We tell ourselves stories of our past and our future to distract us from the present. We trick ourselves this way into feeling powerless, because we can do nothing yesterday or tomorrow. Of course we can act in the present, we simply have to remember our power and capability in changing now.
“Our worst fear is not that we are inadequate. Our worst fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” -Marianne Williamson
As Marianne Williamson suggests, when it comes to our own lenses and color, we don’t know our own power or else we are afraid of it. Maybe Marianne had space travel or some other “great” aspiration in mind, but it can be the work of your life simply to shift your own perspective of your life. The story we often tell looks like “if only you didn’t have so many student loans, if only you had a nicer car, if only your relationship with your mom was what it used to be, if only you were better at cooking, if only you could be/do something else….” The point of life is to be alive, and the story is often what holds us back from doing so. We have the choice to write the story that says we are in bliss, taking every moment to discover the meaning of life – or we can write the story that says we are miserable.
What’s the story you tell yourself?
It is very human to doubt our worthiness, especially when trying something new, and even in yoga. It is very easy to fall into a story that holds us back and leads us into feelings of scarcity and fear. Here’s the thing: we are bound by fear and scarcity because we *feel* bound by them. It is through the deep intuition of knowing that we find moksha, freedom. Knowing that we are enough, knowing that we are whole. We are returning to what already exists – boundless abundance within us. The practice of yoga leads us to this remembrance. The job of the yogi is to excavate this truth, return to this knowledge for ourselves. Beneath what distracts us is perfection and light and abundance. If we can change the story and shift our own language in our own minds, we find freedom. The sun is always shining, we just have to choose to remember that the sun never goes down. The earth simply turns.
Yoga and Your Story
Changing your story and shifting how you view your story or tell your story (to others and to yourself) is not easy. It takes practice and time – and it may be the practice of your lifetime *just* to shift or become aware of the patterns in the story you are telling. The practice of yoga asks us to be aware and conscious – if we aren’t even able to step back and watch our story unfolding, then we can’t decide if we are going to step in and change it or not. In this way, practicing yoga supports the openness of your heart and mind towards a shift. When we focus on being, we understand that we are whole and abundant. In this journey, it is important to be patient. Patient with even our ability to really see what the story is that we are telling. Patient with ourselves as we slowly make changes to that story. One of our beloved visitors to Practice Indie is Nataraj Tatanya, and he describes this slow change as the steering of a ship. Even the slightest shift in our practices and mindsets is like angling a ship one degree. While in the moment, it feels like very little changed, over time the course of your ship is drastically different.
How does trauma fit into the stories we tell ourselves?
While of course our goal should be to steer away from the miserable and towards the blissful appreciation for the present moment, our trauma can have a place in this story. If it feels wrong to you to erase your trauma from your story, we want to emphasize that you cannot be wrong about whatever your story needs to be. If you have experienced trauma, you are allowed to include that trauma in your story. You are allowed to feel pain from that trauma. Fully claiming the story might mean that the story includes the trauma and when you/ if you become ready, it can include the pursuit of healing from that trauma.
We can be so moved by how powerful changing our story can be. We are allowed to be moved, and we need to fully honor this aspect of practice by recognizing that the power to change one’s story is a privilege. I may write a story of abundance regarding my physical well-being. I am healthy, and I have a safe, beautiful home to live in with good food to eat. Not everyone can write that story, because it’s not true for everyone. I am privileged to be able to write that story. Being honest about our stories includes acknowledging that the power we have in changing them is not something everyone has. Don’t get us wrong, shifting the narrative is *worth it* – point that ship. But storytelling cannot undo systemic racism, poverty, or trauma. Plus, when you know better- do better. Once you acknowledge your privilege and change your story, it’s time to help others who have less privilege do the same.
An Exercise in Storytelling
Get a timer, paper, and pen. Spend five minutes listing all your complaints – everything that frustrates or pains you. Read the list, and from that list write a story (we are talking fairy tale style). After reflecting on the story you wrote, decide what you can do about this story. Perhaps you aren’t ready to move on every part of the story – that’s ok! Choose one thing in the story, a few things – find something you can change. Rewrite the story with that adaptation – Boom! You have steered your ship one degree.
“Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning.” – Joseph Campbell
What follows “I am” is the story of our lives. Invite in the future that you want. Manifesting can be real and genuine in our lives because we can steer the ship of our own lives. Observe how you are forgetting your wholeness-and work toward remembering.
If you want guidance and community in steering your ship, Nataraj Chaitanya will be visiting with Practice Indie for our special 2020 Visions events the first week of December.