Zen Girl

Centering into the journey.

On the process of letting go.

The mountains are calling and I must go. John Muir

Image by blmiers2 via Flickr

Don’t forget to cry.

As I continue my life in a new way, with a new frame of mind, I concentrate on the aspect of letting go.  We are a collection of our thoughts and emotions; we are the way we see the world around us.  This world, all of the people in it and all of those people’s actions, we cannot control or change.  All we have left is to react to the changes around us positively or negatively.  This reaction is who we are.  We get to choose!  How’s that for freedom.

One of the most important tools in realizing this freedom to it’s full potential is the process of letting go.  This is the single hardest thing to accomplish for many, including myself.   Those are MY feelings, MY emotions, MY control and I want to keep it.  Giving up the control is the most freeing part; to throw in the towel by no longer trying to control the events and people around us, no longer fighting against the things that do not adhere to our desires and our imagined future.  When we fight, we are pushing against nature, ourselves, and the universe.  It’s bigger than that.  It’s bigger than little ol’ you.  You are bigger than yourself, and when you realize that, you can release yourself into the world.

Last week, in the midst of my reborn life, I had a complete mental breakdown.  I woke up feeling just a bit restless, had the day off and was simply trying to decide what I wanted to do next.  Out of nowhere I began to sob.  I sat on the floor in the corner of my room and cried and cried, it was about 20 minutes before I could stop.  But I didn’t feel sad, nothing was causing me stress, in fact–with my new outlook my life had been quite amazing.  So where in the hell did this come from?

My very wise roommate told me about how emotions are like a hill.  Throughout the day, we encounter things that may stir up anger or stress, but when we are working to better ourselves, those emotions can easily be held back.  I was getting quite good at this, able to let things roll off me in a way I had never in my life been able to do.  So as the days continued, and things hit me that stirred up emotions, I got closer and closer to the top, but remember to push it back down, and then travel a bit back down the hill.  I was still close to the top of the hill however, never quite going over to the other side, the downward slope.

Sometimes when we are alone, we have the chance to get over the top of the hill.   We finally make it to the other side and we fall down the other side, swim down, run down, tumble down.  (It was a free-for-all roll down for me).  It all falls out of us with no warning or reason. During this outburst I tried to look for what was wrong-really wrong-but nothing was there.  It’s not that anything was wrong at all–quite the contrary, everything was right.  When this happened to me, it was such a huge release.  At first I felt confused, pitted between lonliness and the desire to be alone.  The simpest of decisions were nearly impossible to make.  But when my mind shut off to everything except for the release,  I realized that the other side of the hill contained a quiet, calm atmosphere and clear, extremely breathable air.

The point I am trying to make here is that letting go of the things that cause us temporary suffering and happiness can be extraordinarily hard–it can feel like we are letting go of our lives, like we have to not care.  It can be lonely and wonderful and confusing.  We try to let go of everything and anything that brings temporary feelings of happiness or misery because we know the only thing that will bring us long-lasting happiness and contentment is ourselves.  A love for the world as it is, a peace of mind, a sense of calm sets over us. It’s not that we are letting go of those good things in our life, it’s not that we don’t have goals to work toward or people to live; it’s that we are letting go of the attachment, of the outcome.  We are acknowledging and appreciating this event, thing, or person, but we are not clinging to its presence.  We know nothing is permanent, and we can truly enjoy what life gives us knowing that it’s all fleeting.

I’m still working through this myself, and still have many questions.  Are we attached to the feeling of attachment itself?  What happens when we work on allowing everything?  Where do those emotions go, that we no longer express outward?  Should they ever come out?  Should they exist at all?  I don’t think that there is benefit to trying to rid ourselves of any kind of emotions completely; the more we fight against something the more likely it will come to pass.  Instead, we can witness,  practice simple acceptance with our thoughts as much as with our outward reality.  We can acknowledge them, and allow them to float by like a cloud on a clear day.  We can allow life to be what it is and move along with the ride.

The universe knows.  it keeps us balanced checked, patient.  It holds us back, pushes us forward, rocks us.  All truth is in the universe, which is, in turn, in ourselves.  It puts things right in front of us sometimes, hangs them right before our eyes.  But it waits, and when you are aligned with your true self and the universe, you can wait.  You don’t resist, you don’t grab for what isn’t there or isn’t ready.  Not until that moment when the universe (you) knows it couldn’t have been any other way.

Letting go is by no means apathy.  It’s a release, a flow, a truth.  When we let go of the things that hold us back, we can see the gift that living is without the fog over our eyes.  But letting go is not holding in.  Don’t suppress.  Don’t fight.  If you feel yourself coming too close to the top of the hill, let yourself tumble down the other side.  You’ll be happy you did.

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8 thoughts on “On the process of letting go.

  1. Song of Tilopa
    whoever clings to mind sees not the truth that lies beyond mind.
    whoever strives to practice Dharma finds not the truth beyond the practice.
    to discover what lies beyond both mind and practice cut clearly through the root of mind.
    stare naked so: break away from all distinctions and remain at ease.

    from the Meditation Notebook of Tipun Padma Chogyal, translated from the Tibetan original.

    look up stuff from Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche…all the words are but a ladder…

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