The Reign of Mind is Over

Hey Soulmate,

The Escape: Guide to Big Sur
Harpersbazaar.com

Something changed these past few weeks. I got bored with my mind. It feels like the final baton hand-off from my head to my heart. The reign of mind is over. Phew. I’ve been trying to figure it all out. The big IT, ie. what is it all about? Who are we and why are we here? I thought that if I could figure that out then I could finally relax and just be. Be ok with the world as it is. Only then could I really play. The baton pass was catalyzed two weekends ago at the end of the spiritual seeker rainbow, the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA. It was there in the 1970s that Huxley, Maslow, Leonard, Murphy and others gave the finger to conventional society and explored the big IT at every level. I was there for a weekend retreat called The Return, led by the Founder of Esalen’s son and healer in his own right Mac Murphy and Zach Bell, an experience maker and entrepreneur. Together they are curating a conversation around the next chapter of the Human Potential Movement. It was magical and idyllic and hot springs full of naked people.

One morning we went on a guided hike into a canyon where our guide, imagine Hemingway goes to Burning Man, placed each of us in a “special spot” under the trees to meditate and write on the question, “How can community support our individuality?” The first ten minutes of my hour meditation was spent paralyzed by a voice inside my head pressuring me to, “BE PROFOUND!”

Then I gave up and wrote:

Huxley at Esalen

“You call this a “special spot”? Pfff. This spot is a mound of dirt and I can feel rocks poking me in the ass. This spot is right on the path with loud hikers and two kids shooting a sling shot. Is that a freeway I hear? This is not the spot I imagined. I’d like an aesthetically pleasing spot that really inspires reflection and truth please. A picturesque spot I can Instagram #unfiltered. The perfect spot would be completely private and covered in soft, plush, bug-free moss. Nature’s mattress without the pea. In this spot I could rest, quiet the mind, take off all my masks, and be free. But not this spot. No, definitely not this one. I want a luxurious pain-free spot with occasional back-rubs and a view of the ocean. In that spot I’ll find enlightenment and total freedom. In that spot I will no longer care about what spot I’ve been assigned! Who says I need to take what I’ve been given, fuck that! I deserve a better spot. There is a spot by the river where someone just left. Maybe I should take her spot. Can I ask for another spot? If I tell you I want another spot you will judge me as superficial and spiritually retarded. You will tell me I am suffering from victim consciousness and tell me to leave and demand I find another spot elsewhere. Then, I’ll be alone. (Tiny pause) Wait, who are you to tell ME upon which spot I should sit? Do you know who I am?! You have no idea the badass spots I’ve sat in. The spots I have seen. Wow, such incredible, mind-blowing spots. How lucky I’ve been. Ugh, you are right, I should just appreciate the spot I’m in. I’m being an asshole. Listen to that creek you selfish little brat. Suck it up and be grateful for this spot. I probably don’t deserve it. Who complains in a glorious cathedral of ancient trees? I wish I could tear this part out, the part for which no spot is ever good enough. Wait, do you smell that? It smells like pancakes! Whaaat? Where are the pancakes? I’m in the woods! The smell of pancakes and a perfect sunbeam hitting the green leaves to my immediate right. This spot rocks!”

Once I allowed the mind to swing from one extreme to the other, I was able to break from the rabbitty mind fuck of ego/judgement itself. Ugh. I’m exhausted. I could smoke the proverbial cigarette. Ha. The idea that one spot is greater or lesser, a five star portal to freedom. As I sat in the space just outside the mind spin I could feel the undercurrent of fear fueling it. The tension of deep longing to connect completely to you Soulmate, to community, to God and the equal terror of losing my perceived “special-ness”, my individuality, my me-ness. And under that of course is the fear of death and a sweet layer of grief that is worried that if I’m not special and no special soul remains, then there is nothing left of my father. He wouldn’t be special either. And that I can’t abide.

In the end, Soulmate, who the F knows? Who knows the answer to the big IT? So sweet (and intense) is the mind’s longing to figure it out, to beat the video game. To be both player and played. To be both breather and breath. I like to fantasize that once we die we wake up in a rad realm laughing at all the things we believed over here. There we can project any character we have played throughout our many lifetimes and feel connection in dimensions beyond what our human mind is capable of perceiving.  For now, I’m going to go see about the pancakes.

Love, B

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The Reign of Mind is Over

This Isn’t About You

Hey Soulmate,

I feel soooo much better. Thanks for letting me have my little ragey, righteous rants last week (not that you had much choice). Immediately after I pressed “upload” my adrenaline started pumping and my rigid, aching, pseudo-confidence transformed into self-loathing. “Really? You need to have your little tantrum on the intgoslingernet? You are such a navel gazing, white privileged, whiny princess. No one cares! No one wants to hear your rage or your righteousness. Shut the fuck up!” I watched my inner General (we go way back) attack my Righteous Terrorist and observed how that created a perfect cycle of mind violence. I observed how some friends grimaced and tiptoed around me, a few men offered to “help/fix”, and mostly I received righteousness right back. Righteousness beget righteousness. Inside my own mind or out in the world, righteousness turns people into screaming, blindfolded babies headbutting each other. I recognized the point where I had to choose between being right and being free.

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 11.51.41 AM
Art by Susan Mrosek

But there was one friend who just checked in, without an agenda, and lovingly asked what I needed. She smiled at my Terrorist and my General and thanked me for being so honest. She acknowledged my emotional state as valid and loved me anyway. I surrendered immediately. I felt the pain under all of it. The pain of rejection and confusion around how to relate to men and the masculine parts of myself. We both laughed at how funny and entertaining our egos can get, master storytellers that they are. She didn’t try to positive psychologize me back into the light nor buy into the story I was telling. She just allowed all of me. She showed me how do it for myself. Soulmate, this is it! Sorry to get all new agey on you but the more I learn about freedom the more I know it has something to do with the radical acceptance of all the parts of ourselves, especially the nasty parts we have tried to abandon. Underneath any mask is a fleshy, vulnerable kid playing tough in floppy sleeved fatigues. What a relief it is to become more whole.

I had a moment the other day when I was genuinely grateful I hadn’t met you yet. I have had this thought before but this time it was visceral. I felt a rush of heat and tendrils of electricity move through my body as tears began streaming down my face. In that moment, I knew that there was no such thing as being alone. It was almost a laughable concept. Loneliness, that pain in the ass itch that lay beneath almost every thought and feeling I have had in the past has always been guiding me here, to moments like these when I can experience the truth. I am ALL of it and soulmates are everywhere. I mean, swipe right if you see me, but I know this isn’t really about you.

I have splisten-to-your-heart-or-mindent the last six years on a pilgrimage from my head into my heart. The distance often feels further than it appears. My 20s were spent in deep worship of the mind. Emotions were for lazy, selfish people who just didn’t know. I knew. I knew the world was broken and it was my job to fix it. I knew that hard work was the essence of being “good” and the only path to freedom. I was on fire and the world showered me with validation. It was beautiful for awhile. “Purpose” is it’s own drug. But there came a time when the marriage I made between my worth and my work started eating me alive. The energy and ambition that fueled me started to disappear and what was left was a chronic feeling of disconnection and loneliness. It suuuuucked. But it also forced me to slow down and investigate my operating system. What are the underlying assumptions I carry about why I am here (like on Earth)?  What code of beliefs am I running and what can I do about it? How can I be truly free?

Anywho, enough about me. What are you into?

This Isn’t About You

10 Easy Steps To Take Before You Screw The Secretary

Hey Soulmate,

Thanks for listening last week. I’ve been working on the rage stuff. Right under the rage I discovered RIGHTEOUSNESS (it likes to be in all caps). She is an ego aspect that is actually a little funny if you don’t let her scare you. Imagine a dark, icy, character that believes she is on an important mission to save the world from unconscious men. R4_V10D3_80813_CO3_PULLS_01rl_0045.tifShe is a bit of a terrorist or fundamentalist, like a crusading Christian with a god complex. She KNOWS she is right. And I thought rage was ugly. Oy. Righteousness is the worst and completely counter-productive. I can feel it burning me from the inside, putting pressure on my throat, and filtering all my thoughts and feelings to prove her right. She acts as a psychological shield to keep me from getting hurt. Underneath, I am completely vulnerable. But we can’t skip ahead! I know the righteousness won’t last and the more I try to “get rid” of something the more it tends to hang around. So in my intention of loving and accepting all the parts of myself, my righteous ice queen makes me want to write blogs like this…

Ten Easy Steps To Take Before You Screw The Secretary*

Listen, I get it. Monogamy shmogamy. There are biological instincts within the male mammal that demand the spreading of your seed, you know, the only titan seed in the Darwinian chain that will survive this impending environmental apocalypse. No need to be ashamed of wanting to screw the secretary, it is totally natural. The space between wanting and doing is larger than you might think! But just in case you are married, in a relationship, or a midlife crisis and have a functioning prefrontal cortex, I wanted to share some easy steps for how to avoid becoming a pathetic, masculine cliché:

  1. Talk To Your Wife/Girlfriend

Be brave and tell your wife you are feeling attracted to someone else. Tell her the details of your fantasies and how it makes you feel before, during, and after. Sit in the raw, honest truth and see if it doesn’t bring you closer (after some tears and possible screaming). See if her jealousy and your vulnerability can transmute your desire for another into something else. Try it.

  1. Experiment Sexually With Your Wife

Are there things you haven’t asked for in bed? Ask for them. Get vulnerable and open yourself up to the possibility that your wife is capable of things you haven’t imagined. Go into the unknown together. Get crazy and kinky and surprise yourself. You can hire intimacy coaches and sex therapists and take classes in Tantra together!

  1. See a Therapist

It is officially ok for men to know themselves deeply and hire a professional therapist. One hour a week or even a month could go a long way in understanding the motivation behind your behavior or the “spiritual” connection you feel to your hot 22-year-old secretary. Finding a good therapist is like dating! Meet one after another until you find someone who helps you see yourself anew. A good therapist will give you tools to heal any inter-generational patterns of cheating that Daddy or Grandaddy may have passed down or any pesky, ancient religious dogma that has you tortured. They will help you better understand what you are really looking for and how to heal from any judgments or sexual shame you carry with you.

  1. Talk to a Life Coach

Life Coaches are like junior therapists that will push you around a little. If you are more into sports analogies go for a life coach. If they have any depth they should be able to coach you into integrity with your wife/life.

  1. Try Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca is a very intense and sacred psychedelic plant out of the Amazon that is like doing many years of therapy in 1-2 nights. It is different for everyone and is likely to be a little like dying. It may lead to radical self-awareness and life changes that may, or may not, include your wife and secretary.

  1. Experiment Sexually With A Third

Sometimes the desire to spread that seed is just too great. Ask your wife or girlfriend for permission to bring the secretary (or someone from Tinder) into your bedroom. Can she watch? Can she participate somehow? Get creative! You can also discuss the possibility of an open relationship. Once you work through the initial social conditioning junk, what would freedom in relationship look like for the both of you?

  1. Write Your Obituary

Many have proposed the idea that men seeking younger women is a response to aging, loss of vitality, and fear of death. So do that. Feel your fear of death. There are great somatic therapy styles called Hakomi and The Grinberg Method where you can learn how to consciously move through fear instead of being unknowingly directed by it. (You can also do this work with a therapist and life coach)

  1. Join A Men’s Group

There is a growing movement of men supporting men in gaining an emotional education and greater self-awareness. Check out the Mankind Project or start your own!

  1. End The Relationship

If you have tried all of the above and it hasn’t opened you up to a new understanding of yourself and your relationship, or your partner is unwilling to play ball at all, then perhaps it is time to assess the overall health of your relationship. Or if you still must screw the secretary, be brave and end your relationship first.

  1. Screw The Secretary

It is always a choice.

*Obviously, women cheat too. Just replace secretary with boss and wife with husband when necessary. Also, check out the book Conscious Loving. (Just ignore the new agey cover.)

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10 Easy Steps To Take Before You Screw The Secretary

My Abused Inner Wannabe Wife

Hey Soulmate,
(I’m sitting in a coffee shop with brown boots and a little flowery dress just in case you are here). I have a confession and given you are my soulmate you will know it someday. When I turned 30 (a few years ago) I developed an out of control hunger for romance movies. Did you know that has you age, your palate and taste buds actually change? Well apparently my hormones changed like my taste buds and I was addicted to anything Nicholas Sparks and Masterpiece Theater. I have actually seen them all. I have seen EVERY ROMANCE MOVIE on Netflix and Amazon Prime, literally hundreds of them. I couldn’t get enough of English propriety, unrequited nonsense, and tragic endings. I call it Love Suffering. The body aching, mind-spinning, loin-titillating, heart-stomping, tear-producing, formulaic, anti-feminist, bullshit made me feel “alive” and sure that romantic love isn’t actually real but a false high like Diet Coke but the high was much, much better than the idea of staring into a mirror of mediocrity. Screen shot 2011-11-30 at 4.37I spent a few years watching them all and longing for you. I gave up on dating entirely and would MUCH rather spend a night in bed love suffering and cuddling up with the idea of you than with another idiot, Ok-Cupid curated man. It is really the definition of self-abuse but I couldn’t help it. But don’t worry Soulmate, I’m much better now. I mean I did go see Sparks’ latest film by myself a few weeks ago but I didn’t enjoy it. I think I’m officially in recovery from love suffering. It is funny to think I spent my entire 20s convinced I didn’t need a man and was in love with my job and then in my early 30s I was obsessed with Sense & Sensibility. I used to be really ashamed of this.findsomethingtodo

I mean it isn’t my fault that somewhere in my biology there is a part of me that still longs for a castle and driver and man with the ability to hang people or save them. Even though I am a staunch feminist I am discovering these very bazaar, old school, anti-feminist tendencies. I always thought I “should” be able to transcend girly day dreaming. When I was seven I wrote in my journal that I wanted to be a lawyer like Martin Luther King Jr. I was on a mission to save the world and didn’t have time for silly stuff like wedding collages and reality tv shows about dresses. I thought it was anti-feminist to fantasize about men and marriage. But of course this part of myself, this sweet, human, teeny-bopper part has been there in my unconscious all along. Tied up and gagged, my abused, inner wannabe wife was eating pints of Ben & Jerry’s Mint Chocolate Cookie and pointing my Amazon Prime arrow toward The Notebook. She was in there, insidious, like an undercover KGB agent poisoning the rest of my ego with stories of star-crossed lovers. But one day in the therapy chair I discovered her just under the love suffering and she hung her head in shame, knowing how much I despised her predilections for monarchy and sexy vampires. But here she was, revealed. I couldn’t force her back into my unconscious. She was young and bright eyed and believed in romantic love and soulmates and had Britannica length diaries of her longing.

theotherausten.tumblr.comAfter I judged her a bit longer I just allowed her to exist. She was a part of myself I had abandoned and was now struggling to own. As she re-joined the cast of characters in my consciousness I felt her innocence and her pain and I cried. Once I could just allow her to be, the crying stopped and the pain turned into energy and excitement. Would I really allow myself to dream? To buy wedding magazines and watch reality tv shows and think about bridesmaids dresses? Hell no! After much negotiation I decided I would allow myself a wedding dream Pinterest board. She squealed. Fine, I squealed. I found myself googling and collecting images of giant stone and maple cabins on farmland and long tables and dripping candles and different rooms with stringed trios and eclectic, curated experiences. Part party, part carnival, part masquerade and lots of Chuppahs — Soulmate, our future wedding is going to be the jam. – Bristol Baughan

My Abused Inner Wannabe Wife