Here is a simple experiment that comes out of The Work and other similar forms of self-inquiry:
Whenever I notice a contraction, I ask myself who would I be without the story?
A few things that seem helpful…
- Seeing it as an experiment, a game, or even role-playing
- Allowing myself to do it for only a short period of time, maybe just a minute or two, and then go back to the familiar old patterns
- Repeat now and then
- Do it in daily situations, real-time
- Allowing any longer-term shifts to happen on their own
- Using a role-model, imagining somebody who function well and do not seem to have that particular story. How would it be if that was the case for me?
- Seeing the familiar symptoms of attachment to a story as an invitation to experiment (the symptoms include a sense of contraction, a stuckness in a particular position, a sense of separation, a sense of I and Other, sense of being right, sense of urgency, a sense of conflict or drama.)
This is an experiment that comes directly out of The Work and other similar forms of self-inquiry:
Who am I without … the story, these judgments, reactions, positions?
Say I easily am bothered by noise (as is sometimes the case for me), then I can ask myself, who would I be if I couldn’t have that reaction? How would it be if I am not bothered by noise at all? If I actually enjoy it?
I can take it as an experiment, a game, an exploration, even as role playing. If I, just for a minute, was not at all bothered by noise, how would that be?
If I think I have to let go of it forever, I may hesitate even tasting it. But if I see it as a short-term experiment, as a game, I may try it more whole-heartedly, just for a minute or two. Just to taste it.
And in tasting it, I may find that it is actually enjoyable, freeing, and I can still function as well as before, if not better. I try it on for size, and may find that it fits me even better than the old outfit, the old identity, the old patterns.
This is another of the many practices that can be seamlessly applied throughout our daily life.
I notice a contraction come up. I notice what the contraction seem to be about. I play a game for a short while, trying out how it would be without the contraction, without the judgments, without the usual identity.
I may even imagine somebody I know who do not seem to have these patterns, and function very well without them, and see how that would be for me – right here and now.
For me, I see that if I aim at trying the experiment for just a minute or two, and (this seems important) give myself full and honest permission to go back to the old patterns, it seems to work quite well. In most cases, I am able to shift and have a taste of how it would be without the story. And so I don’t push it too far, or try to trick myself, I allow myself fully to go back into the familiar patterns, also so I can see the contrast more clearly.
Then I leave it, and may find that I naturally gravitate towards the more spacious and new way of being, without clinging so much to the old story. It is more pleasant, and nothing is really lost, so why not?