Yesterday I repeated my day at the beach without having smoked weed. The results were interesting.
I saw that I was somewhat reluctant to participate in my own experiment, I was finding excuses for myself... I don't feel at my best, I didn't sleep too well, and so on. I reasoned with myself: this is just an experiment, I'm not focused on outcome, it's ok to try and to "fail" whatever that means, failure is instructive if you learn from it.
So, after buying a double expresso, which was again doubled because of a 2 x 1 offer on hot drinks at the supermarket, I hit the beach. Now, the constraints I put myself for this game were the same as when I was smoked: I shouldn't speak to anyone, all I needed to to was to establish eye contact and hold it as long as I could, nothing else.
I saw a group of young women, "they'll think I'm an old creep" I thought as I passed them, gazing down towards the sand. Then a fit Asian woman of about my age crossed my path, we made very brief eye contact and then I looked away, "she's probably Japanese and doesn't speak English", and I was surprised at my own thought, as I had just established that the rules of my own game made this thought useless.
I listened to this inner dialogue most of the day, and I guess this is the virtue of meditation, because I didn't believe it, it was simply a manifestation of anxiety. I confirmed this when an attractive woman about my age crossed my paths, not as attractive as to think to myself "she's out of my league", because I heard plenty of this in my mind, and we locked our eyes, she smiled, and I looked away.
I would have chastised myself if I wouldn't have been in exploratory mode, but I simply accepted the fact that I'm unable to hold eye contact with women whom I consider remotely dateable under sober conditions. I know this because I tried eye contact with men and women outside my age bracket and it was ok, my eyes wouldn't find the experience overbearing. Interestingly enough, in conversation I have no problem making eye contact with people I'm attracted to, in fact I may lock eyes too much ("your gaze is very intense", I've been told).
I thought "I must somehow train myself to overcome this fear", but then I inspected deeper into the reasons why I look away and it's simply anxiety. By reducing my anxiety (by grounding myself, by observing my breathing as I look into another person's eyes) I will train this first hurdle.
This experiment is not over yet.