In the midst of a total emotional breakdown, I got a phone call from one of my meditation teachers. It was 5 a.m. my time, but he was calling from Europe. “Erric! Right now everything is fine, don’t think about yourself too much!” Then he laughed. I lamely replied, “ uhhh, ok thanks.” If I had been a little bit awake I might have been more pissed off. But that came soon enough.
I had made a huge financial mistake and was going over and over and over it in my head. Then I would do it some more. I still had to get up, go to work, and pretend everything was ok. I was still having to juggle all the normal challenges of Silicon Valley life and I was a mental wreck. So, as I dragged myself out of bed into the shower, what my teacher said started to really get under my skin. Jeez, in addition to all the other stuff, I was not all right and thinking about what was going on was the only way I could see to get out of it. Well at least he was kind enough to call…
As the water flowed from the shower head and enveloped my body, it suddenly hit me how right he was. In the right now, this very instant, I was ok. It was only all the thinking about what I should have done or worrying about what I was going to do that was causing me so much mental anguish. During the day, I was responsible to the careers of several hundred people. During the day, I couldn’t afford to waste time on my sad wallow. The more I was connecting with and caring for others, the less time I spent on worrying. Hmmm. When we do the Creating Space exercise, we feel spacious. This is the opposite of how we feel when we are worried, looping over the same thoughts again and again, and then doing it some more. When you have a very small room any furniture defines the room. If you put a bed in it, we call it a bedroom, a desk and we call it an office. My mother, lives in a big New York City floor through loft. It is basically two enormous rooms. There is a couch, and some chairs, a table and more chairs, a stove and oven and sink, and all my mother’s art materials (she is an accomplished artist). Nothing in the room solely defines it. It is very spacious. In the same way when we Create Space, we can have all kinds of thoughts and emotions, but they can’t define us.
Here is a guided Creating Space exercise I recorded.
So what about the other part of my teacher’s advice, you know, not thinking about myself too much? We need to strengthen a mental habit of taking other’s needs and cares as if they were as important as ours. That is where Sharing Happiness and Joy is incredibly beneficial. By practicing this exercise we habituate our mind to sharing our joy, and experiencing the natural interconnectedness that we have with everyone and everything. This feeling of interconnectedness, the warm-hearted present moment awareness, is what make our life rich and meaningful. And we relax the bad habit of being totally “me-focused.”
You can read more about it here. And below is a guided exercise I recorded on how to share happiness and joy.