Before Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment at age 35 he was a
confused twenty and thirty-something looking to learn how to live a
spiritual life. He had an overbearing dad, expectations for what he was
supposed to do
with his life, drinks were flowing, lutes were playing, and the
women were all about him. Some called him L.L. Cool S. I imagine
close friends just referred to him as Sid.
Many people look to Siddhartha as an example of someone who attained nirvana, a buddha. But here we look at a younger Sid
as a confused guy struggling with his daily life. What would he do as a
young person trying to find love, cheap drinks, and fun in a city like
New York? How would he combine Buddhism and dating? We all make mistakes on our spiritual journey; here is where
Each week I’ll take on a new question and
give some advice based on what I think Sid, a confused guy working on
his spiritual life in a world of major distraction, would do. Because
let’s face it, you and I are Sid.
Have a question for this weekly column? E-mail it here and Lodro will probably get to it!
I’ve been meditating for several months but my girlfriend of the last few years just moved in with me. She’s not a meditator and I’m finding it hard to keep up a daily practice when she’s around. Help! – Too Little Time
First off Too Little Time, I’m glad you’re not one of those people who feel like they can only date people who also meditate. I imagine Sid would find that sort of logic pretty closed-minded but you’d be surprised by how many die-hard practitioners feel that way. The heart loves who it loves and assuming you have a healthy relationship with your partner I see no problem with dating a non-practitioner. In fact, I’m doing it right now.
I’m no relationship expert but I do know it helps if you have clear lines of communication about what you need. If you’re like me, you need a regular meditation practice. In order to have a regular meditation practice it has to be a part of your shared life together.
It’s best to be clear about why you meditate, how you feel it effects your life, as well as what it is that you do when you meditate. That way your partner gets a sense as to the importance of your practice and understands that it’s not something foreign but is a part of who you are. I think if explained well there’s no one out there who isn’t into their significant other practicing mindfulness and trying to open their heart to the world around them.
It might also be nice to invite her to an introductory meditation session or talk that you particularly enjoy. Be clear: this is not to win her over as a convert! This is so she gets a flavor of what it is you do. In the best case scenario she enjoys it and pursues meditation and it could be something you do together. Awesome. In the worst case scenario she doesn’t like it but at least appreciates what it is (and how challenging it can be).
It’s also helpful, spouse or no, to determine a regular time that you meditate on a daily (or semi-daily) basis. It doesn’t have to be exact but since so many of us have habitual schedules it’s nice to work your practice into that as opposed to it always being something extra that you have to find time for.
Some people really like to meditate in the morning. I’m not one of those people. My reluctance is only compounded by the fact that I love to wake up with my partner. The meditation cushion may only be on the other side of the wall but it’s too far if that means I can’t cuddle (I’m a cuddler, I admit it). Still, if you are the sort of person who can get up a little bit before your partner then that’s a good way to fit in your meditation practice.
Alternatively if you work at different times then it’s easy to find a time when you can practice without taking time away from your relationship. If you work similar schedules and hate the mornings then try and set up a routine with her. It could even be you practicing while she gets ready for bed or she might want to catch up with friends while you practice.
As with everything else in a relationship, communication is key. As long as you communicate how important it is to you to have a regular practice I’m sure your partner will be open-minded enough to encourage you. In fact, don’t be surprised if she likes the effect it has on you and nudges you to stick to your meditation routine. I think Sid would agree that such a girlfriend is nothing but a true spiritual friend.