Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Through the Body!

Zen Master Thich Nhat Han made a quote that has a great deal of validity and empirical evidence to support its claim. He stated that enlightenment is found through the body. What does this mean and why is he so specific that it is found through the body. As a long time meditator, his words truly do have great meaning, and they can be validated by the sciences as well.

Zazen, or seated meditation, forces one to develop a focus.  The focus is not on "the center of the head" as in BPI meditation, but on the Danten or Hara in the gut.  A completely different focal point.  This focus draws ones attention out of their head and into their gut or viscera.  It forces one to pay close attention to various bodily functions, specifically the breath.  As one draws their attention onto their out breath, relaxation occurs.  The process deep breathing and focusing on the outbreath, activates the autonomic nervous system, the one responsible for recovery, rest, relaxation and digestion.  Conversely the sympathetic nervous system is activated when we are in a stressful situation and we go into "fight or flight" mode.

The relaxation level one gets from deep meditation is greater than that which one can get from deep sleep.  In that deeply relaxed state, part of the brain literally starts to shut off.  The part responsible for the concepts of self and identity. Yes those areas of the brain have been mapped!  Magnetic Resonance Imaging have given us the capacity to view the brain while it is processing information.  MRI scans and other brain mapping techniques show us that the brain does indeed "shut off" during deep meditation.

Classical meditation talks about the moment of loosing ones self.  If the brain areas responsible for our sense of self has been "quieted" this would make sense.  The state one goes into when they are in this "quietude" is peaceful, tranquil, calm and serene.  However, this state of "mind" cannot be achieved through any other means than through breathing meditation.  It most certainly cannot be done through BPI or trance style meditations.  Those involve changes in the alteration of consciousness, which are controlled by the brain stem.

It is exceedingly clear that it is through the body that we do indeed find enlightenment.  It is not through the self absorption techniques taught in mind altering meditations.

It should also be noted that what is not seen in classical meditation brain studies. There is no evidence of alterations to brain stem functioning.  None at all, as compared to that of the studies of the brain while one is in an altered state of consciousness.

Choose your meditation wisely!

some say this blog filled with junk science, but you don't know the sciences at all and I can now say that I have studied the science and have a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology which heavily utilizes the s.  Well I say this back up your claims that the BPI stuff actually works otherwise shut your mouth for you are just spewing garbage and are showing the world you really don't know anything at all. 

The burden of proof lies with the claimant, not anyone else!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The eye has it (personal)

For nearly a year my eyes have been recovering and changing from having cataract surgery. Additionally, the cataract surgery was a trigger for bringing back dissociated memories of my birth parents.  Other things have happened including a recent visit to a retina specialist who prescribed for me Prednisone to deal with a an atrophying optic nerve in my right eye.  After starting the Prednisone just one day ago, my vision began returning and my eyestrain headaches have been diminishing.  Now I am also ready to start writing again.

I realized how much I enjoy writing.  After leaving both school and taking a forced break due to my eye problems, I discovered something about myself I never knew.  I discovered or perhaps rediscovered that I truly enjoy writing.   I also enjoy research and gathering knowledge in addition to sharing said knowledge with others.  Although I do not have the desire to have a writing career, it is something which will be a large part of my future.

In reviewing my blog and other writings for both school and personal, I found something there.  I found out how powerful the written word can truly be.  My blog has probably discouraged many people from either continuing classes at the institute or from starting them in the first place.  No small accomplishment in and of itself.  I know that I am hated and despised (well not completely hated or despised) by many New Age followers and those who still practice and work with the techniques that come from places like the institute. They have posted quite vitriolic and ignorant things here and on my Youtube videos.  I have to say that I have learned much from their behavior and their responses, I have also developed a good strong thick skin as well.

I now wonder which direction this blog will take.  Its not ready to come down, that will only occur on the day the institute closes its doors permanently.  New ideas are coming and new insights are also coming.  Also I now find I am in a new informational gathering stage, so I suspect that many of my future posts and YouTube videos will have a different and more professional tact. 

Credibility is important, especially when you present an idea to the world.  Can it be backed up by facts or will you be laughed at and ridiculed for presenting ideas which carry no substance?  Are you thinking or are you feeling and going off of feelings?  Always remember this

Feelings are based on perceptions and perceptions can often be (or most of the time) be wrong.

What I perceived originally at the institute was not real.  The experiences I had were not evidence of spirit, but of an altered state of consciousness, albeit an unnatural one. I did learn from them eventually but it took time and truly framing the experiences for what they were and not what I thought they were.

Always question what you are perceiving, if you do not you may fall prey to those who are not very scrupulous.
I also realize that I am not intimidated by people like this anymore.  I have found my voice and I will continue to speak out against the atrocities of cultic organizations for a  long time to come.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Traits of the false spiritual teacher

As I journey back into the world of Eastern philosophies, practices and religions I have come across some very stark and highly relevant examples of Spiritual Narcissism.  These so called teachers are men and women who are usually highly charismatic, quite intelligent and successful on one level or another in their careers.  They have twisted the teachings to suit their needs and go about to achieve their own goals.  They are master manipulators on so many levels. 

The degree of Narcissistic or Sociopathic behavior they exhibit may or may not preclude an assessment of the said Narcissistic Personality disorder.  Not all of these men and women would be classified with a personality disorder, indeed most will probably not exhibit this level of dysfunction.  However, there are two things which one must consider when dealing with these men and women.

The first is a lack of morals and ethics.  They often speak about that the only thing which is important is self and that morals and ethics are subjective and not necessarily relevant. The term Moral or Ethical Disengagement is probably used to describe this condition.  It is a term described as

A process by which the processes that normally inhibit unethical behavior are deactivated by moral self-regulatory mechanisms. Such mechanisms comprise: (1) situational factors, and (2) individual attributes. (Detert, Klebe Trevino & Sweitzer 2008).

In most of these situations, it is clear that it is an individual attribute.  When these men and women are compared to others of similar "station" they all exhibit the same degree of Ethical/Moral disengagement.  Thus it is best described as a trait that is developed.  Simply put, those who have disengaged ethically usually feel that the rules do not necessarily apply to them.

Cameron Shayne, founder of Budokon has written an article wherein he describes how he has used his position as a yoga and martial arts instructor to engage in sexual relationships with his students.  The article is a rationalization of his behavior and it is a prime example of ethical and moral disengagement. 

After reading the article and watching some of Cameron's videos both through Netflix and online, it became clear to me that it is about him not about his work.  I consider him to be a sexual predator using the mask of a yoga/martial arts teacher to obtain his personal and ulterior motives.  If one pays close attention to him it becomes clear that his sensuality and sexuality are overboard.  He is almost always seen shirtless and the way he carries his body is quite provocative.

You will also notice extreme visceral reactions in yourself if you pay close attention to Cameron and his movements. This is his charisma and superficial charm which along with his sexuality he is using to engage people with.  At first it seems harmless it feels calming, but this is all a game.  A game of a snake hypnotizing a mouse to quickly make a meal of it.  Once your guard is down, the snake bites.  Many a woman has fallen prey to teachers such as Cameron, only to later on realize that they were only after them for one thing, SEX!

The other thing which is present in these individuals is a complete inability to handle criticism.  This hypersensitivity to criticism is also a Narcissistic trait.  They can dish it out like a pro, but when it comes time for them to receive any relevant criticism, they are highly resistant to being receptive. Preliminary studies indicate that those with “Covert” Narcissism are indeed highly sensitive to criticisms.  (Atlas, Them 2008)

I can personally attest that most Narcissistic and false spiritual teachers can get quite hostile and aggressive when confronted with any level of criticism. Werner Erhard, L Ron Hubbard, William H Duby and Lewis S Bostwick all showed a high degree of this sensitivity to criticism.  Werner Erhard and L Ron Hubbard took legal action against their critics and in the case of Scientology, they went so far as to actually do illegal things against them as well to keep their critics quiet and to instill fear in them.  These are two rare examples, but they are highly relevant to my point. 

William H Duby and Lewis S Bostwick also used bullying tactics, but without the material means to go after their “attackers” they usually just resorted to more Ad Hominem attacks of character.  I often heard teachers and even Lewis speak of James Randi in negative tones when I was in the institute. Most of the time they just complained and projected all sorts of imaginary things onto their critics. 

In addition to seeing the bad, I am also seeing the good as well. I am finding strong and well “grounded” teachers who speak of morals and ethics.  They speak of the teachings, such as the Dharma or the Tao.  They focus on the practices, not the outcomes. They handle criticisms well and they are also very morally and ethically engaged.  I have also witnessed that when they realize that they have crossed a moral and or ethical boundary, they take corrective action and don’t usually repeat the behavior.

It’s getting easier to discern the truth now from the falsehoods of Narcissistic Spirituality.

Gordon D. Atlas,   Melissa A. Them (2008) Narcissism and Sensitivity to Criticism: A Preliminary Investigation, Current Psychology, March 2008, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 62-76

James Detert, Linda Klebe Trevino & Vicki Sweitzer,  (2008) Moral Disengagement in Ethical Decision Making: A Study of Antecedents and Outcomes Journal of Applied Psychology, 2008, Vol. 93, No. 2, 374–391.

Self or Ego

More often than not, I have heard the term self referred to when people are discussing so called "spiritual" things.  But what is the self?  How is it defined? 

Many so called spiritual individuals consider "self' to be the spirit or soul.  From their self absorb perspective, this would make sense.  They go within and find the "self."  However, this definition is highly lacking and is more amorphous than concrete. 

When examined from a critical perspective, self is nothing more than EGO!  That is correct, these individuals who are selling us a bill of goods and labeling them spiritual are in fact selling us egotism.  This has been commented on by many true spiritual teachers and lay people alike. 

When  the writings and teachings of these men and women are objectively examined,  there is a deep and resounding sense of self absorption which drags one into a deep state of Narcissism.  A place where the only thing is "self" and its primary importance.

Now it is very clear, self is not about some "spiritual" thing, it is about ones own ego in the realms of Narcissistic spirituality.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Dealing with dissocation

Someone just recently asked me how do you deal with dissociation?  The dissociation which is caused by hypnosis can be dealt with very differently than that caused by trauma or medications.

Hypnotic dissociation is not a natural process.  It is one wherein you consciousness is altered through a series of mental mechanics which cause changes in how the brain functions, albeit temporarily.  I have spoken to people over the years who have done different types of trance work and all of them describe the same things which I encountered in a trance state of consciousness. 

Consciousness is controlled by and originates in the brain stem.  Yes you read that correctly, consciousness is controlled by and originates in the brain stem.  FMRI's have repeatedly shown that individuals who are in hypnotic trances have changes in brain stem functioning.  This makes sense as to why when you are in one of these states, the way you view the whole world changes in an instant.

Consciousness does not exist separately from the body or any living organism for that matter. Matter alone does not have consciousness.  On a very basic level, consciousness is the feedback system which allows a bio-organic entity to make changes to their environment or to themselves to adapt to changes or adapt and environment which they are in. 

Dealing trance induced dissociation is a process of "unwinding" the tape wherein we were altered in the first place. We have to go backwards and take it apart bit by bit until we hit the first time we had our consciousness altered via hypnotic means.  Relabeling the experience for what it really was is the first step in healing. 

Realize the following;
  • The experience was an altered state, not a natural one.
  • The feeling experienced were not based on external stimuli, but internal ques. 
  • Your perceptions were not accurate about reality. 
  • The vividness of this experience of reality was due to changes in how your brain works, not actual changes in reality. 
  • The key here is to remember that everything comes from your internal intra-psychic world. 
Odly enough the way to really heal from these things is to do some of the things Lewis always talked about when you needed to get "back in your body."  These things are, eat, sleep and have sex.  I am not saying that we should just engage in these activities just for the sake of doing them, but that we should do them mindfully and with a high degree of awareness of what we are doing.  Mindfulness is the true key here. 

Mindfulness allows us to hold our experiences and put them in a place in our mind where they loose their power and influence over us.  Mindfulness allows us to change how we operate in this world and it is part of the process of changing the way our brains really work, but in a positive way.  Mindfulness takes us back to reality and brings us into the present moment.

Mindful eating engages us to be aware of our senses as they really are.  Eating from a mindful level encourages us to really taste our food take the time to be aware of how it influences us.  Mindless eating is done from a level of appeasing our appetites and cravings, rather than truly eating to nourish our bodies and minds healthily.

Sleeping is also a key to dealing with dissociation.  Sleeping "resets" our minds and brains back to normal.  Many people after doing extensive trance work, need massive amounts of sleep and rest, much more than normal.  It takes a toll on your mental reserves and I suspect that it may damage the brain on subtle levels.  Starting out with getting enough sleep as one feels like is probably ok when dealing with coming back from and or healing from trance states.  The excessive sleep need should drop off to normal after the initial healing time has passed.  Then a regular sleep schedule and an occasional nap should suffice in keeping things in line.

Sexually speaking, engaging in healthy sexual contact, with or without a partner, is perhaps the most direct means of getting in touch with our true feelings and emotions on a very deep level that forces us to be present with our bodies.  It breaks us out of an altered state of consciousness quickly.

In a pinch, both literally and figuratively, a quick bit of pain will snap you out of a trance state and "reboot" the mind.

If you are continually experiencing a lot of dissociation and or other dissociative problems it is best to start working with a clinician who understands the etiology of these things.  If there is a continual problem, there might be a need for medication. Dissociation and dissociative problems all have connections to anxiety, depression and trauma. 

The New Agey spirituality got it all wrong when they believed that these things were about enlightenment. If one peruses the Asian texts and looks at the real Buddhist teachings, they are categorically different than those of the supposed New Age philosophies. 

I have been down both roads, the trance dissociation route and the true mindfulness Zen Buddhist approach.  The true Buddhist approach brings us into contact with reality, not away from it.  for it is by engaging with reality on realities terms, we find real enlightenment.

A shocker from my past! (personal)

Much of who I am has changed significantly over the past year.  I am not the same person I was. A whole new personality has been developing.  After years of cult indoctrination and an abusive family, something came to the surface I never knew about my past.  Something which occurred after I had my cataract surgery in March of this year (2013). 

Early cataracts are often caused by several factors.  Of those factors two make up the majority of the sufferers of early cataracts.  One is genetics, if one of your parents had early cataracts, you have a high chance of getting them yourself.  The other is trauma, sometimes early childhood trauma. 

After I had my cataract surgery, something got triggered in my mind and it would not go away.  Something so deep, that I had barely any memory of it whatsoever.  Feelings were arising, emotions were coming up and I was starting to have flashbacks again. 

Flashbacks of people I never knew but I did.  Flashbacks of a home I never lived in but I know I did.  Flashbacks of a bedroom with a cot I slept on but I never slept on a cot. Flashbacks which contained numerous sensory inputs.

All of my flashbacks had strong sensory components.  Additionally they all were from the perspective of a young child. 

Then I discovered something which put things in perspective.  I found a reference to something in my mothers medical records which shocked me but answered everything. A reference which changed me forever.

A reference to an adoption. 


Then everything started to gel in my mind and the final flashback came.  The flashback of the night I was "adopted." The shock and numbness realizing that I was given to these people was almost too much to bear.  But at the same time, I also felt a deep freedom knowing that I was not related to the people who raised me for the majority of my youth.

What I have never spoken about in my entire life to almost anyone was the fact that I had flashbacks on numerous occasions of various incidents.  Some were very banal, others more horrific.  Some were of people I knew but never did, others were of being horribly abused.  I can say that I have probably had at least one flashback per year up until 2007. 

Memories are fragile things but trauma memories are very different in their composition.  They are often "fragmented" memories compartmentalized by their sensory input.  Individuals suffering from trauma and abuse will talk about having a memory of a smell, a voice, a sound, an image, an emotion or feeling or even some vague sense of anxiety which they cannot pinpoint.  I can attest to having all of the above on many occasions. 

For the past several years I have been trying to piece together my memories and my background into a complete tapestry.  One without the taint of cults and an abusive family.  A lot of things have come together, but a piece was still missing.  The realization that I was adopted made everything click. 

One thing which has always stood out in my mind is the fact that I had no real memories before the age of 5.  Nothing Nada, zero, zip, zilch.  But as I have pieced things together and put them in perspective, the realization that I was violently abused also was a key to my recovery. 

After I was brought into the family, my sister (who is now deceased) tried to kill me.  Yes, she actually tried to kill me.  She took a baseball bat to my head.  She was 13, I was only 4 and a half.

Why you might ask would she try to kill you?  Well she was exposed to a lot of domestic violence and she was also the brunt of it as well.  My only living brother always spoke about how it was really bad growing up in the house with our  "mom and dad".  He told me that they fought and they fought a lot and it got really bad.  My memories also corroborate what he has told me, they were indeed violent with one another.  Other relatives also have corroborated this and I have witnessed my fathers violent rages on others as well throughout the years. 

Catherine, tried to kill me because she hated me on a very deep level.  She has always been domineering and cruel towards me and no one else.  I suspect that she dealt with a degree of pathological jealousy and envy.  I do not know why she didn't like me, but I think that because she knew I was not her real brother and she hated not being the center of attention in addition to needing a scapegoat for her own rage and anger from being abused. 

It was right after I was brought into the family that Catherine violently tried to kill me.  The shock of loosing my parents, being thrust into a foreign environment which was chaotic and dangerous in addition to being violently attacked and beaten caused me to "loose" my memory of my birth family. 

The family has never spoken to me about the physical abuse Catherine inflicted on me.  They alluded to it several times, but always skirted the issue.  They also never spoke to me about the fact that I was adopted.  There is also a reason for that.

I was adopted after their biological child died.  I was brought into the family shortly after he had passed away.  I literally replaced a dead child!

Ron, my father has told me that I was very sickly for a long time as a child.  I repeatedly had fevers. I suspect that there is more to the story than he has ever let on.  Interestingly enough, I have never been sickly or had fevers outside of normal childhood illnesses.  Ron has lied because it is easier than facing the truth of what he did. Ron is also a hard core alcoholic.  Lying is part and parcel of an alcoholics denial defense mechanism. When I have pressed Ron in the past about anything from the early years, he gets uncomfortable and quickly changes the subject or gets defensive and started verbally attacking me or anyone else who tries to get at the truth. 

Today, Ron confabulates (makes up stories) about the past which are rosy and wonderful.  He has stated that he knows his children really well.  The fact is that he never engaged us on any level nor did he ever try and do anything with us over the years.  He refuses to acknowledge the fact that he has ever been violent, despite the fact that many people have seen and been the victim of his brutality.  He has even threatened to hit me and he refuses to acknowledge that he ever did. 

How do I know that I took the place of a dead child? My final flashback was the key and the answer to it all. 

In my final flashback, I was in the hospital and I was being led by Ron to a room.  My birth parents had just left me in his care.  When we went into the room, there was Joy (my adoptive mother) hooked up to an IV and on some type of monitoring device.  She was wearing hospital gown and appeared to be somewhat sedated.  When she saw me she lit up she got up from lying down and said;


I shot back at her with "YOU ARE NOT MY MOMMIE!"  I was shocked.

Joy then picked me up dropped me on the bed and said; "Don't ever say that to me again.  You are making me very mad.  I am your mother and you know it!"

 I once again retorted; ""YOU ARE NOT MY MOMMIE!" 

Joy then hit me across the face, and stated to me "You are never to talk to me like that again!"

Ron just stood there like a zombie just staring at the exchange and said nothing the entire time.

At this time I quieted down and went internal.  My whole world was upside down and it was getting worse by the second. Then my flashback faded!

None of my flashbacks have ever been or come out of therapy or doing work with the institute. They all came back on their own without any real prompting from anyone.

I suspect that Ron "adopted" me because I was an exact lookalike for their dead child.  As I have grown up, the similarities have faded and other things have show up which made me question my parentage. Things like personality traits which are starkly different.  I am an introvert with a higher than average IQ.  No one else in my "family" is an introvert.  I have inflammatory problems, no one else in the family has theses issues.  I am extremely hirsute, no one else has my body hair type.  My eyes are also a strong shade of green.  No one else has my eye color.

After I put everything together, my whole sense of self changed.  My past is now in perspective and I am free to create a future for myself without the burden of a violent family and cults. 

Freedom comes from truly knowing yourself on a deep and resounding level. Not from trance states of consciousness. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

What I gained durring my time with the institute

Not all my time and energy was wasted while I was involved with the institute. I did learn some valuable things during this time.  Some of the things I learned were wrapped up in the mumbo jumbo of the institute and I had to unravel the mumbo jumbo from them in order to find the gemstone in the manure.  No its not a pretty picture, but a very apropos metaphor.  Here are some of the things I learned while going there.

  • I learned about Veganism (a total plant based diet for those who don't know what it is.. 
Many cults (BPI not included) promote a vegetarian or vegan diet.  These other cults do so in order to reduce a persons intake of protein to make their bodies and minds weak and susceptible to greater levels of suggestion.  I have returned to veganism after many years being away armed with a greater degree of knowledge and practical information on how to make it work.  I left it behind nearly 10 years ago after dealing with health issues arising from not planning out a plant based diet correctly. I have discovered that I am probably completely lactose intolerant.  Just eliminating all dairy from my diet cleared up about half a dozen problems associated with lactose intolerance.

I have chosen to also not consume any more animal protein for several reasons.  My reasons are ethical, financial and political in nature.  I need go no further in explaining my reasons. 

  • I learned to focus my attention.
The practice of trance meditation, like traditional meditation practices, requires a lot of focus.  My focus is preternatural.  I can maintain and sustain my focus for hours on end, far longer than an average individual can.  The difference between the focus at the institute and that of traditional meditation practices can be surmised in the differences between introspection and self absorption. You can read about these in my blog post Self Absorption vs Introspection. 

  • I learned about self awareness 
Albeit through the skewed means of trance induced states of consciousness brought on by the practices taught at the institute.

  • I learned about self care
At the institute, we were taught to be selfish.  However, in part of the whole process of learning to be selfish and self absorbed, there was a gem of insight to be gleaned from all of this. It is called self care.  Self care is about taking time for ourselves to rest, relax, recreate and rejuvenate ourselves.  Self care incorporates several different areas of practice.  It includes but is not completely inclusive of diet, exercise, rest, solitude, hobbies, planed pleasurable, activities and "pampering" activities.  Pampering activities are those such as spa treatments (mud baths, massage and hydrotherapy.)   Planned pleasurable activities are those such as going out for a special meal, attending a sports or theatrical event which stimulates or mind and emotions in a positive way and generate feelings of well being.

In the institute we were taught that we could have these thing or that we were entitled to them.  This is the essence of selfishness.  We are not entitled to anything in life,

  • I learned that I am responsible for my own behaviors, speech and feelings.

I learned this while attending this institute, I did not learn it from them.  At the institute, part of the emotional manipulative package given to us is that we are responsible for everything which happens to us in our lives.  This is wholly different than realizing that we are responsible only for three things in our lives. 

We are responsible for our actions and behaviors, most of the time.  There are certain circumstances where this is not true.   These circumstances are very specific and usually wherein we have been coerced and manipulated into skewed forms of thinking which then directly effects our behavior.

We are responsible for the words which come out of our own mouths.  When we stop to think about this, we then start to think about self censoring and changing how we speak.  We influence others with our words, either positively or negatively.  We also know that our words can also manipulate and coerce others.  Quoting from Ella Wheeler Wilcox; "You may choose your words like a connoisseur, And polish it up with art, But the word that sways, and stirs, and stays, Is the word that comes from the heart."  Sums it up pretty clearly.

Being responsible for ones own feelings is a bit more complex.  This means that we need to be aware of our own feelings and realize that they are based on our own perceptions.  Perceptions are not always accurate or objective.  If something makes us mad, it is usually because of our own perceptions, not usually because of someone else's actions or behaviors.  One thing I wish to remind people of is the fact that this really only applies to normal circumstances.  When we are dealing with emotional manipulators and abusers, things are being twisted around.  There is a slippery slope here and we must be careful to examine each circumstance independently and know when we are dealing with normal situations and manipulative ones. 

I have learned other things while attending the institute.  Some mundane, other very profound.  I realize that I also would have learned them without attending the institute.  Lewis and many other "spiritual" teachers wanted to lay claim to a lot of things, but the truth be known, they were already present before they came along. 

Over the past 6 years I let go of a lot of things I learned while at the institute.  This was a necessary process.  It allowed me to completely free myself from the mythologies of the institute and other organizations I was involved with.  Now that I have freed myself of the detritus, I have been able to reevaluate the gemstones I found and realize their worth. 

You may now ask "Did you learn anything of value from the teachings of the institute?"  The answer to this question is a resolute NO!  The teachings and tech of the institute are at best forms of self hypnosis and hypnosis has very limited applications. The problems associated with it are profound and well documented. 

In closing, not all of my time I spent involved with the institute was a waste.  I learned a lot during that time.  I just had to sift though the manure to find the real gemstones.