cleaner and healthier just as far as his body - you know, the way he eats, the way he takes care of himself. He does yoga here. And he has just really dropped into being consistently connected to the practice; how we endeavor to treat ourselves well, live healthy, like I said with our food, with our body, with our sensuality. And I can just see him balancing out and clearing out and getting cleaner and cleaner and cleaner.

Guest: It feels good to be active and working and contributing energetically and doing work. That part feels really good. Like my day is filled. I have no time to lie around and do nothing now. I am going from when I get up to when I go to bed. I'm busy. And I really love it. And it's like all the work that I am doing his work that I love doing.

I'm doing massage. I'm doing yoga. I'm working on creative projects. It's just amazing. I'm so happy. I'm so happy.

J: What’s remarkable about our guest is how far he has come in a relatively short period of time. Bit by bit he has built his skills and self-esteem. There is no storybook ending yet, but a few months shy of 30, he has a girlfriend, a community and a purpose for his life.

You have been listening to “A Taste of Sex”. You can find us on the web at www.personallifemedia.com. For more information at One Taste, check us out at www.onetastesf.com. Music on this episode was composed and performed by Aharon Bolsta. I'm J. Tune in and turn on.

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