Monday Mindfulness: Who Would You Be Without Your Story?
- Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to question 3.) Actually, I don’t know
- Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.) No
- How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? Frightened, angry, ashamed, wanting to blame others; tempted to react immediately to the email with some damage limitation.
- Who would you be without the thought? I’d consider what my boss was angry about, and if I had any part to play in it. Maybe I should have stayed 30 minutes later yesterday to check those numbers before submitting them. Perhaps I could apologise and just fix the numbers?
Turn the thought around. Then find at least three specific, genuine examples of how the turnaround is true for you in this situation:“I’m not going to lose my job” – it was a one off mistake, not a terrible performance review“My boss might lose her job” – maybe she is stressed and lashing out at me?“My boss thinks I’m good at my job” – all my performance reviews have been positive and I get asked to take on extra projectsThe unpleasant feelings following the angry email have become just that: unpleasant feelings. As we allow them to pass and don’t get caught up in the story, we can see clearly what action could be taken to change the situation.Katie calls this The Work, because like yoga and other disciplines, it is a practice. When done regularly, and with intent, it can become a useful tool to bring about greater acceptance, more responsiveness, and less suffering.What does The Work have to do with Mindfulness?Mindfulness is all about developing awareness of our present moment experience, regardless of how it is. As we become more aware, we also work on out acceptance of our experience as it really is; turning towards our experience, meeting it with equanimity, maybe softening towards it.To help us start to accept the present moment as it is, we practice becoming aware of the thoughts, stories and beliefs we have about our experiences and how these are often not helpful. In our meditations, we practice looking AT thoughts, rather than from thoughts; we start to develop a sense of perspective about them. After all, thoughts are not facts.We practice taking responsibility for our feelings by understanding how our thoughts can dramatically change our reaction to a particular experience. These are our thoughts, and our feelings, they are not down to someone else.Mindfulness aids our understanding of how our evolutionary Negativity Bias and Discrepancy Monitor affect our stories about our experience. Many of us assume the worst without ever inquiring into the story behind it. Or we spend so much time in our head solving problems that aren’t even there. The Work is about allowing us to change our relationship with our thoughts, not about making them go away.So Who Am I Without My Story?My Story is about the thoughts and beliefs I have about my experiences. In The Work, Buddhism and modern mindfulness, it is these stories that cause more suffering than any actual experience. Our present moment experience may well be downright unpleasant, but is the thought “this shouldn’t be happening to me” ever actually helpful? Or does it add a layer of stress on top of an already unpleasant experience.Who we are without stories, is in our actual, moment by moment experience. Sometimes great, sometimes OK, sometimes not so great. Sometimes we’re angry, sometimes ‘meh’, sometimes sublimely happy. And all of this is OK and how it should be. Practicing mindfulness and doing The Work is about developing a new relationship with the way things actually are, rather than wishing them to be different. It is from a place free from stories that we can find greater peace with the experiences in our lives.*************Join Lucy Lucas every Monday lunchtime to explore The Work: http://flowtunbridgewells.com/bookyoga/Each 90 minute session will be structured as follows:
- Initial 'arrival' meditation
- Group check in
- 20-30 minute guided meditation
- The Work - reviewing concepts from the book, applying them to ourselves, reviewing the worksheets
No prior meditation or mindfulness experience is necessary and all are welcome.For those planning to attend regularly, it is recommended to buy "Loving What Is" by Byron Katiehttps://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0031RDW90/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1For occasional drop ins, you can download an introduction to The Work and all the worksheets here: http://thework.com/sites/thework/downloads/little_book/English_LB.pdfPlease note: If you are currently suffering from severe depression, anxiety, trauma, please speak to your GP or contact one of us before signing up as meditation can sometimes not be suitable for these conditions.