“Rest in natural great peace this exhausted mind,
Beaten helplessly by karma and neurotic thoughts
Like the relentless fury of the pounding waves
In the infinite ocean of samsara.
Rest in natural great peace.”
~Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche
Several years ago, I ran into a friend who had just finished a month-long silent meditation retreat.
I asked her how it was, and as she pointed to an imaginary banner across her forehead, she said, “If there’s one thing I learned, it’s ‘the story is extra.’”
Have you ever been caught in a story? Here’s what it looks like:
- Worrying about what might or might not happen;
- Thinking about what other people should or shouldn’t do;
- Believing our own internal voices that criticize, doubt, and judge;
- Talking to everyone we know about other people’s stories.
Did you ever consider that these stories are extra?
We Define Ourselves by Our Stories
We get so used to defining ourselves by these familiar narratives. Who would you be if you didn’t worry constantly. What would you do with a mind that is still and silent?
Being lost in stories complicates how we experience our lives.
If you look closely enough, you will see that there is an effortless flow of life that is happening. It’s an easeful unfolding that is always occurring, although we tend to not realize it.
Your body walks into the kitchen to make a snack. You get in the car, turn on one of your favorite podcasts, then drive to wherever you’re going. You dress yourself, breathe, move, chew, sit down, stand up, blink…
Whether or not you’re consciously aware of it, life happens—without any stories whatsoever. It doesn’t need anything extra to do what it does.
Can you find this effortless flow in your own experience?
I had a conversation with someone recently who was filled with doubt. She was trying to make a decision about whether or not to accept an invitation, and she went back and forth, terrified that she would make the wrong decision and miss out on something seemingly important.
It was clear to me from the get-go what she really wanted to do, but she certainly took the long, circuitous route through the recesses of her mind to get there. (Sound familiar?)
Life Without the Story
There is a simplicity to life if we let ourselves see it—it’s beautiful…and perfect. We become aware of it when we don’t listen to the mental noise in our minds.
We stop thinking we know the answers better than this most intelligent flow. We stop thinking we have control. We start taking our preferences—and even our fears—lightly. Because when we attach to them, we suffer.
Our personal selves are out of the way, knowing that the only way to peace is to surrender.
If the story is extra, then where does that leave you? Right here, right now. Quiet mind…open…and primed for bubbles of random joy.
Can you feel it?