JP Sears says: “Ultra Spiritual has nothing to do with being spiritual, and it has everything to do with looking spiritual. And looking spiritual is exactly what makes you more spiritual. What you wear has something to do with it, as long as you’re wearing purple or yoga pants that reduce your circulation to dangerous levels due to their tightness.”
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“To the average YouTube user, comedian and life advisor JP Sears’ videos might come across as 75 percent comedy and 25 percent coaching. The red-locked, flower-wearing guru and satirist has accrued a faithful following from his Ultra Spiritual Life series, a tongue-in-cheek take on the current uptick of new age beliefs (and some baloney).
But to Sears the whole process a bit more complicated than that.
“They’re typically 100 percent comedy and 100 percent life coaching within the same video,” Sears says. “In the videos I use the language of comedy to convey concepts intended to coach people towards better lives. They’re two parts of the same whole.”
Flip through his YouTube channel and you’ll find scores of his Ultra Spiritual Life episodes discussing (read: poking fun at) veganism, gluten-free fads, aromatherapy, and meditation. There’s enough here to write a book, literally — How To Be Ultra Spiritual: 12 1/2 Steps to Spiritual Superiority dropped earlier this year.
– original text by Victoria Waslyack for for Vanyaland.
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Who Is JP Sears In Real Life?
It’s hard to take a guy who wears a lace headband and a purple orchid in his hair seriously, especially when he’s telling you how to become gluten intolerant and “ultra spiritual.” And if you’re confused whether JP Sears wants you to believe him or not, that’s just the way he likes it. The soft-spoken, ginger-headed, Youtube self-help guru is such a master of dry, deadpan comedy that it’s difficult to tell when he’s poking fun at the culture of life coaching versus when he really wants you to connect with your inner child—but, as he’ll tell you, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be able to do both at the same time.
Sears, a veteran “emotional healing coach” with a legit clinical background, is redefining what a granola, gluten-free, hippie can be, using humor to (in his words) “till the soil for a more sincere seed to be planted in [your] heart.” The 36 year-old star of such viral videos as “If Meat Eaters Acted Like Vegans” visited Onnit HQ recently to talk spirituality, healing, and just who the hell he really is.
Onnit: How did you get interested in spirituality?
Sears: In my late teens I began a search for something more. Something more than status and achievement. I just felt an emptiness inside, like there has to be more. I sure as heck didn’t know what I was searching for when I began but I think my mind started to become open.
This lack of meaning I felt inside got me to open my eyes to what else life might offer. From there I encountered some important mentors who opened me up to the spiritual world, which I would define as the world beyond the five senses.
Where do you think that emptiness came from? How were you raised?
I was raised pretend Catholic. My mother was Catholic and wanted my sister and I to be Catholic to please her parents because that’s how she was raised. But my dad was an atheist. So there was a nice balance. I got a taste of spirituality but not the kind of overwhelming dogma that can be traumatizing. I think the answer would be that I was very emotionally disconnected as a child and through my teenage years, and probably still to this day—although I’m working on it. I think the emotional disconnection really created a sense of emptiness—if I’m not connected to myself, of course I feel empty.
I would disconnect from emotions because I was trying to be the stable one in the family. I’m not allowed to be afraid or angry or sad because I need to be the one who brings balance and stability to the family. I need to take care of mom and dad. But what that really was was me not giving myself permission to be a child, and one of the important, beautiful gifts of being a child is being connected to your emotions.
Are you saying you never felt really happy or really sad?
I mean the peaks and valleys were really small. I’d feel a little happy at times, a little sad at times. But only feeling “a little.” Anything more than a little emotion one way or the other triggered the breaker that caused an electrical disconnect of my emotions. I didn’t know that was strange at the time because that’s just how things were.
“The worst life ever is a life that never changes. It may be the most comfortable life but it’s the least fulfilling.”
Who were these mentors who began to enlighten you?
Paul Chek [founder of the world famous C.H.E.K. Institute] was my first mentor. At first, I was interested in exercise and nutrition, so I sought out Paul. This was in 2001. At the time he wasn’t really open about his spiritual beliefs and teachings, so it was a surprise when I started learning spirituality from him—how people’s emotional health would heavily impact their physical health. My interest in him through exercise and nutrition was essentially the gluten-free breadcrumb trail that got me interested in the subtle aspects of life, like emotional health and spirituality. He was the messenger who could deliver it to me. I saw Paul at the time as a rock star.
If some boring-looking dude in a suit had shown up and started talking about emotions, I would have said “Whatever. I don’t want to hear about it.” But when it’s Paul Chek, I thought, “Yes, I DO want to hear about it,” because I found him very interesting.
The next mentor I had was John McMullin [journeysofwisdom.com], and he’s more directly all about emotional healing. He’s an amazing person—an angel inside of a human body. I learned how to work with people at the heart level. How to resolve pain, wounding, trauma, self-sabotage, and self-imposed limitations. The most integral part of my journey, of course, has been working on myself.
You’ve said that you discovered your own need for emotional healing by coaching others. Have you been able to heal your own wounds?
Have I healed them? Probably not. Am I healing? Hopefully. I think healing is probably infinite. After we get out of acute pain we might start calling it growth but it’s the same thing. I’m still affected by my wounding but I’ve made progress on it. The first real meaningful wound that I became aware of was on December 3, 2002.
Wow, you remember the exact date?
I was 21. I had been working with Paul Chek so my mind was open but my heart hadn’t quite arrived yet. It arrived on December 3. It was the afternoon of my first class with John McMullin. He’s very intuitive and he saw through the stoic façade I had—the “I have everything put together in my life.” This was such a persistent façade that I thought it was real. I thought this is how I am. I am so strong, stable, and put together. I hadn’t cried for at least six years before that day, probably longer.
John brought up a time when I was seven and my parents were going through a separation and my sister was relying on me as a father figure. John brought up questions that made me look at that and realize how tough that was for me and I really hated it but I started to connect to emotions. I started bawling my eyes out and that was so unnerving for me because who I thought I was was suddenly shattered. It’s not what I wanted but it really was what I needed. I opened my heart to emotions, unresolved pain. It initiated an ongoing journey to connect emotionally to who I really am.
Credits to: Sean Hyson of Onnit
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