A picture can remind you who you want to be

This is a picture of Long Beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It reminds me of who I want to be when I am tired or stressed or muddled. As I look at it, I begin to feel the sand under my shoes (it's too cold for bare feet) and hear the waves and to breath with the movement of the water and the mist. When I want my thinking to be cool and clear and full of movement, this picture reminds me that I know how to think that way.

It's easy to connect what we see to what we feel because that's how we experience vision. We look at something outside us and the feeling lands in our bones and our breath. If I looked at a picture of me on the beach, I would see the self on the beach as different than the self looking at the picture. When I was on the beach, I wasn't seeing me so seeing me doesn't take me back into the moment as clearly as this picture does. This is what I was seeing when my breath was deep and my stride was comfortable and curious.

The same thing is true of the pictures we draw with our words. We are seldom able to move into a memory by describing ourselves in the way a picture describes us. Instead, we move back into an experience by describing what we were noticing when it happened. Our attention leads us back into the perceptions and feelings of that earlier self. When we you want to recapture an experience from your past, describe it to yourself the way you lived it, not the way you labelled yourself later.

When you need clarity, don't tell yourself to be clear. Tell yourself the story of the time you walked on a cool, windy beach, curious about the way the mist moved to the water.


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