Is it possible to be an ’emotional healing coach’, spiritual teacher, self-help speaker AND be able to genuinely laugh at yourself? Until recently, I didn’t think so. Then I found JP Sears.
JP is a life coach from South Carolina, USA who became a personal development YouTube celebrity after he started his hilarious Ultra Spiritual series. Spouting such wacky advice in his video ‘How to be Ultra Spiritual’ as “practice competitive spirituality; judging other people to be less spiritual than you makes you a better person than them”, and “rebel against dogmatic religious terminology by using dogmatic spiritual terminology”, JP holds a mirror up to the hypocrisy he sees in the spiritual healing world like no-one has done before. His achingly funny YouTube videos have been seen by millions, and they are also part of his more serious ‘Awaken with JP’ video series. Surprisingly, JP is able to pull off merging his serious, wise, and compassionate advice with self-mockery in the form of a hilarious alter-ego in a totally unique, original and refreshing way. The humour doesn’t detract from his serious messages, it enhances them.
JP was in Australia last month for the Byron Spirit Festival and his Strong Relationships retreat. At the Spirit Festival, the Anglican Hall in Mullumbimby was overflowing with fans no doubt due to his recent video “Byron Bay, the Most Spiritual Place on Earth”. The video nails Byron nuances such as hippies selling overpriced crystal jewellery of dubious origin, blessing Minyon Falls, hating tourists at the same time as making all their money from them, and finding out the true meaning of Moonblood during a passionate encounter with a backpacker at the Arts Factory.
The first half of the session, JP was in character as his ‘Enlightenedness’ alter-ego wearing a lace headband with flowers stuck in the side. When regular JP emerged, he shared the story of the birth of ultra-spiritual JP. “I had this story in my head that an emotional healing coach and spiritual teacher isn’t supposed to be funny. If I am funny, I won’t be who people expect me to be. I had developed humour out of my shadow side as a child. I hope that now I can help people use humour to find themselves rather than escape themselves. Humour is a powerful energy. The light side of it is intimacy with self. But there is this whole shadow side in the spiritual community and I think the most dangerous shadow is the one we don’t see, the one we don’t know we’re in. Instead of pretending it’s not there, I wanted to expose my version of it”.
The decision to make YouTube videos came in 2013 to help get more clients and improve his business. “It was about a year and a half later that I let a real voice of humour shine”. That’s when JP made his first funny video “How to Ruin your Life”. When he was filming his first satirical video, his now ex-girlfriend was behind the camera and he thought “I wanna wear a headband, that would be cool. So she said, ‘hey use this scarf’. I never gave the scarf back”.
The serious side of the session at the Anglican Hall followed on in the form of an audience Q & A. JP warmly imparted genuine and heartfelt advice while still injecting intermittent snippets of humour such as “I don’t know the answer to your question, but that’s not going to stop me pretending I do”. While he can be self-deprecating and humble, JP recognises that he has an ego and can be a control freak. When I put to him that his ability to laugh at himself means he doesn’t come across as an egotistical control freak, he says “I try to be a control freak in everyday things, even though I know I can’t control anything. There is a Zen saying: ‘What control is there to let go of except the illusion of control'”.
As JP says in his How to be Ultra Spiritual video “Ultra spiritual has nothing to do with being spiritual, because nobody knows what that actually is. Being ultra spiritual means you look spiritual”. It’s all an illusion.
JP Sears was a guest of the Byron Spirit Festival, Mullumbimby.