The last article described a big change I went through over the past six months – I grew closer to God.
This article will talk about what else I’ve been up to over the past six months. Mostly, I’ve been giving service through space. Giving service through space means being Present with another human being (or any living being) in non-judgmental awareness. You are while letting the other person be. This empowers the other person to be who they are, without fear of being judged.
The past six months I focused my creative energy on nurturing valuable relationships and serving them through space. I also did some short-term contracting work for a friend who runs an event-planning company. But other than that, my creative attention over the past six months was focused on my relationships with my parents, brother, extended family and friends.
I’ll tell you all about it.
Relationships Are Living Things
Relationships are supremely interesting. Interacting with another human being is one of the most complex – if not the most complex – activities we can engage in. When we interact with another human being our entire brain engages, from the brain stem (oldest) to the neo-cortex (newest). Relationships between humans are intricate dances which bring into the fold the most sophisticated our capacities: emotion, empathy, language and imagination, to name a few off the top of my head.
When we understand that relationships are venues for the expression of our most brilliant human gifts, every relationship attains a profound significance. Yes, every relationship; from the relationship we have with the neighborhood baker to our deepest romantic relationships.
So when I write that over the past 6 months I’ve been focusing most of my creative energy on my relationships, I mean it in the sense that I’ve treated interactions with other people as opportunities to serve them.
And what is the best way to serve others? Give them space. It’s that simple; when we give another person space to express themselves as they are, we serve them. We do this by being Present and listening deeply while withholding judgment.
It takes energy to hold space for others. It requires a calm mind and an open heart; traits which our modern civilization is effective at corroding. But when we are able to do this consistently, as I did over the past six months, our mere presence becomes a haven for people. People gravitate towards you because they know that they can be themselves with you.
It’s in providing that haven for people where most of my creative energy went for the last six months. And it was so worth it. I’ll now expand on this.
Relationships Are Underrated
It’s interesting how many of us have been convinced that relationships with other living beings come second to our professional success. But if you take some time to reflect on where true, lasting success comes from, you’ll find it’s roots lie in service to others.
Whether you work as a dishwasher, a doctor, a dog walker, a lawyer, or an adventure guide, the measure of your worldly success is directly proportional to the service you provide others. There is no exception.
This leads us to the inevitable conclusion that all worldly success stems from relationships. It doesn’t matter what you do, the quality of your relationships will determine the quality of your worldly success. As humans, we only succeed when we serve. The quality of every product or service we offer is determined by the value it adds to another person’s life.
As humans, we are immersed in an ever-changing sea of relationships. This means that we are immersed in opportunities to serve. We don’t need to have a title nor a corner office to serve others to the best of our ability. What we do need is to be aware that every one of our relationships presents an opportunity to serve.
When we become aware of this, the world becomes a playground. We cut the ties which bind us to the traditional image of success which has been ingrained into us by well-meaning parents and corporate media. We begin to see with new eyes as we comprehend that opportunities to serve are limitless.
And again, the highest, most universal form of service, is to give others space. Present, non-judgmental space.
Balance Is Key
Having said that every relationship is an opportunity to serve, it’s imperative to mention that balance is key. Human beings are physical beings. We aren’t solely physical, we have a spiritual essence, a transcendent soul. But in this physical realm our souls inhabit a physical body, and like anything physical, our bodies obey the laws of physics (our souls and minds do not obey the laws of physics).
One of those physical laws is the law of conservation of energy. Energy is neither created nor destroyed, it only transforms.
This means that the energy we intake is the energy we output. If we are to live a balanced, healthy and happy life we must achieve a dynamic balance between energy expenditure and intake. The word “dynamic” means that the balance is constantly shifting. Imagine an acrobat on a unicycle who has to constantly shift her body to remain upright – that’s dynamic balance.
We can’t only give and we can’t only take. If we only give, we wind up energetically drained – this leads to disease. If we only take, we wind up alone, no one will want to hang out with us – which also leads to disease.
So we must achieve balance between giving and taking if we are to be happy and healthy.
We can’t only serve others all the time. We also have to accept being served and sometimes take what we want. The key is balance. Establishing this dynamic balance in any relationship makes it harmonious and healthy.
I’ll now describe a few cases of how I served others through space and was served in turn, in Mexico.
Serving Through Space – My Aunt M
I grew up in Mexico City, which is where my mother grew up. Most of my family on my mother’s side lives in or around Mexico City. From March until August of 2021, I lived with my parents in Mexico City. This gave me ample opportunity to interact with most of my extended Mexican family.
Since 2008 I’ve mostly lived outside of Mexico, so every time I meet my family it’s after spending a year or two abroad and undergoing deep transformations. Living away from family allows us to change in unexpected ways, for better or worse. Over the past 4 years I’ve directed my inner change towards embodying abundant peace, health and wealth. Now this change manifests itself in my relationships with my extended family.
One of those family members is my Aunt M, with whom I had the joy of spending many hours while I was in Mexico this last time. The Erick of five years ago would have been too busy playing video games or getting drunk on the weekends to give attention to his relationship with aunt M. Our relationship was superficial, at best.
But now that I understand that each relationship is an invitation to serve and be served, I know in my heart that hanging out with aunt M when she visits is one of the highest uses of my time.
How We Serve Each Other
Aunt M loves telling stories. She tells about what it was like growing up in Mexico in the 50’s and 60’s, what my grandparents and great-grandparents were like and where the best venues to dance in Mexico City were. My aunt loved dancing – she still does. She tells me about the fun she had and the mistakes she made and fills her narratives with lively expletives which never fail to make me laugh.
Now, some of aunt M’s stories are more acptivating than others. But if I didn’t make the time to sit down and listen deeply to aunt M I would miss all the stories, both the exciting ones and the not so exciting ones. I serve aunt M by listening, she serves me by telling me stories and making me laugh. This can go on for several hours when aunt M visits.
She also serves me by cooking delicious Mexican food. In honor of September 15th (Mexico’s Independence Day), she made me and Petra “Chiles in nogada.” Chile peppers filled with “picadillo” (seasoned ground meat), drenched in “nogada” (a walnut based white sauce) and garnished with granite apple. The dish represents the three colors of the Mexican flag, green, white and red.
Aunt M loves cooking and I love eating what she cooks. Cooking for someone is a way of saying “I love you”. She serves me by cooking and I serve her by joyfully eating all the food she cooks for me.
See How It Works?
When we give space for others to be they show us who they are, good and bad. We can then choose what to focus on; when we give attention and energy to the good in another person, he/she can feel it and responds by showing us more good. By giving space to others we empower them to show us their best and worst sides. We see them as they are, not as we want them to be. All we have to do is be Present and direct our attention – our attention is creative.
It takes energy to hold space for others, but doing so can and will lead us to unexpected experiences which we would otherwise miss. All worldly opportunities come from other living beings (any job you’re offered, for example). Truth be told, humans are only able to live on this planet because of our relationships with other living beings who keep us alive.
Giving others space quite literally expands the realm of opportunities available to us. You never know who will offer you what – being open to genuinely experiencing others means being open to the opportunities they will send your way.
I’ll give you another example of how I nourished my relationships in Mexico and served through space.
Serving Through Space – My Friend X
I have a friend, her name is X. We’ve been friends since junior high. Over the years we’ve lost touch and regained it periodically. On this occasion, we agreed meet up for lunch a few times to catch each other up on our lives.
Now, I’ve written about how it takes energy to hold space for someone. There’s another part to the maxim. The more in vibrational harmony you are with another person the less energy it takes to hold space for them.
For example, I can spend days with my girlfriend or my brother or my friends D, H and A, while holding space for them and not feel expended. Because we inhabit similar mental/emotional/physical states (vibrational states – everything vibrates, including humans). The greater a difference in two people’s vibration, the more energy it will take for them to hold space for each other.
Ever notice how you just gravitate towards some people? That’s because you inhabit similar vibrational states. We unconsciously seek to minimize energy expenditure, unless we consciously choose otherwise – this includes our relationships.
It doesn’t take much energy for me to hold space for my friend X. We can interact for hours and separate feeling recharged.
Serving X’s Son, G
X has a son, G, he is a bright boy who is now entering his teenage years. X and I agreed it would be worthwhile for G to practice his English with me. In Latin America (and the world) knowing English proficiently can and does open doors to countless opportunities.
So I met with G a few times and we worked on his English in a conversational setting. I’ve taught English and Spanish before, so engaging people in conversation in a language they’re unfamiliar with is familiar to me.
Children are the ultimate beings for whom we can hold space. Holding space for a child is both the biggest challenge and provides the greatest service. Children test our limits constantly – they’re wired to do so, the more they test the more they learn about the world.
Children are just learning how to be human beings living in our dizzyingly complex world, so they have no models to guide their behavior. It’s up to adults to give children space so they can discover who they are and how they want to be. When adults don’t hold space for children and consistently impose themselves on then, children are unable to discover/develop their identities. Of course, this doesn’t mean an adult should let a child get away with rudeness or lying or cheating. It means setting guideposts within which the child can develop and learn how to live a good life.
It’s a parent’s role to guide children towards positive values while they discover who they are.
How G And I Interacted
G loves plants and animals. He can talk for hours about them. He has a patio filled with different potted plants which he cares for. He also has a couple of Czech wolfhounds, several cats, fish and even a small alligator! G told me about how he came to have all these living beings under his care and what their behaviors were like. Protip: He also told me that if an alligator ever had my lower body in its gullet my best option was to kick it from inside.
Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take much energy from me to hold space for G. I was surprised at how effortless the interactions felt. G is calm, observant and demonstrates leadership traits which he employs to invite children to play with him in the park nearby his house.
G told me all of these stories and more in the few times we met. He was quiet at first, but he eventually felt comfortable talking to me because he could “step into” the space I was giving him. We talk to others about the things which interest us, and the more we talk about something the more we define it for ourselves. When we give space to people we empower them to express and discoverthemselves, as it happened with G and me.
G served me just by being himself. Children have a way of opening up adult minds and hearts to the wonders of the world. For this to happen all an adult has to do is let children be themselves.
Serving (And Being Served) Through Space – My Friend S
I have another friend, her name is S. I visited her in her home state shortly before I left Mexico. Holding space for her is similar to holding space for X. It doesn’t take much energy.
S holds a position of high responsibility in an energy company. S has worked on oil platforms and currently designs them. She is a highly skilled technical professional and knows her craft inside and out. Her job is demanding and often requires her to put in twelve-hour days. She is also single mother. S has her fair share of responsibilities.
I’ve been blessed over the last four years to have the space and time to dedicate copious energy to expanding my spiritual, intellectual and physical horizons. I’ve learned essential concepts which many people my age (and older) ignore completely. Ideas which, when applied, enable human beings to lead rich and healthy lives, no matter where you are or what you do.
Knowing and applying these ideas has enriched my life tremendously and has empowered me to open myself to receiving all of God’s blessings. I believe some of the best service I can engage in is sharing this knowledge with others, describing how to put it to use and how doing so can benefit you and those around you.
How I Served S
Like many young professional parents today, as S has advanced in her career she has experienced a sharp decrease in the time and energy she has to dedicate to herself; to learning new things unrelated to her work and cultivating her spiritual life. Shortly after we met up we began discussing subjects important to both of us; spirituality, consciousness, relationships, work and more.
We took turns giving each other space. I would listen closely to S as she spoke. Once she was done I would chime in, she would then listen deeply to what I had to say. She would then answer me or question me further, pushing me to elaborate on what I had just said. In turn, I would question her, nudging her mind to find answers within herself. This rallying conversation continued throughout the two days of my visit.
S gave me ample space. She allowed me to express myself as I was, she listened closely to what I had to say. By serving me through space she was able to share in the knowledge that I have acquired through hours and hours of research and testing. From why and how to meditate to how to install habits effectively and the importance of moving our body in new ways.
We both taught each other much. Each by giving the other space and listening. By questioning and engaging. We exchanged ideas and pushed the other to open their heart and mind.
How To Hold Space
Holding space for others is an art form and a science. The learning/unlearning process continues as long as we live. The moment we feel we’ve learned enough is the moment someone new pops into our life which makes us realize we don’t know as much as we think we do.
Holding space is a skill, which means it can be trained. In order to hold space for others we must first be able to hold space for ourselves. To inhabit ourselves without judgment. This can be done through regular meditation. I’m a huge advocate for meditation as a tool to transform our lives.
Being Present with ourselves enables us to be Present for others.
We’ve been conditioned through various means to believe we must always be active to be effective. This “hurry sickness” afflicts many, especially young, ambitious professionals. But being always active leads to chronic fatigue and diminishing returns.
To be truly effective we must take time to hold space for ourselves. To be passive between our actions (or to be active between being passive?). To balance relaxing and acting.
Music parallels life in this way; the pauses in a song are just as important, if not more important, than the tones. Would we like music if there were no pauses in the song? No ebb and flow to it?
Nature too has its active and passive cycles. Cycles of growth and cycles of decay.
There are times when our best service is simply holding space for others. Other times our best service is to be active for others. Knowing/feeling/understanding in our bones when to be active and when to be passive is one of the hallmarks of mastery.
We can start by giving space to ourselves. I highly recommend making meditation a daily habit.
In Conclusion – Service Fulfills Us: How Do You Serve?
At the end of my visit with S I felt fulfilled. The trip had taken a lot of energy. But I felt in my heart that it was energy I used in the best way possible, by serving someone who was ready. Not everyone is ready to learn how to open themselves to God’s blessings. But those of us who are eventually find a teacher, whether it be a book or a person. Books are some of the best teachers, but nothing replaces the Presence of a person who embodies values we want to cultivate for ourselves. Every person has something unique to offer, without exception.
So now you’ve gotten an idea of how I serve others. We all have a unique form of service to give. That applies to me and it applies to you. Our mission, given to us by God, is to discover how we can best serve. One-size-fits-all service (just like one-size-fits-all schooling) leaves us dissatisfied and withdrawn. Our souls know we are unique and thus have something unique to give.
It’s our task us to discover what that is.
Through experience, I’ve learned that my highest service lies in teaching. Some people are able to learn from me, others aren’t – that’s how it goes. The only universal teacher is God.
I’ve even successfully monetized my service through this blog. This goes to show you, whatever the service you have to offer, there is a guaranteed way of deriving an income from it. The more unique and valuable your service, the more you earn from it.
How do you discover your highest form of service? Give yourself space. Then you bypass all the conditioned baggage you’re carrying and allow your spirit to shine through. Given time you discover your service.
To our wealth and success.