The Meaning of Things

The Meaning of Things

"What you give meaning to is what causes your emotion. Before you react know why you are giving something so much energy or fear. When you begin to understand why you give things meaning you can begin to change how you react and why you do what you do.”
― Shannon L. Alder


How we attach meaning to events in our lives has a large influence on the quality of our life.

Have you ever considered that we get to attach whatever meaning we want
to things? The meaning we assign to our experiences, whether pleasant or
distressing, is a very powerful factor in determining the quality of our lives.
I have an emotional reaction to the picture above. The original 600 sq ft Hot
Asana studio room packed with 30 students and a teacher. I see the birthplace of
Hot Asana. I see the studio that my son, who has since passed away, helped me
build. I see 30 beautiful souls in savasana. I see steamy mirrors. I see Pre-
COVID times with mats close together and blocks stacked in the back for
communal use. I see a place and people that I love. What meaning does that
picture have to you? It may have no meaning at all.

A few months ago, one of our dear clients came in with a bracelet that broke.
She bought this bracelet during her teacher training two years ago and even
bought one for every other person in the training. There were so many possible
meanings that she could have attached to this broken bracelet...lets consider.

1. The bracelet was poorly made and I deserve a refund.

2. Its been almost 2 years...pretty impressive that a handmade bracelet lasted
this long.

3. This is so sad......something that I share with a group that matters so much to
me is gone now.

4. Damn, I’m clumsy and not careful...I should have taken better care of this

5. Amazing chakra bracelet broke...I must have had a breakthrough in the
chakra I’ve been working on.

6. I really love this bracelet....I should get it repaired so I can continue to wear it.

All legit...right? But can you see the VERY different experiences we might endure
because of the different meanings we “could” attach to something.

Also, what we even imagine events to mean will color the way we feel about
ourselves, about the people in our lives, and about the world at large. If we want
to encourage a positive outlook, well-being, and a sense of self-confidence and
even trust in the universe, we can begin by assigning more peaceful, loving
meanings to what we imagine and experience.

Imagine, for example, that a friend fails to show up to a lunch date. You have
choices as to what you will make this experience mean for you. You could allow
being "stood up" to reinforce your feelings of unworthiness, you could begin to
mentally attack your friend's character, or you could assume that something big
must have happened to cause them to miss the date. If you choose a positive
outlook, then you might open yourself up to enjoying some relaxing time alone.

If you were recently forced to make a change in life around your job, consider that
you might have hidden gifts or passions that were untapped before that you are
now available to explore. The universe might simply be moving you in a more
fulfilling direction.

If you have recently lost a loved one, gained weight, lost money, or gotten in a
fight with your partner, see if you can infuse the experience with meaning that
feels loving and empowering and opens a door for you to embrace life and the
world a bit more.

My dear friend Anna has this “meaning” statement. No matter what happens, she
always says, “This is the best thing that could have happened”. It makes me
crazy sometimes when I “want” to complain, but it helps to see things in a more
positive way.

Sometimes we can even attaching too much meaning to things. Then we often
find ourselves feeling trapped in negative thoughts. I’m a thinker, perhaps an
“over-thinker”, so I did not get this easily. However, as soon as I became more
aware of and drawn towards practicing meditation and nurturing mindfulness, I
understood that it is better to live in the moment and experience and accept
everything as it is, instead of holding on to everything and attaching undue
meaning to things.

While I continue to learn and re-learn this lesson, I try applying it to different
circumstances and I always end up finding out that most of the stress that I feel in
my life is because of this one problem of thinking too much about things and
associating undue meaning.

For examples...My grandmother had all these superstitions that gave “meaning”
to things. Broken mirrors, spilling salt, cracks in the sidewalk, black cats, rain on
a wedding day, which hand is itching, which foot is itching, receiving knives as a
gift, breathing when you pass a graveyard, getting pooped on by a bird, and
definitely DO NOT open an umbrella indoors, don’t let your purse touch the floor,
how high or low the baby bump is sitting (because of this one, I was certain that
Brady was going to be a boy...haha)...and so on and so forth. These things may
sound silly to you, but I bet you have some of your own too. When we begin to
bring consciousness to what we are making things mean, we may be shocked at
the messages we have been feeding ourselves.

Perhaps today, we can all try taking the reins and begin assigning a kinder
meaning to the events in your lives and I bet we will likely find ourselves on a
much more pleasant ride.

Much Love, Virginia