As a young man I suffered greatly from social anxiety, bouts of depression and often felt like I was drowning in my own insecurity. I did my best to cover it all up and pretend like I was OK - and apparently was pretty good at making it seem so - yet I was constantly on edge and afraid I would be found out for the fraud I was. There were times when the pressure got so intense that I seriously contemplated suicide.
I believe it was the feeling of this intense pressure that caused me to turn my eyes inward. I certainly didn't think there was anything to find there - but I was wrong.
What I discovered was so interesting and wondrous that I began to look inwards every day. This "looking inward" turned into a meditation practice that saved my life, which led me to the most magical path in life; full of adventures and travels, experiences so profound they are difficult to describe and put into words.
HERE'S A LITTLE MORE OF MY STORY:
I was born I’m 1977 in Tallinn, Estonia. At the time, Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union and as you can imagine, it was mostly a cold, grey, colorless and frightening existence for a lot of people. Much like North Korea today, freedom of expression wasn’t an option. Even though my early childhood was pretty wonderful, the fear was always present. Anyone, including members of your own family, could be - and often were, potential spies for the oppressive regime. People could be severely punished for expressing, or simply being accused of expressing, their opinions differing from the communist party propaganda. Later in life I have come to realize how a part of me has continued to carry that epigenetic code of hiding my truth, not feeling safe to express my feelings, hiding behind a mask of inscrutability and not trusting the people around me. I have worked long and diligently to change that program, doing my best to instead trust in the universe, in the people around me and most of all, in myself. I write all this and what follows, so you can gain a deeper understanding of the “WHY” I have chosen to dedicate my life to helping my fellow beings to be fully expressed, empowered and embodied in their lives.
Like Carl Jung so eloquently expressed:
“Until we make the unconscious conscious, it’ll direct
our lives and we will call it fate”.
My unconscious was definitely directing my life. I was anxious, inward and deeply insecure, while outwardly projecting calm and confidence. These survival patterns lead me to frequent suicidal thoughts, often fantasizing about my death and what a relief it would be to not have to suffer every day.
At 14 years old, these very hardships were the impetus for me to begin to discover my inner world. It was mostly an unconscious action of wanting to somehow distract myself and shut out the outer world of pain. In my desperation and not knowing what to do, I simply began sitting with my eyes closed at night, hoping to find some relief. What I wasn’t expecting was the accidental discovery of my inner world and the homegrown method of meditation I began to explore.
"I AM GRATEFUL FOR MY
CHALLENGING PATH, FOR IT LEAD
ME TO EXPERIENCE DIVINE PRESENCE,
A MULTITUDE OF EXPANSIONS THROUGH MULTIPLE IDENTITY DEATHS, OPENING
THE PORTAL FOR INFINITE GRATITUDE
This nightly exploration became a way for me to begin to discover the vast inner world within me. I found some unexpected joy and relief in this exploration, so I kept at it, night after night. At first it felt scary, like I was falling into infinity, getting smaller and smaller, my identity disappearing into nothingness, much like the reprieve I was dreaming of when I fantasized about suicide. There were also moments of real terror, not knowing if I would actually somehow lose my mind in this odd and vast inner realm, but something kept drawing me back into this exploration, and as I got more comfortable with the sense of disappearing, a sense of wonder began to emerge.
At the age of 15, something very unexpected and unintentional occurred, as I was doing this nightly practice. My awareness left my body - in a full out-of-body experience - traveled outwards, leaving my body behind. I felt experienced myself flying through the wall of the apartment and out into the world. I was flying, free of my body, roaming the world outside. As my awareness returned to my body, I realized that in my nightly experimentation going inwards, was actually a portal into the mysteries of life. This experience completely transformed my life, as the paradigm through which I had interpreted life thus far was completely altered. I want to emphasize that I was sober AF when this experience occurred.
"AT THE AGE OF 15, I HAD A FULL ON OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCE AND I WAS SOBER AF."
As you can imagine, my curiosity sparked like a nuclear explosion and my resolve to continue to seek to understand this portal I had discovered within me grew a thousandfold. My understanding of what was possible expanded, so I got curious about other people having similar experiences and began to look for clues, asking a lot of questions, reading a lot of books.
I reached out to my father, who at the time was living in Los Angeles, and asked him what spiritual books I should read. As this was pre internet, the library was my best friend. At the age of 15, per recommendation of my father, I read The Dhammapada, Tao Te Ching and The Bhagavadgita, diving deep into these sacred texts that gave me deeper clues into the mystical experiences that began to take place in my life, reshaping the way I perceived the inner and outer worlds. As I read Tao Te Ching, I burst out laughing and crying at the same time, as some part of me was able to make actual sense of this human experience I was having, for the very first time - I remember feeling, even as a young child, that somehow there was a mistake of me being here - being human. As I discovered these writings, I was so grateful that there were masters in who’s footsteps I could follow and perhaps find my own way to my freedom one day.
At the age of 16, as I was visiting my father in Los Angeles for the first time. I had a chance to say yes to experiencing a solo, unguided ceremony of a double-hero-dose of psilocybin, by myself, on a mountain top, in Topanga, CA. Those of you who have experienced this can imagine what this must have felt like. My mind was able to perceive the mystical world beyond our 5 senses. It felt like I was tapping into the cosmic library of wisdom, and for the first time in my life, I felt truly free in this human form. I remembered that I was a spiritual being, having a human experience, and was able to let go of that deep depression I had been carrying. Feeling that I was no longer a stranger in a strange land as the mysteries of life were being revealed to me. Before leaving Topanga to go back to Finland, I sat down on that mountain top to say a prayer of gratitude to the land, the spirits and the divine. I emphasize this here, because the way my path has unfolded after this experience and the message of my prayer which in short was: "I'm so grateful for this experience of remembering my true nature. Thank you for having me. Thank you for helping me. And even though I wasn't born here - this feels like home. I pray that you'll invite me back here again, and perhaps one day I can call this place home".
I was able to hold onto that feeling of expansiveness I experienced for several months before it began to dissipate and I found myself again at the doorstep of depression. Having gone back to Finland, to my old life, with no seeming prospects for advancing deeper into these realms of mysticism, I became even more determined to not give up. I knew that I had simply scratched the surface of something powerful that would give my life meaning and purpose, eventually leading me to deeper understandings of these mysteries. So I prayed and I meditated. I even sought out a local meditation center and began to sit with the monk in charge. Still, I didn’t feel like I was getting the results that I desired. I’m sure many of you can relate, if you have tried traditional meditation techniques that tend to be very static. As a restless teenager, I didn’t know how to calm my thoughts and I felt very distracted. What I later realized is that there was no place for my emotions to flow, no way for my feelings to transform. I needed movement. I needed breath. I needed activation.
At the age of 17, as I was able to scrape together enough money to fly myself back to America. In Los Angeles, I was introduced to a modeling agent and quickly began my career. Fortunately, things picked up quickly and I was asked to move to New York to advance my career. My father and uncle decided to join me on the journey, and as we drove across the country, we stopped into a Native American reservation to participate in my first peyote ceremony. This was my first of many journeys with the Native American traditions and their medicines. This experience was another powerful awakening for me and a deeper introduction to the mysticism of their tradition. It was profound, a powerful reminder of how much room there was for me to grow in my exploration of the yet unknown.
At the age of 20 I read the book “Autobiography of A Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda and it very much inspired me to seek out Kriya Yoga as a modality to deepen my practice. I mean going to intimate kirtans with Krishna Das and began to meditate on Mahavatar Babaji. I asked for Babaji’s support in finding my way to his method. My prayers were shortly answered as there was a free initiation of Kriya Yoga being offered in NYC, and even though it was completely sold out, magically a spot appeared for me. It felt very aligned and I dove right in.
Around this time, I was in full swing in my high level modeling career. Working with the most prestigious photographers and brands like Versace, Valentino, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and more. One of these jobs brought me back to LA and I desperately yearned to visit the place in Topanga where I first said my prayer at the age of 16, to thank and acknowledge the land, spirits and the divine on responding to my prayer. I was now living my dream life in America. Not yet in Topanga, but I could feel it getting closer.
"The hawk stopped in front of me in the air, wings flapping, close enough that I could feel the wind from his wings hitting my face"
I drove up to that mountain top and sat down in the exact same spot as I had at 16. The sun was about to set into the Pacific Ocean, and I was admiring the clear view all the way to Malibu. Below me, the beautiful canyons and the ocean. As I began to say my prayer of gratitude something so incredible happened that I had to pinch myself afterward... As I'm saying my prayer, out of the canyon below, a big red tail hawk flies up and stops in the air - about 5 feet from my face. The hawk is flapping its wings in such a way that I can feel the air hitting my face, as it flies in place, its face a belly facing me. It stays there like that for about 15-30 seconds and then flies away. I want to emphasize that this has never happened to me or anyone else I know before or after this event. It's not something that hawks normally do. And it happened as I'm saying my gratitude prayer out loud. Needless to say, the hair on my body was standing up and I felt shivers up my spine, I was shaking with emotion and gratitude. That moment for me was another major confirmation that the mystical is all too real and must be fully incorporated in all matters of life. And I have lived my life in accordance with that understanding ever since.
For the next several years I dedicated 2 hours a day to the practice of Kriya Yoga, as I got initiated deeper and deeper into that ancient lineage. At the 3rd and final 9 day initiation, we learned all 144 kriyas. One of the most extraordinary Kriyas for me was learning how to communicate with Mahavatar Babaji and ask him to reveal himself to you. Only a few people at the ashram reported that they were able to connect with Babaji, and fortunately for me, I was one of them. Maybe it was because I was outside in nature, by the beautiful pond, in deep reverence and meditation, dedicated to opening myself without expectation of a happening - rather, being in a space of allowing for something to happen. When Babaji revealed himself to me, sitting on a dock 20 meters from me, I was humbled beyond anything I could ever accurately explain with words. When I experienced his presence and met his eyes, I knew that he saw through me, deep into my soul, into all the hidden places, all the the ugly, all the shame, all the pain. His awareness penetrated deep into the caverns of my being that I wasn’t even aware that I had until then, what felt like looking at all my lifetimes with one glance - and his love was unchanged, his love was unconditional. It is still one of the most profound experiences of my entire life and I shall cherish it forever.
Over the years, I have explored lots of different medicinal plants and compounds as a way to deepen my understanding and world views. I have asked different medicine spirits for direction in life, especially when asking about which direction should I go, should I dedicate my life to spirituality only or stay in the entertainment industry - and the message was always the same: You are here for a reason and it will be revealed to you. Be patient. When it’s time, you’ll know. Keep doing what you are doing, stay committed to your practice and just go BIGGER. Stop holding back!
I have also been very blessed to work with some extraordinary healers in my life. In the late 90's, while I was living in NYC, I had the good fortune of receiving a healing session from Ze'ev Kolman. What took place during this session was quite extraordinary. When he was working on my energetic body, he invited me to relax and receive his healing. Zev doesn’t touch you with his hands - he doesn’t have to. His energy is so powerful that even from a few feet away you can feel the electricity flowing through his body - like you are being gently shocked by an electric current from the wall. As I was laying there, I decided to utilize this resting time for my meditation. At the time, I was still meditating outwords; leaving my body and traveling in astral space, as I'd learned in my teens. As I began my meditation, I saw a purple tunnel in my minds eye and in the middle of of this tunnel was Ze'ev's face. I thought to myself: "Well that's never happened before, but maybe I'm just making it up in my mind" and kept traveling upwards and outwards with my awareness. Shortly after, I heard a big crash in the room and as I opened my eyes, Ze'ev was upside down, feet over his head, on the other side of the room, having flown off his feet. Luckily, he wasn’t hurt. He was laughing and intrigued, and said with his thick Israeli accent: “What happened? One moment I’m working on your energetic field and the next moment we go flying!! This has never happened to before and worked on thousands of people! One day you should write about this experience!” So here I am, all those years later, writing about it, sharing my mysterious journey with you.
Soon after I moved to LA and discovered Ashtanga Yoga. That practice quickly became a big part of my daily ritual as well. There was a time when I was practicing 2 hours of Kriya Yoga, almost 3 hours of Ashtanga Yoga, plus an hour of chanting each day. That comes to 6 hours of practice a day. I felt a deep desire to devote my life to these practices and live in an ashram. However, that was not in the cards for me as my career in modeling and acting kept me active, traveling all over the world. Instead, I became a householder yogi, choosing to be an embodiment of these practices and still live immersed in the modern world.
What became painfully clear though was that even after many years of dedicated practice, I was still missing a major component from my life; intimacy and deep connection with other humans - especially in intimate partnerships with women. I realized that I had been avoiding these feelings as if they were the plague, and I was deathly afraid to be vulnerable and open, to expose my heart, to truly live an embodied life and welcome in the aliveness of this human experience, in full. I also realized that I was using my interpretation of the spiritual scriptures as an excuse to not feel my feelings, to try and be above them, to deny them any power and to weasel my way out of being called out on it. I was scared shitless of not being in control and I knew that this, as I had become pretty masterful in deflecting and avoiding, with humor, spiritual bypassing, shaming, blaming, not taking responsibility, etc any real feelings of intimacy and connection. I also knew that this was a trap. I had witnessed it wreak havoc in my own family, tearing people apart, creating separation and pain across a multitude of generation, and I made the decision that the puck stops with me. No more passing it on, no more avoiding this most difficult of my spiritual initiations. It was time to grow and become the change.
This awareness lead me to therapy and acting class. These modalities, even though I was putting up a ton of resistance, helped me come to the realization of how much I had actually been using spiritual modalities as an escape from acknowledging and feeling my feelings. I realized that I hadn’t been available for any true vulnerability and intimacy at all. Not being present in my body, I was living a theory, I was living in my head. I was living a fantasy of what I thought spirituality looks like. As I began to come to these very painful realizations, I also realized that I hadn’t dealt with my childhood traumas, hadn’t resolved my desire of not being in my human body. I had been still looking for an escape - a way out. It is through these understandings that I began to explore the more tantric and embodied practices of breathwork, meditation and movement, leading to my teacher Olaf Hartmann and his teacher Wim Hof. As I began to explore these much more activating methods of breath and movement, I realized how rigid I had been in my practice, how much I had been holding back and hiding - how much deeper I could go - how much work I still had to do.
Many years later, when I turned 40, I had one of the most profound awakenings of my life. I realized that I had been relating to God as a masculine presence, almost completely ignoring the feminine part of the divine. As I began, through some difficulty at first, relating to the divine as feminine - my whole paradigm shifted. I became less rigid and more open in my understandings and in my practices. A short time after this realization, The Pyramid Breath Method® was birthed through me. It was a direct drip of a download from HER - the feminine aspect of the divine, who had been patiently waiting for me to open to her. I even rebranded the name GOD, that particular connotation of the name , that to me represented only the masculine version of the divine to GGD; "God-Goddess-Divine". In this way, I felt I was honoring all aspect of the divine, especially the feminine, which has been made wrong, bastardized and diminished by so many religions and cultures around the world. I believe that most of the discord in the world today is because of that misguided perspective of the divine, the way we relate to nature, the way we have been treating the feminine aspects of this creation. We have not been balanced in our thinking and in our embodiment of the masculine/feminine principles. That is why the current masculine dilemma has been branded "toxic". We have been short sighted. We have been blind and straight up wrong - and the world we live in and create - reflects it.
This is where The Pyramid Method® and Tantra of Life comes in and leads the way. We honor and empower both sides of the same coin. We invite the masculine and the feminine to acknowledge, support, celebrate and empower each other, in ourselves and in each other. Celebrating the aliveness and the balance this way of living provides, creating a new blueprint for our species, for our cultures. I am so grateful that you feel the call to join this movement, becoming a more embodied, resourceful and balanced force for good in this world. We need each other to do this. And it feels so good. Literally, everybody benefits! Thank you, I love you, I honor you. It's better together!
TEACHERS AND BEINGS WHO'VE HAD THE MOST INFLUENCE IN MY LIFE
Mahavatar Babaji - Govindan Sathcidanda - Maty Ezraty - Chuck Miller (founders of Yogaworks & Ashtanga teachers)
- Olaf Hartmann - Krishna Das - Bhagavan Das - Bob Thurman
I HAVE BEEN COMMITTED TO A DAILY SPIRITUAL PRACTICE FOR OVER 30 YEARS
I'm the founder of The Pyramid Breath Method® and one of the two head coaches at Tantra of Life. I'm here to help you live an empowered and purposeful life filled with fulfillment and connection. I am here to support people just like me, who want to be freed from the shackles that have been keeping us from being our true selves.
I've seen it time and time again: when we boldly take the first step toward healing, everything else falls into place. We feel lighter, calmer and happier when we are living in alignment with our souls purpose. Our relationships are better and our career is more successful. We find ourselves waking up every day excited about what's coming next instead of dreading what came before! I believe its what we came here to do and I would love to assist you on that journey.
Over the last 30 years, It's been my deepest passion to study and practice various healing methods, modalities and traditions to unlock the mysteries of the mind, spirit and body.
At first, this was purely out of my own need to be able to find joy in my life, and after 20 years of devoted practice, I realized that the next up-level for me and my evolution, was to share these tools with you. This is when The Pyramid Breath Method® was born.
Let's stop waiting for an outside event to change our lives. Let's become the event that changes our life, from inside out - moving from disempowering to empowering, from stuck to free, from victim to victor!
I look forward co-creating with you.