Welcome to “Finding Your True Self,” an interview series between TreeHouse editor Natasha Ganes and upcoming author Nick Quartarone. Quartarone is in the process of writing a book based on spirituality practices that he applies to his everyday life in order to achieve an almost constant level of peace and harmony in this often chaotic world. He refers to his practices as “finding your true self” and teaches that everyone has the ability to find the same sense of wellbeing in their lives.
Natasha Ganes: You mention in your bio that you have studied and practiced an array of spiritual practices. How have you done that? Through school? Self-research?
Nick Quartarone: I’ve done a lot of studying through individual research. I took the practices I’ve learned, such as Taoism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, and I applied them to myself. I didn’t have a special teacher or grand master. I just took the practices I studied and applied them to my life.
From as young as I can remember I had supernatural experiences happen to me and I tried to figure out what was going on. As I got older I started to research the supernatural, which led me to some Taoism and Buddhism ideas that explained the supernatural phenomena that had taken place in my life. These Eastern practices put everything into perspective for me.
By the age of 20-21 I started to meditate and really apply the techniques that I had studied for years, which led me to these incredible experiences that I write about with the divine source, with God.
NG: You state that most of what you practice comes from Eastern thoughts. Do you think that there’s anything beneficial to Western perspectives as well?
NQ: Oh absolutely. When you get down to the nitty-gritty of it, it’s all the same stuff. People are just taking different roads to get to the same destination. When you really break it down, when you get past the rights and wrongs, the belief systems and the dogmas, they’re all saying the same thing. They’re all trying to get to that purity, that innocence, that higher level of consciousness. You pick any religion or spiritual practice and they’re all fundamentally saying the same thing.
The thing that’s so complicated about the big three Western religions (Christianity, Judaism, Muslim) in comparison to Eastern religions is that they’re so hung up on what’s right or wrong. Those good vs. evil dogmas in Western religions create larger obstacles that make it harder to get back to that purity. I believe what Jesus originally intended was for us to seek that purity. Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha – you take any god or goddess and they’re all trying to say the same thing, but when you create walls and try to decide what’s right or wrong you create further separation from that divine source because you’re making it harder to connect.
NG: Have you spent any time practicing in different environments? Such as monasteries, for example?
NQ: I’ve learned that you don’t have to go to a master or travel to Tibet to learn these practices. It’s so conceptually simple that you just need to do it. The hardest thing is the first step: letting go. People in our culture are so caught up in the idea of needing certifications or degrees. This has nothing to do with any of that. This has to do with letting go of the ego, of the self. You’re getting to the center of who you are, purifying, and getting to your true self and your higher level of consciousness. It’s pure, just like water. If you take the purest water and add anything to it you completely change it: it changes color, taste, it looks different. This is just like that. It’s about getting back to that pure essence of who you are that you unfortunately lose as you age.
You don’t have to go to the mountain to achieve peace and contentment. If you have the opportunity, by all means you should go. But it’s not necessary. So how can just anybody be able to enjoy life and have peace of mind in this society? That’s what the book is about and why I’m writing it, because it’s my experience that you don’t have go anywhere to achieve it. I did it, you can do it, and anyone else can do it. This is internal, not external. It all starts within. The most important thing about this book and the enlightenment process is connecting to the divine source. And the only way to connect with it is to find it within yourself.
Natasha Ganes: In your book you say that finding your true self is about getting your mind, body, and spirit (the three bodies, as you refer to them) together and in synch. Where would you suggest the first place is to start for somebody who wants to do that? Is one of them more important than the others? Is there a particular practice that might ease a person into getting to a place where they can start to find their true self, and the purity and peacefulness that comes with it?
Nick Quartarone: One of the most important things to remember is that if the divine source is everywhere, which I say often in the book, then everything is God. And if you’re looking to purify yourself the most obvious source is what was here before everything else – nature. Go out and experience nature on a different level, look at it differently in your own way, connect with it. Stillness is a key aspect to finding your true self and nature is a perfect example of stillness. Take a tree for instance: no matter what happens to it, a tree will always just be a tree. It sounds kind of simple and almost silly, but it’s true. A tree doesn’t complain or fight anything; it lives, exists, and grows. There’s no thought, analyzing, or over thinking on its part – it just is. With its stillness a tree lives on a higher state of perfection through its own sense of purity. And it lives for a very long time.
Animals are similar in that way – we can learn a lot from them too. We spend so much time in our culture considering animals lesser beings, but they’re content with simply surviving. A frog doesn’t care what a rabbit does: it accepts itself and goes about its life without creating disharmony to any other living thing unless it needs to for survival. When a lion rips apart a zebra for survival, the other zebras don’t complain. They understand to their own capacity that’s the way things are and they accept the fact that it’s just nature at work. We can learn from them by just accepting the ways things are naturally and by harmonizing with the events that surround us.
NG: Okay, so what you’re saying is that humans need to retrain their brains to stop thinking as much?
NQ: Exactly and doing so will get us back to that purity and innocence, just like a child, that we were born with. It’s not logic, but intuition that we need to reconnect with. The logical part of our brains takes over as we age, and once it does and we give it so much power the other parts of our brain get let go. The heart and soul become lesser as logic takes over. And as a society, we support that. We support the feeding of that part of our brains, the logical part that desires constant analysis and answers. And in doing so we lose that purity and innocence that children and animals instinctively have.
The book is about practicing letting go, practicing getting rid of the distractions and simplifying everything in our lives. Dumbing it all down. You want to be as dumb as you possibly can, because the idea is that you want to get back to that purity. Every time I get stumped by complexities in my life I go back to when I was a child and to a time when everything was simple. I go back to my childhood memories for my own wisdom: when you’re younger you don’t care. You know how to let go. But when you’re older you get hung up and think about all the “what ifs.”
In nature there is no right and wrong, we created all of that. Adult humans created right and wrong, justice. And really, what has it done for us? How far has it really gotten us? Don’t get me wrong – it’s great to use logic for some things, but it shouldn’t be the one component of our brains that controls everything in our lives.
NG: This sounds a lot like the meditative idea of practicing mindfulness. How would you suggest people get themselves into that place of mindfulness, where they’re honestly living in the moment?
NQ: In the book I do speak to the different techniques that help get people to that place. The book is broken down into three different sections: the mind body, the spirit body, and the physical body. I broke it down that way because that question you just asked is the major question a lot of people have when they try to use meditation to solve all these problems. So in the book I have tried to answer that question for each of the “bodies” that I refer to.
Often people will try a certain technique and find that while it works great in one area of their lives, it doesn’t work in another. Or they say that it works great when they’re alone and not around anyone, but when they’re out in public they have no self-control or are overwhelmed by coworkers. Or peer pressure gets to them and the next thing they know they’re passed out at the bar drunk. It’s all about how to stay within yourself and be who you are 24/7, mentally, spiritually, and physically. It’s about getting all three of these areas together.
So going back to your original question – what can you do to get yourself there? It really comes down to the most important thing, which is the meditation. The mediation is your way of plugging into the divine source. The divine source is what gives life to everything, so all you have to do is plug into it and you become energized. When you learn to do that completely in every aspect of your life through the meditative type techniques I provide in the book, you become a superhuman of sorts because you’re constantly re energizing yourself.
The Taoists knew this and are masters of longevity because of it. They are always plugged into the divine source and re energizing themselves, and because of that they don’t age. They simply don’t age.
Natasha Ganes: When it comes to meditation you say that practicing it plugs us into the divine source and because of that the process shouldn’t be about us, but in a way it still is because we’re still often stuck in our own heads. How can we keep ourselves connected to everything and everyone around us, but at the same time still keep ourselves connected to that divine source?
Nick Quartarone: It’s not easy, but you do the best you can and make it part of your life. It has to be a conscious effort on your part to say, “You know what? This is who I am.” Once you accept the fact that this is who you are, that you came into this life with purity and have to work to maintain it, it becomes part of your existence. And then everything that happens around you becomes the expression of that purity. Your foundation starts within you. And whatever happens outside of you is a reflection of that.
NG: That is interesting because I found that once I made the effort to position myself into a more harmonious place in my life, everything else just sort of followed along.
NQ: Synchronicities, exactly. It’s because when you connect on that level you’re locking into infinite possibilities. The most powerful thing in the world is God and maintaining this type of lifestyle gives you direct access to Him. The ocean is plentiful and will constantly provide you with everything you need.
It doesn’t mean, however, that just because you decide to follow this path that everything in your life will be great and perfect all the time. In reality, we’re here to learn and grow. Life is like a boot camp: you’re going to suffer, experience pain and fear and sadness. You’re going to feel all of that negativity. And you’re going to die at some point too. But once you accept that and realize nothing is constant, it becomes your enlightenment. Life is about learning to balance and harmonize with all of the energies, good and bad.
However, by plugging into the divine source you are minimizing the suffering you have to endure. We all suffer, but some of us do so more than others. And that’s because they’ve allowed it: they’ve allowed certain individuals into their lives; they’ve allowed themselves to be placed into chaotic situations. Excess suffering is useless. If you focus on who you are and what you are and why you’re doing it, you’re proving yourself with opportunities to grow. If you remove yourself from that focus, you remove yourself from the divine source and place yourself into more suffering.
Unplugging from the divine source is like dying in a way because the source is life. Detaching from the source is also how people get sick – mentally, physically, and spiritually. When that happens you need to recognize it, accept it, and find a way to get the good energy flowing back into you.
NG: This reminds me of an exercise that my close friend taught me awhile ago. She practices a lot of Reiki and meditation and says that she always goes into them first by keeping herself connected to and protected by God. She envisions herself swaddled by God, with only good energy coming in through the top of her head and any negative energy going out through her feet. I started doing something similar to that whenever I was heading into a situation that might make me nervous, such as speaking in front of a crowd, and it really does work to calm me down.
NQ: Exactly! There are so many great techniques and practices out there and that’s really what it’s all about. It almost should be common sense to everybody, but for some reason everybody isn’t using it. The concepts are so simple, but yet the benefits are so profound. The problem is always so complicated, but the solution is always so simple. People create so much unnecessary distraction they can’t tell their asses from their elbows, it’s just the way it is.
NG: I’ve been noticing lately that I’m seeing more and more articles and information about spirituality and the likes. Of course it always been around, but I’m finding more acceptance of it lately. It almost seems like we’re turning back to the New Age movement of the 60s and 70s. Do you think we’re returning to this type of thought process because people are slowly realizing this is how we should be living? Perhaps, thanks to all the overwhelming anxiety and stress going on in the world, we’re starting to understand something has to change?
NQ: When people create so much chaos around them, it eventually forces them to reflect and to go back to the innocence and purity we are all born with. We start to think, “Where did I go wrong? What happened to me?” I always do that – retrace my steps to find out how I got to this place. I think now people on a global level are asking these same questions. “What the hell did we do wrong here? Why are we destroying this planet?”
I think on many different levels people are being forced to awaken within themselves. However, we’re doing everything after the fact. If you practice staying connected to the divine source all the time, you are practicing prevention and learning how to truly live.
Natasha Ganes: Let’s get back to the subject of your book. The spiritual self-help market seems fairly crowded anymore. What do you feel differentiates your book from all of the others out there?
Nick Quartarone: The three bodies. People focus so much on one aspect of themselves that they associate this type of market with ideas like, “oh I practiced this new technique and it’s great or this new meditation makes me feel really centered.” However, they don’t know how to apply it to their whole selves. They don’t understand how to purify everything, all aspects of their being. People take these types of concepts and try to direct it to just one part of their being or they meditate and keep it to themselves, but that’s not what all of this is about. This is about a lifestyle, this is about changing the world, the entire planet.
You don’t have to live on a mountain and become a hermit to achieve long life with this type of pure mindset. You can function right here in Western society while doing it. The system wants people to become dependent, but if you stop being dependent you become free. And with that freedom you become powerful. Once you find this way of living, you need to talk to others about all of it and spread the message.
NG: So then you suggest that people not just practice a certain way of living, but also share it?
NQ: Absolutely. That’s what this is all about: connecting. And that’s exactly one of the qualms I have with this stuff and one of the reasons I wanted to write the book so badly. You have to get the word out to anyone who doesn’t know about it, be that shining light in the darkness. Don’t let this become just a fad or something you do part time only around people who happen to already get it. Don’t let it disappear just because adversity comes from society. Anytime you have something outside of yourself that is dependency, like society or drugs and alcohol, you lose control.
Anything that takes you away from your essence, your purity, will make you lose your control on this lifestyle. Whether it’s a bad relationship or job or what have you, don’t let it take you away. Instead, share it. Share it with the world because everyone is so desperate and dependent that they need it.
NG: In your book, do you break down exactly how to go about doing all of this?
NQ: As best as I can. I try to stay practical though, because I don’t want to lose my audience. Again, this is all about simplicity, it’s not complicated. The solutions are simple; the problems are what are complicated.
NG: You plan to have the book to ready by the end of this year. Do you have any long term media sharing plans? A website, videos, speaking at seminars, etc.?
NQ: Yes, I’m just staring to get that ball rolling. I want to promote this, share it, and help people. In the very long term, I’d like to create a facility. A place where people can go to practice all of this.
Nick Quartarone was born and educated in Boston, Massachusetts. He currently resides in Huntington Beach, CA. He has studied and practiced an array of spiritual practices that stem from around the world, particularly Eastern spiritual traditions such as Taoism and Buddhism, to a variety of Western mystical practices. Quartarone is currently working on a book about how to maximize your potential through purifying what he considers the three major parts of your being: the mind, body, and spirit. He emphasizes in his book and his teachings that working on the mind, body, and spirit simultaneously is the most efficient way one can truly and holistically maximize ones potential. Quartarone’s passion is sharing his experience and knowledge to help educate and guide all those who are interested in getting more out of life than what they have been previously exposed to by improving one self’s, peace, contentment, and happiness.