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Super Soul Sunday: Wake Up

My spiritual awakening happened eight years ago when I began having wild metaphysical experiences. One night I saw and heard spirits, geometry floating through space and energy around people.
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Ghosts, angels, spirits--are they real or a figment of your imagination? Oprah interviews Jonas Elrod about his ability to see these spiritual visions and energies. Then, don't miss the exclusive TV premiere of Jonas' film, Wake Up.

The spiritual path can be a colossal pain. I find nothing in it to be romanticized though Hollywood has tried. It is work, real work. That being said taking this journey has been the best decision I've ever made. It was a decision that as I look back now, was offered time and again but I either ignored it or I missed it. That's how this works. You get opportunities throughout your life to work on your problems. It's up to you to recognize it and choose to do it.

I think it's great that someone can have the perfect posture when doing advanced yoga, or when someone can meditate for 8 hours straight and go to the far reaches of the galaxy. Cool, I guess. But what does that mean? Does it make you happy? Does it connect you to the giant light bulb in the sky? Does it help you in the singles circuit? Nothing against meditation or yoga -- I meditate fairly regularly and tried yoga a handful of times -- but the point I am making is the practice is not the path.

My spiritual awakening happened eight years ago when I began having wild metaphysical experiences. One night I saw and heard spirits, geometry floating through space and energy around people. Still with me? You don't have to believe me, but it propelled me onto a path so hard and fast it'd make your head spin. This ability has been with me ever since. Cue the organ and dry ice! I know how it sounds and when discussed publicly I am usually met with lots of questions or sometimes, relief. And sometimes skepticism. My lack of belief in such things quickly went away as these experiences became a part of my everyday life. Needless to say it scared the hell out of me at first but it also got me to where I am today: Happy. Woah, what a word, right?

I still have awareness of what the 1998 version of my 2012 self would say and that guy is most certainly rolling his eyes, maybe even upset that I turned into some new age spiritualist hipster. New Age I ain't and the longer I continue on this path, the less I truly understand what the word "spiritual" means. People can get really uptight around it, but it's just a word. In fact there are a lot of frufru words that are thrown around that are just plain old words. I think the word spiritual changes depending on the company you keep. I hear it more and more as people drop it at parties over bean dip... Dude, I'm spiritual and I'm going to Burning Man next week. I hear it as a clarification... Well I am not religious but I am spiritual. And whenever I travel back to my hometown in Georgia, I usually hear it corrected mean you're religious.

What I particularly want to stress to you here is that I am not exclusionary or inclusionary about the path and who is on it and who isn't. At first when I got bold enough to stand in the self-help section of the bookstore, I was put off by words like consciousness, path, spiritual body and transformation. I didn't identify with anyone who had a crystal in their pocket or an overt and public belief in spirit guides. Just like most people in society I had the basic fundamentals about religion. I also had something that I no longer do: judgment. The more people I meet who are on the path, regardless of whether we share style or practice, the more I can see the light of love and truth coming from them. It doesn't have to look a certain way.

So back when I struggled to interpret what those books were saying and what the hell was happening to me, we began to film for our documentary Wake Up. Along with the seeing and hearing bit, I also had premonitions that I could not deny. The worst of them was seeing my best friend's death before it happened. It was a brutal process. I experienced real fear for the first time in my life. I wondered, am I going nuts? If not, then what does this mean, and better yet, how the hell can I turn this off? When the parameters of your world start to recede it really pushes you to evaluate your beliefs. All of them. Along with the confusion and fear, I also experienced so much beauty and hope and felt deeply blessed as teachers (both on this side and the other) were helping me shift and grow.

I have the benefit of some distance now to poke fun at my earlier struggles. In the beginning I kept it private. I told few people out of fear of being judged. At the time, I still didn't have a grasp on it. How could I expect others to not go wide-eyed at me? Add to the mix I was in the honeymoon phase with the love of my life, Mara, who watched helplessly as I, at times, spun out of control looking for answers. I'm sure she was nervous that she would one day come home to find me wearing a diaper with a tinfoil helmet whispering something about the Pleiadians wanting us to go build a storm shelter. She reached deep into her love to get her through some days. I've just begun to comprehend how deep that love is after seven years. Bless her.

Back to our documentary Wake Up...I know it sounds like a movie of the week staring Tippi Hedren but it just happens to be true. When these "sensitivities" landed on me years ago and I began following directions from spirits that bum-rushed me in a hotel room, I began documenting my process of "waking up". I did all the things one would normally do...I got my head checked by a shrink. I also had an MRI. Both reported a clean bill of health. Ok so no disorder and no tumor. Hmm. We took a new approach.

I looked for answers high and low. I met with spiritual teachers, religious leaders, shaman and scientists. Bit by bit I put the pieces together, understanding that these types of experiences were a lot more common that I thought. In fact, they aren't new at all. They're ancient. I found myself relieved to find how common these experiences are. It culminated for me when I spent time on a Native American reservation. Stupid white man walks in, looking for answers because he sees things, expects all questions answered NOW. Well I got an answer but to none of my questions. I found that we are all on the path regardless if we know it or not.

Through determination, I moved forward and was wowed to learn how many people were also there. My idea of spiritual culture generally used to lean toward homeboys wearing white togas, burning incense, wearing crystals, eating rice and saying things like it's all just a dream. I haven't drunk the punch, I don't feel compelled to wear Lululemon and I don't spend my life in a cave. I'm still just me. Only better. I've begun answering my own questions and realizing that a lot of those questions don't matter anymore.

One of my favorite teachers along the way was Sufi Mystic Llewellyn Vaughn Lee. He basically called me out on my Hallmark Card spiritual platitude approach to the whole thing. He saw that I was claiming one thing (Hey, I'm this spiritual guy that wants to make a difference) but not clearly understanding the work involved. For me it was mistaking this strange ability as already being on a path. He also clued me in to the responsibility of growing and healing.

My stance on it now: these wake up calls are merely an invitation to change, to shift and to hopefully heal. The healing part is the trick and where the real work comes in. Lots of people have wake up calls -- these come in a myriad of ways. For some people it can be subtle: a powerful dream, a sense of déjà vu. While others more dramatic: the loss of a loved one, a bitter divorce. In my case it more like a William Blake bender flying off the rails which put me in a powerful place to question everything I thought I knew. The things I thought I understood were abandoned and I had to re-approach the way I looked at everything.

But seeing through multiple dimensions and hearing guides were how MINE happened. Your "wake up" experience won't look like mine. Or maybe it will. Just try to know it when it hits you. It's your invitation to truly living. In the meantime tune in to see what the Hell I'm talking about.

Sneak Preview: Wake Up

Watch Wake Up on the OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network as an encore on Sunday, March 18th at 11am ET/PT.

Ask us any questions you have on Twitter during the screening #supersoulsunday and @wakeupthefilm. We'll do our best to answer them. And no platitudes, I promise.