Years ago I went on a silent retreat for women. Although I loved being in silence for five days, the evenings were filled with the woman leading the retreat giving us these two and three hour sermon-like talks, during which we sat silently in one position on the floor. She mostly talked about the brilliance of her guru—and the whole thing just left me really unmoved. Just not my style. But one story that she told about her guru stuck with me all these years, and it’ s one of the stories that I use the most when working with my most awesome private clients.
So the story goes like this: Retreat lady walked in on her guru meditating one morning, and for the first time in her experience, he was sitting there with this upset and disturbed look on his face as he meditated. She had never seen him look upset while meditating, so it worried her.
Later, at lunch, she asked him about it. “Guru,” she said, “when I walked by you this morning you were looking very upset and disturbed while you meditated. Is something wrong?”
And the little old man laughed with his head thrown back. “Oh, I was not upset and disturbed! Only my thoughts were upset and disturbed. I am wonderful!”
What I took from this story is that WE are NOT our feelings. I imagine it as us being the sky, and the clouds being our feelings—they float across our sky, maybe making the day seem dark (even though the sun’s still there, behind them), maybe covering up the sky, but the sky is always there, unchanged, blue, bright, sunny. So if we call the clouds what they are—or the feelings what they are, we connect with the fact that they have no bearing on the decisions we make, the actions we take.