Every day, my dog Princess and I take a walk together — differently. Having been her walking partner for the last six years, I can tell you that she and I don't experience our expeditions together in the same way. Her body, temperament, and sensory organs give her access to things that I can't imagine. It boggles my mind to think of the stimuli that her nose alone provides!
So, if Princess and I are having different experiences, it makes sense that I'm not experiencing all that there IS. Even possessing this knowledge, though, I fall prey to a common human misconception — the idea that my experience and reality are the same thing. It's actually more than that — I'm tempted to believe that my story (or narrative) about my experience is the same thing as reality. That would look something like this:
A more accurate (but still generous) representation might look more like this:
This begins to capture the distinction between the three realms. This view acknowledges that reality is enormous and we only experience a tiny slice of it. Our experience of reality impacts what we say about it (and vice versa)!
Here's a practical example of how the three realms could interact:
Rain is falling from the air (reality). You feel the wetness of the rain on your skin (experience). You say to yourself: "I don't like getting wet! Why do I ALWAYS forget to bring an umbrella? Now my hair is going to be a mess and everyone will stare at me!" (story). (You could have made up a different story, by the way. "Isn't spring rain delicious! I can't wait to get my toes in a mud puddle! This is going to help the flowers grow!")
Why is any of this important? I propose that learning to separate these three realms - reality, experience, and story - is a useful skill because it gives you access to something very powerful: choice.
Distinguishing your story (or narrative) as something that is CREATED BY YOU (rather than something that IS) provides you with the freedom to choose a different story if you wish.
So...what's your story? How would you like to alter it? The choice is yours...
I'd love to hear your thoughts about how you are choosing your stories mindfully!