In The Moment

One of the goals of meditation is to experience mindfulness all the time, even when you aren’t on the mat. Nearly every moment of our waking life is spent thinking about a potential future or mulling over the past. There is certainly a need for planning in life, but most of our thoughts are not really about planning. The wheels in our head are spinning but we are going nowhere. Meditation brings us back into the moment and, ideally, that enjoyment of the “now” (which is all that truly exists) can enter our everyday life.

In a lot of ways, meditation is a lot like MDMA for me.

When I take Molly I am truly in the moment. I feel my body, connect with my loved ones, and enjoy reality without concern over the past and future. This is a truly revolutionary feeling for someone who is kind of introverted like me. Usually, I live in my head, I live in the past and future. With Molly and meditation, I live in my body, the here and now.

I’ve often wondered if introverts tend to prefer Molly while extroverts tend to prefer psychedelics. That hypothesis kind of makes sense to me, though I’m not sure if it can really be tested… maybe someday.

I’m trying to take my meditative practice off the mat, but it is really difficult. Hell, it is still difficult for me ON the mat. But I trust the process and believe meditation will improve all aspects of my life. I just gotta stick with it and take moments each day to breathe and consciously bring myself back into the moment. Instead of showering and thinking about what my day might bring, I can shower and enjoy the feeling of the water, the music on the radio, the joy of being alive. When I drink eat breakfast I can admire the flowers and enjoy the sensations of eating instead of my mind wandering to something embarrassing I did in middle school (god, I hope nobody else remembers the stupid shit I did….)

Living in the now is important. It is all we have. Trapping ourselves in the past and future is a waste of life. I’ll keep working towards “the now” and use all the tools at my disposal, meditation, MDMA, and other practices that appeal to me. Maybe I’ll get back into fire dancing, that had a lot of flow.

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Drug Use

As many people probably know already, last week the DEA refused to reschedule marijuana. They will continue to view weed as a “Schedule 1 Drug”, which means it “is a dangerous substance that has no recognized medical use and that has a high potential for abuse”. There are lots of problems with this that should infuriate people of all political persuasions… Conservatives should be angry that an un-elected federal bureaucracy is going to enforce rules against states that have found overwhelming medical use for weed. Liberals should be angry (and in my experience they are) at the erosion of civil liberties, particularly against people of color, by militarized police all because of the War on (Some) Drugs. (I do find it kind of strange that conservatives, who claim to be Constitutionalists, tend to just ignore the violations of several amendments in the Bill of Rights because of the war on drugs… but whatever).

The crazy, evil, tyrannical War on Drugs is not really what I wanted to talk about. I am more interested on how those of us are fighting the war on drugs could learn from the ridiculous ruling by the DEA.

In my experience, the government overplayed it’s hand with the war on drugs and made an entire generation skeptical of the dangers of drug use. I was part of the DARE generation who faced fear-based propoganada when it came to drugs, particularly weed. I was told that weed would drive me insane, I wouldn’t be successful, and just smoking it once will ruin my life. As I go older I realized that weed won’t drive me insane, you can win gold medals and start revolutionary businesses while smoking weed, and generally the only way weed ruins your life is if you get caught with it (the drug itself isn’t that bad). Once I realized the government lied about weed, it made me wonder if they lied about other drugs as well (particularly MDMA and psychedelics, which always appealed to me).

So yes, marijuana is a gateway drug, but only because the government built that gateway and started waving everyone in. If DARE had been based on harm-reduction and actual science then it could have been an effective way to minimize addiction and deter people from irresponsible use.But, instead, the government decided to show us eggs being hit with frying pans. We were told that our brain on drugs was scrambled, but then we met people who used all sorts of drugs and their lives were just fine.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of people fighting against the drug war go too far in the other direction. Some (not all, and maybe not even the majority) of people view many drugs as harmless, particularly weed. Hell, it is even sold to us as a panacea that can cure everything under the sun. Yes, there are medicinal benefits, but it is not a cure-all, and there are risk associated with it (as there is with everything). Pretending those risks don’t exist only supports the government.

When it comes to healthy behavior with weed (or MDMA, shrooms, video games, exercise, or anything that can be an addictive activity) we shouldn’t pretend that it is harmless. If I had a friend who woke up in the morning and the first thing they did was take a shot of vodka to get a buzz going and then all day took frequent breaks to keep it going and then after work went to happy hour only to stumble home drunk nearly every night, I would see that as a problem. It may not be destroying their lives, they may be relatively happy and healthy, but that need for persistent reality modification would raise red flags for me, and a I think many people would agree. But, if that behavior was weed instead (wake and bake, spliffs all day, bong rips when you get home, etc) we kind of laugh about it and pretend it is harmless, and maybe it is harmless for the moment, but it is still a red flag if someone feels the need for a drug to get through the days. There are already addictions that we can’t avoid (water, food, air, etc), adding more onto them only reduces our freedom and autonomy. If there is a drive to do something from morning until night, that might be a problem, whether that thing is alcohol, weed, exercise, working, or playing video games.

I think everyone should be able to peacefully do whatever they wish with their bodies (which includes their minds). It is a gross violation of our rights to say we can’t take drugs, preventing someone from taking a drug is making the claim that you own their life, their body, their mind. It is to claim them as your slave and property. But, that doesn’t mean we should ignore our friends if they are engaging in harmful or destructive behavior, and we certainly shouldn’t make the claim that because something is our right that it is completely harmless or shouldn’t be done in moderation.

My Worst Addiction

Yesterday, an acquaintance of mine wrote this blog post which really resonated with me. The post discusses his relationship with politics and political news and is well worth the short read. For me, my relationship with politics has become increasingly painful. What used to be an exciting hobby (or even a career passion) has become a source of pain and discomfort.

The more rational I get about politics the more I realize it is a waste of my time, particularly when it comes to sharing political news. Not only is it a waste of my time, it is something that is actively making my life worse. It sucks up my time, makes me angry, and reinforces an “us vs them” tribe mentality. Make no mistake, politics is a drug (especially in the form of Facebook). I know that not all drugs are equal, and some can be incredibly beneficial. My own use of MDMA makes me open to experimentation and I recognize the benefits.

The problem forms when the drug starts to take over your life. When the need to argue with people (even though it won’t change anyone’s mind) or the desire to have the most updated news (even though it literally doesn’t matter) starts to interfere with your health, career, and life. News can actually have value if it leads to other positive change. If you find out about a natural disaster and donate blood or money, that is a wonderful use of news, but that doesn’t require hours of scrolling Facebook each day. This is something that Tim Ferris talks about in his book “4 Hour Work Week”, if news is important then you will find out about it, you don’t need to go searching. It is a waste of time to need minute-to-minute updates on the world, 99% of what you encounter will have no effect on your life and will be completely irrelevant in a matter of days or hours.

When I realize I’ve spent three hours on Facebook scrolling and sharing articles instead of meditating, writing, working out, going for a walk, having sex with my partner, reading, studying, sleeping, socializing with friends, or working, then I have a problem. When I feel the impulsive need to check certain websites the moment I wake up, or “just one more time” while lying in bed, then I have an addiction. When I have a regretful hangover at the end of the day when I realize I didn’t do the things I wanted to do or that I didn’t take care of my personal health, then I have a problem. Politics has stopped being a hobby and started becoming heroin*… and maybe worse, I’ve become a drug dealer to those I care about.

So, I think it is time to make another focused effort at weaning myself of the drug. I love Facebook for a lot of things, including getting news that is positive (we live in the safest, most awesome time in human history and science is doing some fucking awesome things) and communicating with friends, but it is terrible for true change in the world. Sharing an article about the homeless issues that effect LGBT individuals replaces volunteering at a shelter to help those individuals. Sharing an article about yoga replaces going to a yoga studio. Sharing an article with writing tips replaces actual writing. Facebook allows us to signal who we are without actually producing anything of value. Sharing a post is literally the least you can do to help change the world.

I know, despite my best efforts, I will probably back chasing that political dragon looking for a fix. But that’s okay, the effort matters and with effort, support from family and friends, and some tools (ie StayFocused app on Chrome) I can improve my life. Research on addiction shows that it isn’t as much about the drug as it is about the community, if I can build a community without politics then I can escape it’s clutches and focus my creative energy on something of actual value, something that actually matters. Hopefully, the community that I have will stay with me if I shake of politics completely, I would like to imagine our friendship is deeper than libertarianism.

*I actually kind of hate using heroin as the evil drug example. I know people who use heroin recreationally without any addiction, and I’m not really in a place to judge other’s drug of choice. Hell, their use of heroin is healthier than my use of politics and some of my food habits. But, it is the drug that most people are familiar with as having a really high level of addictiveness. Maybe I should have used nicotine instead…

The Ride Begins Again…

Tomorrow morning I start on a 35,000 miles, 18-month bicycle ride around the United States and Canada with my partner (Anna), our friend (also named Anna), and our dog (Higgs-Bosom – The Dog Particle). I started this blog just over two years ago to track my (mostly) solo bicycle ride from Washington DC to Los Angeles. It is funny how things come full circle.

Anyway, because of the upcoming ride I will have some new writing responsibilities and this blog is going to change a bit. I will still write as often as possible in an uncensored way about the subjects I love (Burning Man, sex, spirituality, BDSM, LGBT, science, transhumanism, polyamory, open relationships, drug legalization, social issues, MDMA, anarchy, libertarianism, veganism, etc) but I really don’t know how much time I will have to spend writing. My Facebook page will probably also lack it’s normal traffic but if you want to add me there to see the articles and stuff I find interesting please do. If you are interested in following my other writing I will be blogging at two other sites:

  • Barely Functional Adults: This is going to be an uncensored blog about our bike ride. Because we are all adults and enjoy adult things (drugs, sex, being naked, swearing, sinning, etc) this blog will cover those things. Some highlights we are looking forward to include visiting nude beaches, going to festivals, the World Naked Bike Ride, Burning Man, and banging in every state. We will be updating 2-3 times per week. (www.BarelyFunctionalAdults.wordpress.com).
  • 10 Legs, Will Travel: This blog will be censored, updated daily, and basically rated “PG”. We all subscribe to the Dan Savage view of dealing with parents/family… basically, there are things parents have a right not to know about their adult children’s lives and they have a responsibility not to snoop. This blog will provide our families with a place to hear about our journey, look at pictures, and keep track of us without hearing about hanging out in the Orgy Dome or seeing our nipples, butts, pubic mounds, etc. (www.10LegsWillTravel.wordpress.com).
  • There are also other social networks:
    • Instagram: 10LegsWillTravel (we will probably take tons of pictures… the Anna’s are both great photographers)
    • SnapChat: pneiger (in case you want to send us pics of your junk)
    • Twitter: pneiger (though this is just my Facebook and blog linked, I don’t actually use it)
    • FourSquare: Peter Neiger

Anyway, I hope you will follow our other travels and still check out this blog from time to time. I will do my best to keep up with everything but it is likely I will only have internet access a couple of times a day… and I’m also working on college courses, Khan Academy, and some other writing so my downtime will be limited. Below is our basic route but if you have any advice on places to check out or know people with open lawn/floor space for us to sleep please shoot an email to 10LegsWillTravel@gmail.com . Much peace and love to you all.

Map Update (1)

How the hell are you happy?

Twice in the last two days I’ve been asked how it is that I’m so happy. My response was a little bit simplistic but basically true for me, I said that I’m happy because I “moved out of DC, use ecstasy, ignore the state, and get laid”. I’m not recommending those steps for anyone else to be happy but the basic concept has worked well for me.

Moved out of DC: When I lived in Washington DC I was unhappy. I didn’t like the city at all. I had some good friends there but the weather, culture, and environment was awful. Washington DC is a city where dreams go to die and good intentions get infected with an incurable strain of syphilis that spreads throughout a community causing insanity and eventually death. It is a place whose culture is filled with power-hungry, narcissistic, future asshats who care only about what you can do for them. Also, the humidity and heat during the summer makes the crowded, sweaty, stinky metro rides feel more like a form of torture than a modern form of transportation. Basically, my happiness is do in part to taking steps to get out of an environment I hate and move to a place where I feel more comfortable.

Use ecstasy: While I am very open about my use of MDMA as a medicine, a relationship aid, and just for fun that is not really what this is about. Part of my happiness comes from having hobbies and interests that take my mind of the negative shit in the world. Riding my bicycle along the beach, reading books, going to raves, writing, and just diving into “Firefly” on Netflix are all ways to escape for a while, which we all need. Mental escape is necessary and healthy to remain sane in a world that the media, religion, and the government says are going to hell.

Ignore the state: Yes, the government sucks. It is a tyrannical leech that pretends to be for the “will of the people” but is really for “the profit of those in power and their friends”. The federal government continues to oppress minorities through the War on Drugs, bomb the shit out of people just because they live in another country, and spy on all citizens because we are all potential terrorists in their eyes. Governments have always done that… it is what they do, their existence is based on the use of violence against innocent people and they don’t know how to do anything else. In addition, there really isn’t a lot any of us can do about it as individuals. You can certainly protest when needed, donate to non-profits, share stories, and raise hell but I believe the best thing we can all do is mostly ignore the state and try to be happy. If there is a victimless crime that you disagree with and infringing on your rights, just fucking ignore it smartly. And remember, we live in an amazing time. We have the most powerful companies working to cure death. We have satellites, telescopes, and space probes finding out new crazy awesome things about our galaxy daily. New research is finding cures for a number of diseases. It is seriously the best time to be alive but you wouldn’t know that if you only pay attention to government.

Get laid: Sex is awesome and I’m happy when I get some (I wish this piercing would heal already so that I could get some more often…), but this is really about relationships and community. Find people who are happy and be around them. I have a community of Burners here who share the Burning Man principles and take care of each other. Communities can be based around religion, sports, hobbies, exercise, etc. but they are necessary in my mind to be happy. I wouldn’t base it around politics much anymore, though I met some fucking awesome people through the libertarian movement, but to each their own. And I find it valuable to do things with a community that moves beyond how you originally met. Do you do yoga and enjoy the people there? Then invite them to go camping and share your love of the outdoors. People working together, loving together, and sharing experiences is a source of great happiness for me. In fact, now that I think about it, this may be the most important step.

So, as we drift into another beautiful weekend I hope you all have a happy time. I know I plan on filling my few days off of work with the beauty of southern California, ecstasy, anarchy, and banging.

Hoisting the Flag

 “Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering its a feather bed.” – Terence McKenna

I think it surprises some people how quiet and reserved I am when they first meet me, particularly if they were Facebook friends with me first. I sometimes fear my introverted nature may actually come off as stuck up or something, but the truth is that I just am not comfortable in person when I first meet most people (I’ve actually noticed a “three day rule” where I am not truly comfortable with someone until I’ve interacted with them meaningfully three times). That is very different from my online presence where I tend to very openly share my views and activities, even things that most people would likely keep secret. I’ve been thinking a bit about why I am so open online, I hate to admit it but I think a lot of it has to do with other people.

First, being open online allows me to let my thoughts known in a comfortable atmosphere. Whether I am sharing sex-positive links, thoughts on drug use, polyamorist and open relationship experiences, or anarchist memes it is relatively harmless to put them online. The internet is a place where I won’t need to see any discomfort I make others feel, which is really my greatest fear. Rejection does not scare nearly as much as the idea that I made someone else uncomfortable.

Secondly, online forums allow me signal to similar people that I exist and am an ally. I have had several experiences where people have approached me online or in person to discuss issues that I have posted on Facebook. This has allowed people to more comfortable approach me to discuss sex, drugs, polyamory, or libertarianism and how our society portrays each of these. The dialogues have advanced into deep conversations and shared stories that would not have happened without a willingness to share my thoughts and not hide behind social norms. The willingness to challenge has built communities.

Lastly, it just feels right. It feels like I am being true to myself when I don’t try to be one person in public and another person in private. I can’t imagine the internal stress that would come from trying to keep up a facade like that. Being open online also allows me to bypass small-talk (which I find exhausting) and filter out negative people, in the same way it attracts like-minded individuals it also shields me from those who would put me down for my peaceful choices. I have an amazing network of friends who love me for who I am. I am very thankful to live in a time when billions of people can connect and there is always someone a mouse-click away that feels similarly. The world isn’t perfect but we live in a time when people have more ability to be true to themselves than ever before.

Light in the Darkness


ISFLC-20121
This last weekend I had the pleasure of working with Students For Liberty at the 6th Annual Students For Liberty Conference. Prior to moving to Los Angeles the liberty movement was the defining issue of my life for four years or so, including living in DC for three years and working full time for SFL for two. While the principles of liberty and the social benefits of them are still at the core of my philosophy it is not nearly as visible in my day-to-day life. Due to this removal from liberty activism I came to the conference with a perspective that was unique for me.

First off, the ISFLC provided an opportunity for me to see how I am perceived by others. I probably met over 100 people at the conference who I had only interacted with online and I found my online presence is similar to how I want to be perceived. I am pretty universally known as the guy who unapologetically loves Ke$ha, who not only believes drugs should be legal but encourages their use to expand the human experience, and someone who tries to break down the misconceptions about sex and relationships by living the philosophy. The private discussions I had with people at this conversation has really reinforced in my mind that I made the right decisions shifting away from policy and towards social pressure that punishes consenting adults who do not conform to “traditional” male/female monogamy roles.

Secondly, it was incredibly inspiring. I’ve seen this annual conference grow from 300 people floating around a couple of college rooms to 1500 participants taking up two conference floors of the Grand Hyatt, two tapings of the Stossel Show, and a conference hall filled with dozens of partner organizations. While the quantity of participants seems to increase exponentially the quality and diversity increases also. What is often stereotyped as a middle-class white male American view on individuality, freedom, and personal responsibility is starting to bloom with people of all colors, classes, genders, and creeds. I have been to conventions for Campus Progress and College Republicans and I have never seen so many people fly from around the world at their own expense to discuss ideas, tactics, and just celebrate human potential for peace. With this growth comes increased media attention, though the media still tends to falsley classify libertarians as part of “the right” libertarians continue to emphasize our unique philosophy that provides a consistency that is unparalleled in modern politics.

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