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Been There, Dunked That by Brian Dunkleman: Namaste for Awhile


For the majority of my life I’ve been ruled by my ego. Not only did I have the distinction of being voted biggest ego my senior year of high school, I’m the only one who got a vote. Clean sweep.   

Anyone with an overly inflated ego is almost always overcompensating for something. In my case it was masking the deep insecurity I developed after my father passed away when I was 11. My ego took such an extraordinary blow, it’s as if it was shattered into a million pieces and then reassembled itself into a ferocious mile-high tower around me.   

The ego protects us. Unfortunately, it’s also the root of pretty much everything that’s bad: anger, depression, jealousy, resentment.

I’ve always had a pretty bad temper. One summer I broke my sand wedge three times. I had a neighbor threaten to call the police due to my uncontrollable screaming every Sunday. My fantasy football team really sucked that season.   

Over the years I’ve come extremely close to having several altercations on airplanes. In my defense, everyone just needs to realize that you never, ever touch the seat in front of you, and when deplaning, you don’t try and leave before someone in a row in front of you. Everyone knows that.

A large percentage of phone calls I’ve had with customer service representatives have ended with four-letter words and suggestions of where they could go. A few times after one of my comedy shows, I’ve had audience members waiting for me outside, and they weren’t looking for an autograph. Not everyone enjoyed my Sarah Palin material.

A dozen or so years ago, I went through a particularly dark period. There are a couple of places in Los Angeles where I can’t go anymore. One is a gas station I went into after an entire night of extensive partying.

I needed to get my head straight before I went to an audition, so I grabbed three Starbucks Double Shots and a cup full of ice. When I got to the bulletproof protective glass to pay for my beverages, the guy leaned down toward the opening where you hand over your money and informed me that he would have to charge me for the cup.

I said, “Ok, what is it like 15 or 20 cents?” He replied no, he’d have to charge me $1.75, the cost of a fountain drink.

After a minute or two of heated debate as to the questionable morality of trying to charge me for a paper cup even though I was buying ten dollars worth of caffeine, I quickly jammed the cup downward into the opening, spraying the ice all over him. I then briskly made my way to my car, sans beverages.

Almost two years ago something came into my life that changed everything. I attended an AA meeting to support someone close to me, and for the last 20 minutes they turned off the lights and everyone meditated.

I had toyed with the idea of meditating, had even done a little research online, but ultimately always found an excuse not to actually try it. When I walked out of that darkened room after 20 minutes of simply concentrating on my breathing with my eyes closed, I felt high. Like, difficult to walk high. It was obvious that there was something to this.   

I began meditating twice a day for 20 minutes. I slowly noticed that little things that used to drive me nuts didn’t seem to bother me anymore. I wasn’t getting upset when I was sitting in traffic; I’d just take advantage of that time to listen to one of my favorite podcasts or call a friend. If there was a long line at the bank, I wouldn’t get angry. I’d just smile at the person next to me and engage in a little small talk. When one of my fantasy football players would drop a touchdown pass, I would laugh instead of throwing the remote across the room.   

After about 3 or 4 months, something happened to my vision. I don’t know any other way to explain it other than I see tiny little dots everywhere, and they are constantly moving in a swirling pattern. I looked it up, and it’s called “visual snow,” and it happens to people after encountering a “Kundalini Awakening,” which is what started that night at that meeting.

Almost two years later, my life has not exactly gone according to plan. In fact, it’s been downright awful. But I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been this happy.

I know becoming a father has a lot to do with it, but I was getting pissed off and depressed all the time during the first year of his life. I truly believe that sitting with my eyes closed and simply breathing is the reason I feel so different. The dark cloud that has been hovering over me for over 30 years is gone.

Of course I still get upset and angry. I’m still a human being. But I now can recognize it as soon as it begins to happen, and almost always process it quickly. That ferocious ego has finally started to be tamed.

Not only have I not thrown a golf club in awhile, my handicap has dropped around five strokes. Phone calls with customer service reps now end with us telling each other to have a great weekend.

Except last week with United. That one didn’t go so well. Having your baggage lost after two delayed flights while traveling across country with a three-year-old would test a Tibetan monk’s resolve.

They say if you don’t have time to sit and meditate for 20 minutes a day, then you need to meditate for an hour. What do you have to lose? Only the things that you don’t want.

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