I was reading this book by Gangaji, The Diamond within Yourself, in which she talks repeatedly about living without stories as a spiritual practice. We continually tell ourselves all kinds of stories, from who we are to what we desire to who we dislike. Most of these keep is hypnotised with some circumstance or emotion. A thought triggers a story, which keeps us involved in a succession of thoughts, which can last hours.
So coming to a stop, living without stories is a way to create space in which we can examine the mind, who we are, and our attitudes. It is a way to realise that what we usually think of as ourselves are only thin veneers of behaviours in the mind. I tried this for a while, and while you still have thoughts they are less frequent and the mind is a lot quieter.
Maybe an aid to meditation?
Every thought has the potential to turn into a story.... I have a trilogy of Novels buzzing around my head. What a Biography this is going to turn out to be.
Currently, one reader.
Needs an editor....
The ego/ selfish self or identity is just the telling of a story.
This story is created & promoted through the manipulation of our sense gate data flows.
Stop manipulating the sense gate data and the story dissipates.
This is what meditation teaches us to do.
This is one description of the difference between being dreambound and being awake.
One could say, meditation is when Awareness (AKA the silent editor) edits out the 'fictional' parts of the story so to speak, one is left with non-fiction...based on a true story...
When a story describes something, it is just that way.
Without the story, the thing is free of singular description. Free to be all ways and no ways at once.
Due to a set of circumstances which I will not enumerate, I have been compelled to watch movies every night at bedtime. I have felt that I am being poisoned - story after story after vapid story. It affects my state of mindfulness in the morning, and I have to purge this "story mind" as a form of practice. Not too difficult or time-consuming, but I have to be aware of it when it is active and be able to discriminate between potentially useful stories and merely distracting ones.
Not sure I would advocate living without stories entirely - I'm suspect they can sometimes be a useful tool, but they also have a tendency to get out of hand. Just another thing of which to be mindful, I think.
That is a hard practice. It is almost impossible to engage with equanimity and not be swallowed. As you say, it then needs 'cleansing' during meditation.
Have you come up with any strategies?
My mother and stepfather also watch first the news and then a movie almost every night. This has coincided with more of a yearning for quiet time on my part, and so for the past year or two I have been tending to withdraw myself to the upstairs of our combined dwelling.
Stories are Mara's playground. My story, history, your story... But that is what makes life interesting, no? Netflix, HBO, Disney, Discovery, History Channel
Just something to give meaning to (distraction from?) reality.
quoth @lobster > Have you come up with any strategies?>
Just the usual - recognize the problem, decide to deal with it, locate the neural pathway that is responsible, shut it off. Fairly easy in this case since I have no particular interest or personal or emotional investment in the source material and have a nearly lifelong disinterest in most fictional writing. A few minutes of absolute mindfulness usually suffices. Otherwise, just one of the cares and troubles to be got rid of by endurance. Sort of like my most recent reaction to Covid vaccine - put me down on the sofa for 2 days, hence delayed response to your question.
I feel that stories in the context presented, are meant to provide various views or concepts of proper ways to live and approach life and life's challenges.
If viewed in this fashion, we can easily set aside many stories as not applicable to the moment. We can chose to apply or discard or ignore any or all of our stories.
The jist is that we each have the stories we have been given or created but we each have the power to decide the stories, if any, apply in the moment we each find ourselves to be.
Caviet: I do not know if my perception matches or clashes with Gangaji's book.
Peace to all
This is an instance of those going cold turkey from the stories we are force fed
join the Truthin'