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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Emrys

No. More. Stories.

Once, during a Toltec Dreaming workshop many years ago, don Miguel asked his students (of which I was one) to stand in front of a mirror. In those days we often worked with mirrors, and every mirror exercise brought revelations of a different kind.

While the rest of his students were working on their assignments, don Miguel walked up behind me and put his hands on my shoulders. His eyes met mine in the mirror. He leaned close to me and whispered, “No. More. Stories.” Then he said the words again. “No. More. Stories.” And then again. “NO! MORE! STORIES!”

He spoke the words with such ferocity that I was shaken. I felt the full power of his intent as his hands dug deep into my shoulders and the words burned into me– into my heart, my brain. It felt as if he was committed to saving a life that day. It was as if he was determined to lift me, by pure force of will, out of my own hell.

As a teacher now, I can understand the passion behind his words. I’m familiar with the feeling of wanting to lift a student out of stubborn mental narratives. And yes, I’ve been willing to use all my personal power to make that happen. I can understand that sense of urgency now. But, like don Miguel, I also understand that it takes more than my intent to make transformations happen in someone else. Students have to match a teacher’s intent with their own.

In that moment in front of the mirror, I felt the pure sincerity of his love for me. We could both see the pain I was causing myself. I continued to make automatic judgments and assumptions. I indulged old fears and jealousies. We both knew it would take an act of will for me to end those habits and let go of a lifetime of stories…and we both suspected that my will wasn’t ready.

My will seemed weak, hazy, and untried. Don Miguel was giving me the benefit of his remarkable will that day, but we both knew I’d have some hard work to do on my own. Whether or not I actually did that work would be up to me. And, of course, I did the work…my way.

I turned my spiritual journey into an ongoing trapeze act: climbing to unfamiliar heights of awareness, falling, and begging my teacher to catch me, again and again. You, too, probably like the thrill of flying high on a spiritual cloud. You’re willing to float away from your fixed ideas of reality now and then, hoping that someone will catch you before you crash and burn.

That kind of ride is exhausting for you and for everyone around you– and it goes nowhere. It’s a distraction from the grace of daily, self-reflective work. A more direct approach is to set your feet firmly on the ground and to stop believing yourself.

Yep. You may feel your stories are true and your fears are justified. You may think that jealousy and hostility are actual solutions to something. Whatever excuses you make for feeling victimized, or for judging others, they’re pointless excuses. They’re stories. And, for the most part, they keep you in a hell of your own making.

If you’re ever in the mood, try this: Feel my hands pressing on your shoulders. Imagine my gaze meeting yours. Then hear these words racing from my heart to yours: “No. More. Stories.”

Again, “No. More. Stories.”

And finally, feeling the full force of my love, “NO! MORE! STORIES!”

Then decide if your will is ready.


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