A brave woman I know just asked me if I could speak to her about courage.
She plants gardens, she wants to study whales and when she writes to me I feel her hands. She is as brave as you are every day. As brave as me. And that means she is also sometimes afraid.
We all have two stories running in our heads. One makes us happy, buoyant and sure. One makes us defeated, angry and fearful. They vary person to person. In a brave moment, one person may hear ‘I am loved,’ another, ‘I am destined for greatness.’
And then come their polar opposites. The first person might hear ‘Nobody likes me’ and the second, ‘I am useless.’ Unfortunately, for most of us these latter types of story seem to play in our heads with greater frequency than the former, at times on a continual loop.
So how to deal?
I firmly believe you cannot have the joyful story without the detractor.
The subaltern story is not negative in its own right. Rather, it is necessary for the gleaming glorious story to maintain itself. You cannot have light without the darkness against which it shows itself.
As the Buddha says, ‘without illusion there is no enlightenment.’
The trick is to get into the habit of observing the stories, as they come up, with a little more detachment in order to integrate them into your life to your advantage.
So, when you hear the story: ‘I am useless,’ start to see it as just that, a story. Pause and observe it. Don’t get tangled up working out whether the story is accurate or trying to prove it wrong. Nor trying to discover its origin or beating yourself up for letting it in. Know that it is just a story placed there long ago and told habitually. It will never go away entirely but I guarantee it will lose power over you and, with practice, it will stop disrupting your life and unsettling your mind.
So how exactly?
Come into stillness.
Come into your power.
Use your breath as an anchor.
Place your attention on your solar plexus chakra, your ‘golden guardian.’
Watch the thought float by like a cloud across the sky of your mind.
Become adept at noticing your thoughts. Be your own detective. As soon as you notice the old familiar thought-story, detach yourself from it. Remind yourself that you are not your thoughts.
You are not your mind. You are the unchanging self beneath all the stories you tell, good and bad. And if those stories do not serve your unchanging self, if they are not helpful in this moment, let them go.
As soon as you notice a thought that is derailing you, stop what you are doing, stand or sit still, place your hands on your belly and breathe deeply in and out six times while sinking your sense of self down to the solar plexus chakra, that golden ball of light.
While breathing, watch the thought with mild interest but no attachment. The chances are it will dissolve.
The end point, though, is not to make the thought-story disappear but to be able to get on with your life whether it is there or not. To not allow it to have power over you.
Because the key is compassion for your self and for your negative story-thoughts.
Hang on, what?
There is a lot of talk of rejecting the ‘ego’, the part of the psyche that, amongst other things, drives the bullying thought-stories. But I don’t really go for that. I think the ego is helpful but that oftentimes it can get overblown and interfering. So try not to chase the thought-story ‘I am weak’ out, because resistance will only make it stick around for a good old debate, which it totally loves.
Instead, recognise it as a quirky old friend with an interfering beaky nose. Picture that in your mind – make it comical! See it scuttling across the landscape of your mind, muttering darkly while you stand in your own love and your own power with your hands on your belly, breathing deeply and shaking your head with a smile on your face!
In a crisis, my favourite and easiest trick to separate your self from your thoughts is to repeat in rhythm while walking along
‘This is all just a story I’m telling myself, this is all just a story I’m telling myself.’
You can then come to a place of clarity where you feel you want to actively engage with your stories, to create new empowering ones and let go of the old, outdated and unhelpful.
Bonus practical assistance
What you eat can help you with this practice. The solar plexus chakra loves…yellow foods!
Turmeric dahl with yellow lentils is a perfect strengthening dish. Lemons, too, and cumin, fennel, camomile, sunflower seeds and flaxseeds. Probiotics and prebiotics are essential and can be found in yoghurt, kefir, sprouts, fermented foods, kombucha and cruciferous veg.
The brilliant thing is that foods like these assist your digestive strength too, showing the strong link between chakra health, physical health and mental/emotional health.
Enjoy playing around with yellow dishes just to see what happens!
This week, be your own detective. Watch out for your familiar thought stories and when they start to play, employ the three stage:
* Sink to the Solar
Also have a go at ‘this is all just a story I’m telling myself’ and eating solar plexus chakra loving foods.
As always, I would absolutely love to know how you get on with these tricks and tips and whether you find a new perspective on your thought patterns.
Wishing you courage, detachment and a sense of beauty.
And thank you, thank you, for being here, xxxx
Further reading: Eckhart Tolle The Power of Now; Russ Harris The Happiness Trap; www.belindadavidson.com
Picture credits: 1. Freckled Cat, 2. Unknown embroidery, 3. Katt Frank, 4.Tove Jansson by Per Olov Jansson, 5. Dassana Amit.