Today, I felt sick when I saw three headlines about “Big, life-changing, drop-everything-and-read-how-my-life-took-a-turn-from-worse-to-better” stories.
But…why did I feel sick?
Part of me felt drawn to reading these tales—in fact, I clicked the link on each one.
However, I felt that is was my smaller self—call her my ego or the “feeling not enough” part of me—that was drawn to read these tales, with a guilty, “drama addict” sort of sneakiness.
As I read, I felt a sense of shame. My inner voice said: You don’t need this. You know this is not the stuff that the wholeness of this life is made up of. You know these words are typed to sell clicks—these “happy endings” are maybe not so true.
And, deep down, I know this—but the drama, the intrigue, somehow appeals to the part of me that feels unworthy. Because it can be hard for me to realize that I’m already whole and complete.
Big stories draw us in. We see them in the media. They are the the stuff that movies, songs, books, and poetry are made of. But, when people have near-death experiences, and their lives flash before their eyes, what they reflect on is not the big stuff—it’s the little moments.
The flashes that whirl through their consciousness show hugs and first bike rides…loss, and birth, and laughter. The moments that stick are often what the mind would call “small.” The moments that are too short for storytelling, but somehow strong enough to tattoo themselves to our souls.
Yet, it’s the “big” tales that draw us in. What is it about the human psyche that is drawn in by drama and intrigue? What is it that craves and seeks to fill what seems like an abyssal void within?
Rewind to this morning: I rose at 5:55 a.m. to prepare to teach a yoga and meditation class. I wrestled with myself the night before, over getting up so early on my day off, asking: why do I do this to myself?
However, in my first breath during class, I knew why I had done it. My bigger self—let’s call her my soul—had calmed the storm of my small self. She was there—she is here—to tame that wild, writhing toddler who always wants what it doesn’t seem to have within plain sight.
An hour of breath later, my class was done, and my inner storm—let’s call her the complainer—well, she was super quiet. Suddenly, the day became my blank canvas to paint. It was in those quiet moments—putting on my coat and boots and locking up the studio—that I felt the most alive. My heart was open, and my mind was clear. Each step on the melting iciness underfoot was suddenly a gift.
This is the stuff this life is made of—the small stuff. The footfalls and the sky gazes. The turning of keys and the stomach grumbles. The sips of hot coffee and the sound of laughter echoing from the back of a parking lot. The deep quiet of night and the bird chirping with the buzz of a new day.
Yoga and meditation encompass what we call mindfulness, which is the simple observation of the present moment—both the self and our surroundings.
We need to be reminded of what mindfulness is through practice. Without reminders, the mind is like a toddler—flitting from thoughts, to feelings, to bodily sensations, to external surroundings…and round and round again. Without practice—that gentle reminder to be mindful—the mind exhausts the self.
So, what to make of my being drawn to dramatic stories? What of my curiosity to read about the big, bold lives of others?
Mindfulness won’t judge it. Just being curious about it—that’s enough. The moment I saw the “I changed my life in an instant…” headline, I observed a sudden sensation in my chest; my heart beat a little faster, and my mind flitted from thought to thought. Letting go of the story—we are left simply with this: I observed.
So, what if we didn’t “try” to change? Why are people so drawn to change? Are we not already whole and complete?
Yoga and meditation do not change us, but they show us who we really are—they remove the false gods of self that we’ve worshiped, perhaps unconsciously, for our whole lives.
Mindfulness helps us become friends with our “present moment” self.
I see her…in her struggle and anxiety, she seeks freedom. However, as she observes what she feels, she realizes she is already free.
When we observe, we make friends with the present moment. We say: this is enough…just being with you right here, right now, breathing and noticing.
And, as I sit with my ego, she may ask: “Will you love me if I struggle to get up the next time I teach an early class? Will you love me if I am still drawn to other people’s dramatic tales?”
And I will answer: “I see you. I hear you. I’m with you—always, in every thought, with every breath.”
No expectations. No exceptions. No parameters.
Just here, holding your hand and paying attention…and I want you to know: that is enough.
Author: Sarah Theresa
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Catherine Monkman