Hola mi Gente,
At a church in the neighborhood I grew up in, the man in charge of ringing the bells for Sunday mass for years would play the opening notes to Stevie Wonder’s My Cherie Amor (“la la laaa, la la laa…”). I once tracked the man down and asked him why. He said he played it because it was the song he dedicated to his now deceased wife when they first met. Returning to the neighborhoods after being away for some years, the bells no longer rang and when I looked, I discovered that the man had passed away and no one else knew how to ring the bells…
You can outrun that which is running after you, but not what is running inside you. — Rwandan proverb
Anybody who knows me knows how I feel about the majority of self-help books out there. It’s not that I don’t like them as much as I feel that they don’t offer actual ways to change — hows. Some books are good at identifying a problem and offering insights. And while I cannot deny the importance of insight, that and $2.50 will get you on the train. Other self-help books deal with specific issues that are not transferable to other issues.
I feel in order for real change to come about there has to be a how: actual exercises we can practice that can bring about a change in our mental software. It is a lot like an exercise program. I call it this approach to change Happiness Crosstraining. A major reason why many of us find ourselves stuck in ruts is that we follow scripts that were handed down to us. In fact, some of these scripts were written generations ago and have little to do with who we are and they often cause much pain. So today I’m going to offer you an exercise in order to counter your script. I try to offer experiential exercises because you people think too fuckin’ much. In fact, most of you are tyrannized by thinking most of the time. So I try to offer basic exercises you have to experience in order to begin moving you away from thinking.
See?! You’re already thinking! Sheesh! Shut up already!
Okay! Ready? Breathe… relax yourself and…
Pretend you are going to kill the next person you see. I want you to try to feel this in your body. Imagine that you are really going to kill this person. How do you feel (not how you think you feel) inside? What are the bodily sensations you are feeling?
Now, imagine that you are going to have sex with the next person you see. Again, how do you feel (not how you think you feel) inside?
Bear with me for one last exercise: Pretend you are going to save the life of the next person you see, but in doing so your own life will end. Imagine you are going to die as a result of saving this person’s life. How do you feel inside (feel)?
Now, answer the following question: which imagined action — killing, having sex, or saving while dying — most feels like liberation, freedom, and unbound love?
Which one feels most like freedom? Got it?
My challenge to you is why would you intentionally hold anything in your mind, except that which most opens your heart and soul so that others may benefit from it?
If you did the exercises, I have just fucked up your defensive wall. Now you know. From now on, the choice is yours. When you find yourself imagining something that results in you feeling less open, simply imagine whatever most opens you. It is that fuckin simple, believe it or not.
This is the first step that helps you get off the merry-go-round of living and reliving all those painful scripts — those childhood imprints on your psyche. I use a simple equation that helps me remember:
constriction = hate/ love = openness.
This is the beginning of replacing habits that bring constriction with habits that cultivate openness. The other practice is to live your life as awareness in space, maintaining openness without support; being openness without effort or intention. At this point, if you haven’t done the exercises and just tried to think about them, you will not understand my message. So go back and do them now. Not later, but now.
Can you remember the feeling that most opens you? Perhaps it was saving your best friend’s or your child’s life. Whatever feeling most opens you, allow this feeling to dissolve into an awareness of openness, like a swirl dissolving in water. Let go of any effort to imagine anything, just be that feeling.
Another moment will come (perhaps a rude driver will cut you off, someone on the subway will jostle you) and you might find yourself once again thinking of something that constricts you, if even a little bit. What do you do? What can you do?
First, consciously visualize or feel whatever opens your heart, soften your body, and relax your mind. For example, you can visualize making passionate love with a superior lover, your bodies entwined in emanations of light.
Then allow this visualization to dissolve into an authentic feeling, like an ocean of openness, alive and real as this bright moment.
This is a way to replace unloving (constricted) mind formulations (that often arise from hand-me-down scripts) with loving (open) ones. At first, this exercise might feel ineffective or even silly to you. But with time and practice you will be able to allow all mind forms to relax open as love’s clear light. Repeat this two-step process of visualizing openness and then applying it whenever you happen to notice that you’re closing up. In this way, openness becomes your default state in every conscious moment.
This is the practice of opening your heart and throwing away the old scripts — of undoing the deeply ingrained childhood imprints that force you to sabotage your life. Many of you say you want to be loved, but as long as you’re closed, you will wait forever to be loved.
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…