Everyone tells stories. Stories to children to fire their imaginations, stories to friends and families about events that have happened in our lives, all of which are very positive and enjoyable. But what about those stories that we might tell which aren’t so positive? What about stories we tell others to cover up our own insecurities, or worse still those stories we tell ourselves which determine the direction our lives will take.
Earlier this week I returned to the Mindfulness course run by My Awareness, here in Bristol. During one of the meditation sessions we were asked to focus on something which we found challenging. Not so challenging that it would be impossible to tackle in a short space of time, but something which challenged us to some degree at this time. I chose to focus on my hot feet! Since this heat wave started I have had permanently hot feet. I normally suffer from cold feet and so have been finding hot feet somewhat challenging to say the least! Another affliction I suffer from is escalating a minor problem into a major problem in the space of 3 seconds. So, quite clearly, I don’t have hot feet, due to the insanely hot weather, I must have something far worse than that – my hot feet must be an indicator of an underlying, far more serious problem. I even googled hot feet – which every doctor I’ve ever met says is the worst possible thing you can do. (Apparently, it convinces the brain you have something and so makes the situation worse). My search did indeed support the fact that I had hot feet due to hot weather – just suck it up!
But back to the meditation, this was my chosen ‘challenge’ to focus on. Away we went, through the usual motions until we reached the point where we were asked to focus on our challenge of choice. And then the questions started. ‘Is this you?’ or more precisely, ‘Is this your story’? As we delved further into the investigation of my hot feet. Where had my reaction to this challenge originated from? What stories had brought me to this point? At which point I definitely wobbled on my stool as I realised that no – this is not my story – this is my father’s story – the story of seeking a negative out of every situation! Unfortunately, this has become my story and is the story that constantly runs around in my head, the story that I constantly respond to – rather than just accept things as they are I tap in to this story – ‘The worst case scenario’ story.
In some ways it made me quite sad – I don’t have my own story to tell. I am stuck in a story from the past and one that has no bearing on the way I choose to live my life now. Nor do I listen to husband’s story – which is infinitely more positive than mine.
The good thing about mindfulness, as I discovered this week, is these stories don’t have to define where I go next. I can’t change what I am now – this is the situation I find myself in. I’ve arrived here due to stories I’ve received through my life, from family, friends, colleagues and even the media. What I can do is change how I react to the stories, I can choose where which direction to take next. When I hear myself repeating a story I can stop it, notice it, look at it as an outsider would and decide what I’m gong to do with it. Is this my story? Is this me? If not, what am I going to do to change it today?
On top of this I have learned this week that technically I am classed as healthy. At the gym I attend there is a Bodytrax machine. I have to admit, I didn’t really understand the results it was giving me, and I don’t imagine for a moment that it’s 100% accurate, but this week I took the time to ask what the scores meant. It would appear that weight is pretty irrelevant. What are more relevant are the visceral fat measurement, which provides an estimate of the level of fat around your vital organs, and what percentage of your overall weight is fat. My visceral fat score has been consistently at 6. A quick search of the internet revealed a healthy figure is 12 or below. For a lady of my age, a healthy percentage of fat is considered to be between 23% and 34%. Mine currently lies at 32.5%, which is again within the healthy bracket.
Yet I consistently tell myself the story that I am too fat, that I am an unhealthy weight, that I need to change. This, as much as anything, has shown me that the stories I continue to live by are outdated and no longer relevant. In 5 or 10 years time, I’d be disappointed if I were still telling myself the same stories and really hope that I have replaced them with new more positive ones. Of a life well lived, of opportunities taken and accepted, of laughter and love. To be the healthiest version of me that I can be, but at least now I realise that I don’t have to strive for the impossible, I’m already healthy enough, whatever else I achieve will be an additional bonus.