When I was six, a very famous book came out.
The first part of the book is designed to free us from the limitations of our current thinking, the second, to enable us access to an infinite source of timeless wisdom.
It is a year long course of daily thoughts to contemplate and is called ‘A Course in Miracles’.
On day two, the contemplation is:
‘I have given everything I see in this room (on this street, from this window, in this place) all the meaning that it has for me’.
The idea is to look slowly around and apply this idea very specifically to whatever springs into vision.
Begin with objects that are close, and then increase the range outward, applying the thought indiscriminantely to anything at all that we notice.
When I first tried this exercise in my bedroom, I was completely stunned.
I realised how very completely I have embued every single object, from that which I regard as important, to the meaningless dust on my floor, with a special significance of meaning that is ME.
A lighter on the book case, represents my secret, silent life in the dark when I will not be disturbed by anyone.
A drawing on the wall connects me to a memory of twenty years ago.
The rolls of dust on the floor, means life with a wood burning stove and how I enjoy sorting out my desires, ideals and intentions in my tiny, tiny space.
My meaningful space within a yurt shared by four people.
Every single object has it’s own story, it’s connection to a time, to a person, to an event, to a way I once was, to a way I hope to become.
Every single detail of every single object in my space is suffused entirely to it’s core, with the meaning I have given it.
The lighter, picture, dust.
I glance through the window.
It is the same. All my meanings are everywhere.
There is nowhere that does not have my meanings stamped all over it.
A peach tree is full of meaning because my daughter grew it from a stone.
The wet and long grass means fear of disproval because we will have visitors soon who I will ‘need’ to impress.
My meaningful vegetable beds are full of ‘weeds’ because I know how good they are for us to eat, how vigourously they grow, how they require no effort at all.
Someone else wouldn’t give the same meaning to a vegetable bed full of weeds.
The labels we unwittingly give all the time to everything is how we create significance to all we see, all we hear, all we taste, all we smell, all we touch.
We instantaneously and automatically give our meanings to the whole world without questioning it at all.
We even label how we feel.
As I have got older, I have come to experience waking up suddenly in the middle of the night with a feeling of ‘Terror’ in the pit of my stomach. it might be to do with hormones changing and the adrenal glands working extra hard, I don’t know.
Whatever the reason, the experience has been intense. There I am suddenly at 4 am, wide awake with the emptiness in my stomach of having just flown over a humpbacked bridge and my heart in my mouth.
This is my label for this experience.
Instantaneously, thoughts gather round to fit the label.
‘Have I made bad choices in my life?’, ‘Am I a good enough parent?’, ‘Will my business succeed or am I deluding myself?’, ‘Will we have enough money?’, ‘Did I say the wrong thing to so and so?’ ‘Will my Facebook post be liked’ and on and on and on.
But when I move aside from the thoughts which just validate what I am feeling- meaning that yes, things in my life are dangerously unstable, I do need to worry, I focus on the physical experience itself and see what I find there.
What I find is the pit in my stomach, my heart in my mouth, a vibration that seems to move between my guts and my throat.
A feeling that I could call by another name.
I could change the label.
What happens when I change the label to EXCITEMENT!
The next night when I awoke at the same time with the same feeling, I immediately labeled it as excitement.
Wow! What a difference!
With this new label, entirely new thoughts flooded my mind.
I thought of all the possibilities available to me, about different creative ways I could work, about how all the strange events of my life have fitted together so perfectly to bring me to this unique place. I felt so energised that I even got up and wrote an article in the middle of the night!
The roots of this emotional reaction was the way in which I had labeled the experience.
This minute change has had a powerful life changing impact on me.
I have come to realise that nothing at all has any inherent meaning.
With such flexibility of perception at our fingertips we have the opportunity to become very free.
That which had been a tiring, energy draining time, waking in the night and wanting to be asleep, has become an extremely productive energising time that I treasure.
We have the power to choose what it says on the labels of our world.
And our world will live up to whatever it says.
What do you want your labels to say?