If you're into dry humour and the interweb, you may already know about the American YouTube star JP Sears. JP's most famous for adopting an eccentric personality and playing up social stereotypes, to illuminate the absurdities of inauthentic living through #ultraspiritualcomedy clips. But don't confuse shining light on society's rougher edges with being a bully... JP's first and foremost a holistic healer, who creates videos to supplement his spiritual coaching career.
Sound like a strange combo? We thought so, too. But after getting to know him, JP's mix actually makes perfect sense!
JP, we really dig your clips! How do you choose your topics?
What inspires me is shining light on ways we lose ourselves, which we think are ways we’re finding ourselves. Lots of spiritual practices and beliefs can actually interfere... it's important to me to shine light on those shadows in my own life, and I make videos to invite others to consider the concepts as well.
Your #ultraspiritualcomedy pokes fun at over-the-top spirituality. What does it actually mean to be "spiritual"?
Being spiritual, to me, means feeling connected to something bigger than me, period. That can be experienced as being part of a community of people, of a nation, a higher power, what have you.
In How to take Yoga Photos for Instagram, you transform into a #yogi whose truest mantra is "The most important things in my life are God, my family and my Instagram account - and not necessarily in that order." What are you trying to reveal about spirituality in terms of yoga?
Yoga is about doing yoga, not how you portray your yoga to the world - yet for some people that's totally what it becomes! Yoga photos can be fabricated to portray the perfect, almost mystical practice... but that’s not built around yoga, it's built around the person’s need to look and feel significant.
It’s fine if you want to be showy... but it’s also okay to be transparent, and to post something and say "I’m doing this for likes!" It just magnifies that degree of honesty… transparency is important.
While you're clearly a jokester, you also have serious #heartfelt clips. How do you decide when to be serious versus hilarious?
The two approaches have an underlying message of acceptance in common, but sometimes it just makes more sense to speak through the language of sincerity, sometimes through the language of comedy.
In #ultraspiritualcomedy I express thoughts through my natural satirical and dry sense of humour, and delete my #heartfelt parts - and do vice versa for my #heartfelt videos.
How did you evolve into these two distinct personalities?
Growing up I used humour as a way of escaping pain – if I can make people laugh on the outside, I’m significant on the inside because I caused that. While it "helped" me escape, I became very disconnected from myself.
At 18 I dropped/flunked out of school... but I was desperate for both a sense of self and a purpose in life. At 20, I took a workshop and it was the first vulnerability I experienced at a feeling level for years. I cried. I remembered things I’d numbed out. My mechanism of denial and control wasn't working, the constructed façade of myself fell away and, as I hear myself say it, it became a lightbulb moment.
I got passionate about helping people on an emotional level – but that was just an arrogant, delusional projection of my need for emotional healing onto other people. I soon thereafter realised - Oh, I need help.
So I began the journey toward uncovering my own and others' authenticity simultaneously. I won’t pretend I'm completely illuminated, there’s still a lot of wattage to turn on, but I've now had a spiritual healing practice for fifteen years. Three years ago I started my YouTube channel - it first began as an extension of the #heartfelt side of my practice, but two years ago I began sharing perspective through the language of humour in #ultraspiritualcomedy.
Why did spiritual healing become your purpose?
Look at what you’ve learned about… then what have you never learned about. It’s sometimes amazing we turn out as functional as we do.
A scary truth about human kind is that we all need to have a sense of purpose. The easy way to get it is through criticism – if I can criticise, it creates a sense of purpose in that moment. We all need to eat and feed ourselves, and sometimes go for junk food which is satiating, even if for a very short time. Criticism is junk food for purpose. It’s much more sustainable to feed ourselves a nourishing purpose. All of my work comes back to helping people find theirs.
If we have to "find" purpose, where do you think most people get lost along the way?
Not everybody lives in literal dictated communities – but an internal dictator is part of everybody’s psyche. It’s the part of us that creates expectations of who we are, and who other people want us to be so we can be valuable to them. The remainder of us can get lost for a while, maybe our whole lives, worshipping that dictator. And the dictator creates a thick, limited cocoon that we live in inside. In the cocoon there's the sense of being valuable, and it takes a lot of strength, resistance, willingness to be afraid but break out anyway. You’re not going to go to some jail if you break the rules of the internal dictator but you may be punished through self criticism, intimidation.
The purpose of our lives is to live our lives, not to live others' expectations. Be willing to be scared and step into your authenticity, be willing to experience fears and move forward anyway – that’s real courage.
Thanks JP for chatting with us, and a feast of food for thought! We'll be following you on YouTube, and let us know if you're ever in Singapore!