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The Instagram Debate

A running joke started about me last summer. A very dear and salty friend started a note in her iPhone entitled ‘Things Marie has no chill about’. Others have since embraced the joke and my occasional rants are now responded to with threats to add said subject matter to the list. Well, guess what? I’m happily adding Instagram myself and here’s why!

I’ll start off by being honest and self-deprecating to win you over before switching to my usual preachy self-righteous tone. Social media and my strong views of acceptable and unacceptable conduct have caused a slew of relationship problems for me. Not family problems, not arguments with friends, solely boyfriend problems. I’ve had some pretty solid burns in the past few years and have settled on a brief, initial getting-to-know-you period of social media monitoring as being the most reliable judge of character and conduct in men. As unpopular as that may be, I stand by it.

The best way to use Instagram

If you produce anything visual you should undoubtedly be on Instagram. Photographers, fashion designers, architects, nail technicians anything like this justifies an ongoing and everlasting portfolio of your work. Love it.

Here is where it gets hairy for me- if the only thing you ‘produce’ is how you look or things you buy, you are training yourself to be valued and rewarded only for those things. Since I deleted my already neglected Instagram a few months ago this has become an even more glaringly obvious problem for users around me. Those dopamine surges that come at you when you see more likes and positive comments are real, chances are the Insta-image you have cultivated is not though. I didn’t delete Instagram because I’m not attractive or haven’t accomplished more than most people have by the time they hit their deathbeds. I deleted it because I don’t need some random bro from Indiana who I never have and likely never will meet, or that girl I haven’t seen since elementary school, to tell me that. *Insert sassy manicure emoji*

Relationships though…

“Liking Instagram selfies is the modern equivalent of chatting up a girl in a bar.”

– salty girl who invented my no-chill list

I never have and never will be okay with my partner liking selfies or bikini shots or anything else posted with zero value besides gathering those dopamine hits and checking your follower’s list to see who might still want to bang. Never. Look at the photo all damn day if you want, just don’t engage. Guys, this is the best social media advice anyone has ever given you- you’re welcome. When I see mirror selfies and posed poolside pics I genuinely feel bad for the girl no matter what she looks like because it is a cry for attention and validation you straight up do not see in stable, successful, fulfilled women. I know because I’ve been on both sides.

What is the harm though really?

If the only attention you give to a female acquaintance or friend is the hit of a button when she shows some skin you are directly telling her that is the extent of her worth to you. If you really want to make someone feel good about themselves, ask them how they are, or how their pet or their family is, show them you noticed something other than the filtered bullshit facade. If you are in a relationship and proceed to give other women attention for these kinds of ‘thirst trap’ behaviors online, you don’t deserve to be in a relationship. Liking a photo is a signal of interest. You only ‘like’ a photo if you want the other person to see you did so, and I genuinely think the act of ‘liking’ is often just as needy and attention seeking as posting the photo yourself. When your partner sees this it creates distrust, insecurity, inevitable comparison drawing and curiosity about the history and origin of your relationship with that person. It is a blatant lack of respect for your partner and the position they hold in your life. What is more valuable? Flesh and blood that devotes time and energy to you, or a digitally manipulated best of 20 tries bathroom selfie someone decided to broadcast indiscriminately? Proceed with caution boys.

 

Mindful Online Dating Part 2: Lets be honest here…

You’re really going through with this aren’t you? Now you get the shameful experience of downloading a dating app, congratulations. Hot tip – I like to hide my app of choice in the ‘utilities folder’ of my device, so I don’t die a little inside each time I open my phone.

Selling yourself with dignity (jk)

In the last blog we talked about these apps making rejection easier to take because it’s initially not face to face. This is an advantage here, use it. The more honest and accurate you are in your profile, the less time you are going to waste with people that were drawn in by an embellished, filtered facade. Facades always crack and typically in the first five minutes. Do you really want to be that person who looked nothing like their photos? Pictures should be less than a year old, 18 months max and at least attempt to present your current hair colour and facial hair grooming situation. If you’re overweight or bald in real life and not in any of your photos you’re a piece of shit. Anyone superb enough to be reading this is clearly a catch so just be yourself *eye roll*. Keep in mind when curating this sales pitch that who you want to be, is likely not who you are in this moment. We all want growth and development, this keeps us moving forward, but perhaps presently in this incarnation the ‘gym junkie’ tag isn’t that accurate. Be wary of the types of fish you attract with certain lures. Is the person who prioritizes boobs or a six-pack the kind of person you want to date? If not, consider keeping your shirt on, no matter what glorious assets you have stashed away under there.

It’s not a game people

Giving your app to your friends after a few beverages is not kosher. There are people that take this seriously and hopefully you are one of them. That guy with the face tattoos may have thought he hit the jackpot when he matched with you, the crushing silence of your unanswered message may be enough to make him turn that hunting rifle from his profile photo on himself. Worst case scenario! Be conscious of how your actions here can impact on the receiving end. That is a real person on the other side, don’t forget that.

Don’t play nice

No pity dates. If you’re not into it and have no intention of meeting up, don’t waste each others time. Be clear and up front, and if you decide you just want to be friends and share first date horror stories make sure you are on the same page. With that volume there is no time for maybe. I personally think the system is broken, working only with someones photos, bio and messaging banter isn’t enough. Chemistry doesn’t come through on a phone so what we’re stuck with is a numbers game. Do they check basic boxes in terms of age, interests and basic physical requirements and can you exchange mild to moderately stimulating prose? If yes, you meet in person, breathe each other in and see if it adds up. The first date version of a person is likely not an authentic representation but be compassionate toward one another, try to thin out your own ego shell a little while not judging the thickness of theirs. Hair, clothes, muscles and makeup change fast, kind eyes and warm smiles tend to stick around.

TBC in part 3

 

Mindful Online Dating Part 1: the oxymoron of the century?

Online dating has changed everything.  Gone are the glory days of mustering up courage in your butterfly-filled stomach to ask ‘can I buy you a drink’ or ‘is your friend single’. City life has descended into row upon row of coffee shops populated by sullen people sitting alone with headphones in, taking filtered selfies and swiping, and if you aren’t online good fucking luck meeting anyone. What are your options? Talk to strangers like some kind of sociopath? How can we embrace and evolve alongside the march of technological progress without abandoning earnest attempts at self-awareness, mindfulness and compassion?

Y tho?

The first step in joining the dark side is examining your motivation. Remember the ‘right aspiration’ part of the Buddhist eightfold path? What do you hope to get out of this? A spouse and 1.5 children, a free dinner, a post-breakup ego boost, a pen pal to pass the time at your shitty desk job, or the usual 2-4 week fling that fizzles into amnesia? The majority of these are not good reasons and point to some serious self-love and self-confidence deficiencies indicating you are in no position to proceed. The goal of a healthy relationship is two whole and fulfilled people complementing and enhancing the others lives, not two broken pieces scrambling to find their ‘other half’ amongst a sea of busted up shards of damaged goods. Translation: sort your shit out first.

The Rabbit Hole

Let’s make a few things clear, drifting into a vacuous swiping trance where you consume and dispose of humans based solely on their external features is fucked up. This seemingly harmless human fidget spinner is likely cultivating destructive neural pathways and permanently changing the way we relate to our fellow earthlings. Is there a subconscious ego boost you get from rejecting others? The reality here is that those people are not necessarily even an option for you, not in real life, but on that screen in that moment they are. I’ll left swipe a guy for being prettier than me any day, but would I refuse to give him my number if we met at the local dog park? Not likely. The culture of these apps sells a sick fairytale scenario in which prince charming picks through the bevy of distressed and horny damsels glued to their screens craving the dopamine surge of a mutual ‘like’. The more thought I give this, the less confident I am it can be done ethically and consciously, the rest of this series might be short.

Breeding the Keyboard Warriors

“But going up to someone in public is too hard…” be sure to say this sentence in your head with the whiny apathetic tone you know it deserves.  This evolution in courtship has taken face-to-face rejection out of the equation. There is no more “sorry, I have a boyfriend”, “don’t touch what you can’t afford” or whatever other charming jabs these man-children were scarred by in their teenage years and have yet to get over. Yes, a higher proportion of people using online dating are single than in your average bar and ghosting online is far less traumatizing (but also easier to dish out guilt-free) than face-to-face avoidance. This safety net though has produced an ever-increasing gutless demographic in often already xenophobic cities (I’m looking at you Vancouver). Barring mutual friends or some major extenuating circumstance the keyboard warriors flat out will not approach potential partners in real life, a legitimate tragedy. What you see is not what you get with hardened online daters and they typically vanish back down the warm, cozy rabbit hole at the first sign of a challenge.

Still Keen?

So you still want to plunge into the depths of swiping hell? A lifestyle riddled with thumb cramps, blue light-induced headaches and chronic low cell battery warnings. Can you do this without degrading into an ego-centric piece of shit? I couldn’t, but if you have faith let’s proceed…

TBC in part 2

Enlightenment is Expensive

 

Dress your ego in deities and sacred geometry,

How many malas can you pray with at once?

Maybe your outside can convince your inside,

now you buy crystals instead of diamonds

 

 

 

 

-Opening of my 2017 publication ‘Trading Diamonds for Crystals’

Unconditional Love (Yeah, I went to see Ram Dass again…)

This is my first blog attempt since my second Ram Dass retreat in Maui wrapped last week.  Some things need time to brew, to age, to cure. Faith, attachment and love were my themes this time. There were confronting, confusing and intimidating messages for me this time around. Faith was cemented and lines were drawn, no more camping out at the edge of the diving board. 

My time since the spring retreat had been dedicated to one attachment after the other. A slow crawl towards the freedom I promised myself but always keeping a tether, always a safety net, always an excuse. The formal ‘teacher on stage’ teachings were not what cracked me open this time, it was behind the scenes. The ‘big maharaji’ was there, teaching us like he used to teach them back in India. There were tests before the retreat, the passing of my grandmother the week before was not just timely coincidence, nor was the flat tire on the rental car the day I left. There was magic too, unexplainable magic and synchronicity. 

  I thought we had a strong satsang going into this, but in there it exploded into an intense web of what can only be labelled love. I am unable to wrap my head around how the recipe came together, it was just one of those miracles. Collecting all those souls there at that one time, with such clear messages and treasures for those who took the time to look. So many messages in so many mirrors, like little looking ponds showing us our strengths and our flaws but most of all reflecting love.

Krishna Das talks on one of his podcasts about us seeking a certain sweetness. A sweetness that isn’t dependent on how the rest of the world is treating you. I think I’ve found it, and it wasn’t on the diving board.

Time to Let Them Go

Even the most positive changes can be scary.  Scary for you, and also scary for those you bonded with over mutual flaws. Misery loves company.  Misery wants you to come out for a cigarette and a bitchy gossip session, maybe some negative self-talk while you are at it. Misery doesn’t like being left behind in a cycle of suffering while you sail off into the sunset.

When you take the plunge, quit the job you hated, start a regular positive habit, give up binge drinking, whatever it is, you are demonstrating strength, control and capture of your own potential. Bad habits are hard to break and comfort is hard to leave, particularly if anyone is pulling you back.  Seeing real, tangible changes in you is a direct threat to the story these people tell themselves.  Suddenly their excuses are not valid.  If you can do it, they can do it and that scares the shit out of them. There is a chance the girl you spent the past two years whining about your evil boss with at the reception desk will be less than amped up about your new lease on life.  On the other hand, you might light her fire and end up in the same yoga class in Costa Rica six months later!

When is it time to pull back from someone? Any resistance to positive changes or inability to ‘be happy for you’ should be a red flag.  If your happiness causes distress, irritation, jealousy or sadness in anyone around you that can truly stunt your growth.  Wistful desire for ‘the old you’  or constant recollections from a past you are no longer proud of and no longer represents you is disabling. Anyone who dwells solely and stubbornly in your past is unlikely to contribute positively to your future.

Friendships come and go, so do romantic relationships and sometimes family bonds. You can lead by example but you cant hold hands that do not want to be held. If you let them go the right ones will always come back to you as the old saying goes. For you though, there is now potential to supercharge your life by infusing it with people who set the bar higher.  Something happens when you take control and change.  Your vibration changes, your frequency changes and you start to attract and lock in with people existing on those planes. That stagnant, toxic space and the people that are happy to stay there are no longer yours or for you.

The Emotional Rollercoaster of a Ten Day Vipassana Course Squished into a Five Minute Blog

Entry Day

“So how did you end up in here?”

The registration room sounds like a scene from Orange is the New Black, more divorces and less violent crime though.

Day 1

No mantras, no metta, no visuals, no guru, no chanting, no yoga. Just the air passing over my nostrils and upper lip, okay.

Day 2

Why is that woman picking all the almonds out of the muesli, and what kind of sociopath washes dishes like that?!

Day 3

We haven’t even started the Vipassana part yet? Fuck.

Day 4

This isn’t meditation. Meditation is bliss and vibrations and warmth and love. This is torture and I hate everyone who encouraged me to do this.

Day 5

The giggles.

Day 6

Why was the gong going off all night and who was cooking bacon outside my window?

Day 7

This is definitely not for me… but I got this far, and you cant go home on day 7. Can you?

Day 8

Alert! There is LSD in the fruit salad, warn the others! I repeat, there is LSD in the fruit salad.

Day 9

Every flower and fruit and seed is just a lesson in impermanence… *stares at tree for 45 minutes*

Day 10

Now that noble silence is lifted and the LSD effect has worn off, get me the fuck out of here.

I am however, comforted to hear I wasn’t the only one having bacon hallucinations.

Departure Day

I wonder if I can find a massage place that will let me drink lattes through a straw in the face-hole of the massage bed…

Psychedelics- a love letter

Modern consciousness is sleeping.  It is sleeping in a dark, unfamiliar, un mapped room likely with a thick layer of dust over it. A room with no lamps, light switches or matches and plenty of things to trip up on. It has been left in there, a vestigial organ no longer required for your 9-5 life-cycle. If lucky, psychedelics show themselves to you as a little shard of light shooting through the crack under the door. Potential illumination.

For some people and with some substances that door gets blasted open in round one with blinding, shattering light and never shuts again. This happens, rarely but it happens, please tread lightly at first. Others like the light so much they keep going back repeatedly, trying to keep the room permanently illuminated. They cannot manage in the darkness anymore.

These experiences become productive when we make the most of that illumination. Flood some light in, look around, admire your surroundings internal and external and start to explore, map some of it out. Bask in these experiences, as they let you see the beauty presenting itself to us every day and going unnoticed. Take the enlightenment from these fleeting moments to help you find your way forward, even in the darkest nights.

Pre-Vipassana Terror

In four hours I am entering into my first ten day Vipassana meditation and the panic has begun!

I don’t like being uncomfortable. I hate cardio, I hate itchy sweaters and wherever I am is either too warm or too cold. I know I have plenty of work to do in the self-discipline/willpower/mental stamina department. If I have any opportunity to escape even mild inconvenience or irritance I will do so without hesitation! ‘Toughing it out’ is not my thing.
So what possessed me to sign up for ten days of silent meditation in the middle of winter in the frigid Blue Mountains of Australia? Up at four each morning, nine hours of sitting meditation per day, no reading, no writing, no technology, no eye contact and a conservative vegetarian diet. The website even refers to the quarters as ‘meditation cells’ not sure what kind of PR person approved that phrasing for the website…
Vipassana is also called ‘insight meditation’. I want to be challenged physically, mentally and forced inward to take a good, hard look at all that vile shit I have spent my entire life trying to repress and veneer. Hopefully chip away at that nice thick ego facade a little more. I am not surprised this processing has started even now, I am already questioning myself, criticising myself. Am I doing this just for my gross ‘spiritual resume’? Am I trying to avoid the reality of my new life (I should maybe mention I left my stable well-paid corporate gig last week and put all my possessions in storage yesterday, that is a whole other blog though).
I can be particularly unbearable when I haven’t had coffee or when I am hungry and cannot imagine how I will even get out of bed at 4am without the promise of a latte.
I will be cut off from every person I know for ten full days. I am spoiled to have relationships with the most beautiful people in this incarnation that anyone could ever ask for and not being able to reach out to them may be my biggest battle of all. That or the coffee…

Details for the centre I am attending can be found at http://www.bhumi.dhamma.org/

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