90 Second Tantrum

Hey Soulmate,

I just had a tantrum at IKEA. Don’t worry, I made it to the car before I started screaming and crying and then laughing at what seemed to be happening to me or through or me. It only lasted 90 seconds and then I felt silly, a little pouty, and then I forgot about it. According to my hero, most-watched TED talker, and Neuroanatomist, Jill Bolte-Taylor, 90 seconds is all it takes to let a mini-emotional storm pass through.

When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90 second chemical process that happens in the body; after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop. Something happens in the external world and chemicals are flushed through your body which puts it on full alert. For those chemicals to totally flush out of the body it takes less than 90 seconds. This means that for 90 seconds you can watch the process happening, you can feel it happening, and then you can watch it go away. After that, if you continue to feel fear, anger, and so on, you need to look at the thoughts that you’re thinking that are re-stimulating the circuitry that is resulting in you having this physiological response over and over again.” – Jill Bolte-Taylor

https://i0.wp.com/cf.mp-cdn.net/ba/3c/cfa57ade75047e39ec06ee14a3f1-is-art-the-language-of-emotions.jpg

Imagine what the DMV and IKEA might look like if we all took 90 seconds to honor our emotional reactions to whatever nonsense we are experiencing. It would look super weird and funny, much like a loony-bin I imagine,  but I wonder how it might impact our overall experience. Instead of waiting for the pressure to build and then freaking out on our loved ones or waiting for our hour of therapy, everywhere becomes a spiritual center. You don’t have to go to Bali or India, getting a traffic ticket will do.

I’ve been around babies a bit lately and watching their face is like watching a Doppler weather map where clouds, sun, rain, and snow are simultaneously flitting across the screen. They are little emotional weather systems. What is telling is how we react. We can know, for a fact, that all their needs are being met but when a baby cries it feels like a personal affront to the knight inside. “I must make it stop by any means necessary!” I have a theory that we remain a multifaceted weather system but instead of allowing the weather we build a biosphere around ourselves.

(I just googled “emotional weather system” and found this! EmoFlux is a system by artist Gil Park that visualizes the emotional flow as a weather pattern. It allows the audience to see the emotional circulation and distribution across the country and the neighborhoods that they live in.)

Soulmate, I don’t want you to think I am “crazy” or “drama”, god forbid I lose control (which I am actively seeking btw), but I have to be honest that at times there will be tantrums. There will be times when energy runs through me at every temperature and all I need are a few minutes to allow it, instead of judge it. It will probably be super helpful if you don’t judge it either but listen, you be you. I just wanted to let you know in case you needed a little permission to feel too.

Love, Me

90 Second Tantrum

The Pantless Pioneer

Hey Soulmate,

How are you at receiving? How do you feel when you receive a ton of attention, money, love, and pleasure? I think the muscle is the same regardless of the medium. I ask because, until recently, I was terrible at it. Unconsciously I believed receiving was self-indulgent and selfish. Any reference to “self” elicited a feeling of disgust. I had no idea I was receiving-challenged until I was a walking experience of disconnection that judged other people for not being what I wanted. They didn’t “resonate” with me. Nothing and no one was ever good enough.

Sebastian Eriksson is an 18-year-old up and coming surrealist artist living in Sweden. Not only is his artwork amazing, it's extremely thought-provoking as he adds descriptions of how his pieces relate to his life.
Sebastian Eriksson, mymodernmet.com
So on a 1-10 scale of receiving, I was probably a 1, a 1 being someone who is completely in their head, disconnected from their body,  blaming everything and everyone else, resentful, and absolutely positive nothing will ever be enough.
Then I met a few “10s”, those seemingly mythical unicorns that experience their life as an interactive video game they enjoy co-creating with the universe. I was the Little Mermaid stuck under the sea looking at bad asses with legs. Let’s say a “10” on the receiving scale is someone who is wide open, knows they are inherently worthy of success, and realizing ALL their dreams and desires. A “10” is likely authentic, playful, confident, feels loving no matter what, and experiences their entire body as a sensual organ. They might receive 1,000 birthday messages on Facebook and only feel grateful. They give of their own abundance. It turns them on to give, not because something is owed or feeding some idea of “being good”, but just because it just feels good to them. Where are you at you think?

I learned the quickest way to diagnose your level of receptivity is to look at your behavior in the bedroom. For example, how are you are at asking for what you want and receiving pleasure? How vulnerable do you allow yourself to be? It was during a shoot for TIME Magazine where I was filming Nicole Daedone, Author of Slow Sex and Founder of One Taste, that I started to wake up to the barriers I had unknowingly built against connection and pleasure. She was teaching a room full of people (I first judged as pathetic) about the value of female orgasm, how it works, and the sense of connection it brings to both sexes through a practice called Orgasmic Meditation. “In this practice,” she said “a woman is stroked very, very lightly on the upper left hand quadrant of her clitoris by a partner for 15 minutes. Her only job is to focus on the point of connection between his finger and her clitoris and melt into the floor. There is no goal, nowhere to get to, just melt and let everything go. Sink deeply into that floor.” Whaaa? I was freaking out. Some 16th Century part of my brain was screaming “selfish, lazy, witch!” but in the same held breath my body was punching me from the inside panting, “pay attention!”

After the initial judgment and panic I started to reflect on my experience. Like everything else in my twenties my sex life was to be an achievement. It was often rare, disconnected, fast, confusing and with the hottest guy in the room. “Is this good? Is this it? Are you my soulmate? Too long on me, it’s your turn. How do I look? What are you feeling?” After a few seconds of receiving I had this default response of overwhelm, guilt, and obligation. I might as well have been writing, directing, and producing the movie of every hookup, because it was all happening in my head. No wonder I thought I couldn’t have an orgasm.

So, Soulmate, I suppose now is as good a time as any to confess that I practice something called Orgasmic Meditation (OM). I have one OM partner and no we haven’t ever hooked up. He stays clothed. I keep my shirt on. There is no penetration and at the end we both share a “frame”, a moment of sensation happening in our own body. This practice has not only helped me start to heal a few centuries of thick conditioning around sex, learn how to ask for what I want, recognize the power of sexuality as a force for spiritual growth, and forgive men for not knowing how a woman’s orgasm works, it has also taught me how to get out of my head and into my body* (a primary factor I’m discovering for fulfillment). In one OM session I felt like a thick layer of paint was removed from my entire upper body, leaving a new layer of skin, raw and alive. I know it sounds super weird and it kind of is at first but consider it a much better option to me getting hammered at a bar to find someone to fulfill my touch quota. Being single has sometimes meant years without being touched by someone I didn’t pay (like a massage therapist). That isn’t right.

reaching for each other…
“Dialog” – Rudolf Bonvie, 13 Fotografien, 1973
Touch, I believe, is a basic human need. Meaningful and intentional, sober and conscious touch is a whole other ball game. In order to allow myself to receive touch (and now money, joy, freedom, etc.), I’ve had to burn through some pretty mean layers of conditioning and self-judgment. I am happy to report I am no longer a level 1 on the receiving scale and orgasm is much, much more than a fleeting moment of climax. Soulmate, no matter where you are on the receiving scale,I look forward to discovering our “10” together. In this very moment, I wish for you to experience the electrifying, skin-quaking, rush of knowing you are not a battery that oscillates between full and empty, you are the charge itself. Female orgasm really is like exploring an entirely new continent, rife with the connection we all seek, and only now being explored. Consider me a brave pioneer (not wearing any pants).

Love, Me

Ps. Here is Nicole’s TEDx talk if you are curious to learn more. 

The Pantless Pioneer

I Am Single Because…

Hey Soulmate,

Isn’t it wild how we tell ourselves stories that aren’t true ALL the time? An anthropologist friend just called it “constructing meaning.” I feel like the ego thinks its’ full time job is to write our lives into after-school specials for Lifetime. I find this especially true when it comes to the stories women (and their friends and their Mothers) tell themselves about being single. What is even more sad-funny is that newly spiritual women (ahem, yours truly) can come up with even more nuanced and often contradictory stories like…

I am single because…

  1. I am special.

I am sooooo special and whomever is meant to match me must be equal in their specialness, thus, they are rare but oh so worth the wait.

  1. I am not special enough.

There must be something wrong with me. It has been forever. I am too picky, want too much, am too intense, too transparent, etc.

  1. I am on a serious mission (to save the world) and men are just a distraction.

Who needs a man? I have very important work here to do. Maybe when the job is done…

  1. Men are emotionally retarded (I apologize for the use of this word but it is appropriately word-knifey for this limiting belief)

Men are wholly unaware of themselves, can’t articulate their thoughts or feelings, and are only interested in preserving their ego, playing video games, and being admired by young women who don’t challenge them.

  1. I like being alone.

It is too late. I sleep splayed out in an X that covers the entire bed. I am a blast, have an incredible crew, and can always have younger lovers.

  1. I need to heal.

If I haven’t met my soulmate yet then it must mean I have some unresolved issue to heal. It is my karma or spiritual curriculum or whatever. Once I heal “x” then he will appear.

  1. I need to lose weight, dress sluttier, drink more or less, and do “Calling in The One”, etc.

If I “do” one more thing then it will happen.

  1. First, I need to be in a healthy relationship with myself.

Am I taking care of myself? Loving myself? Oh, “not enough”, well that’s why he isn’t here yet.

  1. God has abandoned me.

I have been single for so long I am clearly being punished by God for something I did in this lifetime or another.

  1. I need to heal the collective feminine and masculine.

Jeez. (See #3)
When I bought into these stories as truth it was torture. Each story served as a belief prison of my own construction that caused serious suffering. Now I can look at this list with wincing amusement. The truth “I am single” is just a neutral fact. No story necessary. Instead of just feeling lonely, when I felt lonely, I made up a story about it and spent days or weeks or even years spinning a tale that gave my mind a chew toy.

Loneliness is just energy if we don’t tell a story about it. Easier said than done I know. Who the F knows why we remain single? To imagine that God is some “bubbe” (Jewish Grandmother) in the sky waiting till just the right moment to initiate the perfect Tinder moment or dinner party intro, is hilarious. Another story that feels really true is that this loneliness has served me. It has led me to get to know the inner recesses of my mind and heart and body in a way that I could have never imagined. My loneliness guided me home to myself. Is it true? Maybe, maybe not. Does it matter? No.

I Am Single Because…

Hot Tub of Heroin

Hey Soulmate,

I feel like a giggling kid high on laughing gas. I have an awkward smile on my face and my eyes are pointed sideways and upward like, “Can you see it? Can you feel it?” I think this is bliss. The thing that, somewhat abused but totally true, Joseph Campbell quote is going on about. It is soft and subtle and full. I wish I could put it in a syringe and shoot you up with it. Imagine yourself as a baby just floating in a sea of gooey placenta, no wait, a warm hot tub of heroin. Whatever, just imagine yourself in a state of complete surrender, no wanting or needing or thinking. Pure being. As babies in utero we don’t even have to think of eating or going to the bathroom. It’s all handled. An unknown science-magic has got this. It is kind of like that. The ego doesn’t disappear, it just kind of goes on mute. Road rage can still flare up but it only lasts a second and then everything returns to this feeling of floating. It is kind of hilarious and goes like this:

  • Blissful floaty feeling
  • Thought bubble: “Shouldn’t I be doing something?”
  • Answer: “Sure or Not. Both are the same.”
  • Confused, neutral, shrug
  • Blissful floaty feeling
  • Thought bubble: “Is this going to last forever?”
  • Answer: “Maybe. Probably not. Does it matter?”
  • Baffled eyebrow shrug
  • Blissful floaty feeling

I feel like I am learning to swim again. I am learning to swim in a world that isn’t broken and my responsibility to fix. It doesn’t mean I don’t care, I do. It just means my ego doesn’t have to invent a life where it will “save the day.” I am learning to swim without ambition to prove my worth. I am learning to swim from an alternative energy source. I can’t explain it really but I know that this feels awesome! I want to give you some (but I don’t have to, you already have it!) I recognize the insane luxury of these thoughts. I can’t make sense of “why” but it doesn’t matter. I would love to share this high with you but I don’t need you, or anyone, or anything, to experience it. It just is. I thought all these new age people were lame and nuts but I’m telling you there is something to this stuff. Judging self-love is the ego’s way of keeping you its’ slave.

Ps. I watch a lot of movies. It was kind of my church growing up. We made a game of checking the movie times and racing to the theater to see if we could make it just in time. So just in case you aren’t a movie person I’ve compiled a handy list for you. The ones at the bottom are pretty obvious and I have starred the ones that would be fun to watch together. x

Flight of the Navigator

Legend

The Mosquito Coast

Dune*

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Amandla! Revolution in Four Part Harmony

Memento

Dr. Strangelove*

Being There*

Pi*

Y Tu Mama Tambien

Street Fight

Force Majeure*

Point & Shoot*

12 Angry Men

Network

War Games

Last of the Mohicans

Shakespeare in Love*

Goonies

Terminator 2

Little Mermaid

Finding Nemo

Toy Story

Hot Tub of Heroin

I’m Sorry

Hey Soulmate,

I just wanted to say I’m sorry. I have probably met you a few hundred times and just wasn’t ready to see you yet. I confess I likely judged the shit out of you. My bad. It wasn’t always conscious. I felt “nice” and “open” and you would have felt that too but underneath there was something else. A few years ago during my first few months studying Spiritual Psychology at the University of Santa Monica I stood up in front of 250 people and sheepishly said, “People are crying and feeling all these emotions and talking about their unworthiness and I feel the exact opposite. Well, I kind of feel better than…everybody.” (Insert Teeth gritting emoji) My teachers, in their infinite and loving wisdom, smiled knowingly, “‘Better than’ is just a protection, it is the other side of the same unworthiness coin.” Of course I felt disconnected and lonely, I was actively separating myself from everyone. Here I thought I was super skilled because I could choose to feel my feelings or not feel them. I now know this is called “spiritual bypass”. It works great in the film business where everyone is superior and no one takes time to feel anything (except in the movie theater, oh, the irony). I was productive and in business productivity is next to godliness. And then 7-10 years in people start burning out, getting depressed, and having existential crisis that show up as fatigue syndromes.  So I now know that whenever I feel unworthy or insecure I immediately overcompensate by judging others and making them less than or wrong. I see how it is just my ego’s Pavlovian response to preserve the myth of itself.

So, I apologize. My expectations have been titanic and mostly unfair. I haven’t taken responsibility for it until now. I have been looking for a soulmate to meet what felt like a bottomless longing. I set a trap for you. My theory is that this deep longing/needing/desire comes from the binary nature of the ego (this or that, black or white). Beyond duality, in my soul or whatever you want to call it, I am everything. In duality, I become the battle between good and evil tethered by the aching memory of being one with the universe. Soulmate, you can’t be the universe. Well, you can’t be my universe. No person or thing can ever satisfy the dual mind, at least not for long. Phew. Are you relieved? I know I am.

I apologize that I have blamed you for the current state of the world; ie. patriarchy and the biological underpinnings that often make communication and emotional expression a challenge for your gender. I see how hungry you are to be understood. I also see how counterproductive blame is. I am sorry I was too afraid to get vulnerable and tell you the truth of what I wanted or what I thought. I am sorry I played accomplice in propping up ridiculous male archetypes (See Force Majeure & Channing Tatum). I am sorry that in my fear and longing I chose pseudo overconfidence and righteousness instead of truth. What I meant to say was…

  • I love learning about you. I can ask you questions all night. Please feel free to ask me questions on a first date or in general. Curiosity is my favorite trait. When you talk non-stop about yourself I feel frustrated and confused and judge you as a narcissist.
  • I should have told you from the very beginning what felt good to my body. How could you have known? Our entire bodies are erogenous zones and when you go straight for the genitals I find myself trying to perform being turned on instead of actually being turned on. Foreplay isn’t optional (unless discussed ahead of time and preceded by naughty conversation or texts). Oh, and please never say, “flick the bean,” the clitoris deserves your utmost respect.
  • You’re vulnerability sometimes scares the shit out of me but please keep it coming no matter what. It is the greatest gift you can give to yourself, me, or anyone.
  • Opening doors, walking on the right, and paying for first dates is always optional but please know these acts make me feel soft and taken care of and deeply grateful to both you and your parents.
  • I love when you take charge and plan things from time to time. I have a tendency to take control so any opportunity to surrender and rest in my feminine is such a refreshing and sigh-worthy experience.
  • I can feel how sensitive you are and I know sometimes I can trigger you. I will do my best to get clear on what is going on inside of me. Are you willing to do the same? I’m here to support you.
  • Are you willing to hold for all of me? Being emotional doesn’t always have to be work. Let’s play with it! Ham up a whacky king to my cold blooded queen.

I’m sorry for all the mixed signals. Tie me up! Don’t tie me up! Gag me, but lovingly. The truth is I am just figuring out what I want. I’ve never really be honest enough with myself or valued myself enough to really inquire within. I think I was waiting for your permission. I’ve been inside the matrix of conditioning for 34 years and I am just starting to find my way out. I hope you can be patient with me.

Love, Me

I’m Sorry

Permission to Rage

Hey Soulmate,

I realize why I haven’t met you yet. I’m nervous to write this but I have faith you are willing to listen. Every now and then, I feel emotions I can’t explain. I sometimes feel like a radio tower tuning into different frequencies. Whether it is a primal wave moving through me or a reaction to a mediocre date, I recently discovered a sizable and strangely non-specific reservoir of pain and judgment against men. Actually, it is more than judgment. It is rage.

The moment after I felt the rage, I felt guilt. My Father and Ex are both remarkable, loving men and the few men after them never hurt me in any direct way. But here it is anyway and in my dogged pursuit of freedom via total transparency and authenticity I’m letting it come up and sharing it with you. In my guilt, I heard a voice in my head say, “men are just little boys doing the best they can to be a ‘man’ in a time when no one knows what that means.” Who am I to kick you? That isn’t very feminine. And you are just a little puppy underneath all that pretending and no good person kicks a puppy.

Let’s say hypothetically that you, or all men, in fact, were born the physically weaker sex. And in the beginning, beginning your primary function was to have babies and try desperately to keep them alive from the brutal elements of Earth. Your survival relied on the opposite sex to protect you from other invading men who would try to kill you or your children and take your stuff. Then a book is written by men, that literally all men read (you can’t read), that tells you that you are actually just an extension of the opposite sex and your value is equal to what they say it is and especially in the eyes of this new idea being tossed around of a monotheistic “God”. The written word, across all religious texts translated by men, dictates specific rules about what you can wear, whom you can wed, how you can worship, and what your purpose is (which is to serve the other sex). There is a sense of progress because religious shame and brutal punishment stems a bit of the raping and stealing but still, your primary function is to be a virgin and find a man who will bring you protection, wealth, and perceived power. This leads to a few thousand years of brutality where men are fighting wars everywhere in the name of family, God, and country. You begin to play more of a role here in the higher ranks, very Lady Macbeth, in pursuit of power. But the power is never truly yours. It is always your mate’s, and if you get too proud your head will likely be severed from your neck. There was also a period where you were burned alive, like a lot, because the opposite sex claimed to actually be God. And then came the age of reason (Woo-hoo!), a time when some reasonable men thought you had your own inherent value and others made very “intelligent” arguments for why you were still the weaker sex only here to serve them. But education was on the rise and ideas were viral and you soon had had enough with the current state of affairs. You rallied together, even while getting beaten, and stood up for what you knew was right. You demanded to be heard, to be seen as equal and so you were. The End. Just kidding. It was just the beginning.

Just as it wasn’t our fault we were oppressed for thousands of years during a reign of patriarchy, it also wasn’t your fault that you played the role of oppressor. It just IS.

So now what? Have we evolved past our primal instincts enough to become aware of and consciously choose what drives our behavior? What is emotional responsibility and how can we take it? What does “manhood” even mean now? We are babies in the evolution of gender equality and we are acting like it. Between #gamergate and #shirtgate, the Internet served as an aggressive platform for punishment. A few women used it to express their long overdue exasperation at insidious sexism, other women chose to tear those women apart, and teenage boys threatened to rape them all.

Source: @TreyRatcliff
Source: Embrace by The Pier Group Photo from @TreyRatcliff

Soulmate, I guess what I am asking is, can we talk about it? I think keeping my mouth shut only dishonors us both. If you say yes it scares the shit out of me. I can’t imagine anything more vulnerable. Can I express this rage without you hardening your heart? That is the opposite of what I want. In truth, I think underneath this rage is all the infinite patience and loving acceptance we both long for. Is it cool (and safe) for me to express it? I don’t think it would last long and, and in actuality, it really has nothing to do with you (specifically). It is just an emotion, neutral until aimed and fired. If it meant freedom for both of us, could you just listen or maybe even hold this pillow while I’m whacking it with my fists? I’ll hold the pillow for you. I want to hold for the healthy expression of your rage too. Perhaps manhood (and womanhood) is the brave and healthy expression of every emotion, even one as frightening as rage. Come on! Let’s take turns freaking out on a bouncy castle.

– Bristol Baughan

Permission to Rage

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