Brian Tom O’Connor is an actor, theater director, cabaret performer, and formerly depressed guy who stumbled onto the source of joy and happiness in the background of all experience. He is the author of the book, “Awareness Games: Playing With Your Mind to Create Joy.”
In this interview, Brian starts by discussing his background and where he got the idea for his book. He talks about how he suffered from depression for many years, and through his quest to change, discovered the concept of non-duality. We ask Tom to share what he learned from studying non-duality. He describes the process of self-inquiry, the importance of acceptance and love, and where happiness comes from. He then defines awareness and explains how it’s both similar and different from mindfulness and meditation.
Next, Tom walks us through a short game from his book, called “Expanding and Contracting Awareness”. We ask him what people might experience when they first start playing awareness games. Tom then shares some other games, including “Slippery Mind,” and “Be a Mirror”. He discusses where he got the ideas for these games, as well as some of the feedback that he’s gotten from his students. Tom also talks about how becoming more aware has changed his life. He notes that he’s not depressed anymore, is more easily able to deal with anxiety, and has more rewarding and connected relationships.
Tom then expands on the idea of not controlling things. He explains how being overly controlling of our emotions blocks us from happiness. He offers strategies on how to be more observant and accepting of our emotions. Tom walks us through an awareness game to use when we’re feeling bad, called “Include, Include, Include”. He also discusses how people can start to develop more awareness in their daily lives. Tom then describes a few of his favorite awareness games: “The Circle of This,” “Big Body,” and “Wandering Awareness”.
Finally, we ask Tom to talk about some of the other changes that he’s noticed in his life as a result of being more aware. He discusses how his irritability has decreased, and how he’s more adept at learning new skills and technologies. He also describes how his relationships have improved, particularly with his husband. Tom emphasizes why it’s important to focus on the good qualities in people, and on how you receive everything, rather than focusing on people’s faults and trying to change them.
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