I just watched that video and feel like it really sums up humanities current predicament, and the choice available to us moving forward. I really like the work that Sustainable Human does, their videos taught me a lot and helped me see the brighter future which is possible.
Last night I did something I would never normally do. I went to an event entitled "Bretheren, A New Moon Ritual For Men". The title alone still triggers all my anti spiritual, anti woo woo programming. It's deep in my bones.
But I know the organizer and he's a good friend, so I trusted it and went.
For me, hanging out with men had always meant trying to outdo each others toxic masculinity, which was fun in my youth (even while it scarred me, funny how often I've enjoyed something in the moment and then it hurts me in the long run), but has lost it's appeal since my breakdown/awakening during school. I haven't had many guy friends that I feel close with since that shift in my perspective, as I was left in a middle ground of not interested in hanging with old friends and not comfortable going to woo woo stuff.
So I decided to go, to take the step out into hanging with a different crowd of bros, not a party crowd, not a gamer crowd, not a poker crowd, not a sports crowd, but a crowd that gathers on new moons to do rituals.
The theme was actually three kings, which is funny to me now because I've had the above video on my "to watch" radar for a few days, sitting open in a tab that I could never quite get to. After participating last night the energetic block was cleared and I finally watched it.
At the meeting I was reminded of all the ways men are struggling in our society. It's hard to be struggling when you're in the privileged position. When asked to talk about what masculinity meant, most everyone had a variation on the theme of emotional repression (including myself).
What I never learned growing up was that that shit kills ya, the emotional energy needs to be flowing otherwise the physical body gets damaged. Not to mention the way the blocked emotional energy effects your behavior, your thought process, your minds clarity, and so much more. We definitely need more spaces for men to heal this shit, cause no one is enjoying the consequences of it.
My wife got me a book called "Man Up: Imagining Modern Manhood" by Carlos Andres Gomez. Looks good, gonna give it a go.
If you think I’m a shitty person, you’re right. Honestly, I’m the shittiest person I know.
Why? Cause I know every detail about my every transgression. Every comment behind someone's back, everything I stole without getting caught, every nasty thought that never crossed my lips.
Sure, I’ve hung out with some scumbags and there are some really famous shitty people, but I only know a fraction of the horrible shit they’ve done. I know every single fucked up thing I’ve ever done, which is a way longer list than I have about anyone else.
And I’m not some teachers pet church boy raised in a sheltered home who never had a chance to do bad things. Au contraire, I’ve done pretty much every shitty thing there is to do, other than murder (but I have attacked people with a deep desire to kill them, and no intention to stop… luckily there was always someone around to pull me off in those moments).
I also planned to continue being a shitty person to my dying day. I was ready for that journey.
Don’t get me wrong, I also was always a good person. I treated both friends and strangers with kindness, love and respect. I helped people without seeking any sort of reward for my generosity. I listened to those who needed an ear and a gave support to those who needed a shoulder to cry on. I was just a shitty person too, ya know, at the same time as I was a good one.
Kind gentle soul by day, a vicious ghost rider by night.
It felt like the best way to build a life that balanced the two was to become an assassin working for the good guys, a James Bond or Agent of Shield, someone who channeled this hatred and anger inside towards protecting the innocent from the villainous. I was ready to be a shitty person till my dying day if I could just use that shittiness for the greater good.
That all changed when I started to see through myself, past my personality, past my ego, past the false “sense of I” upon which everyone is built. I began to see through the societal structures and systems which had always seemed obvious and inevitable, and became aware of their inherent flaws and corruption.
Suddenly it was hard to believe in the good guy bad guy dichotomy, hard to hold onto my anger and hatred, and impossible to continue pretending that I was actually this character who had been developed through an intricate dance of stimulus, response, and assignment of meaning.
At first this left me floundering - lost and confused, scared and nervous. Every internal habit and belief I’d developed in order to successfully navigate the world was revealed for the damage it was causing to my soul, but I didn’t have a new way to orient myself. It was a difficult place to be, astray without a rudder.
That’s when my yoga path started. It came to me first through a book my wife had given me 5 years earlier and I’d refused to read.
I was coming to the end of my psychology degree and realizing that science didn’t have all the answers which I’d always assumed they would. I began pushing the edge of what was acceptable thought, diving into the study of consciousness and the nature of reality with an open mind because my investigation with a skeptical mind had hit a wall. That’s when I suddenly felt called to begin reading the book my wife had gifted me, “Autobiography of a Yogi”.
I’d been attending yoga classes and treating them the same way I’d treated football practice - a competitive workout focused fully on my physical development, but even so, I’d still gotten little moments of meditative experience as a side benefit. Reading the life story of Yogananada and his deeper understanding of the science of yoga, I realized how much more I could be getting from my yoga classes.
My practice changed from a physical workout to a spiritual exploration of myself through the use of an ancient scientific process. In it I found a system with which I could rebuild myself into the person I wanted to be, not the one which genetics, social pressures, and happenstance had shaped me into.
And now I sit here today, still a shitty person, but a less shitty one. The good person inside me has grown now that I know how to cultivate it, while the shitty side of me still lingers, arising when I’m triggered in my weak areas, reminding me that I still have work to do.
But I’m a happier shitty person now, and I’ve got a new mission. Instead of serving the greater good by killing the villains, I’m just gonna slay the demons inside of me and be here to help anyone else who wants to do the same.
Thanks to everyone who has inspired me onto this path, with a special shoutout to Sustainable Human and Charles Eisenstein! If you don’t know them then checkout the insightful video below.
Back when I was a mid-stakes grinder, I spent hours and hours everyday trying to plug the leaks in my game. Part of that meant upping my strategic understanding by working with my coaches (<3 SakiSaki & Midian, y'all taught me so much). As my understanding grew, the other part took on a larger role.
What was that other part you ask?
The emotional part. How many times did I know what to do, but not end up doing it because I was tilted, I was bored, I wasn't paying enough attention, I was scared, I was impatient...
I started paying much more attention to my role model's mental and emotional state, rather than just the way they'd play each hand. During a week in Korea I stayed at Midian's place, which gave me the opportunity to observe his energy, not just while playing, but also in his daily life.
I noticed a calm, grounded, and mindful presence. Even when we were all out at the bar working on a bottle of whiskey, and the rest of us would be loud and rambuncious and excited, he'd be pretty chill. Smiling more, yes, but centered. It was hard to get a big reaction out of him, in either direction, towards exuberance or depression. Good things happen, he's chill, bad things happen, he's chill.
Along with the equanimity, he was also naturally aware of what was happening around him. It seemed like he didn't get lost into his internal dialogue as easily as the rest of us, and he was able to have a sort of meta sense about the flow of the situation because of it.
I noticed the way this translated into his poker game when he allowed me to observe him play his regular 4 tables of high stakes on Stars. His sense of how the game was flowing and how each person at the table played allowed him to do many perfectly timed bluffs to take down pots I'd never even try for.
On the flop he'd tell me his feel on a player and the approach he'd take to capitalize on their playing style's weakness, and I'd be thinking "your HUD only has like 25 hands on the guy, how can you have such a read?" He wasn't very interested in the HUD as he was processing info on another level, on the computer in his head.
I could see the gap between myself and the players I admired, and it wasn't the strategic understanding as much as it was the mental and emotional muscle.
This led me to 2 conclusions. First, I wasn't going to break through the wall between me and the high stakes until I evolved my whole being. Second, that I'd had the tool right in front of me the whole time, due to growing up in a family that was very involved with the world of meditation. From leading scientists researching meditation to embodied masters teaching it, I had been surrounded by the solution since my childhood, but I'd never taken advantage of it.
That's when I quit poker and went back to school. I realized that the field of science studying meditation and body language was psychology, so I set out to learn the science and get a degree. As I'd always resisted meditation, most of my energy went towards the intellectual pursuit of knowledge about the tool rather than applying the tool to my daily life, but I did begin daily mindfulness meditation.
By the end of my degree that balance had flipped, as I'd jumped into a life of yoga, meditation, shamanic healing, and psychedelics... all the hippie shit I'd resisted my entire youth (except for the occasional shrooms on the party scene). I also started playing poker again, but only live, no more online grinding. I applied everything I'd learned, meditating as I sat at the table, remembering yogic philosophy when taking a bad beat, feeling the magic of all these souls coming together to create this poker game.
I found that the poker table was one of the best places to test whether I was really embodying what I'd learnt, as it triggered up all my old patterns and pushed me to live my new beliefs. Can I be unattached to the result of my actions, only concerned with taking the right action in the moment? Can I be content with everything that is happening, even if I've been dealt nothing but rags and bad beats for the last 30 minutes? Can I be compassionate and kind to the people around me, even if they just took all my money?
After graduating with my psych degree and completing my yoga teacher training I was teaching 8 classes a week, working with a wide range of people, from senior citizens to teenage athletes, and everything in between. I was reminded of my days coaching low-stakes poker players here on LP, and the joy of helping people learn a new skill. I realized how much these yoga & meditation practices had improved both my poker and StarCraft game, which inspired the idea to offer meditation training to the gamer community. I recently signed up with GamerSensei as a coach to do just that for StarCraft players. I'm very excited to merge my old world and new world like this
I recently came back to LP to see whether meditation was a topic being discussed here, and was happy to see that not only was it a topic, but there are already several experienced and passionate people sharing their knowledge.
I have to say, for any new poker players, take advantage of the fact that people like RiKD, Tutz, and Loco are sharing their knowledge about meditation. Loco is especially good at conveying the science behind the practices, what they're achieving, and why they work. While the internet provides us with a wealth of resources for learning meditation, having people to talk with is also an important part of the journey, so we're all lucky to be part of a community with knowledgeable people who are willing to share what what they've learned.
I'd like to offer my gift into the mix as well. If you're looking to add meditation or yoga to your life, I'd love to support ya, so please feel free to hit me up. From chatting here on LP to regular 1-on-1 coaching while you build the skills to level up your game, I'm available to help
Despite being exposed to meditation all my life, I never took it seriously till I began making my living as a poker player and realized I needed a tool to help me level up. Upon finding that tool I went on a path away from poker into a life I never imagined before.
It's fun to be coming back full circle and reconnecting with the gamer community to share the greatest gift I ever received from my time gaming. It's a gift which has improved my entire life, not just my gaming skill, and I'm happy to see so many of you adding it to your lives as well <3