There is a widespread conspiracy in society designed to prevent you from knowing who you are.

The tragedy is that it isn’t a deliberate conspiracy.

There are no shadowy folks hiding behind the curtain pulling the strings.

It’s more insidious than that.

“One latte please”

Your cookie-cutter liberal white barista, skinny arms covered in tattoos, pours out your steaming milk into a sad-looking paper cup in front of you. Soulless, one of millions just like it.

It’s almost as if humans as a species have become too successful.

Our primal drives towards comfort, warmth and shelter are well intentioned, but ill-suited to a world of clownish over-abundance like the modern western one.

The result is that we each walk around wrapped inside a protective cocoon explicitly designed to prevent us from coming into contact with anything painful, difficult or traumatising.

The threads are spun by other entrepreneurs, salespeople and mega-conglomerates, each competing to make our lives that much easier, that tiny bit more comfortable.

It is a fine gossamer web of comfortable chairs, heated offices, soy lattes and cupcakes on every corner.

Like an overprotective mother, it strangles and suffocates, all the while murmuring in soothing tones “don’t worry child, I’ll take care of you, everything is alright” as it ushers you into an early grave of diabetes and depression.

It is the mile-high wall that divides us from one another.

If you live in a western city, the cocoon is your greatest enemy.

You must kill it before it kills you.

Some of us have spent our entire lives in the cocoon. So much so that not only have we never truly connected with others, we have never truly connected with ourselves - we have no idea who we really are.

I was lucky enough to realise this early on, and recoil from the cocoon’s seductive embrace.

I knew instinctively I had to escape, even though I didn’t know how to verbalise it back then.

My (fairly extreme) reaction to the siren call of the warm, comfortable cocoon was to run to the other side of the world and live in a third world country for 3 years.

There I faced real poverty for the first time and learned to fend for myself. I saw the ugly side of human nature, and learned about the true beautiful harshness of the world.

In order to protect yourself from being strangled by the cocoon, you too must make a conscious and deliberate effort to tear it down.

You don’t need to run to the other side of the world like I did.

But you do need to find a way to allow the rawness of the true world to break through the shield or you will forever go through life in a lonely cloud of mild depression, never quite able to shake the nagging sense that something is missing.

If you feel like that, it’s because something is missing.

That something is your connection with your own soul. The cocoon has you deep in its clutches, and it has hidden your soul from you and substituted itself.

So how to break free?

You must find your pain, and through your pain, find yourself.

The best way to do this in my experience is through hard exercise.

I don’t mean spin classes or pilates or whatever watered down soy bullshit is the trendy fitness-du-jour.

In fact, if it has the word “fitness” anywhere near it you probably need to run in the opposite direction.

There are only two types of exercise that have forced me to face my pain and find my own soul.

  • Martial arts
  • Lifting weights

You can use whichever meditation works for you. But the rule is that it must take you to the edge and it must force you to work.

I’m talking about the raw, brutal kind of work that has you staring directly into the black abyss.

I’m talking about something that will put you in the hole.

When you become slightly delirious and your mind breaks through the red haze and you find yourself walking in the green fields as your body goes through the motions again… and again… and again…

That’s when you know you found it.

You found your pain.

Now you need to cosy up close to it.

You need to take it to bed and whisper sweet nothings into it’s ear as you caress it gently.

You need to surf the wave of emotions and resistance that your mind will throw up as you get close to the edge.

And, if you get it right, you’ll find yourself surfing that wave right out of the cocoon, back to raw beautiful reality and back to your own soul.

Your pain is the friend that takes you there.

It is the mirror that reflects your own soul back at you.

It is the fire that burns away the cloying tendrils that blot out the world in a warm, choking blanket of comfort.

The pain is the only weapon I’ve found that can destroy the cocoon.

Only after it’s burned away can you open your eyes and truly see the world around you for the first time.

And you will see that it is not comfortable.

But it is fiercely beautiful.