Eric López Maya, Ph.D. is the Director of the Mexican Institute for Mindfulness, a leading Institution in Mexico and Latin America which is part of the Global Mindfulness Collaborative at the Brown University Center for Mindfulness and offers mindfulness-based interventions, as well as teacher training programs for mental health, well-being and stress reduction, both for companies and the general public. Eric is a bilingual and bicultural mindfulness teacher.
He is also a Teacher-Trainer in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction trained at the Center for Mindfulness in the University of Massachusetts Medical School and at the Brown University Center for Mindfulness.
What is the teaching that is most important to you?
There are many teachings that are important to me, depending on what is happening in my life. If I had to choose one, I'd say that knowing that awareness itself can be healing has been incredibly powerful for me. It's like when I just let myself be, without trying to get anywhere or change anything, there is a very mysterious transformation that happens almost by itself. So, just being aware of present moment experience, as simple as it sounds, is one of the most powerful teachings there is, in my opinion.
What helps you practice self-compassion?
Recognizing my imperfections and those in others. Letting go of the need to "perform" at my best has a very paradoxical effect where I tend to be more efficient, calm, and effective. It seems to me that self-compassion can grow out of practicing loving-kindness, but also from a deep understanding of how conditioned the mind and heart are to think that our value as a person comes from how well we perform or how successful we are. It is ok to be human!
Tell us about the last time you lost your cool and how you navigated it.
There are many times when I lost my cool, but a recent one happened, ironically, when the weather was very cold. I was very frustrated by the fact that power was gone and me and my family were very cold. There was anger towards the power company and even towards myself for not planning and anticipating this event. I was able to identify and differentiate between the facts (power was gone and it would be gone for a while), and my reaction to those facts. Once that clarity arrives, it was much easier to identify what to do, such as meditating, calling the power company., etc.
Tell us about the last time you cried and how you soothed yourself.
It was recently when one of my relatives died of COVID-19. Actually, I don't think I tried to soothe myself, but rather seek refuge in family and community, as opposed to trying to calm myself or wanting to let go of grief. I'm still grieving and as best as I can, embracing grief and also gratitude. In contemplative practice, I think it's crucial to work with opening up to the unpleasant, understanding that it's a part of life, as opposed to sugarcoating difficulty. This can co-exist with kindness and self-compassion, of course.
What have you let go of that made your life a little easier?
Letting go of the need to be seen and recognized. There is tremendous release in acknowledging the diversity of opinions and perspectives, and while I do have strong convictions and opinions about a lot of things (including meditation and mindfulness), my life has become much easier by just allowing things to unfold at their own pace. I think there is profound wisdom in allowing things to grow and evolve, as opposed to pushing through.