I have never told anyone the full story of my evolution, only parts of the truth—
I graduated with a Finance and English degree form the University of Kansas, and somehow I ended up leaving everything behind and becoming a Thai Yoga Masseur.
Now that I have transformed into who I truly am, I did not believe anyone would accept me if they knew where I came from.
So I omitted the details that might draw attention to the charter flaws of my former self.
This is my backstory:
Almost 8 years ago, I was voted “Life of the Party” in high school — I declined the offer because I did not want to be remembered for that.
To be honest, I was a miserable young man. I seemed happy to everyone else— but I was melancholy inside.
Because of my anxieties, I had to come home from my first semester in college to get a grip on my self.
I was trying to do the right thing, but I was still hanging around the wrong people. It lead to a major car accident in 2012.
We were leaving a bar - I was the designated driver - and I was tired.
They gave me these pills that would keep me awake, and like a dummy, I bit the bullet.
A huge brawl between my friends and an Asian gang almost went down near my car.
I quickly calmed everyone down and suggested that we all just go home.
A few miles down the road, we got t-boned by a car going 50 mph, and it was all my fault.
Nine months later, I was t-boned again on the the same side — this totaled my new car.
I was left with an insurance check for my car and several spinal injuries.
My hopes and dreams:
I wanted to fix my life desperately. I didn’t know if I would ever feel happy and at ease.
Just standing up straight and having a sense of self-worth seemed impossible.
I had so much pain, in body and in my mind.
But looking back, I just needed a sense of purpose. I wanted my life to mean something.
I knew that I did not fit into this world, though — I was still trying my best to socialize, study hard, and get a good job.
I had a 4.0 GPA, but I knew that I was a failure at being myself.
There was a force that would not allow me to go where I was heading — a force that was physically intervening to stop me from being like my peers.
But I kept trying.
I was the scholarship chair in a fraternity, a financial educator, and I was learning to eat healthy.
Every week I would go down to the chiropractor to get my back adjusted.
And I was still in pain, feeling alone, and depressed.
During my walks home, my back pain would start to resurface.
I had no car, the bus route stressed me out, and I did not want to bother anyone to give me a ride.
On top of that, I felt like I was carrying a duffel back of emotions in my head, in my heart, and in my stomach.
I asked my chiropractor, “are there any stretches or exercises I can do at home to help strengthen my posture?”
Every time I asked, I got the same answer: “we will work on that next time, go to the back and lets hook you up to the EMS machine.”
My insurance stopped covering my adjustments, so my visits were $100 a pop.
I needed lasting results, but it seemed like I was out of options.
Looking at a stop sign on my walk home, I had an Epiphany.
One adjustment was costing me $100 dollars and that was about the same price as a monthly yoga membership.
I decided to go all in — I had no other option.
Buy a membership. Learn all the poses. Practice daily until I fixed my back.
I remember sitting in the Yoga Shala on my first day of practice . . . This beautiful woman tiptoed into the room.
She was tranquility to me, a soft-spoken angle in my eyes.
We began the class by taking a deep breath and sighing out. . . “ah.”
From that moment forward, I knew this is what I wanted to do.
I became super dedicated to my practice and gained recognition from her and my other teachers.
It was kind of out of the blue - but one day - I realized that I no longer had back pain.
I had been so focused on my breathing and meditation, that I completely forgot why I was doing this.
I kept pushing the limits with what I thought was possible for my body and breath.
The trauma of my past was leaving me and my mind was expanding as I stretched my limbs.
These were the first days of my life that I had not thought about suicide in years.
A new horizon:
I had a new plan for my life — and a new definition of who I was.
During my Junior year, I was staring at the ceiling in my financial accounting class when I thought to myself.
“My dad went school here to get a business degree. He probably sat in this very same classroom. . . Have I been programmed my whole life to just do what everyone else told me? Wow, I have never really followed my heart. This is why my mind and body do not agree.”
Moving on, I vowed to follow my inner guidance.
I decided to fly to Peru to get back to nature. I needed some kind of clarification on what my heart was telling me.
If I had never listened to my heart, how could I know what it even sounded like?
While staying with the indigenous tribes of the Amazon, I reclaimed my connection with mother earth (Pachamama) and heard my inner voice speaking.
This is the gist of what she told me: “Be grateful. It is an impossibility that you even exist. You have life. Use your life to care for the earth and uplift humanity.”
That was the confirmation for me to follow this path I am on now.
I told my mom one Sunday, “I cannot keep lying to myself and become some financial analyst. I am going to quit school so I can become a yoga teacher.”
She advised me to finish school, and she may have mentioned that I sound ludicrous.
But she assured me that she would support me with my decision.
I would have finished my finance degree early, but I was slipping poetry classes into my schedule to have some sort of outlet.
I planned out how I would make everything happen.
I was going work at a bank, finish up my degrees, and train to be a yoga teacher on the weekends.
I was trying to play both sides of the fence . . .
I had absolutely no interest in working at a bank.
There is no way I would have survived.
My heart was telling me to train in yoga the whole time.
But I could not let down my family who helped pay for my (mis)education.
I told my dilemma to Steve. He was teaching me Satorido Kempo (the path to enlightenment through martial arts).
He asked me if I had ever considered going to India to learn.
“I have always wanted to go”, I said.
“So what is stopping you?”, he asked.
The only thing stopping me was my fear of what might happen if I followed my heart.
I had to let everything go.
I finally did it:
I moved to Kansas City shortly after this conversation.
I finished my Finance degree in the spring of 2016 and planned to complete my English degree by winter.
After that I was leaving for India.
I had no money.
I was homeless for a couple weeks, but I had a job.
I was a bartender at a busy restaurant on The Plaza.
This was big.
I had held every job in a restaurant since I was sixteen, and now I was a homeless bartender.
What a tough and wild time of my life. I was commuting between the Lawrence and Edwards Campuses, working the bar late, and writing papers while I slept.
I would still visit Steve before play-writing on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Life was crazy, but life was good. I had a great attitude toward my self and others.
I promised myself that I would never get angry or frustrated anymore.
Don Lucho, the Shaman in Peru told me, “if you cannot go 90 days without getting upset, then you will be angry the rest of your life.”
I took that to heart, and could hear Pachamama reminding me to be grateful for everything.
When the time finally came, I left everything and went to India.
I learned so much there and became a certified multi-style yoga teacher.
On my days off, I would hitch-hike to the beach and learn this thing called, “Thai Yoga Massage”.
I was so fascinated by this style of massage, that I determined to return one day to continue my training in it.
The becoming of who I am:
The big takeaway from my travels was that I was running away from reality.
Yes it was part of my process to go around the world, to Peru, India, France, The Netherlands, Mexico . . . All along the way practicing, training, and learning.
I was trying to figure out who I was. . .
But I remember thinking, “I had to go literally everywhere outside of myself - searching for myself - when all I had to do was close my eyes and listen”.
When I got home, I taught 13 yoga classes a week.
I was on a raw plant-based diet for a few years and trying to inspire others to eat healthy and exercise.
My Instagram was Rawmankaw, and I made YouTube videos about my journey.
I wanted everyone to feel as great as I did, but no one seemed to want to change like I had.
When I meditated on this, I realized that I was living for myself and not for others.
I legitimately stopped doing everything until I could fix this.
I canceled all of my yoga classes. I stopped drinking and smoking. I cut off all of my friends. I did not answer my phone. My relationship with my family was non-existent. I moved to a different part of town. I had no furniture. I did not turn on the lights. I did not use the air conditioning.
But you can bet your bottom dollar I used a space-heater in the winter. I don’t like my toes getting numb.
During this time, I was praying and fasting.
Fasting from everything and praying that I could know The Most High(s).
I knew who I was, but now I needed to know who my G-d was.
I read the Koran, the Torah, the Prophets, the Gospels, and there was one message that stood out.
A rabbi named Ninesun Amaru Bey taught me how I could serve others during this vision I had one September Night.
I was on the river bank, looking at the stars.
He told me to go to Thailand and learn massage, because my true purpose was to make others feel the happiness that I could now feel.
Everything made sense after that.
I finally had mastered myself physically, mentally, and broke through to my spiritual purpose in life.
Some people say to believe in Muhammad the prophet.
Others learn to detach from worldly possessions like Siddhartha the Buddha (the Buddha was a Thai massage connoisseur).
Some people say we are supposed to walk in Jesus Christ’s footsteps.
Well, I do not know Jesus Christ, but I know Yeshua Ben Yosef.
Yeshua was a messenger who healed people. He treated his brothers and sisters with loving-kindness.
This man taught people to love G-d and to love one another. He washed his disciples feet. He devoted his life to those who believe in him.
I do not push religion on anyone, but I have to let you know where my inspiration comes from.
I could be living for myself, posting pictures of my salad and smoothies on Instagram, doing ridiculous yoga poses on YouTube, hanging out with my students at a bar after yoga classes.
Instead, I just keep it real.
It is not my goal to make a ton of money or become famous doing Thai massage.
My purpose is simple.
Nurture everyone who comes to see me with loving-kindness.
I would be humbled to serve you in any way that I can.