Posts filed under Uncategorized

3 Things I Learned about Orgasm and Life at OneTaste's OMX 2013 in San Francisco

In early August I attended the first OMX 2013 in San Francisco.  I went because I've been involved with the Orgasmic Meditation ("OM" for short) community in my hometown of Pittsburgh and my experience has been so helpful and transformative that I knew I for sure wanted to be at OMX, the first-ever OM conference. Woman s Hand Squeezing Bed Sheet

omx2013orgasmicmeditationonetaste

(A brief description of OM, from OneTaste.)

(I like to think of OM as an important Tantric technology for this modern age. )

Here's what I learned about orgasm (in OM parlance, "orgasm" means "sexual pleasure, energy" not just the contractions of sexual climax) and myself at OMX.

#1 OMX Discovery: I can be totally orgasmic and totally miserable at the same time

So get this - I had planned to show up at OMX all super-powerful and charming and sexy.

Instead, right before I left for San Francisco a man I care about a lot, The Taoist Punk Rock Sage (we'll just call him the Sage for short) rejected my flirtatious advances with a flat "not interested." And I let this "not interested" diminish my all-powerful-sexy-super-woman glow.

Also, my period started.  And I realized I was nearly out of all monetary funds. BUMMER.

And for some unfathomable reason, I decided not to sleep the night before my flight.

So I showed up at OMX as a super-tired, teary, highly-distraught, love-lorn hormonal mess.  And I proceeded on that way throughout the weekend.

I wandered through most of the conference - including the very large group OM sessions - completely miserable, brimming with self-pity, and full of incredible resentment towards all the people appearing to feel super-powerful and charming and sexy while I felt like a bleeding, rejected, unloveable, broke-ass pile of snot.

omx2013orgasmicmeditation

(There were group OMs in a giant auditorium. 1000 pairs OMing at once. No lie. It was intense. I was there. I sobbed pitiably through a lot of it. Rad.)

I felt super-vulnerable while lost in the shuffle of sexy fun time.

I kept trying to force myself to feel awesome and take control of my conference jolly fun time - and failing dramatically.

Happily, on Saturday night a perceptive and compassionate OneTaste staff person (I'll just call her the Angel) caught me looking fully freaked and sat me down and talked to me and brought in more people to talk to me and basically Made It All Way Better.

Somewhere in the conversation with her and the other folks listening to me sob - I heard the phrase, "That's okay. Cry it out. Tears are just the orgasm coming out of your eyes."

Which is a really, really weird sentence.

And it made total sense.

And it helped.  As I understand it - in OneTaste, there's this wisdom that it's possible to have lots of sexual energy in your body - a state they call "tumescence" - and to be in a state of rejecting oneself or the world while feeling all this energy - and in that condition, the tumescence feels like giant teary misery.

Suddenly I understood my whole life way better.

I'm learning that one of the major things that OM helps with and that OneTaste teaches is that it's possible to work with that condition of tumescence so as to experience it as pleasure and creative power rather than as negative emotion or overly-inflated addictive highs.

#2 OMX Discovery: My pussy can alchemically turn my misery into hot fun

OMing is all about being present to sensation and connection.

At OMX, I met a lover and an OM partner who's had over 18 months of experience with OMing with various women multiple times a day.  So he's an experienced stroker compared to the partners I usually work with in Pittsburgh.

And like, for reals  - I helped this man fold his collection of pussy towels (that's what I call the little hand towels used to tidy up fluids after an OM session) - and this pussy towel-folding process took over an hour.  That's a lot of pussy towels.

orgasmOMXtowel

(Innocent hand towel - or pussy towel? You decide.)

 

 

Seriously though - this man - we'll call him the Ranger - and his experience impressed me a great deal.  He was utterly present with me, extremely empathic, and still managed to take none of my whiny bullshit.  It was - simply put, astounding.

The only other man who had ever communicated so well with me was - well, my dear friend from Pittsburgh who OMs and is doing miracles to create the community here. We'll call that great friend the Communicator for now - since he's just so damn good at it.

The Ranger ended up showing me that I can allow all my feelings - including my unpleasant ones - to be fully present in my body while I'm being stroked - and that when I do that, I can end up feeling profoundly touched and deeply connected.

When I OMed with him, he kept insisting that I go ahead and cry if I felt like crying - that I let myself feel all my anger and frustration.

And I did.

And damn - I came really, really, really hard.

Like, climax is not a goal of the OM practice. And I usually don't experience it during a session.  But in really letting go into feeling the sensation of those sucky emotions that I often fight hard to avoid - some alchemical transmutation happened and all that misery converted into hot, electric, connected pleasure.

This was a major lesson for me - I've since repeated that letting-go in other OM sessions and have had similarly hot results. I never knew I could do that before - feel my misery with my pussy and have it turn into hotness and connection.

It's a revelation and it's unlocked a new level of sex for me that I didn't really know existed.

So thank you, Ranger.

#3 OMX Discovery:  OM generates super-powers in people who do it a lot overtime

So for a time I thought maybe it was just a freak coincidence that my friend the Communicator was really good at tuning into me and listening to me and being present with me.

And I thought maybe it was also just a freak coincidence that I had a giant Kundalini awakening and a huge increase in my psychic perception and general ability to attract synchronicity soon after I started OMing.

And then I met a bunch of people at OMX and in the Bay Area OM communities the week after OMX... and discovered that many people who have been involved in the practice for a while have uncanny magic powers.

Like giant amounts of empathy and psychic perceptiveness.

Not to mention that they tend to offer a quality of deep, penetrating conversational attention that's extraordinarily rare and wonderful.

One man in particular, we'll just call him the Alchemist -  stunned me with how rapidly he saw into and spoke to me of depths of myself that almost no one tends to perceive - or if they do, they don't voice it.  Especially not within a brief time of meeting me.

The Alchemist told me things about myself within 15 minutes of me talking to him that were utterly true and that I usually keep in close reserve or just don't expect anyone to notice.

It was hot.

So basically what I'm trying to say is that I really want every man and woman in the world to have access to Orgasmic Meditation and to the communication wisdom that OneTaste teaches.  Because it goes a long, long way towards creating connection where only frustration existed before.

In Conclusion

My experience at OMX 2013 was messy, intense, and ultimately  sexy and astounding and loving and  magical at a level that it couldn't have shown me if I had shown up in perfect control.

I'm looking forward to learning much more about how to surrender and transmute in this practice -- and to becoming more deeply connected in this community.

I hear there's another OMX planned for December - and I plan to be there.

How about you?

Yay for orgasm. ;)

 

 

 

Posted on August 29, 2013 and filed under Uncategorized.

The Apocalypse 2013 as Truth Unveiling - Mourning Friends in Denial

The apocalypse isn't zombies and atom bombs. Apocalypse means "the unveiling." The unveiling of truth. I feel it happening in me and see it in people all around me. I'm now in deep mourning for several people in my life that are avoiding me like I'm the Red Death -

- literally, not figuratively - they're running and hiding in bushes when they see me coming -

- this started last month when I lost my ability to dissemble and my willingness to enable any falsehood in myself or others.

I love these friends and lovers, more passionately and truly than I will ever be able to say. I see the genius and heroism in them that they don't see.

I'm in mourning for my personal loss of the beautiful aspects of their company. Their singing voices. Their eyes when they're unguarded and gleaming. Their touch.

And I'm and also mourning for them that they don't seem interested in accepting something about the world that's become so plain to me.

This plainness is that the "world" - as in Babylon, as in the lie - is ending. We're at the apocalypse, right now. It's the truth unveiling itself in our hearts and in our words.

apocalypse-2013-truth-as-unveiling

And honestly, I'm scared for these friends and lovers and their wellbeing. Because they're in deep denial.

And this is no time for denial.

Denial is the flavor of falsehood that enables addiction.

Denial and addiction is a wretched way to live. I know because I lived it full-time for years.

I know because I used it to keep myself small.

It's a way of life that's made up of evasion and avoidance and non-acceptance of one's heart's power and truth.

It's a way of life that's made up of disconnection and alienation and paranoia.

Denial doesn't meet the fact that our society's consumptive way of life is totally unsustainable, that it has only existed for about 100 years...

... that the global economy is in tumult....

... that our main means of getting food relies on a tenuous system of oil...

....that our society gives every sign of being about to crumble at the same time that its brutal barren scourge of cynicism and boringness and refusal of all Enlightenment-era liberties is at a hysterical pitch...

I'm no longer interested in denial and falsehood because the vast truth is so much sweeter.

The truth, as I experience it, includes the facts that

.. that there's incredible power and magic inside each one of us, readily accessible via meditation and tantra and imagination and yoga...

... that none of us have to do this alone, that we're all each other's brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers...

... that community and non-alienated labor can meet our real needs about a billion times better than atomized corporatist labor and consumption...

... that we all have things we're astoundingly good at and deeply love to do and that when we each do just what it is we truly love to do - whatever it is - grow food, write books, make music, build houses, sew clothes - then things work.

The truth is gleaming. It sounds like my missing friends' singing voices. It looks like their eyes when they're open.

Beauty is truth; truth beauty; that's all ye can know on earth and all ye need to know.

Have you lost the ability to dissemble lately?

Are you missing any dear ones who are still in denial? What's your experience?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCWdCKPtnYE

How Vipassana meditation cured my junk food cravings - guest post from Andrew Long

[ The following is a guest post from my friend Andrew Long, who helps men cultivate great relationships over at the Love and Freedom Project] I’m about to share a personal story about non-attachment, meditation, & my emotional relationship with food,

I say this because I realize that for some people, the below article could be triggering, as it contains descriptions of intense food cravings and emotional eating, as well as a few gratuitous food-porn-style shots, so if any of that bothers you, you probably should go read something else.

On the other hand, the story has a happy ending about freedom from cravings, so maybe you do want to read it after all.

Let’s begin, shall we?

Our story opens at a secluded, pastoral farm retreat in Onalaska, Washington, in November 2012. I am here to learn the method of Goenka Vipassana, which I have been telling everyone I am going to try for over a year.

Well, I’m finally keeping my word, so I find myself standing ankle-deep in crackle-frosted grass, watching the sun set as tendrils of fog creep across the farmer’s field. I don’t know it yet, but a full family of white-tailed deer lives on this land. I'll get to know them quite well over the next 10 days.

It’s a few days before Thanksgiving. (Really, is there a better time to take a 10-day vow of meditative silence and eat nothing but vegetarian meals?) I’m standing in the cold, observing nature, mentally preparing myself for 10 full days of Noble Silence, renunciation (nekkhama), effort (viriya) and 10+ hour days of pure, unadulterated meditation training.

Briefly, Goenka Vipassana is a popular form of Vipassana meditation spread by a Burmese businessman, S. Goenka and the Dhamma Foundation he started. It is said to be the original technique taught by Buddha, and preserved through a long line of teachers in Burma, the “land of Dhamma.”

(Whether you believe such claims or not, it’s worth keeping an open mind about the technique itself, as it is non-sectarian, non-religious, and completely free of charge. The Dhamma Foundation is not trying to sell you anything (well, other than liberation from your own suffering, that is): students may donate to the Course, but only after they have completed it.)

Vipassana teaches that all suffering comes from craving and aversion in our mind, and liberation from suffering comes from cultivating an attitude of equanimous mind, which is basically a steady consciousness of the transient nature of reality, and a steadfast refusal to react in a knee-jerk fashion when a pleasant or unpleasant sensation reaches us.

Another way to think of equanimity is as non-attachment:

“Equanimity is one of the most sublime emotions of Buddhist practice. It is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love. While some may think of equanimity as dry neutrality or cool aloofness, mature equanimity produces a radiance and warmth of being. The Buddha described a mind filled with equanimity as “abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will.”

-Gil Fronsdal (emphasis mine)

The great thing about cultivating equanimous mind is that as soon as you decide to become less attached, or practice the ways of non-attachment in any ways at all, the ego rears up and says, “Oh not so fast, you’re not so enlightened: look at all these delicious temptations you can’t pass up!

We all have these temptations and attachments, and sitting in silence for 10 days is a great way to examine them in stark and exaggerated detail.

And that, of course, is what happened to me, with food.

Andrew, Meet Food Fantasies

I’m a guy: I eat a lot of food.

I eat a lot of good food, as it happens, because I believe that “food is my medicine” (to paraphrase Hippocrates) and because I want to enjoy a long life in a body that functions well and allows me to do many different things, rather restricting my activity and enjoyment of life based on disease, injuries, or impingements.

I admit, I was a little nervous going into the Course. They were going to serve two vegetarian meals a day, and I typically eat a lot of animal flesh (and I do mean a lot).

But the lower volume of food and the restriction on eating animals was part of renunciation, nekkhama, so of course I was going to do it.

As it turned out, this gentle nekkhama gave me two big gifts: food fantasies, and my growing awareness of the ritual of eating.

Fantasies first. If you’ve ever been really hungry, you’ve had food fantasies: intrusive, syrup-soaked short stacks of olfactory & gustatory imaginings that you can practically taste, popping like little tart blueberries under your teeth.

vipassana and junk food cravings

Image via CallMeCupcakes

I’ve been hungry before, but not like this. At Vipassana, it was a non-stop parade of fantasies about various foods I was going to slam down my gullet when I got home.

My primary fantasy was junk food: extra-large jalapeno-no-cheese pepperoni pizzas,”Fiery Habanero” Doritos. . . fill in your own favorites. I was craving these foods.

I’ll be honest. Meditation is about awareness, and Vipassana in particular is about remaining aware of the physical sensations in your body.

At this, I was failing at spectacularly. I was highly aware of my mental sensations and mental impressions, but that was a big sideshow, distracting me from my physical sensations, and my mental reactions to them.

Still, it was valuable.

After a few solid days of this, a funny thing happened: my food fantasies started to get boring. After playing these same tapes over and over again, after simulating these tasty morsels in my mind ad infinitum, they became . . . yes, boring.

Now, your first thought may be, He wasn’t hungry enough, and I sort of agree with that: I was being fed high-quality vegetarian food on a daily basis, and part of what happened had to be that my body adjusted to this new feeding routine (and it was very routine.)

But the human mind is also a novelty-seeking device, and my mind quickly abandoned food fantasies in favor of replaying every movie I’d ever seen in my head, as well as forming elaborate theories about what precise factors accounting for the relative quality of each film in a film trilogy (you know how the second film of a trilogy is almost always the best? Yeah, I have an elaborate theory for that. Don’t ask me about it, ever.)

So even though my mind had moved on, I definitely wasn’t “over” my food fantasies; I planned to indulge them fully when I got home.

In fact, I couldn’t wait.

Andrew Gets His Junk Food

So let’s fast-forward past the high drama of finishing a Vipassana Course; the final day, the first sentence you speak after 10 days of silence, and the striking natural beauty that awaits your freshly-sharpened mind when you emerge from the countryside.

I had enjoyed the experience. I certainly felt refreshed, with a new resolve, and more clarity.

But it hadn’t rocked my world. It hadn’t been the spiritual awakening that so many people reported.

Oh well, at least I could have my damn pizza now.

(Fast-forward to Andrew, ordering his craved-for pizza, buying his crazed-for junk food, and dutifully cramming it down his throat with much enthusiasm, in anticipation of a big post-binge high.)

Ta-da: the best trick Vipassana pulled on me, now revealed:

It wasn’t that satisfying.

Sure, it tasted good,in the moment. . . and maybe for a moment afterward. . .but then the effect faded. Completely.

Ten minutes after eating, it was as if the whole thing had never happened. The experience was completely sensory, and contained zero emotional fulfillment.

That gave me pause. It made me think hard on the reason I would put junk-food or craved-for “special” foods in my body in the first place. I knew they were of dubious nutritional value, and I knew how fleeting the taste was. . . and how long-term the potential damage.

I realized that the reason I was eating certain foods came down to how they made me feel . . . emotionally.

Yes, I had discovered emotional eating in myself. This was something that, in mind, I wasn't supposed to have to deal with, as a guy. (Welcome to my sexist brain!) It was a valuable lesson for me that the emotional turmoil that can cause us to seek food for emotional solace are in no way limited by gender.

So, how did it happen to me? Here’s the chain of causality, as near as I could figure it out:

Growing up, Mom kept two large freezers and a large walk-in pantry absolutely stuffed full of food. Despite this, I never got much joy out of eating at home. I remember most sit-down meals to be pre-packaged affairs, reheated from a frozen foods company. (For clarity: my Mom cooked meals for the family for decades before I was born. Dad did breakfast, which is probably the reason I now lust after that meal like no other (thanks, Dad.))

What I do remember enjoying quite a bit was going out to eat with my family. We’d go to a family restaurant like Stanfords, and I’d always bask in the feeling of ‘specialness’ that came with eating out -- it felt like a splurge, like we were living large, and therefore, like everything was going to be OK.

This feeling was reinforced when one day I overheard my Mom say that, because our financial situation wasn’t so good, we’d have to forgo eating out for a while. Uh-oh. Link established: feelings of emotional well-being, based on financial security, now tied intimately to eating at restaurants.

What I discovered on the Vipassana course was that my emotional craving for store-bought or restaurant-prepared foods was driven by a desire to recreate the emotional feeling of financial security that came with eating out with my family.

In other words, certain eating experiences had come to represent financial security for me and -- even deeper -- fundamental feelings of security in the world.

It didn’t matter that this connection made zero logical sense. It was an emotional link that had lain dormant, unacknowledged, for years. Vipassana had just uncovered it.

Vipassana had also broken it. After my post-Course junk-food feast, I didn’t experience the same post-binge emotional high. The junk food didn’t satisfy me, physically or emotionally.

There was no emotional pull to go back to it.

Food as Nourishing Ritual

The Course had one other gift to give my relationship with food.

During one of the silent, 6am breakfasts of oatmeal, raisins, and nuts, I realized that what I was doing eating in silence with all these other men was a ritual, a sacrament, done for the edification of my body, not for my fleeting sensual pleasure.

It really wasn’t about me at all. I was eating so I could fuel my body through 8 more hours of mental focus & training: I was was eating so I could be stronger, and then give more to others.

Even though I knew intellectually that ‘food is fuel’, the actual practice of this idea was a revelation.

This was one of those slow, quiet, creeping realizations that totally blindsides you. For six or seven days, mealtimes had been a welcome break from meditation, but the repetition of them, the uniformity, the silence, the indistinguishable quality of the tables, the chairs, the food, made me realize what they really were: just another extension of the meditative practice, the practice of mindfulness, the practice of non-attachment.

How much mindfulness do we typically have as we eat? Are we focused on the taste, or the number of calories, or what other people are thinking about our meal? Are we wishing we had chosen something different to eat?

Or are we focused on gratitude for all the beings that had to die, to bring us this food? For the labor of so many beings, that made it possible for us to eat this meal?

I learned in that retreat that, if we practice mindfulness of each meal in this way, each meal is transformed; we realize that each meal is a tremendous gift from the planet to us, and that we are part of that cycle: we eat, and someday, we’ll return to the earth from whence we came. We’ll become food, too.

That’s part of why junk food no longer has the same meaning. It’s nearly impossible to tell what it was, where it came from, and so it’s hard to know where to direct my gratitude.

And now there’s also no other reason to eat it, either.

I’ve always known it’s a sham -- but more importantly, I am now free from the emotional cravings that were overriding that knowledge.

Think of a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. It’s so simple, right? But there are so many ingredients. The grains in the bread, to start -- where were they grown? Who harvested them? What other animals lived around, in, under them? To what biotic community did they belong? Were they grown in a monocrop, or did they share the soil, or were they rotated with other crops? Did pesticides blanket their fields? Where did the water that they drank come from -- was it fossil water, pumped up from an aquifer where it had slowly gathered for millions of years, or was it river water, taken from its course, never to reach the sea, or was it rain? What microorganism were hitching a ride on that water and were diverted, deposited in the soil, perhaps forming some of the minerals you are now taking into your body? Can you taste the past days of sunlight stored in the grains?

What about the peanuts? What was their destiny, before being harnessed and ground up to make peanut butter? Can you think about the potential verdant lushness that was going to come from this very small seed, now nourishing you? Can you see the multiplicity of things in the form you ingest? Can you, to paraphrase the Frenchman Valéry, come to a new appreciation of food, by forgetting the name of what you eat?

Peanut butter. Image from Peanut Inn

To do honor to our food, to receive full nourishment, is just to be mindful.

Previously, I had spent most of my time eating in a mind-less routine. My experience at the retreat made it easier to be pulled into mindfulness.

A little more attention paid will, at the very least, improve my digestion.

Freedom From Junk

My life is different now, post the Vipassana reatreat: no more junk food cravings.

I still enjoy eating out, but I’ve stopped conflating fine dining with financial security. The two have very little to do with one another, and I’ve got that straight in my mind and in my heart now. I am, as the Buddhists might say, not attached.

The feeling of freedom is nice. Don’t get me wrong: I still enjoy my food. I enjoy every bite. But it’s no longer an activity that brings me so much emotional solace, and I think this is a good thing.

For anyone who didn’t have this emotional linkage personally, I can only imagine that all the above probably sounds faintly ludicrous, if not totally insane.

All I can say is, it’s hard to emphasize just how powerful it is to have something like that wield so much power over you, and then have that power completely broken.

It feels like freedom.

And that, my dear reader, is what I’m after in my life, and the lives of my loved ones -- freedom, a state assiduously to be cultivated in human beings.

Thanks for letting me share my story.

Posted on March 2, 2013 and filed under Uncategorized.

With Metta: Cultivating Boundless Love

I'm a giant fan of metta.

Metta, of course, is the Pali word for loving-kindness or friendliness.  Along with karuna (compassion), mudita (sympathetic joy), and upekkha (equanimity) it's considered one of the "divine abodes" in Buddhism.

The divine abodes are also known as "the four immeasurables" because they can be cultivated through concentrated practice and directed towards an infinite number of beings.  They're not limited or limiting like personal affection and egoistic enjoyment.

In reading about the Buddhist path of awakening, one usually hears that the cultivation of metta and the other divine abodes are supplemental to the practice of Vipassana or insight meditation.  I've always found this emphasis to be disappointing- as I get a lot of pleasure and fulfillment out of metta cultivation and almost none out of Vipassana.

Metta as a Complete Path of Awakening

Recently, though, I had the good fortune of finding a radically eye-opening talk  on metta by John Peacock, the Associate Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Center.

Peacock makes a compelling argument that a non-traditionalist reading of early Buddhist scriptures supports the notion that the cultivation of metta is itself a complete path to awakening.  He points to the Metta Sutra, where the Buddha states that anyone who cultivates metta will "never again lie in the womb" as evidence that metta practice is enough to take an aspirant all the way off the karmic merry-go-round and into nirvana.

Peacock also makes the rather fascinating point that metta practice leads progressively and automatically to the cultivation of the other three divine abodes.

Well golly gee, sign me up.

I've been thinking for awhile now that I need to intensely focus myself on the cultivation of metta.

Here are some reasons metta is so important to me:

1. It Makes Me Both Happy and Psychic

Metta meditation, when practiced as a vivid visualization of oneself and others experiencing happiness, tends to make me feel open, energized, and buoyant.  I've also noticed that it tends to dramatically increase my intuition and my ability to feel and know things with my heart.

2. It Counters the Destructive force of Love Addiction

I struggle with getting caught up in romantic infatuations that are ultimately destructive.  This has been a pattern throughout my life, and I'm tired of it.  Metta, because it's universal and non-attached love, is the opposite of infatuated, obsessive, possessive love - which tends to be ego-inflating, unbalancing, and crazy-making.  Metta is sanity-making.  It's wholesome.  As such, it's the antidote to my unwholesome pattern.

3. It Tunes Me Into Divine Energy

Simone Weil once remarked that the cause of all misery is the inability of human beings to consistently draw energy directly from divine love in the same way that plants draw energy directly from the sun.  Instead, we humans tend to vampirize energy from others or from our own bodies via games of power and sensual indulgence. In the process, we hurt others and ourselves.  I completely agree with Weil on this point.  And it's evident to me that by practicing metta, we can increase our ability to draw energy directly from divine love instead of from acts of exploitation or addiction.

So my plan for the New Year...

...is to devote two hours every day to metta cultivation.  I know that sounds like a lot - but metta is fun.  So it's less of a commitment to hard discipline and more of me just making time to do what I both enjoy and need for my sanity.

Also, because I've found a lack of interesting things to read about metta cultivation on the interwebs, I intend to write about what unfolds in my process here - and hopefully it'll inspire some of you out there to try it for yourself.  I know I always need a lot of reassurance and proof that a spiritual effort will be worthwhile before I undertake it.

 

 

Posted on January 1, 2013 and filed under Uncategorized.

The ever-sexy work of habit change

Often our brain-burrowing fear worm likes to tell us that we can't now bother instituting new good habits and dropping our old bad habits (in my case - smoking and coffee-drinking and over-eating and general messiness) because we've tried in the past but we didn't stay committed to the changes. "Look," the worm says, "if you were any good at this 'having constructive habits' stuff, you would have done it by now.

"You're not, so you should probably just live in squalor and die of cancer, adrenal fatigue, or metabolic syndrome.  Because, screw you."

Thanks, worm.

The truth is that you're allowed to have launched programs of habit-change in the past and to have totally backslid.

Remember, Carolyn, that time in 2008 when you ate all raw for 6 months and flossed everyday and promptly filed all your incoming papers? Those glory days?

And then how you went back to eating giant piles of pad thai and stopped with the flossing and decided once again that your papers could just live in the same box, only to be looked at when you 'felt like it'? Ah, yes!

Well, that was totally okay.  We're allowed to pick up and begin again.  September is fresh start time, according to my endured-26-years-of-school body clock.  If you're feeling it, too, I invite you to go ahead and have a fresh start along with me.

Here are some habit-changing resources that inspire me:

Flylady - for house-cleaning stuff and basic self-love. Flylady was blogging before "blogging" existed as a thing, just sharing with others on a message board how she affected her own transformation from depressed and slovenly to happy and together lady.

Advanced Yoga Practices - This is so unlike any other yoga page I've ever seen.  Yogani, the author of the AYP system, is an American yogi who synthesized many different yogic teachings into one simple progression towards ecstasy, freely taught on his website.  Which makes him very cool in my book.

I've decided that this week I'm going to work on keeping my sink shiny (as Flylady suggests - my housework needs seriously help, ya'll) and taking morning walks.  Because I like to walk in the tender fall morning.  That way I get to absorb the tenderness of the air.

So good, yes.

What habits are you interested in cultivating in this fresh September?

Posted on September 17, 2012 and filed under Uncategorized.

Addiction and scarcity: when there isn't enough to go around

Somewhere along the line, we humans get confused about love.  We want it to be special. Which means, we want more of it than other people get.  We want more attention, more nurturing, more recognition than others. This is impossible, though, because love is infinite and always-radiating from the divine and from the hearts of everyone.  To "have more of it" would mean that it would have to be somehow finite in order to be able to be divided up into relative amounts.

But we're confused. We think we can make the infinite small and limited.  In this way we're all fallen angels.  Lucifer, the most famous fallen angel, fell from heaven because he made the same mistake.  He wanted special love, special power from God.  When God wouldn't give it, Lucifer was like, "Well, I'd rather be king in  hell than just a regular somebody in heaven.  So screw this, I'm going to hell."

And that's what we've done to ourselves.  We've made ourselves kings in hell.  I don't mean the hell of fire and brimstone.  I mean the hell of self-rejection, alienation, separation.  The hell of feeling limited and threatened.

Once we're confused enough to think that love can be finite, and once this confusion has obscured for us the awareness that love is actually infinitely abundant and radiating at us all the time - we begin to think that we can use finite things in this world as a substitute for love-energy.

Pie. Coffee. Nicotine. Dopamine from sex.  TV. Heroin. Alcohol. The rush of shopping.  Gambling. On and on.

The thing about pie is that it's not infinite.  Pie is finite.  In order for me to have more pie, someone indeed has to have less pie.

When I'm using pie as a substitute for love, my desire for pie becomes infinite. I want to grab up all the pie in the world and hoard it, because I can never get enough. Even if I have giant warehouses of pie, even if I have more pie than I could ever eat.  Even if eating pie all the time is making me sick and diabetic and obese.  I still have this demand for pie.  Because I'm trying to get an infinite need met with a finite substance, and I'm confused.

Along the way I end up stealing pie from a whole lot of other people.  They can just go hungry.  Fuck them. I need pie.

This is the disease of addiction.  It's a fundamental confusion about finitiude and infinitude, and all of us are affected by it to some extent.  Addiction comes from the Latin word for slavery.  It's an experience of being enslaved to the things of this world.   There's nothing wrong with pie, coffee, nicotine, dopamine from sex, TV, heroin, alcohol.  They're all innocent things that can be great medicine on some occasions.  The trouble comes in when we try to use these things as substitutes for what we're infinitely yearning for.

Our whole society is currently operating in this addicted mode.  We're addicted to money, power, oil.  We've gone deep into debt to fuel our addiction.  Rapacious addicts are the "leaders" of this society, because it's a society dedicated to addiction.

Addiction can only thrive inside the lie of scarcity, which comes from being confused about love.  When we're in addiction, we believe there isn't enough to go around.  We need more.  We need to grab it.  The sad thing is that the natural world is abundant, and humans have the innate intelligence to wisely cultivate that abundance to satisfy the needs of everyone.  Scarcity only actually arises when there's addicts running around voraciously consuming way more of various substances than they actually need because they've confused that substance with love itself.

So right now things are tight in the economy.  There doesn't seem to be enough money to go around.  Actually, though, there would be plenty of money to go around - except a handful of addicts are hoarding gigantic piles of it.

This is painful.  It means we've all been harmed by addicts, just like a little old lady who gets her purse snatched by a junkie who also knocks her down onto the sidewalk.  We're bruised.  We've been robbed.

Here's the other thing though: we're also all addicts ourselves.  We have the same fundamental confusion within us as the people who are hoarding all the pie, power, oil, money, etc.

And since addiction is a spiritual confusion, an internal confusion, we can't end it for those other people out there with the giant hoards.  We might be able to heal ourselves and then serve as inspirations for others who also want to heal, but that's it.  That's the limit of our ability to change people who aren't us.

This is part of the reason why violence is completely useless to end our societal problems.  Even if revolutionaries killed the "leaders" and billionaires and took their money and redistributed it tomorrow - by next week someone else would have started to hoard it.  The problem is not with individuals or even corporations or countries.

The problem is with this spiritual illness, this virus, that afflicts us humans. As long as it's afflicting one of us, we're all affected by it.  But we can only address it within our own selves.

So that's what I'm interested in doing, and interested in helping you to do if you desire it.  Ending the confusion, ending my useless attempts to try to meet my infinite desire with finite jollies.  Seeking to go straight to the good stuff and give myself and others love instead.

That's the love revival, and that's what I'll be talking about tomorrow night at Assemble on Penn Avenue at 7 pm: https://www.facebook.com/events/116973555116934/

 

 

Posted on September 13, 2012 and filed under Uncategorized.

Bloggers With Empathy, Part 1

I tend to only really love a blog when its author offers a mix of vulnerability and empathy that, to quote a radio hit from the Verve, "recognize the pain in me." Which is to say, blogs that are all rah-rah-rah go-go-go tend to turn me off.  I've got too much melancholy in my bilious soul and too much angst in my existenz to really go for that.

But also, I don't wish to kill myself and am really into awesomeness, so I can't really read blogs that just emphasize the suck of life without sharing hope and ideas for making things better.

The following bloggers give me the right blend of depth mixed with inspiration that charges me up on days when I'm low, so I figured I'd share them here with you.

Blogs that Make me Happy When I'm Sad Like that Verve Song Says

Seamus Anthony of Rebel Zen agrees with me that being a positive force in the world means making stuff happen, and that takes organization.  He also specializes in playing music of "the Romantic Bar genre" and his ominous-hilarious cover of Oliva Newton John's "Let's Get Physical" is tragi-comic in precisely the way that heals my heart.

Andrea Schroeder over at the Creative Dream Incubator not only likes to wear completely fab wigs, she also does so while offering her soft-spoken and well-earned wisdom in her Creative Dream TV series.  The episode on What If No One Cares What You Have to Offer? rocked my world yesterday when I was in an especially nasty mire of PMS.

Anne of Psychic Awareness is a down-to-earth lady who freely admits she had no psychic experiences as a child or teenager, and only opened up her connection as an adult.  Though my heart intuition has been in strong form for a long time, I'm just beginning to experiment with psychic channeling, so her thoughtful and humble posts about expanding one's psychic connection hit home in a lovely way.

Stephanie Gagos of Finding Your Voice of Truth specializes in helping survivors of childhood trauma to thrive.  Just looking at her site calms me down - and her recent essay on dealing with lingering shame helped me remember my own innocence, which is a rich gift.

- Well, that's all for now, folks! More to come soon.  I've just given you a lot to digest and enjoy. ;)

Love,

Carolyn

Lovers Needed

The world needs lovers. Lovers  aren't necessarily people in romantic relationships. They're not necessarily young or old, men or women - or any other demographic category.

Lovers are people for whom love as a profound force and mode of perception - bountiful, particular-yet-universal, ever-new and ever-revealing - is the highest principle and the top priority.

If you're a lover...

  • You want to put your love into the world of form in a way that's both precise and transcendent.
  • You want to let go of the limits that the appearance of scarcity and competition sometimes put on your heart.
  • You catch glimpses of astounding mystery and beauty in the world and seek to amplify and share those visions.
  • Your imagination is more than just a tool for fantasy - it shows you layers of reality that our culture obscures.
  • You sometimes feel frustrated at the uphill battle of making your love manifest through the gravity of your own fear and unhelpful habits.
  • You have painful wounds that come from daily life in a society that values just about everything - money, prestige, drugs, violence, sensation - over love.
  • You receive constant messages from the mainstream culture that you're nuts for valuing connection and heart and community above personal gain.

Well, I don't think you're nuts.  I think you're the hope of this world, and I'm interested in supporting you in every way I can.  I made the Indecision Rescue Kit as a way of helping us lovers lighten up on ourselves.

***

I've had a goodly amount of trouble articulating just who it is I'm trying to serve and reach with my work.  I've talked about geniuses and brilliant people - but most folks who I see as brilliant and geniuses have trouble identifying with those terms out of their modesty - and also, to speak of someone's genius or brilliance doesn't necessarily get to the core of what attracts me.  I don't get particularly thrilled by people who have a lot of creativity but a lack of heart.

During a visit to beautiful Baltimore this spring I saw a quote from Vincent van Goh on the wall of the American Museum of Visionary Art that just about flipped my brains: "I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people."

Immediately I was like - whoah.  That's true. That's some Capital "T" TRUTH right there.

I can get way excited by art - but art that doesn't come from a place of love or aspiration-towards-love leaves me cold.

After a lot of early success, I withdrew from academia because the posturing and intellectualism turned me off. I experienced first-hand how much disdain there is out there for the notion of love - like it's some ooey-gooey, sentimental, ridiculous thing that we'd all be better off without.

At the same time that I was hearing love insulted left and right, I noticed professors and grad students all around me literally destroying themselves with drugs and alcohol.  One particularly brilliant man did it to the point of suicide-by-overdose.  I think he could have used a lot of the very love he made it a point to disdain.

I want to create a culture where a focus on love and connection is seen as a deep strength rather than a pointless weakness.  Where love isn't just celebrated as exclusionary attachment but as an all-embracing white-hot inspiration. I'm pretty sure such a culture is what my hero Queer Jesus called the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

If this resonates with you, I hope you'll join my list so we can keep in touch.  I'll send you the Indecision Rescue Kit as my first gesture of encouragement - and much more will ensue from there.

Posted on August 28, 2012 and filed under Uncategorized.

Living in the Gift Interview with Andrew R. Long

 

Andrew R. Long runs the wonderful Excellence blog.  He's someone who not only thinks about gift economy and the gift world, but who actually takes phenomenal steps to put it into practice — he's not philanthropist-style rich, but he's giving away thousands of dollars this year as part of his Get Giving Project.  Which I find intensely admirable and fascinating.

Andrew and I share a commitment to giving and - what's a little more rare - a mutual distaste for interest and usury. ;)  He interviewed me in the fall and I got to thinking I would really love to interview him.... so I did!

We tried doing a video interview (since I hear those are the kinds of thrills and chills the interweb loves these days) but it failed to record properly. So now we bring you... a good old-fashioned text-based interview!

Carolyn: Okay-- so how about -- tell me how you first got interested in gift economy stuff?

Andrew: It was a combination of reading Douglas Rushkoff and Charles Eisenstein. Rushkoff came first with the excellent Life, Inc, which alerted me to the degree to which modern consumer society has been created by and for the large corporation, and how society used to be arranged in a fashion that was more conducive to what today we'd call 'the middle class'. Rushkoff is really good at articulating what it means to make a profit, and the mechanism by which profit is made. Eisenstein recently came out with Sacred Economics, which digs quite deep into the idea of a gift economy. And before that, it was Lewis Hyde's 1983 classic "The Gift", which is probably the best anthropological or ethnographic treatment of gift societies.

What all of these writers really conveyed to me was that there was something natural about gifting, and that explained to me why the for-profit world always felt so twisted.

Carolyn: Wow, you just said it-- that's what resonates about it for me. Where do you feel you see the most twistedness in the for-profit world? (and as I ask that I realize it may be hard to choose)

Andrew: People thinking they have to turn themselves into mini-corporations just to survive.

Really, that's what disturbs me the most -- people see that big companies have all this money, and power, and they decide that that must be the way to do it, so they essentially emulate the corporate form, right down to creating their own personal corporation -- and the crazy thing is, that's not a crazy thing to do. It actually works! If you want to be seriously self-employed, you don't just start working with clients -- you incorporate as an LLC and pay yourself a salary and (the corporation) pays a lower tax rate and so forth and so on.

The modern corporate world has really changed the game -- in order to transact or do commerce now, there's got to be this layer of a corporate structure that mediates between people. That's what I dislike.

Carolyn: That's a really interesting point you raise-- I've just begun my self-employment and it's just really hit me that the tax rates I'm expected to pay are crazy-- but the thought of making myself an LLC gives me the chills.

Andrew: Yup. My sister is a successful self-employed writer and I helped her set some of this stuff up. I guess you don't have to view it as pathological -- certainly it's rewarding to be your own boss -- but as Rushkoff points out so adroitly, it's really a problem that the world is now built on a corporate scale, which is much bigger (and less humane) than the human scale. The corporation doesn't care about you. People in the corporation might, but to the extent they obey the corporate bylaws and follow the policies, they can still act as a group in a really inhumane way.  Look at Apple (and other tech companies) and the worker's conditions in Asia where the products are manufactured. Horrible stories come out of there! But you know what? That's actually capitalism working! Production is taking place where the cost of production is lowest! It's efficiency! It's working!

Carolyn: Horrible stories indeed-- I just started talking to my students this semester about the ills of corporatism-capitalism and they get it but they're all like, "But what are we supposed to do? We're marketing majors!" and I'm like... "Well, we need to get creative about changing stuff, because the current employment landscape undeniably puts us in compromising situations just to live..."-- I feel those compromises myself all the time. I'm wondering-- what are your thoughts about what people like us and even younger people like my students can do to get along in the world as it is while helping to move us into a more sustainable, gift-intensive future?

Andrew: Well, I'm incredibly optimistic at the level of awareness and hope that people younger than me seem to have. Occupy is just one example.

The basic thing, I think, is to cultivate a personal integrity. What I mean by that is be informed, and from information you get, make a decision about what you're going to do. Where does your coffee come from? Where do your clothes come from? What is your company doing in the world, really? What system(s) are you contributing to? And do those align with the most beautiful world you can imagine? It sounds really idealistic when I type it out, but I have to remind myself that the Founding Fathers of this country were idealistic (though not ideologues). The other thing, of course, that I would encourage everyone to do right now, young or old, is to throw away anything that isn't working and give your gift, wholeheartedly, and trust that your needs will be provided for, one way or another.

Carolyn: That last sentence so resonated with me.  It's the essence of so many spiritual teachings, and I think about it all the time. I know that that trust can be tough to cultivate-- we get so many messages that are anti-trusting-- things like, "You have to save for retirement! And have excellent health insurance! Or else you'll die alone in a gutter and no doctor will touch you!" Which is part of why I felt so touched when I learned about your experiment this year in giving money away-- something many folks who aren't uber-rich are very shy about doing. Could you talk about what's motivating that experiment and how you came to the place of trust that makes you feel good about doing it?

Andrew: The Get Giving project really just came out of realizing that I didn't have anything left to buy. You know all those studies about how happiness doesn't increase above a certain income level? Well, they're right. I've also made some fairly unusual (I think) choices in life, such as not having a mortgage, not having a car, not owning pets or raising children at this stage, so I can keep my expenses pretty low. It really boiled down to - I have the money, and I have my every material need taken care of and then some, and I know many people who don't have their material needs taken care of, so why wouldn't I give? It really just became a mental place where I couldn't not do it. This was a pretty big deal for me, personally, because I grew up in a fairly chaotic environment, and all my life I've been a big worrier -- mostly about my own security in the future. And then I had the realization that there was literally no pile of money big enough to calm my worry. And once that happened, I realized that the pile of money I had accumulated to date was really irrelevant. Plus, I was earning interest on it, and that also sort of became reprehensible to me. I realized that my interest earnings could be some other guy's foreclosure notice. Like, I may not be Scrooge McDuck, but I was paying somebody else to be for me. I was making money by having money. And what kind of sense does that make? I mean, really?

Carolyn: Oh boy, yes.  I remember reading in Lewis Hyde's book about how interest and usury used to be considered sins, abominations... money growing out of money.  Which was thought to be unnatural and monstrous, like cancer.

Andrew: Yup. If you look at our economic system today, it's just all wrong. The underlying conceit is unlimited growth, and that's plain crazy. I recently read Clinton's latest book, Back to Work, and it was just "jobs, jobs, jobs." And the crazy thing is, he's right -- we could have more jobs, and we could have more growth. But we're at this brilliant juncture in history where we actually have the opportunity to ask, Is that really what we want? Like, let's say the GDP starts growing 10% a year. Is that really going to make me happier, personally? Because I'll be able to buy more stuff? What would actually make me happier is if I could work 10% less and have 10% more amazing conversations with my friends, or 10% more sex. Or 20%. Or 30%, you know? In the modern age we seem to be collectively confused about what actually makes life worth living.

Carolyn: I hear you. I notice that the more I let go of my concerns about security and practice generosity, I seem to center myself in the present and become available for better relationships, which surprised me when I first noticed it. Have you found an unexpected spiritual or emotional (or otherwise) benefits to your practice of giving?

Andrew: I would say it's calming. And it generally gives a big rush of energy when you let go of a substantial amount of money, and send it on to somewhere it can do more. I really think money has a spirit, in a sense, like it wants to be used and spent and put to a good use. And that's certainly not happening if it's sitting in my bank account.

Carolyn: That's a beautiful truth, about money having a spirit and wanting to move. I can see how keeping it in a bank account is a bit like caging an animal that wants to roam.

Andrew: For sure. If you think of money as energy, then we have these massive pools of energy just sitting around in the banks and the corporations right now, going nowhere. And at the same time, there are huge challenges facing humanity right now, like our climate, and we're doing virtually nothing. Even though we have the resources! It's a form of madness that I believe we're slowly recovering from.

Carolyn: I agree-- it looks like more and more people, both within and without those institutions are realizing the madness and wanting to put a stop to it.

Andrew: Likewise :)

Carolyn:   :::warm fuzzies:::