Episode 204 – Unstoppable Shaman in Journey with Aaron Waldron

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I think I am safe in saying that my conversation with our guest, Aaron Waldron is one of the most unique and stimulating one I have had the honor to have. Aaron has, through their life, had a number of run-ins with parts of organized religion which, as they says, left them quite traumatized. Even so, they firmly believes in God and knows that God is in and all around us as they will tell us.

In their life, they spent five years in the military. They also have spent much time searching for what they feel is their life’s direction. As you will learn, they currently are pursuing a Doctorate of Ministry degree.

One of the fascinating things about Aaron is that they have determined that they need to refer to themselves in the third person which they feels God is leading them to do in order that they remove more of the “I” out of their world. They will talk about their dissertation and their creation of the concept of Public Space Communities. I leave it to Aaron to explain this.

I hope you find our session today as fascinating and thought provoking, as do I. It is always wonderful to learn about different points of view and how we should explore integrating them into our own thought processes.

About the Guest:

My name is Aaron Waldron; we are a 36-year-old religiously traumatized Theopoet: a Shaman in Journey. Our pronouns are they, their and them. We do not identify in the singular first-person pronoun (I), but instead, we identify as a collective third person pronoun (we). As a we continue to develop into a Path-Maker trekking unfollowable paths that take us on a Journey towards Self; we are currently in a doctoral process at the New York Theological Seminary seeking to develop spaces between larger spaces that offers community for religiously traumatized people and study a complicated form of suffering called, "religious trauma." It’s my own religious trauma that inspires me to empathize and study religious trauma among humans in the 21st century. We seek to understand our Self through suffering entangled in religious trauma.

We were born and raised under a Full Balsamic Moon (Often relied upon as a source for inspiration and energy) in Brooklyn, New York on March 15th (My Zodiac is Pisces) in the year 1987 C.E.; surviving the NYC shelter systems since we could walk with our Mother and younger brother. We have experienced religious trauma all our life. My Mother, a primal relationship embodying the Mother archetype, was colonized by a hateful religion (colonized Christianity) that forced her to be an extension of an invisible oppressor. We grew up hearing things like: "Aaron, I am your Mother and God commands you to obey me." We typically were punished by reading the Bible in my underwear while kneeling on rice with my face in a corner. Barriers of religious hatred prevented me from being my natural Self. Living under this imprisonment and oppression caused me to develop suicidal thoughts while attending the High School of Art & Design. After attempting and failing twice, we settled to venture into college with the support and encouragement of our Nana.

During my first year at college, my girlfriend at the time was pregnant; we decided to drop out of college and joined the Army to provide for my beautiful daughter Serenity. During the time the "9/11 Attacks" made joining the military very enticing and patriotic. After serving about five years (2007-2012) and deploying to Iraq in 2010 for a year; we closed that chapter of our life and transitioned back into civilian life in 2012. We were homeless for a while, living in our car and going to school. It was an interesting time in my life, the friends we made got us through some dark times and we are eternally grateful. Ended up in Atlanta, GA helping homeless veterans get housing and employment as a "case manager and recruiter." We loved helping people who were in situations we have been in- we were able to empathize in ways others couldn’t at the time. One day we experienced a Theophany (encounter with God in Dream) and we felt that God wanted us to know more about what God is or can be. So, we travelled back to NYC and enrolled in The New York Theological Seminary.

We started with their certificate program and found our Self boldly stepping forward to enroll in the Master of Divinity program (M.Div.-a 4-year degree at the time) with a few college credits but no degree yet. During my spiritual and religious journey to find meaning in God and my Self, we married our Life Partner, Yesenia Fernandez, met my kindred spirit, Rev. Lopez-Joel Dautruche and started to understand what love is and how to love my Self. The idea of God transformed in indescribable ways; we felt called or pulled to study in NYTS’s Multi-Faith D.Min. program. My dissertation is a large part of my life, it’s an expression of what we are feeling and thinking, as well as what we have experienced. We wept uncontrollably in the first semester after realizing we must authentically commit our Self to this Journey. It was the first time in my life that we didn’t feel scared anymore to be our Self. By boldly stepping forward and developing this "unstoppable mindset" we call: "a Path-Maker." All of our life’s suffering and trauma to include religious trauma has brought us to this moment in existence and we feel deeply humbled- If not for God emerging within me, we wouldn’t have stepped off-path to pave our own unfollowable path.

Ways to connect with Aaron:

Website: https://www.ashamaninjourney.com/
Email: ashamaninjourney@gmail.com
Invite to Public|Space Community: https://public-space.mn.co/share/otOyc_jjtbH0DOyY
YouTube Channel: https://youtube.com/@ashamaninjourney https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKROus_PpjszPrz2lT9iGDg
Instagram: @ashaman_injourney
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aaron.waldron.5454
Linkedin: @AaronWaldron
a Carrier Raven Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/24ab73d6b1c1/a-carrier-raven?fbclid=IwAR35lB07oc1rwmsBUVG1fR4oYJDqrnLFfMw6H5wQ83JPw2rwDc8yA6LCxuY_aem_ASoQiPP_BGFeKopkir_8gAr4pD4RuOAp6bW6s7z9Q4zjrUWL1ic-6yYLUGJij1dlUjs

About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.

Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.


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Transcription Notes

**Michael Hingson ** 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit
to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.

**Michael Hingson ** 01:20
Well, hi, I am Mike Hingson. And, I want to welcome you to unstoppable mindset. You know, on unstoppable mindset, we get to talk to all sorts of people who have many, many different kinds of life journeys. And as I tell people, my most important goal on unstoppable mindset is to show every one of us who is listening and participating that we can be more unstoppable than we think we can. And unStopability is something that is different for everyone in the world. It’s not the same necessarily for you or for me, or for our guest, Aaron Waldron today who comes to us, he describes himself as a shaman in Journey, religiously traumatized, I’m interested to hear about those things. And from talking with him a little bit before I know he’s got a really interesting story to tell. And I want to get to it, I’m anxious to to hear it and to have a good conversation with with with him. So Aaron, welcome to unstoppable mindset. How are you?

**Aaron Waldron ** 02:20
Thank you for having me, Michael, really appreciate it.

**Michael Hingson ** 02:23
Well, why don’t we if we could, at least a little bit. Why don’t we start out with you talking maybe a little about the the early era and you know, growing up or some of those things and give us a little bit of idea of things that maybe helped shape the way you are today and so on? Definitely.

**Aaron Waldron ** 02:41
Well, we started, we were raised in New York, New York City.

**Michael Hingson ** 02:46
Let me let me interrupt if there’s one thing I want you all to understand. Aaron speaks in the third person. I should have said that. I apologize. And he’ll probably explain more about that. But I just want you to understand that that is what he’s doing. So I’m sorry, Aaron. So you so born in New York City?

**Aaron Waldron ** 03:04
Yes. We were born in New York City, Brooklyn, New York. And we were pretty much poor, our childhood, living along shelter systems, living off public assistance and whatnot. So it wasn’t until after high school that, you know, my life started to expand outside of New York. And I joined, we joined the military. We joined the army specifically. And when did you get out of just that was in 2007. Okay. And that was out of, you know, trying to provide a better life for my child at the time, my daughter, and just climb out of the hole that we were in, you know. So yeah, we did have military service five years one tour to Iraq. And that was in 2010. And then we left the military in 2012. March, and started trying to acclimate back into the civilian world since 2013, really, but we found ourselves drawn to the nonprofit, you know, just trying to help people. And so we ended up helping homeless vets find employment and housing down in Atlanta. And that was a really interesting experience for me. It really helped me deal with my own PTSD and my own mental health issues, you know, struggling with memories, loss of people, things ideas, lack of money, support, you know, just really in a bad place mentally Lean, but, you know, this inner perseverance, you know, just push this through to become a different, better person.

**Michael Hingson ** 05:11
What was it like coming back from the military coming back from Iraq and the military in general and then integrating in? I’ve never really had many discussions with people about that. But I I’m sure that it must have been an is a challenge for anyone, because you’re going from one kind of a culture that you became engrossed in when you join the military to now a culture that maybe you were used to before, but it’s, I would think, sort of totally foreign, because it’s not what you did for a number of years. Your case fives.

**Aaron Waldron ** 05:49
Yeah, you’re right. It was a completely it was like acclimating to a language that you have forgotten. You know, in the civilian world, there’s a language, a way of understanding things, a way of operating and living and existing. But in the military, you know, it’s centered around these three concepts, right place, right time, right, uniform. And so it really makes life different, it makes it simpler from a soldiers perspective. You know, if you focus on those three things, you’ll exceed and be successful, you know, mission accomplished. But when you come to the civilian world, it becomes so much complex, more complex, because you know, you can wear the right uniform be at the right place at the right time. But you’re still not enough.

**Michael Hingson ** 06:41
And a lot of people, and a lot of other people aren’t necessarily in the same place that you are.

**Aaron Waldron ** 06:49
Right? Exactly. Statistically, most people, veterans don’t really do well, when they have to acclimate back into society, because it’s just, we’re not accepted, there’s no space. For us, there’s no bridge in between what you did to serve your country as a skill as a job. And then crossing it over to something you can do in the civilian world that’s not so focused on violence or bringing about violence. You know, there’s a lot of great organizational skills that we develop leadership skills. This is something that most civilians lack the ability to work well with others, you know, and then it becomes a strong suit, when you come through the military, even at the basic training. So

**Michael Hingson ** 07:40
it’s a lot to get used to, needless to say, yeah, yeah. Like, what, how to? I’m sure you’ve thought about this? What can we do societally to change that so that people who are here become more accepting or more understanding? Or? Or maybe it’s that there needs to be done more than the military? But how do we deal with that? Because it certainly shouldn’t be that way. It’s got to be pretty traumatic, all the way around. And

**Aaron Waldron ** 08:13
definitely, you know, that’s, that’s, that’s tough, because, from my opinion, these initiatives to help bridge veterans into society should come from the same population. You know, it shouldn’t be led by veterans. You know, we have programs or initiatives that are spearheaded by civilians with no experience, then it comes off a little insensitive, and it doesn’t consider the many complexities that a veteran is aware of, and is dealing with. So there’s, you know, a dis attachment, a disconnection, you know, so when we go to the VA, and we’re talking to the civilians that are just trying to do their job, they’re not fully understanding what we’re dealing with. And so it should be more vets, you know, becoming like peer support specialists or, you know, things of that nature. There should be opportunities for vets to come back and help mentor other events and help in that way. But yeah, that’s just my two cents. But I definitely believe it’s a very complex situation, and there’s no easy solution.

**Michael Hingson ** 09:26
Do you think any of that is changing and more bets are becoming involved in various ways? Yes

**Aaron Waldron ** 09:31
and no. Yes and no. Like there’s opportunities for vets to start businesses, yes. But the lack of training and no house is not there. The guidance, you know, a lot of vets are dealing with trauma, you know, physically and mentally and even to the extent of religiously and spiritually, and it’s preventing them from having a successful wholesome life. You know, a lot of them are dealing and struggling on a daily basis with regret. Thoughts of loss, thoughts of not having, you know,

**Michael Hingson ** 10:13
and thoughts of the things that they had to face when they were in the military and possibly overseas. Dealing with operations?

**Aaron Waldron ** 10:22
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So

**Michael Hingson ** 10:24
it’s kind of no fun. Well, so you did come back in to the, to society. And you’re, you’re working to make your way. And you’ve been doing that for what now? 10 years? But what what’s it been like? Or maybe I should ask a different question. What have you been doing? And and what is it evolved to for you?

**Aaron Waldron ** 10:49
Yeah, that last 10 years have been indescribable. We had a very divine moment, as a dream. And in this dream, we felt and believed that we had an interaction with God, and gave us a message to come seek and find God, no God more. And in our life, at the time, we were struggling with the understanding of God, we were in religion. And we were asking a lot of questions to the local pastors. And a lot of these questions ended up going to places like, well, you just have to eventually you just have faith, you know, or it was you shouldn’t question God so much, you know, things like that. So having this dream kind of felt like it was empowerment from God, the universe, the greater that created us, you know, like, saying, Come find me, We’re not hiding from you, you know, like, come get to me. And so the come getting to know me, led to us going to seminary, of all places, we’ve been to college a few times, but never completed our degree, and then found ourselves with a couple of college credits applying to the masters of divinity at New York Theological Seminary, and getting accepted. That was really a big one for us, because it was just like, on paper, it looked like a no brainer, this person should not come in maybe because they don’t like they lack credentials, or whatever. But honestly, through the grace of God, it just, we were accepted to the interview. And we were on probation, academic probation for about a year. And we demonstrated that, you know, we could exceed maintaining above 80%. And we kept going, you know, and as we Interesting enough, we thought we were going to become more Christian, like, you know, and get into that. We even was attempting to become a reverend, and go through ordination. And even that process was very traumatic for us. And we were surrounded by insensitive peers that just didn’t see that something was wrong, something didn’t feel right with Aaron. And for a lot of other people, too. It wasn’t just Aaron. And before you know it, we had to just listen to this voice inside of us that said, maybe this is not your path. Maybe you’re not intended to go down this road. You know, it’s not saying that it’s a bad road. It’s just saying, maybe it’s not for you. And from that moment, we’ve just been constantly having this organic conversation with an inner source that we believe is God, you know, guiding us, counseling us, you know, the spirit, you can call it, and being led by the Spirit has transformed us in indescribable ways that we never imagined to be a shaman and journey. It just came about.

**Michael Hingson ** 13:58
Tell me more about that. What does that mean being a shaman and journey? So you would please?

**Aaron Waldron ** 14:04
Yeah, of course, there’s a lot of different definitions or descriptions of a shaman around the world. Typically, they are holy, sacred people. People that traverse the physical and the spiritual side of life. But there’s also a definition of shamanism or shamans. That applies to everybody, everyone’s a shaman. But to acknowledge yourself as a shaman is to acknowledge that you are on a pursuit of a higher version of yourself, you’re awaken to a certain degree, you see things differently, and you’re not looking to follow so much, but to really embody this natural leader, you know, and we give description to this as a path maker, which can be anybody regardless of your ethnicity, your gender. You know, anything like every human has the capability of, you know, making their own path. So ultimately, you know to be a shaman is just to be that it doesn’t require you to have magical powers or you don’t necessarily have to be born from a certain tribe. Again, these are all traditional views, yes, and they’re all respected, but they’re not absolute. And to be a shaman is to also step into nothing is absolute, is to accept the in differences in the world to, to see that other is you and you are other. And I see that, you know, it’s about your ego, and it’s about you and to be a shaman is to step into a higher state of consciousness.

**Michael Hingson ** 15:46
So you do you kind of think if I want to ask this, I guess well, I’ll just ask. So where do you fit what you do or believe into the world of what a lot of people face here in this country? Which is Christianity? Do you reject Christianity? Is that a just a different path? Or what?

**Aaron Waldron ** 16:16
No, yeah, thank you for that question. Reject is not something that we’re doing. That’s not the way to describe it. But we’ve been able to step out of this field poetic for walls of religion, and see that there’s the many that are trying to describe God are all right, and all wrong at the same time. And so being that America is a Christian hegemony, and is predominantly dominated by Christian values and beliefs, the belief that there’s one God, one savior, it falls into this absolute idea. And that’s where it gets dangerous, because then you have people that believe they have to forcefully convert others to save their soul, by any means necessary. And we have data that demonstrates how you know, religious conversions around the world have also demonstrated killing people. These are not just harmless acts, these are violent acts to force people to belief systems, that they believe they’re doing God’s work by saving this person’s soul by converting them into something that is not natural to them. And so that’s just like burning down the Amazon, it’s equivalent, you know, when we go around with our beliefs, and Christianity has been doing this around the world, historically. So this is nothing new. It’s just we believe we’re in a time where we can start articulating and understanding that Christianity is not the one sole religion, that’s the saving grace of the world, and all existence. It’s a very strong popular religion, but it has been hurting people along the way. And we cannot, you know, continue to overlook that. And so with that, we stepped out or stepped from that step outside that space of Christianity, and religion, for that matter, to help people that are navigating how to pursue God outside of these common strong religious avenues of belief and traditions.

**Michael Hingson ** 18:36
So you got a master’s degree in divinity and you’re now working on a PhD? How does the the school the college where you are fit in to your beliefs? Or how do people their receive you and your thoughts? Interesting

**Aaron Waldron ** 18:54
enough, Aaron is received with love and acceptance, because people that know me know, we’re not a violent activists. We just are an advocate of our experiences. And it just so happens that there’s hundreds of 1000s of other people that experienced similar things, such as this idea of religious trauma, and the effects of it and how it affects us in forming our identity, navigating the world, understanding who we are connecting with the thing, the thing that we can’t see or describe, you know, this, this idea of God, you know, so it’s kind of if you think about it, we’re rethinking church beyond church, creating spaces for people to gather and still feel welcomed and feel encouraged to pursue God, outside of religion in their own ways. So yeah, that’s all we’re really doing is being a path maker embodying this idea that we’re paving a path that others can learn from and see that you can do it too.

**Michael Hingson ** 20:15
And that, I guess, is why I asked the question, because the I’m sure that the perception of a lot of people is that schools of divinity, like that are just Christian oriented. And the reality is, they’re not they’re God oriented, which is very possibly a whole different thing. Yes. And it’s so important. Go ahead. Go ahead.

**Aaron Waldron ** 20:39
No, I was just gonna say, especially because the seminary is one of few seminaries in America that have a multi phase program at a doctoral level.

**Michael Hingson ** 20:52
And so classifying is always tough. What would you be classified as then in that multifaith program?

**Aaron Waldron ** 21:00
I guess using their grouping terms would be falling along the spiritualist. Okay, track. Okay.

**Michael Hingson ** 21:10
Yeah. Cool. Well, you know, again, I think, personally, that it’s all about God. And, and you can talk about Jesus, you can talk about any nun, any number of things, but it’s still ultimately in Jesus would would say in the Bible, that it’s really all about God. And as he’s pointed out, I am my father are one and so are all of you. So it really is, or ought to be viewed. In the same way, unfortunately, we, we do tend to become very limited at times and what we do, which is something that that then tends to create a lot of the separations that, that we face. It’s true. So what’s your PhD thesis on? For clarity, it’s

**Aaron Waldron ** 22:05
not a PhD, but it’s a demon. But my, it’s a dissertation, my dissertation is on, or called, between space. And the idea is to create spaces in between larger structures of spaces, such as religions, to allow people to gather and develop, share, and to be heard, by being listened to. So we created a digital community. And this digital community for the last eight months has been thriving slowly, really drawing people that are interested in developing themselves outside of religion, people that have been hurt by religion, and are trying to navigate and figure out what part of that that hurt belongs to God, and what part of that hurt belongs to humans, decisions or choices, or immaturity. So this space allows that to happen. We also have a teaching space that we use films, it’s called between film, it’s an artistic field poetic approach to helping us navigate and understand a lot of different complicated spiritual mental ideas, you know, such as the self, the shadow, the development of self through a hero’s journey. Community, what can that look like a meta spiritual community. So we been looking over films and talking over them, they’re pretty cool. And it’s really great, because a lot of people get intimidated by books. And so with this kind of teaching approach, people are just jumping in, they’re like, Oh, I saw that movie, or we watched the clip, and then we talk about it. And it’s more inviting, you know, there’s no gap, thinking. There’s a lot of people thinking that, you know, they gotta read a lot to be smart, but we’re naturally very highly intelligent as humans. And, you know, we spend a lot of our early upbringing not being cultivated, but being conditioned. And so this approach also is trying to help people recondition their minds and kind of decolonize their minds so that they can go about identifying themselves identifying with spirituality, they want to formulate and use for their own well being without tarnishing them and putting them down and telling them what to do.

**Michael Hingson ** 24:39
Yeah, I guess I said PhD I should have probably said Doctorate of divinity is that correct?

**Aaron Waldron ** 24:46
Doctor of Ministry doctor and Dr. Ministry, okay.

**Michael Hingson ** 24:49
Okay. Anyway. Okay, well, good to have the right terminology. But so that is what the public space community is about. out the things that you’re talking about

**Aaron Waldron ** 25:03
is rotation. Yeah. So did

**Michael Hingson ** 25:05
is this a concept that you created? Or was this something that was already around? And you are, you’re studying it more? Did you create it? As I say?

**Aaron Waldron ** 25:15
No, yeah, we started it actually. And it’s based out of our own experiences and traumas. So we went about this idea of formulating a community and space that was hyper focused on the digital. So we meet through zoom, or some form of digital meetup. And it also allows us to not focus on the physical gathering. And there’s a lot of complications that come with the physical gathering, as you well know, you know, with even disability. And if you have a congregation that is physically disabled, and you’re in a physical church, and they’re arguing over physical space, that’s something that we alleviated by just focusing on the digital space, so that we could really focus on our thoughts, our spirits, the spiritual aspects energy, not what we look like at the time, or what we’re dressed like, or where we’re sitting or traffic and stuff like that. So we really wanted to focus on digital community. And most of the car, the community members are millennials. So they’re very busy. And there was another thing, it was hard for them to physically meet. But if we did a digital meet, it was easier for everyone to manage. So

**Michael Hingson ** 26:39
it’s, it’s interesting, maybe, maybe it shouldn’t be considered so fascinating. Well, what do you think more? Or most of the people are millennials?

**Aaron Waldron ** 26:48
Oh, yeah, that is an interesting part of my research was trying to understand that very same inquiry, why millennials, and it just so happened that over the last decade, the series of events, historical events have kind of shaped and pushed this particular group of people sad are in a particular age range that we classify as millennials to respond to religion in a particular way, we started to see a huge increase a significant increase, and people leaving the church, and a lot of those leaving people leaving the church were millenniums. And you have the age group that’s older than them. They’re their parents and their grandparents that have a sense of loyalty to their church. But Millennials tend to have this, this thing going on, where they’re questioning things, and they’re sensitive to things. And so they say, most millennials are just saying, you know, I don’t feel comfortable in church anymore. And you know, there’s this guilt from past generations that say, well, you’re supposed to do this you should be doing is, it’s the right thing to do. And so we see in this particular age group, millennials, that they’re deciding to think for themselves alone, a lot of critical thinking, is taking off. And then you see in their children, Gen Z, you see this even more, you know, but my research is focused on millennials. But hopefully in the near future, we can extend to start studying and understanding the effects of Gen Z, our children, millennials, children’s children. It

**Michael Hingson ** 28:34
is it is interesting to see what’s happening. And I’ve heard and seen in a number of things that I have read that millennials and now Gen Z are people who are searching, and are willing to expand their minds and look at alternatives, which is something that hopefully will take them down some paths that will also help them deal with some of our more materialistic things in our world a little bit differently than people in the past have done as well. But I think we’ll have to wait and see where that goes. So do you think that if if people understood it, if Millennials understood it, they would say that they have suffered a lot from religious trauma? You’ve you’ve used that term a bunch times I’d love to learn a little bit more about what what you mean by that, but and also then asked answering that question, have you think that’s what they would say as well as that? It’s a lot about religious trauma.

**Aaron Waldron ** 29:43
Yes, exactly. Yes, we would, because we started seeing that most people don’t even make connections that they have religious trauma. So we started to view it as something like a cancer and we’re unaware that we have as cancer, and it’s spreading through our body, and it’s affecting our body and hid in mysterious ways, because we don’t even know what’s there. And so the same thing could be said about religious trauma because one person could say, well, I don’t agree, from my perspective that I have religious trauma. I don’t think religion hurt me, but the people hurt me. And so it’s maybe not the belief system, but it’s the people upholding the belief system that can hurt you. And we still fall in that category of religious trauma. Because the structure Institute or practices is genuinely what is hurting you. And when it hurts you in a way that you cannot operate in a wholesome manner, you cannot be yourself, naturally the way God made you, that you have to conform, pretend. And you now find yourself feeling depressed, forced, obligated, guilted, even to partake in uphold traditions, practices, and beliefs. You’re in the category of experiencing and struggling with religious trauma. Interesting

**Michael Hingson ** 31:14
concept that you make me think about. So you make a huge distinction between the beliefs, let’s say, for example, in Christianity, but the actual beliefs, or teachings of the Church, as opposed to the people and what they’re doing in the church. Am I gathering that correctly?

**Aaron Waldron ** 31:39
Yes, yes.

**Michael Hingson ** 31:42
And so it isn’t the, for example, Christianity, beliefs, or the basic precepts of the religion, or the the Jewish religion, or Muslim religion, or Buddha, and so on. But it’s how people deal with a deal with them, which is a whole different animal.

**Aaron Waldron ** 32:03
Yes, it’s how we wear it. It’s how we’re taught it. It’s how we embody it and practice it exactly. Right. So like, in my training, during the masters of divinity, studying the four Gospels, studying the first and second testament, really starting to learn how to exer G texts and understand what God is saying in the text versus what man has said it said, or has interpreted way. And so that’s where we have the whole, you know, corruption taking place. You know, the Gospels are inspired by God, no doubt, but how we used it, how we taught it, and how we continuously practice it, is what’s been corrupted and poisoned.

**Michael Hingson ** 32:49
You know, one of the things that I think about often is one of Jesus’s statements, I am the Way the Truth and the light. And people say, well, because he says that, clearly, he’s the only one to follow. But looking at my, from my perspective, when I think about that, I go back to Exodus where God said, I Am that I Am, thou shall say, I am has sent me to you. And that Jesus, the statement really IS GOD IS the WAY the TRUTH and the LIFE, then that I am isn’t necessarily dealing with Jesus alone as the person. Because the other thing that Jesus says is, of course, he has God. And as we all are,

**Aaron Waldron ** 33:36
yes, yeah, exactly. Right. That’s what we were speaking about, like the way we interpret these texts. And a lot of times we use literal interpretations. And we read the text and only what it says literally, when a lot of what is in the Bible, those 66 books are selected, but they’re very poetic. They’re meant to mean larger things, not specifically one thing, you know, so like, when we have a lot of Christians that hyper focus on literal understandings of the Bible, that is where we get, you know, these kind of teachings that really trap people to believe in one way. But like you’re saying, and like we said, in the past, there’s nothing wrong with the Bible, per se, because there’s a lot of truth, even in the gospels when Jesus when Yeshua is recorded, speaking, that that’s not like, that applies to everything and everyone and we’ve also seen through multifaith studies that these things overlap like Buddha overlaps Jesus and so on. And so they’re saying same things just in different ways or different perspectives, the audience that they are speaking Eating.

**Michael Hingson ** 35:02
Yeah. Which makes a lot of sense. And I know that there going to be a lot of people who disagree with that. But nevertheless, it does make a lot of sense to consider the whole rather than just individual parts. Because the other part about the Bible is taking any one small thing out of context is a very dangerous thing. And way too many people do that. Yes,

**Aaron Waldron ** 35:29

**Michael Hingson ** 35:30
So talking about you a little bit more. So you said you had a daughter that you wanted to care for when you went into the military? And so what happened with all of that? Do you still is that your daughter that you deal with still? Or because I think I read in your biography that you You married a different person?

**Aaron Waldron ** 35:52
Yes, yeah. Right now, my, my relationship with my daughter is very distant. And we’ve in our own life had to come to terms with certain things, because of what stories or what perspectives have been told to her. You know, it’s, it’s like this micro to the macro. The fighting of the narratives, and fighting over truth and lies. But in the military was very hard for me will be around my daughter, work at me away. So a lot of my love, language came out of gifts, you know, sending her gifts, things of that nature, but we didn’t get really the relationship that we kind of dreamed of, you know, it just hasn’t been able to happen yet. And so she lives with her mom. And, you know, she, she’s happy. And I, we don’t want to take that away from her. But we do prepare in our mind and our spirit that one day if we do get to spend time with her at a closer capacity that we’re prepared to, to be, you know, demonstrating love, and not all this regret or anger or something. So

**Michael Hingson ** 37:14
yeah. Well, anger and hatred and so on doesn’t really benefit anyone. I had the opportunity to read a book by Henry Drummond. Have you heard of him?

**Aaron Waldron ** 37:31
I don’t believe he’s British

**Michael Hingson ** 37:33
from the 1800s. And he wrote a book, it’s a very short book, really simple and easy to read. And it’s called Love is the greatest thing in the world. And it is all about love. And actually, the version that I got from Audible also has other addresses of his in it. But it’s, I think, a very fascinating book and puts a lot about loving into perspective in a very simple way. And he, he talks about love in terms of the Bible. And he talks about faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love, which is something that John talks about a great deal and think Paul does, but Drummond mainly refers to John, but I thought it was a really interesting and a good book. I discovered it a couple of months ago, and I’ve enjoyed reading it several times. So I hope that you do get an opportunity to spend time with her. But you’ve gotten married since then. Yes,

**Aaron Waldron ** 38:34
yes, happily married. And honestly, this marriage, this relationship has allowed me to start loving myself, or understanding what that even looks like, my past relationship, it was hard for me to even understand what that even looks like loving myself because we were so caught up in pleasing others that we were trying to exterior, you know, a love outward, you know, kind of thing. And so with this relationship, we’re loving inward, and it just keeps bouncing out even more. So we get to love more than we could possibly imagine just by loving more of ourselves. So yeah, this was definitely something that we did not expect. But again, it felt spirit led and so we follow that path. And we’ve been happily in love since.

**Michael Hingson ** 39:36
How long have you been married?

**Aaron Waldron ** 39:39
Coming on seven years now.

**Michael Hingson ** 39:41
Oh my gosh, congratulations. Even though even though I was married for 40 years before my wife passed last November, You’re newlyweds but still congratulations. Anyway. Seven years is a is a feat compared to a lot of things we read in the papers about marriages and divorces. So I’m glad it’s working out well for you.

**Aaron Waldron ** 40:01
Thank you. Thank you.

**Michael Hingson ** 40:03
So as you analyze yourself and so on, what would you say motivates you? Yeah.

**Aaron Waldron ** 40:08
People, honestly, people, people persevering through challenges motivates me deeply. When we found ourselves in some real depressed times, we would listen and watch like things like Arnold Schwarzenegger talking about pumping iron, or Les Brown talking about his motivational encouragement. So these motivational speakers and their perseverance, they survive challenges and became better for that’s the kind of stuff that really motivates me, you’re

**Michael Hingson ** 40:44
going to, at some point, work on being more of a visible, motivational or public speaker or that kind of one of the paths you want to take, or which way do you want to go once you get your Doctor of Ministry? Well,

**Aaron Waldron ** 40:57
honestly, after that, we definitely want to continue schooling, we want to pursue the psychology track, become a therapist one day, and possibly even become a young in and out hours. But we definitely want to help people to a large capacity, we have skills and gifts that we’re starting to really recognize about ourselves, that we believe will make us a very crucial asset in the field of psychology, therapy, and even spirituality. So continuing to inspire people, motivate people, empower people, is definitely something of a cornerstone. And we will continuously do.

**Michael Hingson ** 41:48
If I may, I think you and I talked about it before, but I’d like to ask if it’s okay. Why is it that you decided to speak of yourself in the third person as opposed to an AI in me? Yeah,

**Aaron Waldron ** 42:02
great question. Thank you. It was really out of a spiritual understanding something for us. When we were halfway through our masters of divinity, there was something taking place spiritually inside of us that kind of awakened us or opened our eyes to see that we are not an individual, by any means we’re all interconnected. And so we’re basically part of a bigger collective. And the we is a constant reminder that Aaron is not alone is not one person. But Aaron is part of many, a collection of, of other human beings, other living beings, other conscious beings, other spiritual beings. When we dove deeper into our meditation practices, we started to realize that we are not alone in the universe, we’re not alone in anything, it’s, we’re so connected to everything and everything is so close to us, we can’t even imagine it. It’s not until we start really focusing on connecting with everything around us that we start to see that there couldn’t be possibly an eye. So we took it upon ourselves to embody that by changing our code our pronoun to a third person, and still the constant struggle or practice and sometimes we slip up and say I, because most of our life, we’ve been conditioned to speak in first person and refer to ourselves and I, and be an individual. So this is only been a few years since we’ve been practicing this. So we’re still kind of young and new to it. But it’s a pursuit that we feel that it’s a discipline of ours. And we continuously strive to remind others that Aaron is not an individual, but part of a collective.

**Michael Hingson ** 44:09
Do you find or are you finding that other people have or are adopting that same concept?

**Aaron Waldron ** 44:17
Yes, it is not that strange. And that actually made me feel a lot better about it. A few years ago, we started to see that a lot of people started thinking like this and started practicing this. It makes it a little bit more complicated with socializing with people, but it just takes practice like anything.

**Michael Hingson ** 44:39
Well, yeah. My immediate reaction is, nevertheless we ought to all be accepting of what we choose to do. There’s no reason that anyone should have a problem with the Wii, as opposed to the I. I mean, in England, we used to hear about the royal we all all the time, and we still do, whether it’s a custom or whatever. So it’s it isn’t new. Sure. But it is it is something that we should learn to accept. And and if if that is what someone chooses to do, especially since there’s clearly a good rationale for it, then no magic there is no, what is your biggest fear in the world, or anywhere?

**Aaron Waldron ** 45:32
My biggest fear is that we cannot be ourself. Honestly. It used to be, we were afraid to be alone. And that actually transformed over the years, over the last, like five years, we used to have a very deep fear since we were a child of just being alone, because we were abandoned in our childhood and suffered with abandonment multiple times to our life, leading into our young adulthood. And so recently, our fear has transformed from that, too, that we’re afraid to not be ourselves. Because we started seeing that the more we were being ourselves, the more we were being rejected by, you know, people in places and spaces, and ideas. And so this fear started, like really erupting inside of us of not being accepted or understood, because we were being ourselves. And so we have this fear of having to conform so that people can understand or accept us.

**Michael Hingson ** 46:43
So what do you do about that?

**Aaron Waldron ** 46:47
A lot of meditation. Even even before coming on here, it’s not that we were afraid of you, or the concept of the podcast or being interviewed. It’s just we have these deep, unresolved anxiety sometimes of the public speaking or engaging with people. And this probably even speaks to your comment about do we see ourselves becoming a more public figure and encouraging people and writing it’s, it’s hard, it’s challenging, and we’re in the process of trying to overcome that, to be a better person so that we can be a better, stronger public figure. But we’re just not there yet. Because we have so many things we need to still work on inside of ourselves. So that we can respond in a healthier way, and not respond from our hurt and pain and ignorance.

**Michael Hingson ** 47:45
Well, I hope, and I don’t think I’m reading into it. But I hope that you found that as we’re talking here. You’re you’re feeling more comfortable, more relaxed, you sound more relaxed.

**Aaron Waldron ** 47:59
Yeah, of course, you make it a very relaxing. Yeah, of course.

**Michael Hingson ** 48:05
Well, the only thing I know is in about 12 or 13 minutes, I’m going to have to go feed a dog or I will be devoured before your very eyes. Now we’re, we’re good. He’s over here asleep. He’s in talks about love. I’ve always believed that dogs love unconditionally, and we could learn a lot from them. Now, I’ve also said that dogs don’t trust unconditionally, but they’re open to trust. And I think it’s something that we we all need to learn is that we should be more open to trust, and we should be more open to accepting people. Dogs don’t have hidden agendas, like people tend to do, or like we suspect people tend to do, which is, which is a problem. And so we we locked down our innate desire to possibly trust someone we’ve been taught not to do that. And that’s so unfortunate. It seems to me in society, we should really both be more willing to earn trust, and have our trust earned than we do. And I hope that with the millennials and Gen Z, we’ll start to see more of that coming through.

**Aaron Waldron ** 49:14
And we do too. And we have high hopes. Because a lot of people are beginning to really think for themselves and question. So, you know, there’s there’s hope for humanity.

**Michael Hingson ** 49:28
And there’s nothing wrong with questioning. There’s nothing wrong with asking. Right? And exploring. Yeah,

**Aaron Waldron ** 49:35
yeah. Yeah. Because even when we would talk among our divinity peers, MDiv peers, we would speak about, you know, this very same concept, you know, and there really shouldn’t be a hierarchy to it. We’re all in the pursuit of understanding God, describing God I’d like, there should be no competition, we should all be learning from one another. And all my peers have all been critical thinkers, you know, even a lot of them still are Christian. And we get along just fine, because we understand that Aaron doesn’t have to say it the way that someone said it. You know, we’re both talking about love. We’re describing love, God being that ultimate love, power, or energy.

**Michael Hingson ** 50:32
And even more than describing it as living it. And that’s, I think what it ultimately has to come down to that we, we make the decisions, and then whether we say it in different ways. Love is a is a concept that I think we all can truly understand. And then live by, no matter how we describe it, it’s still the same thing to do it.

**Aaron Waldron ** 50:57
Yeah, we all need it to, we do all need it. Yeah, regardless of your wealth, or what you think is wealth, we all require love, we all require air, you know, we all require these human things. So that’s why with us, you know, we see beyond certain labels and social constructs, like racism and race and, and see like, you know, we’re all humans, why are we killing each other over these, these things that we’re describing, that you say make us different, but we’re not really different. So even our choosing of a third person pronoun could also be interpreted as an advocacy for a united space, like we’re all connected, you know, for me to hate you is to hate myself, to hurt us to hurt me. You know, and we’ve been doing this forever. Now. Aaron Waldron is not the first to even talk about this. You know, this has been going on for a long time. It’s just we need more people to listen. Check

**Michael Hingson ** 52:00
out Henry Drummonds book, you’ll see a lot of those same comments made in this, this book by this well known philosopher and theologian, think you would like it.

**Aaron Waldron ** 52:14
Awesome. Thank you. Well, now,

**Michael Hingson ** 52:17
yeah, love the greatest thing in the world. So here’s a off the wall sort of question. Do you think that someone or at some point, people will decide that your beliefs and so on are just another religion? Does that make sense? I’m not sure. But it’s an

**Aaron Waldron ** 52:39
it is a very interesting question, a very dangerous question two, something that we had to ask ourselves along this process. Interesting enough, when developing a community when developing a rubric to teach people, the first thing we have to ask ourselves is what we’re proposing. Is this a cult? Is this a religion? You know, if that is the case, why are you trying to reinvent the wheel, right. And so we had to remain constantly in this space of whatever we do is not an attempt to reinvent the wheel. But it’s just to look at the wheel and the usage of that wheel and a different way. And so we’re not creating a new religion, we’re not creating a cult, what we’re doing is we’re trying to help people see that it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to be you, whatever that looks like, regardless of your looks, disability setbacks, you know, what you’ve done, that could translate to sins, things of that nature, what you don’t have or lack that could translate to poverty, you know, that doesn’t determine your connection with God. And so my biggest push is to remind people, there should not be a middleman between you and God. Because no one knows more than you. When it comes to God. No one has a capitalism, on the knowledge of God. Because we’re all just interpreting an idea of God. God is not the physical thing that we can go visit. God is everywhere. It’s nowhere, right? And so we can just bottle God up and say, Well, I’ve got God, and it’s for sale, or I’ve got God, if you want to cure something, you know, we’re so we’re here to advocate that. That’s not necessary. God is not that far away. God is actually inside of all of us. We come from God. We’re always connected to God. You know, so it’s a remembrance, religion.

**Michael Hingson ** 54:54
And the last thing and it’s an interesting way to put it. And the last thing you want to be is using your own term. My analogy is that middleman because that would violate every precept you’ve talked about here.

**Aaron Waldron ** 55:06
Exactly, exactly.

**Michael Hingson ** 55:09
What strengthens your faith beyond religion, you know, so many people say, Well, I, my, my faith comes from being a Christian and all that. And so for you what strengthens your faith, since you, you deal with it outside the typical constructs of religion. Yeah.

**Aaron Waldron ** 55:24
My solitude strengthens my faith. For me, we hear God so to speak more in ourselves when we feel God closer in our solitude, you know. But when stepping outside the four walls of religion in the wilderness, so to speak, my solitude is where God feels and sounds and is the closest. And that gives us faith.

**Michael Hingson ** 55:57
And I would, the only thing I would add to that is, is your love, also, which has to be an integral part of it.

**Aaron Waldron ** 56:03
Of course, in our solitude, we learn to love ourselves. And in that process, we learn to love others through their heart, heart aches and struggles, because we have a lot of we’re surrounded by a lot of people that are carrying things unconsciously, or they’re carrying things consciously, and are battling with it. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be connected to them or be their friend or help them. We just have to be aware of these things. So we can better love them, you know, and not enable their toxicities. Because we want to say, Oh, well, me giving you money is how I demonstrate my love. Okay, well, maybe money is not what I needed. You know, that type of thing. So, for me, in solitude, we get to not only know more of ourselves, and be able to love more of ourselves, empathize with more of ourselves, especially our shadow, you know, like that really hurt part of ourselves. That’s like really angry all the time and just doesn’t know everything is misinformed and doesn’t have it, have all the facts or all the perspectives to see that it wasn’t about you, per se, you were just part of a larger event type of thing. So by doing this stuff, we’re able to love strangers, complete strangers, you know, interact with our neighbors, so to speak, and be good neighbors without a secret agenda.

**Michael Hingson ** 57:31
Yeah, that’s really the operative part without a secret agenda. There’s no need to have it. No, there isn’t. So you have chosen a different path other than the traditional, typical organized religion? Do you still have friends? Who are religious leaders and very active in their own religions?

**Aaron Waldron ** 57:51
Yes, many have deep, deep conversations all the time. Yeah. But um, yes, we still have friends that are inside religion. In the church. They’re prominent figures, leaders. And, you know, we still agree to certain capacities about things. But more more importantly, we’re friends, human friends, you know.

**Michael Hingson ** 58:18
And that proves the validity of a lot of what you’re talking about, because you can do that, and you don’t need to battle over who’s right and who’s wrong. Right, exactly. So after leaving religion, do you view your life? Or would you describe it as being something like exodus in the Bible? Yes, exactly. That for a question.

**Aaron Waldron ** 58:45
Yeah, that’s, that’s a great way to put it. And and in that analogy way, or do poet poetic way, would be like, our life has been like Exodus. And we still find ourselves in accidents. And we’re looking for that land of milk and honey, so to speak. But it the idea of the land and milk and honey is not a destination, so to speak. It’s a pursuit, right? We’re looking for something better, constantly. And we’re just navigating the wilderness. And when we do that, we have to pick up certain skills and embody certain things and live our life a certain kind of way for us to be in a balanced state with the wilderness nature. You know, because nature is not predictable.

**Michael Hingson ** 59:35
And I think, sorry, go ahead. Go ahead. No,

**Aaron Waldron ** 59:39
I was just saying we have to be adaptable and fluid and reflective of that natural sting of just something may happen and it may not always go as planned. You know, and we have to be able to just adjust and adapt and grow and develop. And

**Michael Hingson ** 59:57
I think we’ll find eventually that that land of welcome Honey is really something that’s more inside of us. And it’s more of a concept and a state of mind. Or if you will, in terms of what we do with this podcast, a mindset than anything else. We

**Aaron Waldron ** 1:00:13
agree. Absolutely.

**Michael Hingson ** 1:00:16
Well, I want to thank you for being here. And for doing this, I have had a very enjoyable and joyous time I, I hope you have to It’s been fun. And I hope that you listening, have enjoyed it and found it stimulating. lots to think about. Needless to say, if people want to reach out to you and maybe learn more about you and and talk with you, how would they do that? Well, we have

**Aaron Waldron ** 1:00:44
a website, www dot A shaman in journey.com. We have a YouTube channel, a shaman in Journey, and we’re on Instagram and Facebook, under the same name. So we really have been creating little projects, podcasts, as well as public space has been recorded, and it’s shared online. So you can go back and see what we be talking about in our space. Well,

**Michael Hingson ** 1:01:10
you, you certainly have a good trail with a shaman in journey everywhere you want to look. So that works for me. Easy, easy to find you.

**Aaron Waldron ** 1:01:20
That was the goal.

**Michael Hingson ** 1:01:22
Well, there you go. You got it. Well, thanks very much, Erin. And I want to thank you again for listening to us out there. This has been, as I said, stimulating and fun. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, love to hear your thoughts, and I know Aaron would as well. Please feel free to reach out. You can reach me as I’ve said many times on our podcast at Michael M i c h a e l h i at accessiBe A C C E S S I B E.com. Or go to www dot Michael hingson h i n g s o n.com/podcast. And wherever you’re listening, please give us a five star rating. We appreciate that. And we value it greatly. And also, please feel free to reach out to us and we love any and all of your thoughts and your comments. We appreciate them and we’ll respond anytime anyone reaches out to me. I will always respond back. And I’m sure Aaron will as well. So I would just say once again, Aaron, this has been absolutely wonderful and I really thank you for being here with us.

**Aaron Waldron ** 1:02:25
Thank you. Thank you for that journey and great conversation.

**Michael Hingson ** 1:02:33
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit
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