"Happiness shared is happiness squared" is, to me a lovely phrase.
Okay, so that’s not exactly true, but it is a little quote that I like to use to help me in meditation sometimes, when they I'm having trouble letting go of negative feelings or thoughts, or when I'm latching on only to the positive, ‘feel good’ thoughts and emotions.
We all do this - it’s totally natural. But sometimes we can’t fully enjoy the pleasant feelings if our mind chases them - we create fear of losing good feelings or good ideas creates tension. Or we create tension in resisting negative situations, feelings and emotions.
Negative resistance breeds persistence.
That’s because it’s all down to attachment. When we allow ourselves to become over attached we lose our subtle dance and playfulness with life. In meditation we sometimes ‘try’ to recreate a 'peaceful, warm, and focused meditation' (like the one yesterday) and if it turns out to be a busy or heavy meditation we can sometimes feel frustrated. At times like these I remind myself that I am meditating to simply observe - building awareness of ‘what is’ - taking time notice the body.
A nice analogy is like pulling up a chair to look out the window at a sunny, blue sky - but sometimes there are dark clouds, sometimes there are light clouds, but nothing we ‘try’ will change that. But there is always blue sky waiting for us, if we chill, sit back and observe. Let go of attachment and things will flow easier.
Yet still, it is difficult to sit with the dark clouds of heavy emotions, pain or busy thoughts, and to stop trying to recreate calm and pleasant sensations. Impatience is part of the issue, so one tool that I developed from Andy Puddicombe's book ‘Headspace’ is to start to try the following:
What I find with this technique is that pleasantness is no longer craved or clung to - and so it is allowed to flow. Therefore pleasure often lasts longer and can be enjoyed more. Impatience (of unpleasant feelings) dissolves, because compassion and love become part of the equation. Have you ever noticed it is much easier to be kind to others than it is to yourself?
In this way we are training patience, awareness and compassion all simultaneously.
When you integrate this mindfulness outside of the meditation it's possible to share positive things more freely - to give them away - and therefore enhance your appreciation of them - happiness shared is happiness squared. (This also works on Facebook). And when you practice empathy with yourself, as if you would to others, you start to take it easy on yourself a little more and then naturally extend that out to others. Some things that are truly made of ‘love’ will never run out anyway - like hugs or music or kindness. The more you use them the more they spread and grow.
So please share! ;)
I cover more about self empathy in my classes in mindfulness which are coming up soon. Please see these links for more information and to book your places.
Neil Morbey is a meditation teacher, group facilitator and inspiration guide for Positively-Mindful.com