Chapter 12 | Learning How to Drive

Let’s talk about mindful dating and relationships …

How can I stay true to myself when I get tangled up with someone else’s energy?

How can I keep my heart open and not have my mind interfere, judge, doubt, shut something down instantly etc etc

How can I go with the flow but not get carried away?

How can I move forward but not let things get too heavy too quickly?

When there is nobody else in your life apart from yourself, it’s easy(ish) to stay mindful and present and keep thoughts about the future in check, see them come and go but not get too involved with them. When an exchange takes place with another person however, it’s easy to get carried away, something they say will spark off all these new thoughts in your head, like the ripples on the surface of a calm lake after throwing just one small pebble in there.

You know someone a few hours, maybe a few days and you’ve connected over all sorts of topics and all of a sudden, you think, hey, maybe I could change all of my plans, turn my life upside down, make room for them. Darn, let’s just move to India, teach yoga classes, workshops and retreats and see what happens.

Reality check: I’ve known him just 5 MINUTES!!!

See that’s what I mean! What is going on up there? It’s like a circus. Jumping all over the place, jumping through hoops, creating imaginary worlds and lives in my head, they don’t exist in reality, where are they coming from?

How deeply routed are societal and cultural expectations? Do these even have anything to do with all that monkey mind chatter?

One minute I am super happy with my situation, I am living my life, minding my own business, focusing on my own spiritual growth, and the next minute, boom, I find myself talking through the whole night, connecting, laughing - with so much curtesy and respect, curiosity, surprise, wonder. And we even stay up to watch the sunrise together and I feel like I’m in some kind of dream state. What just happened?

I didn’t want this. I wasn’t looking for this. Or was I? Who knows!?

Am I ready to even let someone else come close again? Have I actually learned my lessons since my last relationship? How scared am I to get hurt again? How can I let that fear go and give this a fair chance?

For the best part of the last 2 years, I would like to think that I have changed for the better as a person. I’ve learned, obtained the knowledge, done the studying and passed the theoretical exam, I can give you an elevator pitch on how to recognise your mind and separate it from your true self. Observe the thoughts that are coming without identifying with them. Stay centred in your seat of consciousness.

But this is the real test. This is the practical exam. Like learning to drive. I know the rules: what side of the road to drive on, who get’s to go first, what’s the speed limit, where can I park, all of that. Now, let’s get into the car and drive and put that knowledge into practice.

My parallel parking might turn out to be a complete disaster the first few times, despite me knowing exactly what to do in theory. I might even get into an accident, maybe I don’t see another car in time and although I hit the breaks, it’s too late and I bump right into them. But here’s the thing, all of that is not going to stop me from driving again tomorrow, is it? If anything, practice makes perfect and I’ll be a better driver for it in the future.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to adapt that same approach, that same attitude of ‘I am just learning how to drive’ to dating and relationships? It just feels much harder to look at it that way, because we get emotional. And our emotions lure us in even quicker than thoughts. Our true self getting entangled or perhaps entangled isn’t the right word. It’s more like a veil (the veil of avidya in yogic terms...) that’s covering us, maybe it’s like a thick fluffy duvet or maybe it’s just like a sheer scarf, blocking our view, fogging our vision, robbing us of our clarity.

And there is of course the fact, that connection is rare. How often do you meet someone to whom you feel physically and mentally attracted? Not just a guy you think is hot, but then he opens his mouth and what comes out leaves you utterly disappointed. No I’m talking about someone who shares similar views and beliefs, who is on the same level as you intellectually and perhaps wants similar things in life. Because experience might have taught you that this doesn’t happen every other day, it adds a whole other level of clouds cluttering your mind’s sky. At least that’s my experience.

Especially in today’s world of online dating, and regardless of the platform, although admittedly some are worse than others (but that’s a whole other blog post), it’s just too easy to swipe left to the next prospect. There is so much choice at the flick of a finger and even after ‘matching’, most interactions remain painfully superficial.

Getting past that initial small talk stage requires efforts from both parties. Listening actively, showing interest and respect for the things that are important to the other person, accepting them fully for who they are and most importantly communicating openly and honestly; all of this and more is required if we want to connect deeply. Showing up like that can be hard, but if we manage to nurture such a connection with loving kindness, perhaps we’ll be rewarded with witnessing it grow into something truly special.

Like getting your MOT done, topping up the oil, the windscreen wiper fluid, checking the tire pressure etc creates the best possible conditions for you to enjoy your driving experience and master your skills as a driver.

I may have passed my theory test, but after a couple of years of using public transport, starting to drive again is daunting and I am still learning.

Lots of love, always


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© Jessy Fassler. All rights reserved. With thanks to Mint and Chillies Photography