When I was on retreat in June at Feathered Pipe Ranch with Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen, we shared our stories of the different life passages we’d journeyed through and how these experiences shaped our growth and change. Since then, I’ve wanted to discuss how this relates to leading a mindful life but didn’t know what to say until now. The late Carl Sagan remarked in his series, Cosmos,“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”
If you believe that we are spiritual beings having a human existence, then you may think that what we do in this lifetime matters, especially when human existence ( and that of all sentient beings and our planet) may not survive if we choose poorly. In one of my favorite stories, “Into the Woods” the witch warns the villagers, “Careful the tale you tell, that is the spell. Children will listen.” Although we may not consciously be aware of our “stories” and how they are affecting us, we can learn.
Mindfulness teaches us that “with awareness we can respond with choice” instead of “reacting on auto-pilot.” The starting point is to become aware of the automatic thoughts, feelings, and sensations which trigger our bodies and minds without us even knowing. After a month of tuning into her “automatic thoughts,” one of my clients “noticed” that she kept having negative thoughts about herself and when she did start to feel good, felt undeserving of it and resumed her self-criticism.
Recently the same client told me,”I was my worst critic. Now I know that I’m the only person who can change my life. I’m in charge of what I choose to tell myself and my destiny.” Because our habitual “stories” like my client’s “I’m no good” keep playing in our heads, they often happen outside our awareness. When we choose to “pay attention,” to our automatic thoughts and “stories,” we free ourselves to experience the moment we’re in, rather than worrying about the future or regretting the past.
This week, pay attention to your self-talk and your “stories.” Practice the mindfulness exercise which follows (yes, it’s here this week) to help “Stay in the Moment.” I you are in STL and want to learn more, I will be teaching my “Mindfulness in 5 Simple Steps: How to Stress Less and Live Better” at my practice, Midwest Mind Body Health Center on Saturday August 29 from 10-12:30 am. Click here to “Like” us on Facebook to find out more about this and upcoming events.
Have a good week. Namaste.