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Michael Doud - Cover Story

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

On That's The #TRUTH podcast

Michael Doud is an explorer of both the inner and outer worlds of his life. Never did he think as a 6-year-old boy standing on the sand in Redondo Beach, CA, that he would travel the world. He’s explored Tibet, Europe, India, North America, Nepal, China, and other Asian countries, discovering how the people, culture, and belief structures of these countries are both different and the same as his own. Along the way, he also found that this travel was only an appetizer to life-changing and meaningful inner explorations. He learned that the more fascinating and more profound adventure was learning about how his mind and actions responded to work, relationships, killing, love, addiction, homelessness, parenting, and depression. From the cultural explosion brought forth by the protests and love-ins of the 1960s to sitting in silence for ninety days in an old English convent in 1998, Falling into Freedom is his journey to discover his five principles for personal freedom. These principles have helped him see things as they are and not how he wanted them to be.

"Everyone is of value to everyone else. We each hold and expand a component of the whole human race. For the human race to evolve we each must evolve." -Michael Doud

Falling into Freedom

In the winter of 1989, on a windy cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it hit him. Michael was miserably depressed and had been for nearly his entire 38 years. Looking down at the churning sea, he considered ending his life right there. His only other option was to change it, completely. Falling into Freedom is the story of the crazy adventures that began after he stepped back from the cliff and set out in search of the wisdom that would set him free.His first act after he chose life over death was to throw away his old life. Downsized out of his job, he quit looking for a new one; sold his home; and lived for a time in his car. Freed from physical distractions, he reflected on his strict upbringing by salt-of-the-earth parents; his flirtation with academic disaster in high school; and his impulsive decision to escape his perceived worthless life by joining the Army. Adding to this was his devastation after killing human beings in Vietnam; his fall into drug addiction to numb his pain, and the agony of going cold-turkey in a little hut assisted by a wise old woman. His search began by participating in and leading personal growth seminars testing his relationship to fear. One exercise was a hands-free escape after being pinned down by a five-foot bamboo pole pressed across his neck by two strong men. Witnessing and embracing his will to live, he journeyed into an obscure bookstore and found books that taught him about how to look inwards for more answers. With this gained wisdom and a daily meditation practice, he learned how to forgive himself for killing others along with his many other misdeeds. He also realized that by not identifying with “self,” as a set of physical and mental attributes, he could better understand his relationship to his possessions and personal identifiers like a job title. By letting go of his attachments and aversions to everything, he was able to begin to accept life as it is, not as he interpreted it to be. The journey leads to an old monastery in England. There, three months of sitting in silence allowed him to lift the veil of illusion and see the world, and life, as it is.

From our Interview with Michael

That’s the #truth: What motivated you to write a book to share your journey.

Michael: I wanted to share with my daughter the things that I've learned. Granted, my daughter's path is going to be different, as everyone's path is different, but I chose her to be my daughter - I adopted her, and my heart is always thinking of her... and I wanted to give back things I learned by having her in my life and me having to deal with all my demons and all my stuff.

That’s the #truth: What started you on this journey?

Michael: I was thirty-eight years old and I began to reflect... I was without a job and thought, "what do I do?" I got this wild idea to go camping - dead of winter - the only person in the campground, cold, windy, foggy. As the book starts it talks about me being in a tent, absolutely frightened out of my mind because there are noises in the tent and I don't know what they are. It sounds like a bear or a lion or something and it's going to eat me... I try to meditate and I couldn't and I just curled up in a little ball. I had a moment of reflection thinking, Oh my God, this is what it's come to. I'm crouched in a little ball inside a flimsy little tent in the middle of a campground. Nobody knows that I'm here, and I'm gonna die right here. This is the end of my life.

That’s the #truth: That's terrifying.

Michael: Of course the next morning I discovered it was probably a raccoon digging into the stuff that I had. So I took a walk and I realized that I just had this flood of thoughts and emotions and feelings that I had pretty much made a mess of my life. I'd gone through two marriages, I can't tell you how many relationships, and doing those relationships in a not honorable way. I was unhappy, and what was I going to do? If I didn't make a decision and live with the decision, then I might as well not exist any more. Because if I wasn't willing to change everything in my life, and that's the thing I like most about myself - my willingness to try something... So I ended up standing on this cliff, which is depicted on the picture in the front of the book, and I said to myself, "you either need to take a step forward and say that's it, or you step back and you have to be willing to change everything and anything that comes along. You have to change how you approach it."

Watch the Full Interview:

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