Suddenly I feel a funny sensation emerging from deep down in my belly. It’s not a frequent visitor, but I have heard people talk about it. I even listened to a powerful TED talk about it. It’s called shame…and it is arising right now while I am in a packed theatre in the centre of Singapore.
I am attending an evening event on ‘mindfulness’ with big names like Dan Siegel, Trudy Goodman and Jack Kornfield.
Trudy just led us through a meditation of sympathetic joy: The happiness you feel when you see others are doing well.
Sympathetic joy is the wonderful antidote to envy and jealousy.
I’ve been telling many of my TeamUp participants and clients about it. For years….
The Sanskrit word (Mudhita) is even engraved in my wedding ring along with some other qualities….
Whilst I am engaged in this guided sympathetic joy meditation myself, I suddenly realize something surprising….
Over the last few months, I focused so much on making our own mindfulness initiative, TeamUp.co, a great success, that I actually lost the ability to feel the joy of seeing other mindfulness initiatives doing well.
I dive a bit deeper and I feel a sense of ‘competition’ arise inside of me. It is the desire to prove to the world that our initiative is better, brings deeper transformation and more lasting results than others’.
In the last few weeks I realized that whenever I read a book or watch a video on a mindfulness initiative, my mind would instantly try to see fault in other programs or see why they are not as good as ours.
OK, back to my seat in the theatre. I bring my awareness to my body. I realize that due to my comparing mind, the feeling of loving awareness that was built up my Jack Kornfield’s meditation, got replaced by sensations of competition and craving.
It doesn’t feel good in my body at all. It feels contracted and restless.
At that time my inner judge kicks in: I am a mindfulness coach and look at my judgmental and competitive mind! That’s where the shame arose….
…..and fortunately a few seconds later I became mindful of that shame.
I notice the sensation of shame and bow humbly to my infrequent visitor and after a while I smile. A good reminder of being human!
And it came with some good insight.
In Buddhist psychology, inner shame is considered a wholesome mental formation, which honestly I never really understood. Until today.
Surrounded by a hall of Singaporeans, I realized why it’s wholesome.
Once I accepted without judgment the inner shame it helped me strengthen my determination to let go of the competitive mind, let go of attachment to certain ambitions and stop using my work as an ‘ego enhancer’ in various ways.
It strengthened my commitment to my own mindfulness practice.
And most importantly, it let me realize that we’re in this consciousness race together, as mankind.
We need as many mindfulness initiatives as possible as long as they are offered from the right intention and with skillful means.
And the ‘together’ aspect feels much better than the ‘competition’ aspect!
And while I write this, a burden is lifted off my shoulders.
I just need to do my best and focus on the process itself, instead of getting attached to an outcome or comparing with others. And that feels remarkably joyful.
Co-founder of TeamUp
Find out more about TeamUp Triad Coaching and how to participate in one of our personal growth courses here.