The Good Guy

Today I woke up afraid that the life I found myself in might not be real, is it all too good to be true?

For the past five years that I’ve been living in Australia I have been dating. Online dating, speed dating, getting set-up by friends, dating people from social groups, you name him, and I’ve dated him.

A lot of the dates have been really fun, entertaining and if nothing else a great story to laugh about with my friends.

Most of the dates have been complete failures.

Recently, I met someone who completely broke the mould. He’s one-of-a-kind and completely unexpected. It’s as if everything I had ever wanted was rolled up in to one person in addition to all the things I didn’t even know I wanted.

I’ve never really had someone who was as interested in me as I was in them, who could meet my intensity and match it, even surpass it at times.

I was told I could be too much. I was told I was too picky. I was told a lot of things.

Maybe most of them were/are true, but it seems as though the things that were all the while preventing me from ‘meeting the right person’, have inevitably helped me to meet the best person for me.

 

It’s a dangerous thing to write this, it could all crumble apart in the next week or month, even hours if I’m feeling especially fatalistic, but I think it’s important to write how I am feeling now, not later when my ‘story’ has been more finalized in my head.

I wanted to write about how I feel, like I’m falling in love with the person I have been waiting for.

We can get caught up in all our losses. It’s our innate negative bias. All the dates that failed, the people who hurt us and the relationships that have failed.

Dating had become a huge burden in my life, a thing of dread, something I put on and off hold depending on how much energy I had.

Before I had even met him, I had decided he probably wouldn’t be a long-term person; he would just be for fun.

15 minutes in to the date, I realized I was wrong.

14 hours in to the date, I knew I really liked him.

Two weeks later, he started staying at my place.

6 weeks on and he’s quickly becoming a significant part of my life.

My company, my confidant and my friend.

No matter what happens, these moments of happiness are important. The feeling of falling in love is something we can’t force – so when we have the luxury of experiencing it, we need to be present.

Over the past six months I was present in my life for all the romances that have fallen apart. I sat with the sadness, the loneliness and the despair … and now I feel I owe it to myself to be present for something I have desired for so long.

For me it’s been love, but for you it might be something else.

Regardless of what is happening in our lives, we need to celebrate the good so when there is bad – maybe it won’t last as long.

Undone

Sometimes it is not the doing, but the undoing that takes the most effort or has the greatest impact.

Every day we go about our lives doing. We wake-up and do our exercise/fitness for the day, then we do our make-up or our morning routine, we do our work, we do our life admin, we do our extracurricular activities. Then we go to sleep and do it all over again.

In a yoga class I went to recently, the teacher said that sometimes it is the undoing that takes more of our effort.

We think we have really achieved something when we do a new pose. We do the asana, we do the meditation, we do the pranayama…but when we have moved deeper in to our practice, we begin the undoing.

We begin to notice our habitual tendencies. We notice that we don’t lengthen enough when stretching in to Trikonasana, we realize a tilt of our head in pranayama practice, and we begin to sit taller when we are in meditation as we undo our slouching.

If those two previous paragraphs don’t make sense to you because you don’t practice yoga regularly, you can see undoing when you start to slow down. When we are constantly going and doing we don’t have a chance to notice, our senses are not in-tuned enough and we get things done, but without a lot of intelligence and diligence.

In a world where distraction is profitable, we are stuck in a pattern of multi-tasking and rushing. Right now I am staring at two computer screens and my phone is visible within my peripheral vision. When we have this much stimulus around us, it’s the undoing of these activities, the slowing down, turning off and focusing in that helps us to release.

On Monday, I will sign the paperwork to complete my 500hr yoga apprenticeship. During this period there was a lot of doing. There was definitely a lot of learning and in this case the doing was necessary, but right now I am focused on the undoing.

Now that I have more time to notice what’s around me, who is around me and where my attention is going, I’ve found that in the past year while I was busy doing, I was also unintentionally undoing.

I was undoing some of my habits, both good and bad. I had to start prioritising my own wellbeing over those around me, which wasn’t something I was used to. I had to undo my desire to be in control of my time. My routines couldn’t be as set, I needed to become more flexible.

One of my friends was kind enough to remind me frequently that it’s important to stop and reflect when we are constantly doing. I did try to heed this advice, but often fell short of it while in the midst of all the things that had to get done. When we are in the process of doing it seems really important, slowing down looks like failure.

With the end of my apprenticeship quickly approaching and having taken note of all the things that have been undone…and recreated in a way beyond what I had imagined…my sense of what I am capable of achieving, my perseverance and determination. These are the things we find when the undoing is done.

When things come undone, what we are left with is who we really are.

Through the doing we build character, but in undoing we build strength, both are necessary, but neither is easy and when we start to slow down we can see the impact of all that is done and undone.

Are you ok?

The should haves, the have tos and the need tos…

Today I asked my sister ‘where do you think I’m not showing up enough in my relationships?’

And she very wisely referred to an episode of a podcast (strangely enough that I had introduced her to) by Tara Brach.

She told me the story of a monk who was always working hard to improve himself. He would find something wrong with himself that he should work on and then he would. Then he would ask people what he could do to improve and he would take their advice and work on that. Finally, after years of practice and working on things he asked another spiritual teacher, what can I do to be better?

The other teacher said ‘nothing’ you’re ok the way you are, you have nothing to change.

I’ve spent the past year and a half on a self improvement journey of sorts, it’s definitely only the start, but it’s been a busy and intense period. There have been many struggles and some periods of ease and flow and then more struggle.

When you’re on a path of self improvement, it’s difficult to see an end point, because there’s always something to do better or something you need more of.

Sit for longer in meditation, make it in to the next yoga pose, be more compassionate to people with different views etc etc.

I’ve had one of my friends from my yoga teacher training reminding me time and time again to slow down and see my achievements and contemplate what’s been happening, and I haven’t.

The same things come up in my relationships both friendships and romantic ones.

People give advice ‘you should just not think about dating’ ‘you have to be in your authentic energy’ ‘you need to just relax’.

I’ve never sat down and just said to myself ‘I’m ok’. My length in meditation is just as long as it needs to be, my asana practice is just at the right level for where I am, I’m dating the best way possible for myself at this moment.

Instead I’ve looked for outside reassurance. I’ve asked for, looked for and taken other people’s advice and learnings and applied them to my life.

I had a conversation with another yoga teacher the other day where I told her ‘I’ve tried to date seriously, then I’ve made an effort to not try to try to date.’ She laughed because she’d been there too. All the shoulds and the have tos.

This is not to say that people shouldn’t do self improvement work or that dating advice isn’t helpful and/or needed from time to time, what I’m experiencing at the moment is that I have done all these things and while the outcome hasn’t resulted in perfection, I’m actually OK.

It would be great if I could sit in mediation for longer or press up in to handstand and I would love to be in a relationship at the moment – but the reason that I’m not is not because there’s something I’m doing wrong or that there is something wrong with me, because I’m actually ok.

How often do we just let ourselves be ok with where we are?

How often do we allow the story in our minds to be a positive one where we aren’t victims of the world?

When can we slow down and get off the non-stop hamster-wheel-of-a-world we have created to appreciate what we have achieved?

I’m working with a new practice now. The practice of being ok.

There’s no where to go, no standard to be held against and nothing to be achieved.

It’s here, it’s now and it’s ok.

Are you ok too?

Othering

It’s always so easy to see what’s wrong in another person.

We like to say things like ‘you just pick the wrong men’, ‘if only you valued yourself more’, ‘your problem is that you just need to do xyz’.

We get in to conversations rationalizing our discussions about the ‘other’. ‘I love her but she does this one thing’, ‘oh that’s just ___ being the way they are.’ All the while inferring that we are above or outside of their behavior, that we are such spiritually and emotionally developed beings we are willing to forgive them this.

True forgiveness and true acceptance is when we don’t ‘other’ ourselves away from, ‘others.’  When we can say that this person is that way, and that’s great because that means they add more creativity or emotion or whatever it is to the situation. When we realize that ‘others’ may just be on different spiritual and developmental paths, and that their path is neither greater than nor less than ours, it simply just is, this is when we have found peace.

Sharon Gannon, the co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga, spoke regularly about the three things we should never do: complaining, blaming and explaining.

‘If you want to be happy,’ she would say,’ talk about elevated topics and stop complaining, blaming and explaining.’

When complain, blame or explain, we ‘othering’ another.

When I heard Sharon name these three tendencies, I thought, ‘but what will I talk about?’ It’s amazing the amount of time and energy we put in to othering.

Othering comes from wanting to protect ourselves, the need to have the people around us understand who we are, but the magic and transformation really happens when we are able to stop looking outside ourselves for validation and understanding and are able to feel grounded in who we are. Once we have achieved this we are able to stop seeing ‘others’ and begin to see people as we are, whole and complete.

We can develop these habits and stop complaining, blaming and explaining through our yoga, meditation, mindfulness or spiritual practices, whichever work best for us.  These are all different avenues for slowing down and getting to know ourselves from the inside out.

This is not an easy practice, removing the complaining, blaming and explaining, but through repetition, it becomes something we can achieve.

I can hear myself explaining why a friend and I stopped speaking a year ago from today. There were all the obvious reasons, her starting a weird argument with me that catapulted in to the end of our friendship (explaining)…but then afterwards when people would say they never liked that person, I would explain that she had difficulties in life or I would complain about the way she treated me leading up to the end or blame her for her lack of introspection.

Ultimately, we stopped being friends because we saw the ‘other’ more than we saw the individual mirroring back to us . . .ourselves. Our same insecurities, our same needs.

When it comes down to it, people want to be understood, loved and accepted.

When any of these three things are missing, that is where disagreements start and ultimately end.

It’s difficult to say openly to someone that we feel left out (not accepted), rejected (not loved), or misunderstood.  Talking openly and honestly about our needs scares us, but if we really looked at what we wanted, we would be able to start to see the same needs in those around us, which creates a lot more compassion in the world and is exactly what we would all benefit from.

Radical me time

I’ve been chasing after what I thought was love for quite some time now. I’ve always felt that it’s something just out of my reach. I’ve grasped at it and watched it slip through my fingers.

The individual experience of love is our experience of love with our family, friends, romantic partners and even ourselves. It’s the kind of love that is most often marketed to us and which is the subject of most music and mainstream pop culture.

When we aren’t chasing romantic love, we’re getting caught up in ourselves. Self-love has become another way businesses try to sell us our self worth. We’ve learned to ‘treat’ ourselves to the point of credit card debt and selfishness.

‘Me time’ should be celebrated, but instead it’s become an excuse for us to prioritize ourselves over others even when we can see they’re in need. ‘You have to take care of yourself first’ is great advice for 10% of he population. The rest of us need to start taking care of others more to build our humility and compassion.

All the ways in which we experience individual love has become a commodity. Romance is becoming nothing more than a game and the prize is a growing list of failed dates and new sexual partners. Swiping on our phones, we make sure to demonstrate how valuable we are by choosing our best photos that really show our personality…and by personality I mean physical assets. We are all on a carousel of idealized romance that’s moving so quickly we can’t jump off and escape.

But, there is a way out!

It’s another form of love. Absolute love. This is not an external love that we need to attract in, earn or buy. It’s something we all have inside ourselves.

I know what you’re thinking. This sounds really weird.

I’m not going to lie, it is a bit weird, but why do we think it’s so weird?

I think the answer is clear.

We think it’s weird because every day we are told to look outside ourselves for love and happiness. We are constantly searching around, looking for it in failing relationships, dating apps, social media likes, awards and degrees, our next vacation, even checking our steps on our smart watches. We don’t even listen to our bodies enough anymore to be able to tell if we’ve had enough exercise!

Love can’t be boxed up, it’s something we need to tap in to in ourselves, in our bodies, and feel it from the inside out.

I was so overwhelmed last year with my apprenticeship and changing jobs twice and dating all the time…that I never had time to slow down and consider how I was feeling. I was always on the go and not reflecting on my actions or celebrating my achievements. I was searching for this end point of love and happiness, but it’s not the end point. It’s all the parts in between.

We can’t escape this toxic culture of romance, but we can boycott it from our lives by choosing to have romance on our terms, not a relationship that fits all the requirements set forth by society. We can experience absolute love, tap in to our intuition and have romantic love as an added bonus to a life already built in love.

The best part is the only search we need to do is one into ourselves.

Now that’s some radical ‘me time.’

Are you sure?

Have you ever sought advice and had a million different opinions of what you should do?

For a long time I’ve asked for guidance form my friends in regards to dating and life in general. Everyone always has a different opinion. Even if one group of friends thinks one thing, another will believe something contrary.

I recently took it to the next level and talked to a psychic because I wanted to know if I’d ever end up in love, I wanted a quick fix. I thought if there was any validity to the process that it would help shed light on what was meant to be. I wasn’t very receptive to what she had to say. She told me a happily ever after tale that left me feeling unimpressed – despite ultimately answering my burning question.

I understand that these things could be related to what you manifest. If you really believe you’re going to meet the love of your life in a few months, chances are your attitude will show it and you’ll be more inviting and open to new people.

The thing is that four days before I spoke to her I considered the possibility of moving to Canada for a person I’d known for a week.

To be fair to myself I wasn’t planning to completely abandon ship, just visit to see if it could work.

Crazy? Yes.

Delusional? Maybe.

Impossible? No.

When my mini love affair ended I was told it was for the best because I wouldn’t want to go to Canada anyway. Too cold.

I’ve been told he was damaged and it wouldn’t work.

I’ve been told that it was just an unrealistic possibility and I should be grateful for the experience.

I really honestly appreciate all the advice and love my friends consistently offer as I traverse the dating world, but this time something feels different.

I’m not the kind of person to consider moving internationally for anyone. I’m also not someone, I thought, who would ever live outside Sydney (disclaimer: again), but all that changed in just a few days.

Now, people tell me this is great and I’m open for the next person, but there’s really nothing worse than people telling you they have your situation completely figured out. I don’t think we should all walk around blind to reality, but I’m also not someone who can pave over sadness with happiness without a second thought.

I’ve been feeling lately that something has to give. I feel unsettled in all areas of my existence. I’m unsure about my career choices, my ability as a yoga teacher, my aptitude as a friend and my deepest most crushing one – am I loveable?

My life is pretty privileged. I can live in a studio apartment, I can afford nice food and eating out, I’m even fortunate enough to have disposable income to fly home whenever I need…but when it comes to what’s happening on the inside, it’s a whole other story.

I question people’s reactions…including my own…around my recent experience because how I felt was not a way I felt before and what I was willing to do, was not something I would have considered, ever.

Those things, while uncharacteristic of me, were real. I can’t just let that go, no matter how much I try and sit with the sadness and loneliness left afterwards, I feel as though it has brought something so much bigger to my attention.

Its this feeling of being unsettled and ready for a change, but there is no clear direction of where that change will be / should be.

For the past year since I’ve come back from India, where I did my yoga teacher training, I’ve felt this way, unsure about everything. When I met this person I didn’t feel that anymore, I was sure.

Now I’m left wondering if I am better off and if Canada wasn’t my exit plan from this current state of uncertainty, what is?

Part of me believes that my yoga practice, meditation and self reflection are the best tools to get through, but I also don’t want to deny that anxiety can happen and when we have a tendency towards it, it may come up even stronger during difficult periods.

I want to keep believing that anything is possible, I don’t want to resign myself to a story that fits in with all the other story boards. We really never know what will happen.

No matter how many psychics we speak to or stories we hear, our lives are created day by day by the actions we take and the words we speak. So I’m hoping that even if my life is full of anxiety, my daily actions and words are helping to lead me to a place where I’m able to be sure again.

The end is near

I recently told someone how I felt about them. It was a really positive thing in my mind, I was excited, unlike other times I’ve done this – this seemed different.

At first the person seemed flattered and then because of the complicated circumstances around our knowing one another, he got upset. As he got upset, I got upset and it quickly spiraled downwards.

I talked to one of my best friends about what happened and she told me I wasn’t being empathetic. I had told him what I needed to say but didn’t consider how he would feel receiving that information.

She was right.

My brain was caught up on being authentic and communicating my desires and I completely dropped the ball and didn’t consider this other person I was inflicting myself on.

I really care for this person. He showed me a lot about myself in a seriously short amount of time and gave me something that none of the men I have dated ever achieved.

I felt secure, desired and present.

As soon as I felt those things slipping away with his imminent departure, I started grasping. I was holding on to the experience and not allowing it to change and develop naturally. It’s like I wanted to know what would happen next. I needed a plan or an ending to a story.

When I think of who I was when I first started dating in Sydney five years ago, I feel decades away from that person. When I think of what I was doing this time last year…it feels like a life time.

Two of my New Years intentions were to be more present and to be IN love. Not just romantically, but in the space of love.

Even though my delivery of my desires was not ideal, the last week has been a great experience. Enjoying moments and expressing myself in a more loving way.

It’s one thing to wear your heart on your sleeve, but it’s another to force that heart on someone, and I feel I have done just that.

One of the teachers I follow says we need to accept people where they are. I thought this was a great teaching. I related it a lot to veganism, which is one area that tends to cause some heated debates in my life. But I think more importantly it is about how people feel and express their emotions. We are all at different places in our lives and have had different experiences. This is part of what makes life so interesting and fun, but it also makes it complicated…which is why when we do wear our hearts on our sleeves, it’s best not to shove it in someone’s face, but let them see it where they’re standing.