"Human vantage serves as the frame of human perception; change vantage and change perception. - Johnathan S. Surmont
"Insight nests within the appendages of perception; vantage, lens and focus. Change any appendage, change perception." J.Surmont 2019
In my experiences the phrase "Surfing Alpha" is a metaphor for achieving a state of flow.
According to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, what one is experiencing in the moment known as “flow” is, "Being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost." It can also be described as the process of accessing the unconscious mind and reorganizing energy flow in the brain and body.
To me, a flow state is the highest pleasure a human can achieve. I believe I began to experience states of flow as a child through creative outlets such as performing as a child actor. I felt it again as a BUD/S student and then as a SEAL, and later as an inventor, designer, creator and executive – the feeling was an intense focus, selflessness, timelessness and information richness. I also experienced a heightened version of this sensation following extensive Personalized and repetitive Trascranial Magnetic Stimulation (PrTMS) treatment between the period of February 2015 and July 2017. The reason for my receiving the treatments was as a result of numerous undocumented brain injuries (concussions) culminating in the most serious and well documented brain trauma as a result of a life altering motor vehicle collision in March of 2013.
Brain injuries and trauma can interrupt one’s ability to access flow states, as harmonious brain waves are essential to achieving such states. A relatively new approach to a relatively mature medical technology, PrTMS is an extension to TMS through the administration and use of the electroencephalogram (EEG) to guide the treatment much more precisely than traditional TMS.
The objective of PrTMS is to provide a personalized EEG guided repetitively administered magnetic stimulation therapy in order to synchronize brain waves via noninvasive electromagnetic stimulation of various targeted regions of the brain. It essentially attempts to focus and direct quantized energy in a way that nudges, entrains and ultimately harmonizes the brain's energy. It’s almost akin to a software system running the latest "build" seeking entropic efficiency when conscious, which some have described as "synchrony", while others might say an externally induced flow state or even “the zone”.
When administered properly, it can relieve symptoms of depression (something I am all too familiar with), and in best cases, it can return an individual to “optimum performance levels”, releasing (rebalancing perhaps) the brain’s ability to once again find its flow state.
I've had a lot of trauma in my life.
Clinically I'm known as a "Complex Polytrauma survivor". From a breakdown of my family system at a young age, personal relationship failures, and feelings of intense shame and failure following experiences in military service as well as combat (not a lot but evidently enough). The culmination of these traumatic experiences (or the accumulation) had in a way prepared me for what was to come, and in other ways created a darkness in me that I was struggling with. During some of the darkest moments of my life, I might have conjured up a pretty dismal image of how I looked to my kids and tribe. For me, this was when the “black dog” (depression) would pull me the hardest towards the “hole” of despair and hopelessness for a future that at that time seemed to be growing dim.
"The dilemma of mankind's nested vantage is sighted blindness. The ability to see nothing and then be blind to the something in which nothing is." J.Surmont July 2017
March 21, 2013 Chula Vista, California
Lost at sea. Drifting aimlessly along with the current as sounds of water splash against the sides of the vessel I'm floating in. Webster’s defines coherence, in the nominative form, as “the quality of being logical and consistent" or “the quality of forming a unified whole.” This definition perfectly suited the situation I found myself in at 8:15am on March 21st, 2013.
Warmth, comfort and a soft glowing aura immediately enveloped my being. Time stopped. I was near death. Paramedics were working to revive me en-route to the emergency room. For a moment just before I regained consciousness I could sense my life force and body as separate entities.
I had no judgement.
I had no emotions.
I had no sensations.
Just a fullness of warmth and peace.
I felt a golden blanket that had enveloped me - I felt like a child swaddled in a blanket.
I heard a voice say, "you’re going to be ok".
I felt a duality that was indescribable.
According to Eckhart Tolle, “The answer is, who you are cannot be defined through thinking or mental labels or definitions, because it's beyond that. It is the very sense of being, or presence, that is there when you become conscious of the present moment. In essence, you and what we call the present moment are, at the deepest level, one.”
"No change!" The paramedic lifted the paddles from my chest and recharged the defibrillator.
"Again!" He said.
And as quickly as it happened, I felt my life force and body recombine. My ears heard sounds of the Ambulance, the paramedics, radios, sirens, chattering and a cacophony of sounds that one might hear when serious and focused people are trying to save someone's life.
Then I felt the pain. Incredible pain.
My face and upper torso were covered in blood. I couldn’t see. I tried to sit up. The paramedic put his hand on my chest and said into my ear “Sir, take it easy. You’ve been in a very bad car accident and we almost lost you and we are getting you to the hospital as quickly as we can. Stay with me.”
My mind began attempting to make sense of what was happening. Through an oxygen mask I weakly asked the paramedic his name. He leaned down and spoke into my ear and told me his name was Joe. I thanked Joe for helping me. I asked Joe where he learned to be such a good paramedic. He learned that I was Navy and he patted me on the chest and told me he had been a Navy Corpsman. In excruciating pain, I breathed a sigh of relief, thanked him and slipped into unconsciousness.
I woke up in a hospital bed staring at the ceiling in a c-spine, my eyes and face covered and bandaged.
I was in a drug and trauma induced haze.
“Where am I?”, I asked to the ceiling, unable to move my head and neck.
Grace, my ex wife and mother of my three children was by my side.
“John, you are in the hospital. I am here with the kids.”
One of my good friends and fellow frog brothers said,
‘Hey brother, its me, Chase and I’m here with Don, Xavier and Fin” as he touched my arm and greeted me warmly.
“Hey guys thanks for coming on such short notice” We all softly chuckled.
Just then the attending nurse walked in and let me know that they had to release me as I didn’t have any insurance. I tried to explain that I was a disabled veteran and that the VA should be able to help me.
For some reason this didn’t make much of a difference.
So, I was given some very expensive pain medication prescriptions and sent home.
I groggily lifted myself up in bed as I realized that I was dreaming and that the sound of what I thought was a fog horn “Brrrr Rrrrr!” was actually the garbage truck.
I was sleeping in a medical chair that can stand me upright.
Once I realized that I needed to take the garbage to the curb, I slowly made my way up and outside just in time.
“Garbage out.” I thought. “Check”.
I then went to the kitchen table and found my notebook which had my daily list of tasks to accomplish. This was just how things were for me - I had to make lists of everything or I was simply reacting to anything.
Next list item was pickup groceries for kids stay.
“Yes! I thought. This is turnover day.” I then busied myself with getting things set for the kids to arrive after school.
My phone vibrated as the school bus pulled up to the drop off point about a half block from my house.
Children make their way off the bus, greeted by smiling parents and family members. I spot my daughter make her way off the bus. I could see that she was dutifully leading and overseeing her brothers as she made her way down the bus stairs and exited to the street. I could see her turn and wave at the bus driver as she smiled and thanked her.
"Thanks Linda, see you tomorrow!”
The bus driver smiled and while checking mirrors and blind spots managed to say,
”Have a great day Katie! See you all tomorrow.”
As the experienced big sister to her little brothers, she carefully stepped clear as she exited the bus to give them space to see who could jump the farthest onto the sidewalk. One by one they launched themselves long jump style from the top step of the bus and then crash landed onto the sidewalk.
“I win!” the youngest joyfully exclaimed
Acting annoyed, Katie masked her pleasure at seeing her brothers enjoy a moment of happiness after all they had been through.
Always a bit anxious as she made her way to her dad’s house for his week, not sure what state she might find him in. “Would he be in pain?” , she wondered. “Would he be in good spirits?”
“Hey Dad!”, Katie said in unison with the boys.
“Hi sweetie! How are you guys?”
I always felt awkward with my enthusiasm and felt that the kids were gracious in their response to me and could sense my awkwardness as I fought to get better.
Because of my kids I learned what unconditional love was.
They loved me in spite of my vulnerabilities and short comings. "Hey Dad!”, they all said this in unison, shuffling along all the while making adjustments to their heavy backpacks.
The three of them made their way across the street and towards the driveway.
As I watched them move I found myself catching my breath, realizing that those moments wouldn’t last forever.
Under my breath I heard myself say, “I’ve been so damn blessed.” I sadly knew this wasn’t going to be the case for long. I knew Grace, their mother and my ex-wife, was struggling and was at the breaking point financially, and something was going to have to change. I knew this.
I just wasn’t sure what was going to happen and felt like I had very little control or say in the matter. Glancing down to my right hand I could see my phone light up and vibrate.
Sonny, a board member at one of the largest oldest and most well known Navy SEAL Charities, had recently found out about my last brain injury and was calling me to see what they could do to help.
As the kids approached, I gave each one a big hug, took the boys' backpacks and followed the kids inside the house, entering through the open garage door - moving past artifacts from a past life where I was an inventor and creator. It felt as if we were passing through a museum. I found myself reflecting about my failures as a founder and inventor. I simply couldn’t continue my work and efforts, and it was devastating to be reminded of failing at something I had put so much of my life into.
Entering the house, I heard Katie ask, “Dad, did you get some more fruit loops?”
Dropping her backpack at the foot of the stairs, she rejoined us in the kitchen as a flurry of activity ensued.
I nodded yes and point to the box of fruit loops, the gallon of milk with bowls and spoons laid out neatly on the kitchen table ready to serve the purpose of giving them an energy boost to finish their afternoon strong.
“Yes, I did honey, you guys grab a snack and then you’ve got free time to play for about an hour, and then we’ll get started on homework and dinner. Deal?”
“Deal!” They all say in unison.
And with that and with an orderly discipline and familiarity they put their backpacks away in their rooms and make their way to the kitchen table and tear into the cereal. Once finished, the boys head towards their Legos and Katie puts on her headset and watches a “how-to” YouTube video about makeup.
“I’ve got to return a phone call, you guys ok if I step outside for a bit? Let me know if you need me.”
Katie was busy putting her headphones on smiled and gave me a thumbs up.
I often wondered how my kids felt about me and my struggles. I wondered if Katie felt a sense of sadness and perhaps even a tinge of pride for who I was and what I meant to her.
I imagined her mood darkening as she must have thought about how hard it was going to be for me to receive the news that her mom was going to ask me if they could move away. She knew before I did what was to come. I can imagine her sighing under her breath and saying small prayers for me and for her mom and brothers that we would find our way through this and that I would get the help I needed and find a way to get better.
Reflecting back now, I recognize that Katie had realized that she and her brothers needed me and wanted me to be happy and hoped that her mother and I could find a way to get along.
"What’s up brother?", I chirped as I lifted the phone to my ear.
"John, good to hear your voice. I heard you’ve had a spot of trouble. What happened and how are you doing?", Sonny asked.
I explained the details of the accident which involved various injuries which exacerbated pre-existing injuries as well as new injuries to include my latest and worst brain injury to date.
With clear concern in his voice, “John, this last accident was not in uniform and we may not be chartered to assist, but I’ll see what we can do and get back to you.”
“Sounds good brother. I sure could use the help. Another charity has been incredibly helpful and are maxed out. I need some more help getting through this"
We finished up the call and I walked back into the house. I swallowed my tears back and smiled at the kids sitting at the kitchen table munching on their cereal-as-a-snack treats.
I sat down at the table to join them.
“Dad, there’s a little bit left. Want some?” Katie smiled as she pushed a bowl and the cereal box towards where I had sat down to join them.
“No thanks, honey. I’m all set.” I smiled with still red eyes.
She hugged me and said she loved me. As we hugged, I couldn’t help but think about how I knew precisely how much cereal was on that table. I knew precisely how much food I had in the house. As I did every week I had with them, I ensured that the minimum food was in place when they were with me. It was tight and getting tighter. I had spent the last gift card I had been given, making sure I had the food basics covered for the week they were with me.
Sonny followed up with me a couple weeks later to check on me. He also mentioned an experimental treatment and asked if I would be interested in it.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to get better if I can.” I said.
The medical office was set in a nondescript medical center in the northern part of San Diego. I walked into the reception and waiting area, identified the receptionist and stepped towards the man behind the desk who was on the phone.
He said, “Yes, he just walked in.” he motioned for me to sit with a gentle nod and smile. I did not return the smile or head nod.
I remained standing.
"People have to be willing to gaze unflinchingly into ugliness in order to experience the beauty staring back at your face. Otherwise, we will continue to chase beauty and find only ugliness." J. Surmont 2018
Over the past century and even in our present day, many groundbreaking discoveries have and are leading to shifts in our understanding of ourselves, our planet and the cosmos. Ancient Chinese philosophers created the yin and yang mental construct to help depict the intuition that our existence is a form of duality in and of itself. Einstein discovered time and space are of the same fabric.
Niels Bohr gave humanity quantum physics and the building blocks of matter. Louis De Broglie discovered that all matter has a quantized duality. Carl Jung explored the duality of humanity embodied in the masculine and feminine forms, anima and animus.
These and many more current and forthcoming breakthroughs have and are continuing to inspire new theories and approaches for finding our way into human consciousness and beyond. The entire concept of reorganizing entropic loading by focusing and directing quantized energy in an effort to harmonize human neurobiological systems through noninvasive treatment modalities such as PrTMS seems to me to be at the absolute cutting edge of medicine and science and, in time, will be considered one of the major breakthroughs of humankind.
A core fundamental realization when seeking to understand the human brain is that loss of energy leads to the loss of information. Human brains are designed to maximize information in order to always be able to effectively navigate every environment they may find themselves in. For human beings, brain health and behavior related issues can be very difficult to understand much less diagnose, treat, repair and restore - not to mention enhance.
The human brain is 2% of the human body mass and uses 25% of the body's fixed energy budget. This requires our brains to be highly efficient in the allocation and regulation of energy. I believe that the human brain must be a quantized energy system designed to house these entropic sculptures of harmonized quantum entanglement and then distribute, manage, maintain and regulate the entire neurobiological system.
We are at the precipice of digital pharmacology. Dosing patients with electromagnetic energy "factors" through a software interface providing physicians the ability to precisely target specific regions of neurons producing neural entrainment and harmonizing the quantum energetic field of the brain organ - all through software and magnetism. At longer treatment schedules and higher dosages these effects clearly can have a narcotic or psychotropic effect - trust me - I've experienced it first-hand. It has been a harrowing experience that I wouldn't wish for anyone.
The good news is that beyond the PrTMS induced symptoms of hypomania, mania, psychosis and schizophrenia that I experienced through the treatments - was enlightenment.
In my experiences of life, I have come to understand that we as humans are on the verge of "touching" consciousness and discovering the beautiful gift that our consciousness is, whether we know it or accept it or not.
"Cosmic consciousness, the convergence of perception, nested within the body of man; localized within the spacetime fabric through quantized ancestral bindings, coalesced starlight, saltwater and sand." J.Surmont 2018
I wholeheartedly endorse the continued exploration, investigation and ethical administration of PrTMS treatments and modalities. I must underscore that my endorsement of PrTMS is predicated on the requirement of which is PrTMS must be administered with the highest ethical standards possible – we must encourage our physicians and researchers to respond with courage to unexpected side effects, symptoms and behaviors instead of turning away in fear.
"Incomplete understandings produce incomplete remedies." J.Surmont July 2017
I hope that the medical community will acknowledge that, as with any breakthroughs, misunderstandings and mistakes can be happen – especially with such remarkable breakthroughs like PrTMS with the potential ultimate outcome of achieving a form of "touching" or interface with human consciousness.
We must work very hard to ensure that the medical ethics of all providers and researchers of these forms of neuromodulation and/or neurostimulation are at the highest levels of society and medicine. I also am hopeful that my story can serve as a brutally honest lesson learned that we can learn and grow from and then move beyond. I would also suggest a specific code of conduct for digital pharmacology (which is what I would describe PrTMS fundamentally is), as well as any and all other emergent forms of digital pharmacology, be established.
I would ask that our better angels prevail and that we do whatever we can to honestly accept that PrTMS or derivative neuromodulation treatments and therapies are not "side effect free".
"Humans. Blind to their universal cosmic gift of consciousness. Sentience experienced, life expressed. Enlightened insights within nested vantages. Knotty woven clusters of vibrating energy nested within, invisibly bound to the cosmic tapestry, uninformed nests of consciousness, courageous every one." J. Surmont 2018
We need to be intellectually honest with ourselves and each other. We must encourage and foster progress with our understandings of ourselves. We must accept and plan for the fact that our doctors are human and can make mistakes. We must also accept that we as human beings have much to learn about the correlation between magnetism and the neuron and consciousness.
We are at the precipice of mankind - changing understandings and insights. We must not look away in fear - we must face our fears and see the beauty that is beyond the ugliness of our conceited blindness.
Our ancestors demand it, our descendants deserve it.
Long Live The Brotherhood
While my transition is not complete I am grounded, centered, fully present and fully functional in my interactions with myself, my surroundings and others. I can without a doubt and with emphasis say that if I had to go through it all again to be where I am today, I would without hesitation.
Long Live The Brotherhood