Tell Me a Story
We all have a story. Unfortunately, most of us are in love with it. We romanticize it, telling our stories again and again, often reliving the story as we do. Even if there’s no one to talk to, we tell our story to ourselves. Over and over and over and over again. Perhaps, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we could admit that we all have a degree of self-infatuation. Why? Because our stories uphold our ego identity. We all have stories, and they are perfectly normal, but they are not who we truly are. Good or bad, right or wrong, the ego’s self-infatuation is a distraction from true Self.
We may have positive stories about career, personal interest, travel, and family, and we have not so positive stories about sickness, pain, and injury. We have stories of compassion, and we have stories of betrayal. “If we could only keep the ones we want, and let the other stories go,” says the ego. “If I could only trade in my old story for a new and improved one, the same way I do my car…” Old story, new story, it matters not. As long as the ego has a story, it is happy and secure. The ego is a fox. It knows that if you start to dissolve your story, you dissolve the self with which it identifies. And that is terrifying—to an ego.
This is our higher yoga. Does it mean you stop telling your story? No, not necessarily. It means that you stop making your story real. Patanjali, the great and mysterious sage of Yoga, laid it out quite nicely for us in the first three Yoga Sutras. 1) Yoga is now. 2) Yoga is the identification and restraint of the ego 3) The result is union with Self and the endless peace and joy that comes with it.
Yoga is now. Moment by moment, watch your tongue and then watch your mind. Notice the importance you put on your story… or another story! We often love other people’s stories as much as our own. Drama of any kind maintains the ego.
Curb your Ego
Now that you have identified it, restrain it – like a dog on a leash. Choose against the ego. This is the real work—the yoga. You do have a choice! As Joe Friday always said, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you.” If you slip and spill the beans, just notice how strong your attachment to the story is. Notice how important it is to the ego self, and then smile. It’s ok. It’s not the story itself. We all have one. It’s how we make our stories real that becomes a problem.
Yoga is the process of joining with the Self that we never truly left. True Self simply waits for the illusions, and the stories to dissolve. We each have this Potential within us. When we do connect with It, and we all have made that connection, if even for fleeting moments, the result is brilliant inner joy and peace. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that connection more often? There is a simple trade-off. Are you willing to part with you old stories and new stories alike for something far greater? Like anything else, it takes practice.
What’s my story you ask? I’m happy to share, but I won’t make it real. Like you, it “brought me” to this moment. Born in Gunnison, CO. My dad was a veterinarian. I spent countless hours with him at his office. I assisted him with so many surgeries, I knew how to spay a cat or dog by the time I was 12. We had a small ranch with cows, pigs, horses and chickens. We had a milk cow. As good Protestants, my dad and mom felt that hard work was the key to happiness and while that ethic was not the complete key to happiness, I am eternally grateful for my parents and what they stood for. I saw it all, and I would have made a great doctor, but I had this longing to know what it was all for. Nothing made sense to me. My dad, also a native Coloradan, got into vet medicine to save lives. But in the end, nothing lasts. Everything here eventually dies. I wanted to know more. I wanted to go beyond the suffering.
I’m not sure if I found yoga or if yoga found me. My first class at the age of 22 altered my life both physically and spiritually. I became obsessed with the definition of yoga–to join. To join with what? That, in my opinion, is the most important question we can ask. In my heart and mind, I never stopped asking, and I never stopped joining. I’ve made a ton of mistakes and I am sure there are more to come. I’m fortunate that I never made yoga only a physical practice. It has brought peace, joy and meaning to my life. Is that not the goal? Your life and your story are no different than mine. Ultimately we all use our story, our life, and our body to find a way past it all.
The Only Way Out is Through
Who am I? A body with a story? Too easy. I’ll look deeper.