The Story of How My Father’s Death Changed My Life…

I am excited about sharing the story of how my father’s death inspired my spiritual awakening and “how grief can transform our lives.” Please enjoy these excerpts from my forthcoming book and contact me if you want to read more.

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“I  remember when I was seven or eight and sitting at the windowsill in our kitchen crying my eyes out when my dad backed our tan ‘67 Plymouth Valiant out of the driveway, the car’s broken muffler bellowing. He winked as he glanced my way. For a moment, I thought I would never see him again. All I wanted to do was rest my little head in my dad’s safe and comforting arms and feel his strong hands holding me. All I wanted was to smell my dad’s aftershave and stare at his silver hair, because when I did I knew everything would be all right. On the evening of my father’s death over twenty years later, I felt the same way. It was impossible to imagine not being near my father and his hands.”

“When my dad died I was not a dad myself. I was not interested in children. I cared about what most twenty-somethings care about; having fun, romance and hanging out with my friends. I liked to surf, workout and having money to do what I wanted to do was very important. I thought I had created a nice little life for myself, a life that began right after high school with a modeling contract. Even with frequent photo shoots for Speedo the swimwear company and others, I had plenty of free time to sit by the pool, read books that I found interesting, go to school and surf. I developed an appetite for alternative viewpoints and philosophies. The likes of Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung and anything to do with eastern teachings held my attention. As I understood more about myself, I began to question how I was raised, as well as some of the values my father taught me.”

“I was twenty-seven years old and my father, the man who’s eyes I believed helped me see the world clearly was dead. I was on the road of Self Realization, trying to figure out who I really was, why I couldn’t get out of my own way, always suffering, attached and clinging to John Sahakian’s dramas. True happiness and joy were not going to be mine if I didn’t get what I got — the beautiful gift of a wake up call.”

“During my childhood, I became used to the pendulum swing of being my dad’s greatest accomplishment one minute and the next minute being a piece of worthless skin. Over time, at a superficial level, I learned to not care about how my dad felt about me, his remarks rolling off my back like water. My mom probably felt the same way and could ignore him, hiding in her prayers. I didn’t want to feel the pain that comes with disappointing your dad. Later on in my life, it was apparent that when people were critical of me, or my work, I didn’t notice. I had become insensitive and alienated from my feelings. In a word, repressed. This hindered my closeness with others, because I wasn’t close with myself. I was perpetuating a pattern, likely carried by my father from his upbringing and a previous generation. I was learning that defensive reactions that possessed a negative undertone seemingly prevented me from getting hurt, but not without a price.”

In his New York Times bestseller, The Untethered Soul, Michael A. Singer writes:\n \tWhen you close down and protect yourself, you are pulling a shell around the part of you that is weak. This is the part that feels it needs protection even though no physical attack is taking place. You are protecting your ego, your self-concept. Although a situation may present no physical danger, it may cause you to experience disturbance, fear, insecurity, and other emotional problems. So you feel the need to protect yourself. (pg. 60)\n With an improved awareness of our experience and how frequent our fear response is activated, we can step in and consciously begin to retrain ourselves to respond to stress in a healthier manner and create new habits in our lives. Improving our quality of life and developing a better sense of well-being through applying the latest research and age old wisdom teachings makes sense. Once we recognize that we feel better physically and mentally in the face of life’s challenges, it becomes easier to identify states of fear so we can counter it with Presence. \n\tGaining knowledge of the predictability of our primary emotional experiences of safety and fear will lead you toward having more control over your unconscious reactions to psychological threats. Think of all of our personal associations to feeling safe such as love, peace, happiness, joy, nurturing, compassion, patience, courtesy, thoughtfulness and pleasure, etc. Think of all of your personal associations to fear, such as anger, jealousy, rage, hate, frustration, impatience, annoyance, competition, stubbornness and pain, etc. Self awareness is the key, both at the physical and emotional levels combined.\n\tWith these ideas in mind about our basic, day to day life experience, the next time you are facing a challenging moment or situation and at an Inflection Point, whether it’s with a loved one, such as your children or with a friend, or anyone you’re in relationship with and even with yourself, pose the question, \"Am I afraid of something, trying to preserve something, maintain something, or survive something?\" Is something being taken away from you, whether literally speaking, like your lane on the highway, place in line, or parking spot, or an idea you value, opinion you hold, or manner you feel something should be done? If so, you know that you are being led by fear. Nothing positive comes from fear, only more fear. Fear begets negative behavior. Feeling safe begets positive behavior. Allow yourself to notice the mental and emotional position where others in your life are coming from and whether they are expressing themselves from a place of safety or fear? Do not pass judgement, as judging grows from fear and puts you right back in the experience of stress. With all the interactions we have on a daily bases in our jobs, out on the street, at home and in times of crisis, this insight into human behavior and the application of our awareness can create valuable and positive emotional impact. \n\tRemember, your body wants to feel good. If it’s challenging to take a deep breath, you’re likely in a state of fear and unless your physical body is being threatened in that precise moment, you are not really in the moment and are most likely imagining something is happening that isn’t. At that instant, you are cutting yourself off from insight, creativity, and your inner wisdom, not to mention severing your relationship with the world and those in your world. It is like disciplining a child using fear tactics. We would never threaten someone, even a child, if we’re in a peaceful state of being. Instead, when we are in a peaceful state of being, we naturally move to connect with a person more deeply with a sense of understanding and compassion. In the case of a child, they are much more likely to cooperate with us.",In his New York Times bestseller, The Untethered Soul, Michael A. Singer writes: “When you close down and protect yourself, you are pulling a shell around the part of you that is weak. This is the part that feels it needs protection even though no physical attack is taking place. You are protecting your ego, your self-concept. Although a situation may present no physical danger, it may cause you to experience disturbance, fear, insecurity, and other emotional problems. So you feel the need to protect yourself.” (pg. 60) With an improved awareness of our experience and how frequent our fear response is activated, we can step in and consciously begin to retrain ourselves to respond to stress in a healthier manner and create new habits in our lives. Improving our quality of life and developing a better sense of well-being through applying the latest research and age old wisdom teachings makes sense. Once we recognize that we feel better physically and mentally in the face of life’s challenges, it becomes easier to identify states of fear so we can counter it with Presence. Gaining knowledge of the predictability of our primary emotional experiences of safety and fear will lead you toward having more control over your unconscious reactions to psychological threats. Think of all of our personal associations to feeling safe such as love, peace, happiness, joy, nurturing, compassion, patience, courtesy, thoughtfulness and pleasure, etc. Think of all of your personal associations to fear, such as anger, jealousy, rage, hate, frustration, impatience, annoyance, competition, stubbornness and pain, etc. Self awareness is the key, both at the physical and emotional levels combined. With these ideas in mind about our basic, day to day life experience, the next time you are facing a challenging moment or situation and at an Inflection Point, whether it’s with a loved one, such as your children or with a friend, or anyone you’re in relationship with and even with yourself, pose the question, “Am I afraid of something, trying to preserve something, maintain something, or survive something?” Is something being taken away from you, whether literally speaking, like your lane on the highway, place in line, or parking spot, or an idea you value, opinion you hold, or manner you feel something should be done? If so, you know that you are being led by fear. Nothing positive comes from fear, only more fear. Fear begets negative behavior. Feeling safe begets positive behavior. Allow yourself to notice the mental and emotional position where others in your life are coming from and whether they are expressing themselves from a place of safety or fear? Do not pass judgement, as judging grows from fear and puts you right back in the experience of stress. With all the interactions we have on a daily bases in our jobs, out on the street, at home and in times of crisis, this insight into human behavior and the application of our awareness can create valuable and positive emotional impact. Remember, your body wants to feel good. If it’s challenging to take a deep breath, you’re likely in a state of fear and unless your physical body is being threatened in that precise moment, you are not really in the moment and are most likely imagining something is happening that isn’t. At that instant, you are cutting yourself off from insight, creativity, and your inner wisdom, not to mention severing your relationship with the world and those in your world. It is like disciplining a child using fear tactics. We would never threaten someone, even a child, if we’re in a peaceful state of being. Instead, when we are in a peaceful state of being, we naturally move to connect with a person more deeply with a sense of understanding and compassion. In the case of a child, they are much more likely to cooperate with us.”