By Phakchok RinpocheErric Solomon

How Is Your Mind?

When our mind is very fearful and panicky, our mind becomes very closed in and tight. It becomes a negativity feedback loop. When our mind is tight any thought or emotion that arises dominates. So fear makes our mind tight, and a tight mind makes the fear more and more predominant.  When our mind feels spacious, then the fear or panic that arises can’t completely take us over. It’s like the difference between a tiny 10-by-10-foot room and a huge 100-by-100-foot room. In the tiny room, anything you place there completely defines it. If you put a desk in there, it’s an office. If you put a bed in there, it’s a bedroom. If you put a stove in, it’s a kitchen. In a huge room, you can have many things, and different environments, yet no single thing defines the room. When we create space, thoughts and emotions, such as panic or fear, can still appear, but they no longer completely define our state of mind.

Creating Space

The Creating Space exercise is an excellent way to deal with our stress, fear and looping panicky thoughts. It can relieve the tension and uptightness in our mind and also in our body. Creating space is a very simple method that interrupts our habitual patterns of thinking about thoughts and emotions, fears and worries.

In this video Phakchok Rinpoche explains how to Create Space. Phakchok Rinpoche asked Erric to record a guided creating space exercise, which you will find below the video. 

Creating Space

from Radically Happy: A User’s Guide to the Mind

Sit comfortably and close your eyes.

Imagine being surrounded by an infinite, perfectly clear, blue sky. The sky is cloudless, spacious, pristine, the deepest sky-blue color. It completely envelops you, extending ceaselessly in every direction—above, below, and to every side. There are no walls, no boundaries, and no buildings, nothing at all in any direction.

Continue resting your mind on this infinite sky by making the experience of spaciousness as vivid and vibrant in your mind’s eye as possible.

If you become lost in thinking about work, things you need to do, or anything really, that’s normal. Just gently return your attention to imagining boundless space.

Having created a sky as vividly and clearly as possible, spend some time appreciating the space you’ve imagined. Do this by feeling the spacious quality of the sky. Appreciate the beauty of the space you’re imagining and how infinitely vast, spacious, and immaculate the sky around you is. You don’t have to go on and on about it. Just gently try to feel how it is to be in the spaciousness of the sky.

Allow yourself to feel the spaciousness permeating everywhere: inside and outside your body and the mind.

Rest for a little while in this feeling.

Slowly open your eyes and reorient yourself to your surroundings.

You can click here to read Part 1: “Relying on the Love of the Buddhas.”