From Outcast to Impact: Aren Bahia, The Spiritual Hustler
Everyone can write their own story.
In this digital age, self-limitations run rampant as the hum of technology gets louder. Between vying for likes, rampant misinformation, and endless doom-scrolling, we can often lose ourselves in the noise.
It’s a paradox: in an effort to be remembered, we can lose sight of the very parts of us that make our stories unique. But our distinctive talents are gifts that should be shared with the world. Each of us can write a new story and create an impact the way the universe intended: not through getting attention, but by helping others.
In an effort to re-align with his purpose on this Earth, he made a commitment: to help people shift the direction of their lives, and raise the consciousness of the planet. Now the co-founder of personal development company Yogi Lab, he shares, “I want to show people that they can bring their old skills into their new lifestyle. I’m here to help everybody make a change and to show that you can change your situation and transform. I conducted a full reset. And if I can do it, so can you.”
The Troubled Start
“I grew up as the fat kid in East Vancouver. I had braces, glasses, asthma, and a gap in my teeth that would whistle when I got excited. Needless to say, I was never part of the cool group. After years of getting bullied relentlessly, I didn’t want to be the outsider anymore.” As Bahia describes, he grew up in a rough area: one in which machete attacks, stabbings, and drug dealings were all commonplace. Growing tired of his place in society, Bahia looked for a way out. But in his search for an escape, Bahia made a crucial mistake that would transform the next eight years of his life. He was recruited by a street gang and stepped into a life of organized crime.
Exposed to nothing but corruption and degeneracy, Bahia turned to drugs to numb the pain he felt. Surrounded by gang affiliates, the spiral downward was all he knew. “I was checking all the boxes I thought I needed to check to be a successful adult based on what I learned from the guys I grew up with. But I was constantly high to get through the fear, depression, and anxiety that came from a life of crime. And no amount of wealth could make it up — I was spiritually poor.”
A life of physical, mental, and professional regression left Bahia completely lost. But with every passing day, he grew more driven to change the life he was leading. “I was about 25 years old, and I was having a quarter-life crisis,” he recalls. “I was chasing money as an outsider in society and a black sheep in my family. But everything changed when I suffered serious concussion kickboxing while training for my first big fight in the ring.”
Still addicted to opiate painkillers, Bahia made many attempts to get clean. Finally, an unorthodox solution came forward: Iboga, a West African hallucinogen. Despite its intrinsic hallucinogenic properties, the bark is also used to treat opioid addiction and substance abuse in African medicine and rituals. “I was shivering in a blanket watching movies before my next big trip. The people told me not to watch anything violent that could affect my mental state. The way it ended up, it felt like I watched everything off Netflix. But as I clicked on the final movie, my life changed. I had my life absolutely saved by Julia Roberts. That’s right, I watched ‘Eat, Pray, Love’.”
His Spiritual Journey
As Bahia describes, “I was taken to a tranquil place on the other side of the world, and saw a market scene of peace and contentment. It was so far away from the gang culture or the dope game, and I knew that it was something magical. I sat there, glued to the TV, and told myself that whatever ‘that’ was, I needed it,” he shares. The experience taught Bahia a valuable lesson: “I created the entire reality around me. I wasn’t the victim of circumstance that I thought I was, and I needed to take responsibility for my actions.” In an effort to heal both physically and mentally, Bahia made a decision to fly to Bali, where he would change his life forever. And as Bahia recalls, he arrived two days later – completely alone.
Fueled by a vision of the person he could be and a glimpse of a whole new world, he was undeterred. “I arrived at a place called YogaBarn, and it was here that I was introduced to yoga. At the time, I didn’t know who I was: I had diamond earrings and a Louis Vuitton designer t-shirt, but none of that was me anymore,” Bahia says. This was the beginning of Bahia completely turning his life around. He became open to new opportunities and saw that he didn’t have to be who he was in the past. Determined to make a change and live from the heart, he underwent yoga teacher training. But to bring about the change that would reshape his future, Bahia knew that he first had to reconstruct the limitations surrounding his mindset.
“What saved me was making a commitment. I chose to be a different person – somebody that made a difference in society and somebody to be proud of. It was to make up for the years that I spent being a dope dealer contributing nothing to the world. I was lucky enough to get a second chance, and I knew that I would make my life worth it.” After his spiritual realization, Bahia flew back to Vancouver in an effort to cut ties and get out of the drug game once and for all. But leaving it all behind wasn’t as easy as he intended. “It was the hardest six months of my life,” he added. “Not because of my gang affiliates, but because I was addicted to the person I had become. I was so conditioned to who I was that being somebody else was terrifying. But I knew that it was a life or death situation, and if I continued on my old path, I’d end up in jail or dead. I sold everything, told everyone I was out, and left for good. I knew I would make my life worth it.”
Bringing Wellness to the World
Having finally escaped his past lifestyle, Bahia was determined to share his learnings. As part of his training process, he finished his 500-hour yoga teacher training in Kerobokan maximum security prison in Bali, otherwise known as “Hotel K”. Bahia used Bali as the launchpad for his spiritual journey. Using his formative experiences in contrasting lifestyles – both of crime and holism – Bahia began to share the meaning and purpose behind personal development on an ever-growing platform.
“Bali became my new home, and the shift in completely changing my life was massive. There are transferable skills in the dope game, and the tenacity that I developed enabled me to build from a life of organized crime to launching four businesses in 4 years.” In that time, Bahia did everything that he thought he should be doing to connect with his highest spiritual self and change his life: from psychedelics to mushroom ceremonies and frog venom. However, Bahia had progressed past reliance on substance. His soul was renewed.
“In sifting through these spiritual actions, I realized something important. All I truly needed to do was live from the heart and bring my presence into whatever I did.” Now, Bahia’s social efforts are far-reaching: each of his businesses spread goodness in the world and seeks to help the lives of the less fortunate. His very first business provides funding for a Balinese school that teaches children with mental disabilities. He has since been able to raise over 100,000 dollars for charity in just two years and helped over 200 Balinese children find a safe place to sleep with the Happy Mattress Project. “It’s all about education, community, and relief because they don’t have it easy,” he says.
The Full Reset Blueprint
According to Bahia, one single step saved his life: making a plan. He chose to become a better person and formulated a six-step process that helped to take him there. He shares these same learnings in his webinar, “6 Pillars to Your New Year,” whereby he helps listeners accomplish their dreams for 2021. He shares, “The first step is to start with the end. Visualize your end result and thoroughly understand what you want. Next, plan in reverse. Work backward from your end result to where you are now as if you’re telling a story of how you did it.
Thirdly, set yourselves deadlines and deliverables to accomplish this plan. Make it realistic. Otherwise, you might not start. The next thing you need to do is figure out who you need to know. List all of the people who can help you along this journey, from supportive friends, booking agents, editors, or specialists. Get super specific; that’s how you manifest these people into your life.
Afterward, consider what you need to know in order to be the person at the end of your vision. Do you need to learn how to conduct a business? Make a list of every single thing you want to learn and make priorities. This is the first step in creating a learning plan for how you’ll grow into the person you intend to be. The final step comes full circle: highlight exactly what the first step in your plan is and do it,” Bahia explains. These six steps encompass the ‘Full Reset Blueprint,’ and in following this process, he was able to completely rebuild a new world around him.
While following this blueprint will undoubtedly lead to success, having a mentor behind you every step of the way is a crucial step in one’s development. Bahia shares the intricacies and methods behind his success in his one-to-one mentoring program for those that prefer guidance on their spiritual path. “My one-to-one, 12-week coaching program gets clear on your goals and focuses on your vision, clarity, mindset, and limiting beliefs. I specialize in transformation both internally and externally, and by finding inner peace, you’re able to build a powerful brand. I hold my community accountable, giving them the guidance and support to get things done.”
Bahia reflects on how far he’s come after the turmoil in his life. “After everything I’ve been through, I moved to Bali and became a serial entrepreneur with a network of talented people around me. I came out here alone, but after shifting my life, I created connections with incredible people that have now become my business partners, family, and greatest friends out here living a magical life. My own version of that ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ life – just a bit more fun. I had no idea that was possible, but it was in each of these little steps that I was able to make it work. The world is so much bigger than the neighborhood we grew up in, and the mindset we have at the start of our journey is so much smaller than the one we have after our breakthrough. I made my own happy ending, and I believe that everyone deserves theirs too.”
Bahia uses everything he has learned to bring meditation and yoga to the world and gives it all away completely for free. Without a doubt, his social impact leaves the world a better place. He leaves us with his final thoughts on reclaiming alignment in our lives. “My hunger to change was what I needed, and learning new things along the way helped me become who I am today,” he shares. “But I will never forget where I came from. We have the power to rewrite our story, so make it a damn good story to tell.”