“Mindfulness helps us get better at seeing the difference between what’s happening and the stories we tell ourselves about what’s happening, stories that get in the way of direct experience. Often such stories treat a fleeting state of mind as if it were our entire and permanent self.”
— Sharon Salzberg
So often we get lost in the stories our minds create. Something happens, and instead of experiencing what happened directly, we make up a story about what just happened. The story often includes why this thing just happened, whose fault it is, what it means about us/them, how this thing that just happened will last forever, how to fix what just happened. This story making process isn’t helpful. Our lives would be so much easier if we could simply experience our lives without the addition of the story.
Pema Chodron has a phrase I find myself using often “drop the story and feel the feeling”. These stories keep us from experiencing ourselves directly, they distract us from the rawness of our immediate feelings. We never really experience life as it is, instead, we interpret it through the lens of our conditioning. We mistake who we are for these stories, or for the state of mind that these stories produce (anxiety, worry, stress, loneliness, sadness, shame…).
Mindfulness helps us to drop these stories so that we can experience ourselves, and lives, directly. We cultivate the courage to feel our feelings, instead of leaving our bodies for the stories in our minds. Mindfulness asks us to not add on to our experience, but to feel what is actually happening, in our bodies. It helps us to recognize when we’re living from the neck up, and to find the courage to inhabit our bodies, where our feelings live. If we can get out of the stories of the mind, we can get into the realness of our lives. We come to realize that we are not the thoughts or feelings that are constantly coming and going.
The next time you find yourself adding on to your experience, see if you can drop the story and feel what you’re feeling. What happens when you let go of the padding between you and your feelings.