Releasing the Past
Freeing ourselves from our story through the energy and consciousness of presence.
How to get the most out of these Wisdom Quotes:
Put aside everything you think you already know.
Open your mind and heart to receive something new.
Take your time going through each point.
Return to any points that particularly touch you.
In the coming days, listen carefully to the wisdom within you.
*All quotes are by Leonard Jacobson, from the video: Beyond the Story - How to Heal and Release the Past
1. Understanding Your Story
“There is only this moment and as you settle into this moment, as you relax into this moment, your story just begins to dissolve.
Your story is everything outside of this moment. It’s made up of all your memories, all your past experiences, all your ideas and concepts and beliefs.
Many people within their story, at the very base and foundation of their story, have a lot of repressed feelings from their childhood. Feelings of anger, hurt, sadness, pain, feelings of need that were never really met. That’s all there, at the very foundation of your story, just waiting to be triggered by something that happens in your life now.
Also at the very foundation of your story are all those limiting beliefs that formed in your childhood, in your relationship with your parents. Limiting beliefs like, "I’m not good enough, I can’t do it, it’s not okay to be all that I am, I’m not loved, I’m not wanted, I’m not worthy…"There’s a whole list we can choose from of limiting beliefs.
And what happens is, when you’re living within your story, sometimes the story is just fine, but every now and then, those old feelings from your past, those old limiting beliefs get triggered. Up they come, they project onto the present moment and completely distort your experience of yourself, of others, of life.
And you don’t really need to wait until these limiting beliefs and feelings from your past are triggered, because they’re always subtly filtering through within your story. They just subtly filter through - that subtle feeling of "I’m not good enough, I’m not loved, I’m not worthy, I can’t do it."
These things subtly filter through and, in a sense, colour every aspect of your life. They prevent you from being all that you are. In a sense, they keep you imprisoned within a very, very limited existence.
That’s your story.”
The first step is to recognize that you HAVE a story. We all do. And that you are NOT your story.
You must be willing to open that part of you that has been so tightly shut in self-protection. Don't believe all the thoughts about this being difficult, or that you'll be hurt if you let down your guard.
You're in a safe, non-judgemental space. Allow yourself to open and receive wisdom about the suffering you experience that has to do with your past. Give yourself a real chance to be free.
2. Coming Out of Your Story
“Now, in your story, you have your painful past, your limited past, but you also have a hopeful future - that’s all within the story. You remember a painful past, you project forward into a hopeful future, hoping that it will get better: maybe one day you’ll be good enough, maybe one day you’ll be loved, you’ll be worthy, you’ll be accepted. Maybe one day you’ll be successful.
This is all unfolding within your story - it’s the past and future - and it’s all a great illusion. And to the extent that you’re lost in your mind, in a sense, imprisoned, caught within your mind, with its endless, chattering thought, you’re caught in your story, you’re imprisoned within your story.
And, you know, no matter how much you do positive affirmations, no matter how much you follow the law of attraction or other kinds of things that are available to us, there’s no real escape from your story.
You might improve your story, but awakening is something quite different. Awakening is not about improving your story. Awakening is about awakening out of your story, awakening out of the past and future, awakening out of those limiting beliefs.
When you’re truly present, you quite literally come out of your story. Now there’s just this moment. Your mind is silent, you’re utterly present in this moment. Where is your story? Where are your thoughts? Where are your beliefs? Where are your ideas? Where are your memories? If you’re fully present, then your mind is silent, and you’re utterly present with what is here. That’s what awakening is.
Awakening is awakening out of the past and future world of the mind, out of a world of illusion, a world of separation, into the world of now. You don’t have to be present all the time, but you have to be awake enough that you know where the truth of life is. You know that it is here now, and everything else is a story you’ve gotten yourself caught in.”
Consider these words: "Awakening is not about improving your story. Awakening is about awakening out of your story."
Have you been trying to improve your story? Are you hoping that you will improve yourself one day?
We are so deeply, yet innocently, caught up in our conditioned minds that we aren't aware of being caught in our story. It's important to realize that there's no condemnation here. Look around - most of the world is living in an unconscious state. Just being here and being open to receiving these words is pure grace.
Take your time to re-read today's quote slowly, listening deeply with your heart. Perhaps come back to it later. Pay attention to sections and words that particularly ring true. Perhaps copy them onto a piece of paper so you can muse on them throughout the day and week. Give wisdom the chance to enlighten you - to shine within you to reveal what you didn't see before.
3. The Ultimate Invitation
“For many people, the more you try to fix your story, the worse it’s going to get because the ultimate design is not to fix your story but to awaken out of your story. That’s the very purpose of our journey.
The story is designed to awaken you out of it but, for the most part, we don’t awaken out of the story. We just relentlessly continue to improve our story and make it better: Will you love me? Will you accept me? Do you approve of me? Am I good enough? Is there anyone here for me?
And so, humanity is completely lost in a story and it’s so ironic, in a way, that the present moment is so available to us, so waiting for us, such an invitation to us to come out of the story.
Just be here. “Be ye here as I am here,” say the flowers. Be ye here. Where else could you be? The only place you can be, other than here now, in the world of here-now, is in the world of not-here, a world of memory and imagination. That’s the world that humanity inhabits and, when we inhabit that world of past and future and endless thought, the ego reigns supreme within that world.
So, all I’m ever really doing is joining the flowers and the leaves here, I’m just joining them in inviting you to come out of your story and become present. Just for a moment!
Not only become present just for a moment but become very, very, very deeply present. So present, that your mind falls silent. So present that you begin to feel the presence that is in everything. So present that you begin to feel the oneness that is here, as the illusion of separation dissolves.
That’s the invitation.”
Most of us have never been presented with an option other than trying to improve our story. After all, isn't that what everyone else is also trying to do? Isn't that what we're taught to aspire to do? And doesn't society praise and esteem those who are endeavoring to do so?
The problem, though, is that all this trying is still in the realm of (and I'll use my favorite analogy here) the snow globe. In our good and honorable intentions, we are still caught up in the ramblings of the mind, in trusting our thoughts enough to give them our attention, and there is no space, no room for anything else.
What we are doing here is zooming out of the snow globe completely, out of the busy, conditioned, unconscious, deeply-entrenched-in-the-past mind, out of all the repetitive thoughts that we've always believed, out of the story of our life, to something that's not a story - something real. Something we desperately need to be balanced and grounded and psychologically healthy.
We are waking up to this moment. And any thoughts of that being difficult, tricky, taking a long time to master, or any other opinion that causes us to hesitate and doubt, can be put to one side, just for now. These are all thoughts based on past experiences, concepts and opinions. They are not the truth.
Look what we have to help us wake up to this moment! Every tree, every plant, every animal, every divinely painted picture of the sky is calling us to be present with it, here, now. All we need to do is listen and respond.
4. Being Truly Present
“Once you’ve experienced presence at the level that I’m speaking of, such a deep sense of peace, such a deep sense of well-being, such a deep sense of love - once you’ve experienced this yourself, then you know, you know what I’m speaking of.
You cannot know with your mind, it’s impossible. Your ego will never understand this or get this. You have to know it from your own experience. Just this, this moment, exactly as it is - a fully present, fully conscious being, fully present with what is here.
There’s not even a movement of your body that is unconscious. Even if you scratch your head, you’re a conscious, present being as you do so. Just for a few moments, experience what it’s like to be a present and awakened being.
The moment you’re truly present with something that’s here in the moment with you, you must come out of the mind because the mind is always past-future.
Thoughts will stop all by themselves, without you even intending that because thoughts are always past-future. You don’t need to try and stop thinking. You don’t need to pursue enlightenment. You don’t need to try and be more spiritual.
Just be present. Just notice when you’re not present and become instantly present with something that is here with you. That’s the way of awakening. At least that’s step one."
Being present is always the first step. For more wisdom quotes and coaching notes on being present, see this blog post.
5. The Two Step Dance of Awakening
“STEP ONE: Master the art of being present. Deepen into presence. Relax here. Relax into the moment of now.
STEP TWO: Bringing consciousness to all the ways you’re pulled out of presence, consciousness to all those unconscious aspects of yourself, consciousness to who you’ve become. Allowing all the repressed feelings to surface into conscious and responsible expression. Bringing awareness to how you lose yourself in others.
Let me tell you how long it takes to complete each of these steps.
Step one, being present, is completed in an instant. There’s no time. In the moment of remembering to be present, you’re present.
That’s the problem with practice, the problem with spiritual practice. You’re practising something in order to get somewhere, but if you just remember to be present with what’s here, then you’re already here. Step one is instant - no time, no practice, no gap.
In the remembering, I am present. I’m present with the sound I hear. I notice I’m thinking - no problem, now I’m present with you. Thinking is coming in again - no problem, I’m feeling the chair against my back or I’m present in the movement of my hands, or I’m present as I gaze out through these eyes. I am here, now.
Step one - no time, no process.
Step two is a process that occurs over time as you pay attention.
If it takes you 6 months or a year to master step two, who cares? You’ve been at this for lifetimes and lifetimes. If it takes 10 years, who cares?
For some of you, it will take very little. Some of you, it will be a little more complex because you’re so caught in your story, so locked into your past, the ego has such a strong grip on you, the past has such a strong grip on you. You’re merciless and relentless in your pursuit of a hopeful future, trying to fix it. Or you’re merciless in your commitment to repressing your feeling. That’s going to make step two a little more difficult.
But if you relax and you come into right relationship with all of these things from presence, then the journey becomes quite enjoyable, even the painful moments. Actually, quite exciting, as you start to connect the dots and you realize how and where you’ve been caught.
Step one - no process, it’s immediate. Step two - a process. First, be present. Then, pay attention."
Leonard teaches two steps to awakening. We will explore this further in the coming weeks, but for now, focus on the simplicity of this view.
Are you willing to put aside all your concepts and beliefs to try this simple way? Or are you listening to the voice that is dismissing it as being too simplistic? Perhaps you appreciate the simplicity but you're convinced that it will be a difficult process that will take years. As Leonard says, so what if it does?
Can you notice the chair on your back? What about your feet on the ground? Can you say, "no problem," to your distracting thoughts? In remembering to be present, you are present. What a comfort this is!
Always begin with step one, which is instant. Step two will naturally unfold from there.
6. Re-Emerging as All That You Are
"Life is a mirror, reflecting to you everything you need to know in order to free yourself from the story. Life is a mirror: your friends, your husbands, your wives, your relationships, they’re all mirrors reflecting to you where you’re lost and how you’re lost in the story. If only we would pay attention - look into the mirror.
Who have I become in my story? Am I controlling? Am I judgemental? Am I unworthy? Am I arrogant? Do I judge myself? Do I judge others? Am I hard on myself? Do I feel like a failure, deep down? Do I feel like I’m not good enough? Who am I in my story and how am I dealing with that in my story?
If, deep down within my story, I feel unloved, how am I dealing with that? Am I pursuing love, trying to please everyone? Or am I withdrawing and hiding so I don’t have to feel the pain? Do I feel shame? Do I feel guilt? Am I a blamer within my story? Do I need to be right? Is that who I am in my story?
The more you bring the story to consciousness, in right relationship with it, the more you’ll find yourself relaxing out of the story. The story itself will relax. The story itself will begin to gradually and gently transform as you bring the energy of love, acceptance and compassion to it.
But what supports everything I’m saying is presence - the energy and consciousness of presence. You, present in this moment. Who is present in this moment? I am. Who is I am? I am. That’s the end of the journey, it’s the end of the story. Who is transcendent of the story? I am. Who is here now? I am.
We free ourselves from the story, we settle into the I am that I am, and then we re-emerge as a beautiful expression of the unique being that I am, or that you are, without limitation, without fear, without concern with what others think of you. Just being authentic, being true to who you really are from presence. It’s like a re-emergence. You re-emerge as all that you are.”
This quote can lead us to so much insight if we're open. Go back and consider the answers to all the questions that are posed in the second and third paragraphs. Be completely honest with yourself.
By doing this, you are bringing your story to consciousness. This then enables you to notice the mirror of life, "reflecting to you everything you need to know in order to free yourself from the story."
7. Summary and Songs
In this nine-minute video I give a brief summary of these quotes and how to apply them, followed by a couple of short song snippets to help us remember the main points.