Playing with your mind to create joy
Brian Tom O'Connor
Awareness Games are ways to play with your mind to point it towards the infinite well of happiness and joy that lies within each of us.
They are fun ways to sidestep all the ways the mind sorts the outside world, and instead, points it within to look for the background to all experience, happiness itself.
Awareness Games have one purpose: to turn the mind around from outer focus to inner focus, and through inner focus to find that obscure little secret passageway to expanded focus. The delightful surprise is that the obscure little secret passageway was hiding in plain sight all along.
To hear more about Awareness Games, listen to this interview on The One You Feed podcast.
Join the Awareness Games Meetup group.
Try playing a few sample games. Just relax and enjoy. Kind of like playing with a kitten and a piece of string. Bounce the string around and see what the kitten of your mind does.
Imagine your mind is a very slippery, very smooth surface with no walls or fences or anything to hold on to.
When a thought comes in, it can't stay—it's too slippery. It just—whoosh—slides on out the other side.
Sometimes a thought will circle for a while before it slides out. When you notice this happening, just slightly tilt the smooth surface, and the thought will slip and slide right on out the other side.
Don't try to control the thoughts that come. Just let whatever thought that wants to come in come in. Then let it slide out again and wait for the next one to come.
Listen to the sounds of your environment. Whatever sounds are occurring.
At first you'll probably perceive them as occurring outside of yourself. But where are you experiencing the sounds?
What if the sounds are happening inside of you?
Let your mind wander. Let it go where it will. And it will.
Think of your mind as a stream that passes in front of you.
Imagine you're fishing in that stream. But instead of fish, you're fishing for thoughts about the future.
As soon as you catch a future thought, reel it in and pull it out of the thought stream. Maybe put it in a little box or basket behind you or beside you on the shore.
See if you can clear your thought stream of thoughts about the future.
Awareness Games is a book of enjoyable but surprisingly deep games you can play with your own mind. Kind of like meditating only more fun and less work. And not so serious.
Why not practices, techniques, meditations, questions, koans, disciplines, instructions?
Because finding the well of joy within is not something with correct answers, set rules, reproducible steps. Everyone is different, so everyone must experiment (that is, play around) and stumble upon what works for each person. The best way to do this is with an attitude of lightness, playfulness, ease, innocent curiosity.
Because you don't have to believe anything to play a game. If I try to teach you something, your mind runs it through the truth-checker. Is it true? Is it not true? Is it a crock? With a game, it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is what you find out for yourself while you're playing around. You don't have to believe in any metaphysical, theological, philosophical, religious, spiritual, or even scientific concept. You just have to try it.
Because correctness and seriousness hinder the search. In some senses, even searching hinders the search! How can you search for something that is already here—that you already have? And yet just sitting around watching TV may not do the trick either. So play with your awareness like a toy—bounce it, squeeze it, smell it, shake it, become immersed in it. You may discover you are it. But don't take my word for it—play with it yourself.
Also because I like to have fun.
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Brian Tom O’Connor is an actor, theatre director, cabaret performer, and formerly depressed guy who stumbled onto the source of joy and happiness in the background of all experience. He is not an enlightened person, which, in fact, is a good thing, because if someone as imperfect and flawed as he is can find it, so can you.
So try the games and make up your own. Experiment. See what works for you. It's all about your direct experience. Play with pure awareness and discover the background of all experience, where happiness is hiding in plain sight.
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Recommended Reading and Viewing
Shift into Freedom: The Science and Practice of Open-Hearted Awareness (Sounds True, 2015)
Emptiness Dancing (Sounds True, 2006)
True Meditation (Sounds True, 2006)
Presence: The Art of Peace and Happiness - Volume 1 (Non-Duality Press, October 7, 2011)
Always Already Free: Recognizing the natural wakefulness we were born with (Baraka Publishing, 2015)
Bridgit Dengel Gaspard
The End of Self-Help: Discovering Peace and Happiness Right at the Heart of Your Messy, Scary, Brilliant Life (Ananda Press, April 16, 2015)
The Headless Way