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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’

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…

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/

Spiritual Travel

Is it necessary to ‘eat, pray, love’ yourself around the globe?

The idea of going away to find yourself is romantic and age-old.  For me, this conjures up images of ashrams and jungles and relaxed, sun-damaged divorcee’s.  It used to make me think of gap years, Contiki tours and vomit-stained backpacks so I guess I’m getting older.  Can we really run away and find ourselves? We know that our true self lies within (and all that other bullshit people who spent 3 life-changing years in India tell us).  I cant help but feel like they want to keep us out to keep it pure, hoping the stories of violent dysentery will equate to at least one less white girl with henna waiting in line for darshan next spring.

Is my desire to go to India just my ego demanding some kind of grotesque spiritual brownie points?  Is it my desire to maintain the utmost respect and authenticity telling me to go to Peru to take Ayahuasca, or is it just pathetic hipster snobbery turning my nose up at taking it here in Australia? My theory is that spiritual travel might be like a long, drawn out psychedelic experience.  Things look different, the air smells different and things have a certain magic and that feeling of untapped potential. Travel, in general, can give you all of this and we never want to go home just like we never want to come down. Imprinting this awe into our psyche and taking home the unshakable memory of each day’s true potential might be what we need sometimes.  LSD reminds you how great clouds are and the gurus remind you what love is.  It is what you do with this knowledge that counts though, because we all need to go home and chances are there will be some abandoned baggage patiently awaiting your return.

 

I’ve got 99 problems and Jesus is one of them

I am not a fan of Jesus.
Few things make me more uncomfortable than seeing Jesus on a puja table next to some fantastic deity or guru. Neem Karoli Baba loved Jesus, what is my fucking problem?
I went to church this past Easter. It had been at least 5 years, likely more since I last attended a service. I was spending the long weekend away with friends who worship on the holidays, so I went with it. I was fuelled a little bit by hope, but to be honest the dominant driving force was morbid curiosity.
“Buddha is dead, Muhammed is dead, but Jesus is alive!”
After the disappointment of not bursting into flames when entering the church THIS is what I was dealing with. Alongside some wild statements about Darwin looking for but never finding Jesus’ bones of course.
By the end my blood was boiling.
I desperately wanted to rush up to this pastor and tell him about Buddha, ask how he dare belittle the faith of others and most importantly give him a lecture on the fossil record. Is this how Muslims feel when they see an ISIS video?
Poor Jesus though right?! He is just another enlightened being like Buddha who happened to take that human incarnation. Still, even after sitting with this insight, I see the Bible as an instrument of self-righteous justification waved in the air by biggots and hypocrites. That is my honest, gut reaction despite three childhood summers spent at a super-hip bible camp with canoes and a zip-line.
Is what I see just Jesus the ego, projected from a lost band of followers and not Jesus the soul? I want to see past it, I want to dig into what those kind, loving Christians see, without the god-fearing “strike down upon thee” part.
So much work to be done in this incarnation.

Coming down from the Ram Dass retreat

I didn’t know what to do after the retreat.
Watching little rays of unconditional love get carted away on shuttles that last day was sadness defined. Scanning the airport in a slightly desperate fashion for a familiar face or that blue lanyard.
There are no mala beads on this aeroplane.
How much of this do I get to take home? Where is my post-retreat glow? Did I fail, because I feel like shit?! I have attached myself to the retreat now, attachment is one of my ‘tails’ that Roshi Joan was talking about. I am not off to a good start.
I feel like our satsang is real but is it like leaving a job, proclaiming you will stay in touch but never do? I reactivated my Facebook account trying to reinforce the bonds, clinging…clinging. At least I am being mindful of my clinging, Jack Kornfield would be proud. Facebook gave me two options when I signed back on ‘continue’ or ‘not you?’ great question Zuckerberg. How long will it take to explain to my ex mother-in-law about the Indian man in the blanket? Fuck.
It’s about integration though right? We can’t delete our lives and start again, we need to sculpt and re-work the old one into something worthy of us. Throwing out some comfortable old poison looks inevitable now though.
In Be Here Now, RD describes how those at Harvard taking the Psylocin all began sitting together at lunch, forming a ‘cult’. Who am I going to sit with when I get home? I don’t want to hear about reality TV, or your stupid job you hate or even worse, how much money you make at your stupid job that you hate. Love them unconditionally? I don’t know about everyone else, but my day-to-day interactions are generally not with blossoming retreat lotuses, they more closely resemble Duncan’s “forest of cunts”. What you see in those around you are simply reflections of yourself though aren’t they?
Right now Bali sounds good, or Peru or India if I can muster the courage. Can I go back to Maui or is that cheating? How do I tell if I am legitimately searching or just running away?
Always more questions than answers.

Buddhism for Road Rage and Rejection (and assholes)

Patience, tolerance, love and compassion for all beings. Is there anything more difficult? Setting aside the extremes of human atrocities which I cannot fathom having love for, how do we apply these to the daily irritants of our modern western lives?
The girl looking at her phone and driving too fast, the relationship that promised the world and let you down or just the classic asshole. I understand I am not an instrument of karma, it is not my right to judge or punish other beings. Where is the line though? Where do we sit between accepting all others with unconditional love, versus making the world a better place by refusing behaviour destructive to the greater good?
Compassion I can handle. The girl might be rushing and texting because she is late for an exam because her dog just died! I can fathom that possibility, I can tolerate that and sell myself that story. If she flattens a toddler at the next crossing though, I’m going to wish I honked at her!
Loving someone who rejects you, is not what your ego wants. Your ego wants to kick and scream and shout names and make excuses. This may just be suffering we need to take on and allow to shape us. We won’t always get answers here and we may need to sit with not knowing. Choosing to forgive and choosing to allow yourself to be hurt again can seem too close for comfort here.
As for the assholes, I do believe offering love towards those you dislike is a strong practice that can yield some genuine changes in relationships and behaviour. I have tried this and I have faith in this, but as with anything there is no one hundred percent success rate. There will be pain in having your unconditional love rejected, particularly if you feel that person may not be the most worthy to begin with. People who reject love though, now that is another level of suffering.

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