By Steve Mills
I have heard it said many a time that every person on this planet has a story tell. If you sat down with a pensioner from Melbourne, an office worker in Berlin or a 12 year old kid in Beijing, each would have a unique and compelling tale to tell. I bet that you also have an interesting story regarding your life and your place in the world.
You possess a chronicled history of your past, a unique viewpoint on the present and a predictive prophecy about what you assume is going to happen to you in the future.
Everyday when you wake up you listen to the story of what today might be like, and the story of what occurred yesterday. We are constantly re-telling this life story to ourselves, checking it against our immediate reality in order to make decisions, evaluate what other people are doing and to know our cultural place in certain situations.
This story is the blueprint that the voice inside your head, your inner narrator, uses to explain to you what you are seeing, thinking and doing in the present moment.
When we start to meditate, one of the first challenges we come up against is how to work with this inner narrator, to detach the observer part of us from the narrator part, so that we can begin to see the stream of consciousness for what it is… a story. This inner narrator is the ego, the part of the mind that will do anything to remain in control. As we go deeper into meditation, the ego/narrator will begin to recite parts of your story in order to get you to listen. It will tell you that you should be thinking about money, it will say that it was unfair that that guy pushed in line at the supermarket last week, and that you should go out for dinner on the weekend.
The ego is like Uncle Bob that you have to sit next to at a family BBQ because all of the other chairs are taken. You are trying to relax and enjoy your steak and beer, and he is constantly waffling on about what he did last week, what he thinks about a vast array of mind numbingly boring topics and why he likes to wear blue socks. It is a never ending stream of inane chatter.
We listen to the ego telling this tale to us all day, and one of the ways that meditation benefits us is by giving the poor observer part of us 5 minutes break to start to collect its own thoughts, and not listen to Mr Ego’s waffling 24 hours a day. So what can we do?
SEE IT FOR WHAT IT IS.
While there are many ways to detach from our thoughts during meditation, I find one of the techniques that has worked for me is to label each thought as “Story” as it arises. When thoughts break into my meditation space, I can push them away by the thought “Story”, and they are not picked up by my observer and listened to. By coming to the realization that most thoughts are just the ego playing the role of narrator, I can keep a Zen-like perspective with them and see that the thoughts are not reality at all. They are just an interesting tale constructed by your ego to keep your attention focussed on it, rather than the timeless, universal, limitless real you that lies beyond.
KEEP IT IN PERSPECTIVE
By learning this perspective about ones thoughts during meditation, you gain a valuable skill. Instead of constantly referring to the story of your past to determine what you should do, now you can break this conditioning and start to live more in the now. You can take the circumstances and events of your life on face value, and not be trapped in past negative behaviours, or do things just because “that’s how I have always done them.” Now I am not suggesting that you should be ignoring the story all of the time, here at Rebel Zen we are all about keeping and enhancing the one thing that makes you different and unique in the world, your personality and “Youness.” I am just asking that you recognise your inner narrative and are mindful of it.