Posts Tagged ‘letting go
Sometimes my quiet time surprises me – like when I observe what arises in the silence and realize that I’m attached to the feelings that are standing before me – up in my face as if to say “What about this Bitch?!”. And then that’s where it ends. No enlightenment. No “letting go”. No “moving on”. No flow. Just “here I am”. Me and my feeling – going nowhere fast.
I like what Sharon writes below about living in a world where we still speak out; we take action – but not without also paying attention to ourselves, listening from a place of acceptance and nonjudgment about our own feelings. Because unless I do this first, how can I ever be in a place to acknowledge someone else with all their varied feelings and perspectives?
If I cannot acknowledge and accept the darker side of myself and am always in a rush to change it “quickly” without listening to it – then I’m doomed to rush others and not accept where they are. I’ll never listen to them.
Kindness and Understanding begin at home. Cultivating a compassionate listening ear begins with the Self. There is no sense in speaking out unless you can also listen to yourself first. Why bother even trying to listen to another without doing this step, cause you’ll never even hear them.
- Sharon Salzberg writes:Mindfulness enables us to cultivate a different quality of attention, one where we relate to what we see before us not just as an echo of the past, or a foreshadowing of the future, but more as it is right now.
Making the effort to truly see someone doesn’t mean we never respond or react or take very strong action. . .
We can and do attempt to restore a failing marriage, protest loud cell phones in public places, or try, with everything in us, to rectify Injustice.
But we can do it from a place that allows people to be as textured as they are, and that admits our feelings to be as varied and flowing as they are. A place open to surprises. A place that listens. . .
If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever.
Your mind is your predicament.
It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death.
But change is a law, and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.
Trekking any spiritual path is a balancing act. As you gain effort and mastery, you also gain ease. That means that while you may work harder, the effort will come more naturally. While you will certainly encounter new distractions—and who does not?—you also have the means to overcome them.
Do not be discouraged.
There is always a new moment in which to experience living kindness.
–Donald Altman, from Living Kindness (Inner Ocean Publishing)
Human Nature – so complex. . . especially the personality/mind. This translation by Sogyal Rinpoche really spoke to me recently and I have gone back to it several times (along with an article about the dangers of meditation – these two writings are a good balance – so I ‘ll publish the other one next time) For now enjoy this analogy.
Rest in Natural Great Peace
When I meditate, I am always inspired by this poem by Nyoshul Khenpo:
Rest in natural great peace
This exhausted mind
Beaten helpless by karma and neurotic thought,
Like the relentless fury of the pounding waves
In the infinite ocean of samsara.
Rest in natural great peace.
Above all, be at ease, be as natural and spacious as possible. Slip quietly out of the noose of your habitual anxious self, release all grasping, and relax into your true nature. Think of your ordinary emotional, thought-ridden self as a block of ice or a slab of butter left out in the sun. If you are feeling hard and cold, let this aggression melt away in the sunlight of your meditation. Let peace work on you and enable you to gather your scattered mind into the mindfulness of Calm Abiding, and awaken in you the awareness and insight of Clear Seeing. And you will find all your negativity disarmed, your aggression dissolved, and your confusion evaporating slowly like mist into the vast and stainless sky of your absolute nature.
–Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (HarperSanFrancisco)
Just as energy can be used for many different purposes, so can pure existence be experienced in relation to any phase of life—anger, hatred, or jealousy as well as love and beauty.
Every human action must be carried on through the ego, which plays a role comparable to that of a pipe or channel through which energy is conducted for different uses.
We usually think of the ego as a kind of constant, unchanging entity. In fact, however, it is simply a succession of physical and mental events or pressures that appear momentarily and as quickly pass away.
–Katsuki Sekida, from A Guide to Zen (New World Library)
The universe is sacred. You cannot improve it. If you try to change it, you will ruin it. If you try to hold it, you will lose it. (from Tao Quotes)
Such great words for me. This captures a snapshot of my place of “letting go” .
Sitting still and going beyond mind – touching the place of grace – this void is almost always sweet for me (even if the process of getting there appears bitter sometimes).
In some ways this is the easy part.
Easy in that, I get wrapped up in my day to day shit. I do my stress over paperwork at the office, client issues, talking story with friends, car repairs, medical bills, traffic, the news . . .blah blah blah. Sitting lets everything just be.
It is the other practice, when I am not sitting, that is more difficult (although less so than 10 years ago – yay for discipline – and the gifts of compassion and kindness in my life).
This other practice is “mindfulness”. It is a moment to moment “letting go” and letting things be as they are – as I engage with my perception of things as they arise. Being with the paperwork, issues, friends, traffic, etc – and less so than with my perception, less attached to my judgments of these things. It is a breath that softens the hard and tight places within me. It is the wonderful insignificance in what “I think”.
I call this place in my life – Grace.
And for this I am thankful.
I came across this and it felt right, so I thought I’d share it; enjoy – John
A Post written by Leo Babauta.
Just for a moment.
Listen to the world around you. Feel your breath coming in and going out. Listen to your thoughts. See the details of your surroundings.
Be at peace with being still.
In this modern world, activity and movement are the default modes, if not with our bodies then at least with our minds, with our attention. We rush around all day, doing things, talking, emailing, sending and reading messages, clicking from browser tab to the next, one link to the next.
We are always on, always connected, always thinking, always talking. There is no time for stillness — and sitting in front of a frenetic computer all day, and then in front of the hyperactive television, doesn’t count as stillness.
This comes at a cost: we lose that time for contemplation, for observing and listening. We lose peace.
And worse yet: all the rushing around is often counterproductive. I know, in our society action is all-important — inaction is seen as lazy and passive and unproductive. However, sometimes too much action is worse than no action at all. You can run around crazily, all sound and fury, but get nothing done. Or you can get a lot done — but nothing important. Or you can hurt things with your actions, make things worse than if you’d stayed still.
And when we are forced to be still — because we’re in line for something, or waiting at a doctor’s appointment, or on a bus or train — we often get antsy, and need to find something to do. Some of us will have our mobile devices, others will have a notebook or folder with things to do or read, others will fidget. Being still isn’t something we’re used to.
Take a moment to think about how you spend your days — at work, after work, getting ready for work, evenings and weekends. Are you constantly rushing around? Are you constantly reading and answering messages, checking on the news and the latest stream of information? Are you always trying to Get Lots of Things Done, ticking off tasks from your list like a machine, rushing through your schedule?
Is this how you want to spend your life?
If so, peace be with you. If not, take a moment to be still. Don’t think about what you have to do, or what you’ve done already. Just be in the moment.
Then after a minute or two of doing that, contemplate your life, and how you’d like it to be. See your life with less movement, less doing, less rushing. See it with more stillness, more contemplation, more peace.
Then be that vision.
It’s pretty simple, actually: all you have to do is sit still for a little bit each day. Once you’ve gotten used to that, try doing less each day. Breathe when you feel yourself moving too fast. Slow down. Be present. Find happiness now, in this moment, instead of waiting for it.
Savor the stillness. It’s a treasure, and it’s available to us, always.
From the Tao Te Ching:
It is not wise to dash about.
Shortening the breath causes much stress.
Use too much energy, and
You will soon be exhausted.
That is not the Natural Way.
Whatever works against this Way
Will not last long.
“Life is like an ever-shifting kaleidoscope -—a slight change, and all patterns alter.” –Sharon Salzberg
There are so many meanings that can be drawn from the above statement, I should probably let it go at that (but I won’t *wink).
When I allow my mind to shift in the direction of unconscious thought or action, my life and all its pattern go one way and when I am mindful, my life and all it’s patterns form a different picture.
Each person, every thing I come in contact with changes the pattern – but not as much as the letting go in my own heart and mind . . .
Have a great one luv,
A rare morning: practiced Big Mind/Heart, EFT and Self-Identity Ho’oponopono. I rarely take the opportunity to have such a coordinated mindful practice before breakfast(but I was awake earlier than usual and not groggy); it was quite relief to walk out the door feeling so emptied out – like a Big Kosmic Piss.
Here are a couple of quotes I came across today that express how I was feeling:
I genuinely feel I know a lot less now than I did 20 years ago. It feels wonderful! lt’s like letting go of mental constructs.
~ J. Goldstein
The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.
Someone asked me about why I practice meditative processes such as sitting and mindfulness when things in life don’t really change, don’t get better or worse – that to live is always having to deal with the good, the bad and the ugly. His question reminded me of Albert Camus’ take on the Myth of Sisyphus where Sisyphus pushes a boulder up the mountain only to have it role back down in which he begins the task again. The ability to embrace the absurdity of life as it is, according to Camus – allows a sense of freedom (btw, I am not an existentialist – I just find value in some of its teaching)
Camus is interested in Sisyphus’ thoughts when marching down the mountain, to start anew. This is the truly tragic moment, when the hero becomes conscious of his wretched condition. He does not have hope, but “[t]here is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.” Acknowledging the truth will conquer it; Sisyphus, just like the absurd man, keeps pushing. Camus claims that when Sisyphus acknowledges the futility of his task and the certainty of his fate, he is freed to realize the absurdity of his situation and to reach a state of contented acceptance. Camus concludes that “all is well,” indeed, that “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” (taken from Wikipedia)
Meditation practice for me has in its beginnings an acceptance of the absurd, which is at the same time a “letting go”. It is being present with the boulder as I push it up the hill or aware of my thoughts and feeling as I watch it roll back down. Not dwelling on past walks up the mountain or future walks down. I don’t see certain forms of existentialism as pessimisstic; I find their views kind of honest and refreshing and a nice counter balance to pollyana optimism (although there are time I embrace the latter too).
Daily – I am NOT present. I get lost. I resist against the task of the boulder. So I meditate. Here is a passage from Thubten Chodron, from Taming the Mind (Snow Lion) that explains the task of meditation for me . . .
The Value of the Present Moment
Recognizing that past turmoil and future rhapsodies are projections of our mind prevents us from getting stuck in them. Just as the face in the mirror is not a real face, the objects of our memories and daydreams are likewise unreal. They are not happening now; they are simply mental images flickering in the mind.
Reflecting on the value of our precious human life also minimizes our habit of ruminating. Our wondrous potential becomes clear, and the rarity and value of the present opportunity shines forth. Who wants to ruminate about the past and future when we can do so much good and progress spiritually in the present.
Give yourself a break.
That doesn’t mean to say that you should drive to the closest bar and have lots to drink or go to a movie. Just enjoy the day, your normal existence. Allow yourself to sit in your home or take a drive into the mountains. Park your car somewhere; just sit; just be.
It sounds very simplistic. But you begin to pick up on clouds,
sunshine, and weather;
your chatter with your grandmother and your grandfather, your own mother, your own father.
You begin to pick up on a lot of things.
Just let them pass like the chatter of a brook as it hits the rocks. We have to give ourselves some time to be.
–Chogyam Trungpa, Ocean of Dharma (Shambhala Publications)
In one his movies, the comedian W.C. Fields walks into a bank and up to the teller’s window. The teller asks, “Can you identify yourself?” Fields says, “Of course. Do you have a mirror?” When presented with one, Fields immediately states, “Yup, that’s me!”It’s meant as a joke, but it carries a ring of truth. Who among us can say they really know themselves, without illusions, beyond the face in the mirror, their name-rank-and-serial-number role in the world, their personas, defense mechanisms, and self-deceptions?
Do we distinguish between when we are being authentic and inauthentic?
Do we know what we really feel about things, what our true values and priorities are, what lies below the surface of consciousness, and what makes us tick?
- Lama Surya Das, from The Big Questions (Rodale)
Here’s to finding out who you really are in the quiet moments.
After a busy and fun holiday weekend, I am in need of some quiet moments – no tv, no internet, no phone, no family and no friends.
I think a walking meditation on the beach is called for tonight, before I even return home from work.
The sound of water & sand, wind, my heartbeat and my breath – Observing my thoughts arise and then watching them fall away, like the water receding and coming to shore again.
Stripped away and back to me.
About 20 minutes should do it – the rest of the night won’t be the same. The rest of my life won’t be the same.
Yeah, it’s time to prioritize.
With Hands Open and Receptive,
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
but the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light and the stillness, the dancing.
T.S. Eliot (1888 – 1965)
Source: Four Quartets
Milarepa: “When you run after your thoughts, you are like a dog chasing a stick: every time a stick is thrown, you run after it. Instead, be like a lion who, rather than chasing after the stick, turns to face the thrower. One only throws a stick at a lion once.”
It is humbling and satisfying to realize the thoughts that run through my head – often at speed of light (especially when I turn inward) are not that important.
The only attention they deserve, is to be observed as they pass – not followed. My ego thinks they’re priceless and in need of chasing.
There is something very freeing about not chasing . . .
Here’s to Freedom
The face of impermanence is constantly showing itself. Why do we struggle to hide it? Why do we feed the circle of suffering by perpetuating the myth of permanence? Experiences, friends, relationships, possessions, knowledge – we work so hard to convince ourselves that they will last. When a cup breaks or we forget something, or somebody dies or the seasons change, we’re surprised. We can’t believe it’s over.
… Permanence would be awkward. There would be no beginning and no end . . . Everything would last forever. There’d be no seasons. We’d never be born, grow up, fall in love, have children, grow old or die . . .
No matter how we want to cling to our loved ones, by nature every relationship is a meeting and a parting. This doesn’t mean we have less love. It means we have less fixation, less pain. . . we can relax into the ebb and flow of life.
We don’t have to keep imitating an idea of permanent happiness.
Understanding the meaning of impermanence makes us less desperate people. It gives us dignity. . .
~ SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE, Turning the Mind into an Ally
For me this dignity is essential in cultivating a heart of compassion (and Sakyong points to this also). If my heart is full of fixation there is no room for anything else to exist. It’s as if this letting go is a first step in taking the focus off of merely myself and opening up to something larger than myself.
I find that embracing the nature of impermanence in the seasons, in financial areas, and relationships to be easier these days. The impermanence in knowledge is becoming more evident in this information age as “things” we thought to be true are quickly outdated and replaced by new information – it’s funny, I still hold certain knowledge to be more permanent – I grasp this tighter; I hold on with a closed fist – especially when I do not see the difference between knowledge and my opinion or I try to make a certain knowledge “fixed” rather than unfolding (which happens when I am caught up in my blue or orange development – see Spiral Dynamics).
I hope to cultivate a bit more dignity in this area.
The average person has 12,000 thoughts per day – most of them a recurring handful of unwelcome distractions (source “Still the Mind” - Bodhipaksa)
I’ve been listening to a download by SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE, the author of ”Turning The Mind Into An Ally” and I am enjoying listening to his teaching as it slowly sinks in to my being (it’s been a lighter look at his elementary teachings).
The basic gist is about how we do not have to be at odds with unpleasant or unconscious thoughts as they arise – rather it’s about how to have a better relationship with the distracting or unpleasant mind – the same way we have to work through our relationships with others we love, when they are being unpleasant. Now this is not about dealing with the Shadow, it’s more about the constant way our mind can go on and on and on – the Monkey Chatter. I felt his “basic” ideas were worth posting and that some of my blog readers would enjoy his teaching. I find it has been valuable for me; it’s a simple wisdom that has changed my relationship with myself. Here are some of my paraphrased words from Sakyong’s introductory interview:
Peaceful Abiding is a basic meditation, for harmony within ourselves – with our mind. Not at odds with our mind, rather with mind as an ally. For instance, we never know how we are going to wake up (angry, happy, frustrated etc.) and this is the person we are going to have to deal with the rest of the day. This is who we are in relationship with for that day. What kind of relationship will we have with this mind/emotion? If we are not in relationship with our mind – life becomes very difficult.
As a people we generally like to be in control, this is our human condition. We like thinking we are in control of our thoughts. As if it were natural to think certain thoughts only when we want to.
However, as we sit down to eat we can all of a sudden begin to think about a bill, needing to fix our car, problems at work, how our friend acted like such a bitch, etc. If we were in control, we would say (and be), “So I am sitting down to eat, I will be present with eating and think about the bills, the car, work, my friend, when I want/choose to think about the bills or the car or work or my bitch friend”.
Let’s face it – it doesn’t work that way. We don’t have that kind of control. So we have to be in relationship with our mind. Is it our enemy or is it our ally?
In Sakyong’s teaching, it is about making the mind pliable, making it flexible. A hardened and inflexible mind has no room for compassion; it is jealous, angry, holding . . . What we are in need of, is a softening.
In allowing distracting thoughts to arise and pass (and there are various ways to do this), in allowing these to be impermanent, we see that the nature of mind at its core – is peaceful abiding, clear, knowing and powerful. It is our ally. It is part of our true nature. And this is one of the values in meditating – peaceful abiding. It’s not some mystical state, it’s our natural state.
It takes courage to be compassionate (even with the self) when you’re consumed with a thought/emotion. To make peace with one’s mind takes strength and courage and understanding. It is much easier to give in, than to be brave enough to remain open to change or possibility (especially if we are angry or anxious). Yet this is the possibility that exists in all of us.
(just another blog about letting go, why I love the out breath, why I practice breathing and how breathing allows me to observe my thoughts and not identify over-identify, with my feelings or thoughts. Is it any wonder I love smoking even if I choose not to smoke? Outside of observing the natural flow of my breath – which is for me the most difficult – I also practice breathing techniques for health. Natural or controlled it is a gift. What about those of you reading this? What are your experiences of breath?)
The river flows rapidly down the mountain, and then all of a sudden it gets blocked with big boulders and a lot of trees. The water can’t go any farther, even though it has tremendous force and forward energy. It just gets blocked there. That’s what happens with us, too; we get blocked like that.
Letting go at the end of the out-breath, letting the thoughts go, is like moving one of those boulders away so that the water can keep flowing, so that our energy and our life force can keep evolving and going forward. We don’t, out of fear of the unknown, have to put up these blocks, these dams, that basically say no to life and to feeling life.
–Pema Chodron, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol. I,
Well, not as often as I used to – but I do it enough anyway. This sorta follows Frizz’s answer to yesterdays blog
So Joseph Goldstein has given me a few wake up calls over the years; the latest is no different. Just another facet, another post, another mention of letting go . . .
The practice is a process unfolding, and it unfolds in its own time.
It is like the flowers that grow in the spring. Do you pull them up to make them grow faster? I once tried to do that with carrots in my first garden when I was eight years old. It does not work.
Cause it’s what I need more of in my life and I figure why not share; I’m probably not the only one.
Sometimes letting go however, is not about sitting and being empty it’s about re-framing a thought or refocusing attention, trying a new behavior or holding a new idea. A change in perspective from an old habit to a new (and if that ain’t mindfulness, I don’t know what is).
The following is by Tony Robbins. It’s amusing to me that I like to make fun of him at times, yet always find wisdom in what he has to say. He’s like the jester in my court (I am king of my world after all) and he always brings some form of wisdom no matter how silly I think it is. Which reminds me – go to the link on the side of this page “Zen – the possible way” and check out the Montey Python skit/post. I’ve been going back to it regularly. It’s a great post
Tony’s words also helped me be a more evolved observer of my own thoughts – since I love the definition he gives for thinking. A simple piece of wisdom. As I examine my own “monkey mind” I am able to better smile at the self. You know, generate a little self compassion regarding my own anxiety.
Enjoy . . .
Thinking is really just a series of questions and answers we pose to ourselves. We’re constantly asking and answering. Asking and answering. Asking and answering.Yah? Now, if we believe that we’re constantly asking and answering questions, it begs the question (pun intended): “What kind of questions are we asking ourselves?!” Simple examples: You’re having a rough day. Didn’t work out when you said you would. Boss is being a jerk. Traffic sucks. Whatever. What do you ask yourself?
“Grrrrr…Why can’t I ever do what I say I’m going to do?!?!” vs. “Hmmm…I wonder, how can I make better commitments and have fun following through with them?!?”
“Why is my boss being such a jerk again?” vs. “I know I’m always reading that life is our class-room, so…How can I learn from this situation and have fun while I’m doing it?”
“Why is there always soooo much traffic?!?!” vs. “Wow. I wonder how much conscious breath work I can get done on my way to work today?!? Lucky me. There’s traffic!”
ok – that “lucky me. there’s traffic” part was a bit much – but all in all, some great words, yeah?
Then I went off to fight some battle
That I’d invented inside my head
. . . . .
I had to stop in my tracks for fear
Of walking on the mines I’d laid
- Sting, Fortress Around Your Heart
. . . the courage to express genuine bravery in our everyday life must start with letting go of thoughts.
. . . by sitting still we stop dressing up our emotions as forms of entertainment
. . . such a pause requires courage – to let go of our hesitation, security and doubt and engage the unknown directly
- Michael Carroll, The Mindful Leader
I can get sentimental over the holidays (I suppose it’s better than bitter and/or depressed). I have an affinity to certain timeless and transcendent lessons in childhood stories, The Grinch, Charlie Brown, Pee Wee’s Christmas (HAH!) . . . but the video below is a clip of my all time favorite. No speaking (but for a bit of music and song) – there is no need for words. Beautiful renderings in pastels and what I feel is the most HONEST lesson about life – joy, hope, imagination, clinging, sorrow and Impermanence.
From Brian Johnson:
Got this one from a Tony Robbins seminar (I think it was Date with Destiny):
You have any movies you just absolutely hated? Yah? Me, too.
Quick question: Would you go watch it 10,000 times?
That’d be pretty stupid, eh?
So, another quick question: Why do we replay that horrible scene from our lives over and over and over and over and over and over again?
Time to go to a new movie, wouldn’t you say?
On November 8th and 18th I had posted an eloquent saying I came across:
“Open your hand and let the dead wood drop”
It is still a wonderful picture. It is a wonderful Practice .
Just opening my hand and letting go relaxes my body (my shoulders drop), I breathe and usually I smile.
It’s addictive – just observing my hand opening and closing.
It’s like open hands = an opening of my heart. There is a befriending of the moment.
(Probably because there is much I hold on to ; I return to myself as I do this, this simple movement. I practice it from time to time in my office at work. It’s a great one minute meditation. My yellow sticky note on my computer reminding me, says “open your hand”)
In practicing Qigong this morning, I was noticing my open hands. Noticing how they follow the energy, how they don’t try. There is no try, just do.
Here are a few words that follow in this vein, written better than I could have:
–Amadeus Sole-Leris, Tranquility & Insight
Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life.
–Eckhart Tolle , The Power of Now