“Love is a state of being. Your love is not outside; it is deep within you. You can never lose it, and it cannot leave you.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
About four years ago, a long term relationship I was in came to an end. Like all breakups, it hurt. Have you ever been so hurt that you just wanted to be out of your body as if the zeal of existence was no longer present? The type of hurt where the idea of any other kind of pain seemed superfluous because nothing could be worse than the feeling of a broken heart?
If you answered yes, then you know exactly what I mean. Looking back I realized how dramatic I was, but none the less the events that transpired were of necessity as I believe all events are.
The world of mindfulness, spirituality and self-awareness was a natural progression. I’ve read from many contemporary spiritual teachers and wise ancient seers of the past, that spirituality is birthed after a catastrophic event and serves as a catalyst to something deeper. If you think about it, any catastrophic event is followed by something beautiful. The stars and planets after the Big Bang, new land formations after erupting volcanoes, forest fires rejuvenating and resetting the ecosystem for new plant and animal life and the euphoric feeling after a good cry are some simple ways where difficulties made room for something better. The duality of the universe or the yin and yang that the east refer to is true today.
Ending a relationship and becoming spiritual opened new doors of thinking. I’m thankful that I have this time to self-reflect and find myself. Love wasn’t something to search for— rather, it was what I became. This newfound love and awareness changed the way I dated.
1. I have cultivated self-love.
Over the years, I have uncovered the joy of love that resides within me. I am no longer seeking love from another due to an absence of something in me. I have little emotional dependency now. This is not to say that I don’t need a shoulder to cry on—we all do at times—but understanding that all things are impermanent helps me to realize that all things in life shall pass.
I wake up every morning looking forward to the new day and who I might, meet but I don’t find myself discouraged if I don’t.
Cultivating self-love is something that we all have done in small fragments and when you can love yourself fully all the time, the meaning of love changes for the better. This type of love is different because it’s unconditional and accepts life and all it’s situations without expectation. There is no clear cut way on how to uncover this type of love. For me practicing meditation, contemplation in nature, and close introspection of the way my mind works has helped me understand this different dimension of love.
2. I’m not picky—I’m careful.
Empathy is a by-product of self-awareness. Whenever getting involved with anyone I know the risks involved, but in my heart I know if someone is worth the risk of pursuing something deeper. Going blindly into relationships has caused an immense amount of suffering for my soul and I’ve learned from this and made steps to change. I value the feelings of another just as much as I value my own. Going down the spiritual path has made me more empathetic to people and our world at large. I guess patience is a virtue. For some reason the song, “You can’t hurry love,” by Phil Collins is ringing through my head as I finish this sentence.
3. What you see is what you get.
The more I practiced my spirituality the more comfortable I became in my own skin. I started to embrace all my great qualities but also started to embrace my flaws with the same reverence. It doesn’t take very long for someone to understand what I am about. There isn’t anything mysterious and alluring about me. I’m just as simple as the tree that sits in the meadow. Maybe this takes the fun out of dating. With age comes experience and if experience is learned then wisdom ensues, and with this wisdom I realize that my past is nothing to keep bottled away and ashamed of. I’m not afraid to let out my flaws. I hold truth as the highest form of character, and when I love I’m all in, and perhaps this can scare people..shoot it scares me, but I can be happily rest-assured that my character is never in question.
4. I prefer to have deep conversations.
There was a time when I could talk endlessly about sports. Not that there is anything wrong with sports, but now I simply prefer to converse about the deeper meanings of life. I find it amazing that most of the stars in the night sky have died billions of years ago and that their light is just getting to us now or that the heat and rays we receive from the sun took 7 minutes to travel to us, so what we see as the sun is something of the past. Topics like this intrigue me and finding people to vibe with on this level can be difficult, but it’s not to much of a concern. The destination to unite with another soul is just as important as the search.
5. New activities of interest.
I used to love watching basketball. There was a time that I knew every player in the NBA and I would watch almost every game during the regular season but now getting to watch a game on television let alone live is almost impossible. I still love playing basketball because I get physical and mental exercise from it, but being a spectator doesn’t give me the same feeling. The same goes with bars and clubs. I used to love a night of beers and bars but now it’s difficult to enjoy that type of environment. An early morning hike through nature, spending a few hours to watch the sunset or sunrise, or an afternoon of walking meditation through the park is more my style. Finding people with these interests are far too few.
6. I don’t use dating apps.
When I first became single, I used almost every dating app under the sun. After years of being on them I have stopped. Dating apps have become like some sort of resume checklist before you even see a person. It can be tough to get to know a person when you are simply a picture and some words on a screen.
I’m finding better luck in meeting people during hikes, yoga, or just out and about—but even this is rare. There is also a hopeless romantic in me that hopes I will find the woman of my dreams crossing paths with me in the park.
Needless to say, my eyes are open and my smile is ready.
7. My diet is an important part of my life.
I have found that adopting a vegan/vegetarian diet is common amongst people that are on the path to self-awareness. I clearly understand the effects that factory farming and big agricultural business have on our mind, body, soul and the planet. This can pose some problems with dating. Even if someone doesn’t share the same views as me, as long as they are aware of why I eat the way I do, that’s the most important thing.
8. A minimalist lifestyle is not a trend for me.
The worldly illusions of getting ahead in life and materialistic pleasures don’t interest me in the slightest. My life has become simpler and I value this moment over anything. I have less people texting me, less clothes, don’t eat as much and see life as much more than things.
Not possessing attributes like extreme ambition can pose challenges in dating, since many of us want a partner that looks great on paper. I’m still working towards something (blogging and a book) and am not complacent, but don’t consider myself ambitious in the traditional sense.
I genuinely want to touch people with my words. I want them to feel better about themselves and know that all problems are temporary.
9. My patience is unwavering.
In a world of instant gratification, I have chosen to be deferred. It takes me longer these days to get into a relationship because I simply want to get to know who I am dating fully before any kind of intimacy is to ensue. As a man, this might seem counterintuitive but I see how precious and short life is.
In our fast paced world, dating has become something of a transaction instead of a meaningful courtship.
The intention of this post was to simply vent on some of the joyful woes I have with dating now. When I look at it in retrospect, I see finding love as a spiritual journey in of itself. I’m enjoying every moment of it.
I sincerely hope that all of you find the love that is searching for you. I hope you cultivate self-love in the meantime and realize that being alone is a time to love the person that matters most.
I hope that you gain new insights during your solitude.
“Hope is a good thing, sometimes the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” ~ Andy to Red from Shawshank Redemption
Author: Anand Swamy
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/Flickr