When we were small, many of us invented imaginary stories with imaginary friends. Our abstract games would be noted by amused parents as a sign of our obvious originality and creativity.
As we supposedly grow up or, at least, grow older and move out into the world as adults, the narrative we have about ourselves and our lives is often even stronger and as unconscious.
We don’t realise we are living in our own story of our lives, often re-playing the past or fearful of the future, not actually present with our moment to moment experience of being here, now.
Worse still, our stories about our lives are often untrue. They are usually a narrative we have been telling ourselves for a long time, out of habit, knee-jerk defences and reactions.We rarely allow the head space for our intuition to emerge. The inventor of penicillin, Jonas Salk, like many scientists knew and stated that, ‘Intuition shows the thinking mind where to look.’
Often we hide away in our heads out of fear. Fear of uncertainty, fear of change, fear of suffering and fear of passing through this world unnoticed and unloved.
At the heart of our narrative habit is an inability to stay close and intimate with the difficult aspect of our lives, of our suffering. Even though suffering is at the heart of what defines us as human.
You only have to listen to any conversation on the bus or tube. Invariably you hear a mindless babbling as people pour out the details of ‘their story’ – mostly mindless clutter that fills their mind, distracting them from what is really going on.
Why does any of this matter? By failing to acknowledge our actual experience of being alive, we often don’t know what is really going on for us. We cannot therefore meet our needs, give ourselves self care when the truth is buried beneath layers of story telling.
But not only we fail to ease our suffering by story telling but also we miss out on the richness of our daily experience, the great yet little, often undetected, joys being alive.
Mindfulness allows you to see your story telling as merely thoughts passing by like images on a cinema screen. And that whether you engage with them is a conscious choice. Meditating is a mirror, merely reflecting your daily habits.
My teacher always says, ‘The way you do anything, is the way you do everything. ‘
Our story is really just escapism as our narrative leans us back into the past or lurches us into the future. Away from the present. It crucially makes us less resilient to the only inevitable: change. Less agile in the dance of life.