A big step to clear stress and get unstuck from all self-destructive patterns is to “realize” something that most people never see…
In your direct experience, it is crucial that you begin to “realize” the difference between:
1) What is STORY/BELIEF (i.e. descriptions and conclusions about the past and future)… AND
2) What is DIRECT SENSORY PERCEPTION (sights, sounds, body sensations etc. that are actually here NOW.)
Now notice something…
When you feel stuck in fear, sadness, worry, lack of motivation, unworthiness, or anything else, you’ll notice that 90% of your focus is on the past or future (the land of stories). NOT on what’s actually here now (direct sensory experience).
Even if you’ve read “The Power Of Now” and understand this point intellectually, most people are fooled over and over again by their own story of suffering. Fully realizing and appreciating the difference between what is STORY and what is DIRECT sensory perception can help you drop suffering patterns and clear stress, fear, sadness and procrastination, lightning fast.
So let’s play a game to practice seeing the difference together…
It’s called… “What’s the story?” and here’s how this works. I’m going to give you several different descriptions or scenarios.
For each, what I want you to do is decide whether the description is “STORY/BELIEF” or “DIRECT SENSORY PERCEPTION.” Are you ready?
Here we go. The first one is easy…
1. “The main square of the city was awash with noisy motorbikes and the smell of pungent gasoline, though I found the standard of driving to be infinitely safer than many Western cities. As I weaved and glided through the busy back-streets, a rush of excitement coursed through my body, and with that feeling came the realization that there was now only one or two locations left in the city where I could get the piece of equipment I needed to complete the next phase of my mission… Or would it be too late?”
Now is that story or direct sensory experience?
ANSWER: Whether these events actually occurred or not, the first thing to notice is that this description CANNOT be direct experience because I’m talking about the past (“the city WAS….”)
So this is all STORY about what was, not a description of direct perception. Get it?
Second, I stated an OPINION about the standard of driving compared with Western cities, and also, a BELIEF about what I thought was true (where I could buy the equipment). Of course, all opinions, beliefs and judgments are not direct sensory perception. They are conclusions made by the mind based on past experiences, so they must all be story too. Follow me so far?
It’s critical you understand the difference — because most suffering and stuck-ness is in the STORY about the past/future, not in direct perception. To clear stress, it will really help you to fully realize and appreciate the difference between the two, as they arise for you moment-by-moment.
Let’s try another description:
2. “I always have a hard time getting started on anything. Just can’t seem to find the motivation and I always procrastinate, I assume out of fear.”
Now is that a story or direct sensory experience?
ANSWER: If you said, STORY, you are absolutely correct.
Although this person is using some present tense language, everything they said is mere belief based on past experiences (unless they are procrastinating right now). They also used the word “always” which implies the problem in unchangeable and part of their IDENTITY, both of which have nothing to do with direct perception in the here and now. Makes sense?
They also said “I assume out of fear,” which is the beginning of another LAYER of story – a story to explain the cause of the first story!
PAY ATTENTION! This is how we get really stuck. The mind stacks conclusion on belief and conclusion on belief, until all you can see is a huge brown cloud. Sounds familiar?
Let’s try another.
3. “I’m feeling a little overwhelmed right now due to the amount of work on my plate….”
Is that story or direct sensory perception?
ANSWER: This statement appears to be talking about NOW and it does use present tense language. However, several things make it a story.
First of all, the words “due to” imply a belief of cause and effect — that the amount of work has CAUSED the overwhelm. That may or may not be true. That’s a conclusion of the mind or a belief or STORY.
Second, the word “overwhelmed” is a step closer to direct perception, but it is still not the real deal. Yes, the word does appear to be describing an emotional state that’s happening now. But actually, even that is another conclusion of the mind.
On the level of sensory experience, of course there are thoughts, internal pictures, sounds, and body sensations. But as soon as the mind labels that experience as “overwhelm,” then that’s a belief, conclusion, or story. Get it?
It’s subtle, but the distinction here will help you stay connected to what is beyond your story of suffering, and so stop pouring more fuel on the fire.
THE MAIN TAKEAWAY
I hope you’ve find this exercise helpful in seeing what is story and what is direct sensory-based perception. Be warned! The mind is very good at fooling you into believing it’s endless layers of story (usually of suffering), so always be on the lookout! This is a game to be played moment-by-moment.
So right now, what part of your experience is story and what is direct perception?
Seeing through the stories of the mind is ONE way you can break the grip of even life-long patterns. When you become aware of a story, my suggestion is not to fight with it or try to get rid of it. That just makes it worse. Instead, see if you can welcome or allow the mind to continue its flow.
A technique to clear stress and dissolve your story of suffering
1. To the best of your ability, see if you can be the watcher of the mind’s stories without resisting them. See if you can just be the watcher.
2. Then, also welcome or allow what’s here now — all sensory-based perception (sights, sounds, body sensations). The rising and falling of your breath. The feeling of your body and the space it occupies. The sights and sounds going on both inside your body, and in your immediate environment.
3. Switch back and forth between the two… and you will begin to dissolve the suffering stories. Actually, just seeing that they ARE stories and not “real” will help tremendously.
Again, you don’t need to try and get rid of the mind’s story-making. That just makes it worse. Instead, welcome the story and then welcome sensory based perception. Maintaining a welcoming connection to sensory based perception will begin to ease the mind’s habitual grip over you, and the suffering stories will be less and less likely to spin out of control.
If you enjoyed this post and would like to get better control of your mind, learning the skills of meditation is key.
In 2003, I created a simple, step-by-step course on how to do meditation. “Secrets of Meditation, Health & Manifestation” covers all the essentials you need to know about how to do meditation, plus quite a bit more. You also learn some advanced breathing exercises to clear stress and raise your energetic frequency, plus manifesting meditations to help you attract anything at all you want. The course comes with lots of guided meditations which makes it easy to follow along.
If you’d like more one-to-one support, I highly recommend you book a “Inner Freedom Checklist” Session with either myself or one or our trained coaches. Working with a coach can dramatically accelerate your results!
Finally, I would love to hear from you in the Comments below with any tips or insights that make this work better, or even any questions about this post, or ideas for future follow-on posts.