Slow Down, Observe, Let Go
If it comes- let it, if it goes- let it.
One of my favourite Buddhist mantras. One true, and especially hard to follow in the midst of stormy emotions, which is precisely when you need to let go of something… anger, frustration, fear, hurt, expectations.
But what is the inner mechanism of letting go?
A friend of mine who practices tea meditation would often remind me- stop, observe – how does this feel in your body?
How something feels becomes the compass for knowing whether you’re on the right path of letting go. If I walk away, am I walking away, free of hurt and anger or am I betraying myself, hiding unresolved emotions? Does my heart feel heavy or light? If I escape into forgetfulness or entertainment, am I slipping into denial or addiction? Do I feel sluggish, tired, is my mind cloudy? What does forgiveness feel like? How does anger feel in your body? Does your face get hot? Do your hands tremble? Where do you feel fear? In your stomach? Observe.
Observation is a tool, just like breathing meditatively. It allows you to step out of your immediate emotions and pause without reacting by creating space to respond. It is a practice, one that takes daily commitment. One I find personally very hard.
Thankfully, (a big sigh here), there are certain situations in life that are presented to us, which are especially hard to let go of. It is those that serve as our most prominent teachers, as they are characterised by one particular condition- you cannot walk away from them.
For me, one such situation involves my children. My sons have different fathers, we are no longer together with either one of them. Not the easiest of affairs to navigate peacefully. In twelve years, every emotion has passed through my body, my heart clenched in anger, and opened through forgiveness. Every argument would turn my insides on fire, my head swimming in anger. I couldn’t function or think straight. This way of life is unsustainable. It isn’t peaceful. It doesn’t serve anyone. Proving your righteousness doesn’t liberate you. The body feels riddled with blockages, hot with anger, inflamed from hurt. The only way out is to let go. To calm your mind, to re-open your heart, to reach out and make peace. Over and over again until it becomes a way of life.
How does letting go feel?
Letting go leaves your body feeling light. Your heart will feel soft, the energy will flow through you. You will feel energised. Your mind will stay quiet. Faced with an argument, a hurt, a frustration, your response will be of calm. Your thoughts and heart will not race. You will walk out of your storm unharmed, without harming anyone else.
I find that when I am in the midst of a particularly hurtful and difficult situation with either one of the fathers, or my older teenage son, a reminder of these simple truths sobers me up from overwhelming emotions, realigns my mind, acts as an energetic cleanser through my body, feels kind on my heart. Perhaps, today this might help you remember to be kind to yourself. To observe. To breathe and let go.
My Dharma Master constantly reminds us to open the heart by looking at something open such as open book, open door, open gate, or some flowers are blooming from the bud, or a boundless blue sky, endless sea. Those openings/endlessnesses guide your mind to practice the openness; once it opens, your heart follows. Once your mind and heart open, letting go would be easy.
Oh I love this, what a beautiful reminder. Thank you
Sara Cole Stratton
Nga mihi, Thankyou for sharing so honestly. It is that sharing that reminds me of the facility of us, of humanity. I think our vulnerability is our most beautiful quality and when I lean into the she spiritual for help it ironically becomes my strength. Letting go for me is the unclenching of my my whole being so it takes me time. I always fight it first then finally I surrender it. The time of fighting though is shorter and not so destructive. Thankyou again Masha
Nga mihi Sara. Thank you for sharing this. You are so right, vulnerability is indeed the most precious and beautiful and true within us. The more I too practice letting go, not engaging in any of the emotions or thoughts, the faster I come to a calm within.
“Proving your righteousness doesn’t liberate you.”
I needed to hear that. Thank you.
Thank you Anne x
Thank you for these beautiful thoughts. As I age I find it easier to practice observing as opposed to reacting but it taken a long, long time to recognize which path to take and I still often don’t know how to slow down.
Thanks for the reminder.
Thank you in turn for sharing this, Susanne. I really appreciate your words.
Thank you. This came into my life at a time I very much need it. Just this morning I read an article about appreciation that suggested taking a photo of something you appreciate five times a day. I’m taking a photo of this post!
Diane! This is incredibly lovely, made me smile. Thank you for sharing this.
And when you are at peace, so are those around you. Like ripples in a pond.
very true Lauren, keep this as a daily reminder for myself.
Choosing Wisdom, always a good choice! Enjoy reading your posts and creative expressions. Nice imagery.
Thank you so much Lynn, I appreciate your words.