Blustery Times & The Art of Letting Go
Monday, October 1st, 2012
We live in blustery times. No matter where we live on the planet nobody can play deaf and dumb to the increasing anxiety of our Age and the declining health of the Earth. At this moment someone is making a bomb, someone else is planting a IED, someone else is pouring oil into the sea and someone else is about to write a suicide note. How have we have got ourselves and our environment into such a sorry state? With all our religion, scientism, technocracy and politics, nothing seems strong enough to save us from ourselves and the collective despair of grasping consumerism, debt and paranoia into which we are hurtling. How many of us are really in tune with ourselves and what’s going on around us? Surely it’s time to ‘down tools’ and fundamentally reassess our own health, the direction of our lives and the wellbeing of the Earth.
Since the health of our inner worlds, bodies and minds affects the macrocosmos of our domestic environments, work places and communities at large, it’s of vital importance to see that whatever is happening to us on a personal level is also happening at a universal level. From an energetic point of view, since we are all interconnected and interdependent, our thoughts, feelings and actions affect everyone and everything around us, so we need to ensure that we are in the best possible health in order to heal our environments, rather than contaminate them with our dis-ease, excesses and stresses. Recently someone told me she used to see her neighbour chain smoking on the balcony looking distressed, night after night. One day she set alight to herself and burnt to death, alone, in her flat.
As we all go through our personal journey from summer to autumn to winter and back to spring through the natural movement of time, its useful to see how Nature expresses herself in terms of her seasons, rhythms and colours and how these reflect our own emotional lives. Wind is the element of change and Autumn is the season of maturation, harvest and surrender; the florid bounty of summer decrecendoes and with a deep sigh everything must return to the Earth and settle down in preparation for the long dark winter months ahead. Autumn is traditionally associated with letting go – as the driving and swirling equinoctial gales strip the trees and hedgerows bare, this is a good time for us to discard the debris from our psycho-emotional lives, the clutter from our homes and the relentless grip of ego – trying to force the world with our will.
How can we do this? Geshe Sonam Rinchen once said “if you can’t help someone, then don’t harm them,” which sounded like a good starting point. What he really meant was if you don’t work with yourself and your own situation properly, you might hurt yourself and the people around you, which is the mark of cowardice and impatience. Working from this premise, when we sit on the ground to examine our state of being we may discover that our minds are constantly moving or our emotions feel uncomfortable or compressed. So we try to let go of this uncomfortable or restless energy. This sounds so easy – just ‘let go.’ But nobody tells us actually how to do it. Here letting go means allowing ourselves to fully experience our existence as human beings. Most of the time we are too busy chasing our lives and ignoring what we feel to notice what’s happening at an unconscious, heart or cellular level. By allowing a space to open we begin to realize that we do not need to ‘keep calm and carry on’ and suppress our energy. Nor do we need to act out our aggression, both are different forms of trying to escape what we feel. There is another way: if we can identify the disturbance in terms of neurotic thinking, anxiety or unprocessed emotion then we can begin to experience this phenomenon simply as raw energy. If we are fully accepting of one emotion such as anger and allow it to be, properly experiencing the redness, hotness and tightness in our body, we can then give ourselves permission to soften and surrender. As long as we are able to create enough space, through breathing and softening, we can start to transmute our aggression into dynamic positive energy.
Similarly, our thoughts are like the yellow and red leaves riding on the wind of our restless mind, rising and falling, swirling, then eventually surrendering to gravity and collapsing on the ground. Thoughts are unreliable because they are always changing – sometimes up, sometimes down – in fact we never really know what we think because there’s too much thinking! If we don’t go up and down with our thoughts and life situations but stay where we are – sitting on the ground – then eventually we may decide give up the chase and let go of the grasping quality of ‘thinking’ and accept the true nature of the mind or the ground of primordial awareness which is always there – continually unchanging, spacious and open.
Here’s the good news – letting go is a process. Discovering what we really feel beneath the stubborn defences of ego takes considerable time. If we take this time and are courageous enough to encounter our emotions, working with them in a positive sense, then the process of transforming them into wisdom takes place automatically. Allowing our mind to be rather than fighting against it may take a lifetime. The point here is that is we can all start where we are and discover that our present life situation contains the means to work through our obstacles and out the other side. Life challenges are the working basis through which we discover who are – that is why we have a world. If we kill everybody in the whole world we have nothing left to work with. Once we take our own health and wellbeing seriously and start to clean up our act, the process of healing our world happens quite spontaneously because we are no longer involved with self-condemnation, self-destruction or self-serving desire. We don’t need to wait for economists, politicians, scientists or even doctors to come up with a cure for our world when we can take responsibility for our own healing and the necessary nurturing of this beautiful and fragile Earth, right here and right now.