This one can sound a bit weird at first, but it’s actually one of my favourite teachings from the whole project. Like yesterday, it’s focussed on easing anxiety, but it can also help with any kinds of nerves or worries you feel in a certain situation.
The Dalai Lama often gives talks or holds guided meditations in front of big crowds of people all around the world. Being a spiritual figurehead of peace, it could be presumed that the Dalai Lama doesn’t really get nervous or get butterflies in his stomach before giving these speeches.
But he says the opposite is true, and he often feels a little anxious before facing a big room full of people, with all the attention centred only on him. I think it’s reassuring to know that even the Dalai Lama, who is renowned for his aura of tranquility and serenity, can get nervous - he is human, after all, just like us.
He says that in these situations, he removes these negative feelings by reminding himself of why he is giving the speech. Any nerves we feel from getting up in front of people come from the worry that we’ll make a fool of ourselves and look silly.
But the Dalai Lama reminds himself that he is not giving the speech or guided meditation to impress anyone, he is simply trying to help people in the audience by sharing his wisdom.
This dispels any worry of appearing foolish, because in cultivating a sincere motivation, i.e. to benefit those in the audience, any anxiety about what people will think of him goes away, because this isn’t relevant to why he is doing it.
We can apply this to any situation where we are feeling anxious. For example, before a tutorial or lesson, I often feel nervous as to whether the tutor will ask me something I don’t know, and as a result I’ll look stupid.
But if I remind myself that the reason I’m having the tutorial is to improve my grasp of the subject, in order to do better in my exams, then it shows me that there’s really no need to worry about what the tutor actually thinks of me. If I’m going into the tutorial with the sincere motivation to just improve my understanding, then it’s irrelevant whether I impress them or not, because this isn’t why I’m doing the tutorial.
The Dalai Lama says that in any situation, cultivating a sincere motivation to help others, and to just try your best, really takes the pressure off your shoulders. It removes the expectation that we put on ourselves to impress people, look cool, and to achieve lofty goals that we might not always reach. This links back to (Song 16), which was linked to the teaching of not being so hard on ourselves.
Calm down eventually
Protect your energy”
The song I’ve chosen for this teaching is not about cultivating a sincere motivation specifically, but ‘Trigger Protection Mantra’ is amazing for easing anxiety generally.
Jhené Aiko composed this song using alchemy crystal singing bowls, and it’s supposed to resonate on frequencies that tranquillise your mind and target specific chakras. Whether or not you believe in the spiritual side of it, there’s no doubting that the song does have an amazingly calming, soothing effect.
Now I’ll admit, it’s not really the kind of song you listen to for the catchiness of the hook or the lyrics, but just click play and let it wash over you. I’ve meditated to it a number of times, and the dreaminess of Jhené’s vocals complementing the sound of the singing bowls really helps to settle your mind and slow down your thoughts.
See how it goes!