Why Are You So Excited?

Why am I so excited? I mean, I’m so excited because this is absolutely a life-changing book. There are so many life-changing ideas and strategies crammed into this book. I’ve only seen one other book of this magnitude that has anything like that depth of material in it. But it’s only a book! So be patient and try to take everything in. There are bound to be some small things that don’t fit into your worldview. But that doesn’t matter, because that’s what books are for: to challenge you.

It doesn’t matter what else is going on! Don’t waste time wondering what you should do. Pick one or a few life-changing ideas, and commit to them. If it’s a little bit too big, make it a challenge and keep coming back to it until you’ve mastered it. If it’s too small, go back to the basics and keep practicing, because once a technique becomes a habit, it’s almost as though your subconscious understands it much better.

What do I mean by the subconscious? Well, what happens when you try something for the first time and realize that it doesn’t work? You stop it. There’s a little push from your body telling you that the thing you just tried to do is not working. We all get that feeling. If you’ve decided to try a new meditation technique, let’s say, then it’s going to take you about three tries to really see if it works. Let’s consider one of your early attempts (the one that didn’t work), and we’ll say that it didn’t work because it only increased your thoughts (by 1%). Now you want to try it again. But you’re not going to succeed this time, so you have to try it a third time until you’re successful. It took you six tries to see if you had any effect on your thoughts. Then you’ll want to try it a fourth time. And so on.

You could put away the book and let it go at that point. But what if you’re feeling anxious? Or sad? Or angry? (I’m speaking literally, here: when you feel a certain emotion). We don’t normally think about our feelings, but they’re an important part of our personal experience. So let’s try to recognize our feelings and what can help them. Let’s say you’ve never had much to do with negative emotions before, so when you start to feel really bad about something, a specific image (of pain, for example) will come to mind. We might go through our entire thought stream for that image, then we’ll realize that something that we said earlier (or maybe I said something about you) triggered a painful memory. This doesn’t mean that you should jump to thinking about the image. For example, you could say the following: “I just heard about this horrible incident. I wish that I could tell you and tell you how sorry I am, but I’m so afraid that I will have to make the decision to share this with the police. Do you know how hurt I’m going to feel?”

The above could help you make a real connection between your current experience and the negative memory. You now have an idea that it might be okay not to share it, and an opportunity for you to be kind. The way I do it is more like something from the Zen discipline of ‘the moment’ (which is why I call it ‘ancient Zen-like’), so that it may serve as the starting point for a conversation: “I hear about this horrible incident. It made me very sad and I’m afraid that someone will think I’m a bad person. If you can tell me how that made me feel and if you can help me, that would be very kind of you.”

The Zen discipline of the moment is an active practice. It involves using our senses to examine your experience, and not reacting defensively, like we’d normally do. In a way, your imagination is your only teacher in this discipline of the moment, because you’re actually doing it through your thoughts. But with this technique, I’m only using my imagination and not acting that way.