So there I was, looking for truth at the foot of the Himalayas, dodging soccer playing little-boy monks as I chased the wicked monkey who had swiped the last bit of gourmet chocolate from my windowsill (stupidly left unlatched by this naïve Canadian seeker), and the big wisdom coming down on me was – wow, I should have had less yak butter tea, because it’s freaking cold and I badly need to pee. And the outhouse is halfway down the rickety monastery staircase. Next to a pig. And all I really want to do is get to the delusionally-named internet café (one desk one monolithic computer one dial-up line and no coffee) so I can commune with the toe-curlingly wonderful man back home that I am falling in love with.
If that isn’t a how did I get here moment, I don’t know what is. So here’s how.
When I was 4 years old I announced to my mom “I like animals better than people, because animals never hurt your feelings”. Yup, people suffer, and as a kid I was already trying to figure out why. I wanted to understand our minds, our hearts, our love affairs, and our happiness. So I started seeking. And 40 years later, I supposedly had the answers. I was a thriving (and highly decorated – I’d show you the medals but I don’t know which dusty box they’re in) psychologist, sex therapist and “love expert”. I was travelling the world teaching couples how to create passionate, loving relationships. I was even on TV, and in North American terms that means I must be good, right?
Oh, yah, and I was single. In fact, I had given up on having the very thing I taught other to have– a spectacular relationship. Over and over I helped other couples connect with love, thrill, sexual play, psychological depth…and then I went home to my lovely house, with the steam shower built for two that had only been used by one, and slept alone. (okay, disclaimer, not alone, two goofy mutts hog the covers. After all, animals never hurt you, remember? Hey, at least I’m not a cat lady. Yet.)
Yet I did have a great love in my life, and his name was Buddha. I’ve studied and practiced meditation and Dharma (which simply means the teachings of awakening – how to liberate the mind from suffering, how to let go of clinging to things that ultimately cannot deliver peace and joy, how to be happy for no reason) for 20 years. And Buddha never lets me down. And so, at the peak of my career as Dr. Cheryl, Passion Coach, I dropped out of the spotlight and entered a four-month silent meditation retreat. In the dead of winter. In Ontario. In a cabin without power. Yah, this girl is tough.
For the next four years I laid low and delved deeper into the mysteries of mind and relationships. I meditated, I studied Tantra, I wrote. I quit doing radio, TV, and live speaking, except for teaching Dharma classes and meditation retreats. And I got way more answers. Then I slowly emerged from the cave. And to my surprise, I met a guy. And I started to fall deeply in love. And then I left him to go to India with my meditation teacher.
Which brings us to that AHA moment, my bursting bladder and I scampering up a misty monk-strewn mountainside, torn between the search for enlightenment and the man I left behind. Two paths, me in the middle, which do I choose? Nun or sex therapist, love or awakening, Buddha or my sweetie? Suddenly I stopped chasing the monkey. I took a still, mindful breath of that chai tea, burning-plastic-bonfire and Tibetan incense scented air. I let go. The confusion cleared. And I saw the wisdom right in front of me. Love and awakening are not two paths. I didn’t need to choose. And in that moment, Mindful Loving was born.
What if, instead of believing love and happiness are somewhere over the horizon, we wake up to the beauty and connection of the present moment? What if, instead of seeking passion, we learn to become passion? Mindful Loving is a matter of noticing, of doing, of staying open to each other, of discovering the enlightened within the mundane. When you hear your beloved rattling their keys in the hallway, do you leap up to let them in? If not, my dogs beat you out at heartfelt hellos, and you’re not loving mindfully. Mindful Loving is needing nothing more than this exact moment, this breath, this cup of tea, those eyes gazing into yours, this touch. Mindful Loving is the teaching of love and awakening, together.
And now let’s start putting the whole idea of Mindful Loving into action. Hand in hand, you and your lover go into the bedroom, walking softly, gently, almost only on the balls of the feet. Together you cross the room. One of you reaches down to steady. One of you reaches even further down to pull the cord.
And you’re free. The sacred space of the bedroom has just been liberated from the tyranny of the television. It has become the real, the true world once more. Just you and your beloved, two bodies, two hearts, one moment. Together.
And so it begins.
For the sake of all beings – Wisdom, ComPassion, and Mindful Loving