I’ve been clearing out my bookshelves over the recent break, getting rid of books I no longer have any interest in. The piles have moved from the floor into cardboard boxes. Next stop is my local church store.
Letting go of books is one thing – letting go of ‘stories’ is another.
By ‘stories’ I mean all the ideas, narratives, beliefs, memories, assumptions, and emotions that we weave together to create a sense of self.
To the everyday mind, these stories are invisible. We don’t see them, we see through them.
As we begin to wake up, we see this sense of self is a tapestry of ‘stories’ woven with strands of personal and cultural history… all tied together with knots of memory.
This knotted sense of self is familiar and comfortable – until it isn’t.
As we notice how the knots of memory are choking us and limiting us, the impulse towards freedom arises. And then… voila… you’re awakened!
Here are 3 tips for when you’re waking up to yourself:
- You don’t have to be defined by the patterns of your past.
Those stories are just that – stories. They can be entertaining, edifying, or enslaving. But, they don’t have to define you, your choices, or your life. Your past is not an accurate predictor of your future… unless you’re living there!
- You can untie the knots of memory and recreate your life afresh.
You really can! But only if you WANT to, and only when you are ready.
- It takes mindful awareness to untie the knots of memory.
A mindful mind is non-identified with the patterns of personal hi-story – it can enter the knots of memory without becoming ensnared. With mindful awareness you can behold and bless the knots of memory with kindness and wisdom. And when you do, those stories and memories relax… and so can you.
As the knots loosen, your freedom increases.
This is the grace of mindfulness meditation. It’s a natural letting go and opening up. In this grace, an uncontrived and unlimited sense of self blossoms.
This self isn’t a story.
It’s not woven of memories, narratives, beliefs, images, thoughts, or emotions. It’s beyond words – but not beyond experiencing.
Q: How can you experience this liberated self?
A: By cultivating a meditation habit.
Daily meditation unties the knots of memory and awakens you to deeper love, calm, presence and joy.
The key is building a habit. Not just reading about meditation or practicing occasionally. Freedom comes from making meditation a habit.
Meditation is a brilliant way of intimately getting to know our patterns and to begin to explore and transform them – through befriending them rather than avoiding, criticising or trying to control them.
But when we first start practicing, there can be some confusion between the results of practice and the experience of practice. The results of practice can be described in wonderful and inspiring terms: you will be more calm, happy and well-regulated emotionally.
But when people turn their attention inwards they find the mind is like a pretty crazy neighbourhood in there! What we find is perhaps not more calm and peace but a coming face-to-face with our minds as they are. And then people can get demoralized and say: “It doesn’t work for me!”.
The hard reality is that practice is full of experiences we are going to seriously dislike, at the outset. This is not a problem if it is understood as part of the human predicament and not a personal failing or flaw.
Experience the joy and freedom of this practice by joining me each Monday for free online for a 15mins practice of mindfulness meditation called Purposeful Pause.
Until next time, wakey wakey! And may you be safe, may you be calm, and may you be well.