Clearing Space

There are three teachings that I aim to apply to my daily life and work that are especially complicated when I’m stressed and dealing with trauma. I put them under the headings: Love, Loss and Letting Go but they are all interrelated. Love is about authentic presence. It’s learning to be in alignment body, mind and spirit. It’s practicing self-care and kindness. Loss is observing and accepting the temporal nature of all things. Letting go is about releasing and clearing space for novelty. Today, I want to talk about Letting Go.

The purpose of Letting Go is to make space for something new to enter your life when your inner being is ready. It involves releasing elements of the past and the feeling of control. The opposite of Letting Go is clinging. We can cling to an object, a person, a way of life, a view point, an identity. When we hold onto something that is no longer beneficial for our stage of development, it weakens our life energy. Letting go can be difficult and painful when it involves cutting off something that once provided us with joy and purpose. It’s like a warm hug that’s now turned into a choke hold.

In order to let go, we first have to accept Loss, the temporal nature of all things. Then, we can begin to turn to our behavior and decision making to see how we either assist or stifle emergence, that is, our transition into a new state of being. The longer we resist change, the more we suffer and eventually suffering can become a longstanding part of our reality. When we choose the practice of Letting Go, we are courageously opening ourself up to a life of freedom and possibilities.

When we are stressed or experiencing the effects of a trauma, we have a tendency to cling. We are vulnerable, tired and weary and we really just want to sleep. Sleeping requires very little space so the clutter serves you well in this state of mind. But, if your will power is strong or the current of life pushes you forward to your potential destiny, you’ll be faced with a dilemma. Sleep or experiment with Letting Go of something.  

The practice of Letting Go starts with asking: What am I holding on to that is consuming my energy, holding me back or causing me suffering?

With this question in mind, thoughts naturally arise. It’s an excellent starting point for meditation. In meditation you may observe the patterns of your thinking. Perhaps it is an object of your clinging or a fear. Your clinging will have a language of its own, but it generally runs on in your mind like a fixed narrative, or a loop with no outlet. When we meditate on this, we may find that we justify why we’re clinging. We may think that suffering is simply part of life and loving. Still, when you listen to your body and spirit, you become aware of not feeling at ease. You may feel tense, frustrated or angry.

In my experience clinging is attached to deep rooted fears. A deep rooted fear stems from childhood or a trauma. There are many clairvoyants who believe that fears can hold over from a past life time. A fear of scarcity, for example, will have you clinging to money. You may have become greedy or miserly. Fear of being alone or unlovable may have you clinging to a person or an unhappy relationship. Fear of death may have you clinging to excessive health routines or young people. When we cling, we have over identified our self with something and feel lost without it.

When we’re faced with a sudden life change or trauma, we’re forced to reevaluate everything. It can be difficult and painful Letting Go in these circumstances because we find ourselves managing Loss and Letting Go simultaneously. It can be tricky figuring out the needs of an emerging identity and releasing attachments at the same time. We worry that if we let go even more we may lose everything! At first, it’s normal to sit with your suffering. Pain is a natural part of life and change. But in our sitting practice we begin to realize that we feel imprisoned by old thoughts and circumstances. Little by little we learn that what is most important in life is never really lost or in jeopardy.

In my practice, I alternate my daily meditation with Love intention and Letting Go. This provides me with the strength, self-care and kindness I need. Trust that you will naturally want to feel lighter and free. Trust that you will naturally lean into your most promising life energy.

What are you holding on to?

Rely on Your Strength

As we move into the next phase of recovery, many of us are suffering from anxiety. I think it’s because we know it’s time to move forward but we don’t know what to expect. We also can’t be sure that we’re not going to cause more harm to ourselves or to others. My morning meditation evoked a memory that boosted my spirit and I thought I’d share the story.

Several years ago, a friend and I went on a trip to Puerto Rico. While sitting on the beach sipping a drink, we stared at a small island in the distance. We were both about to turn 40, so we began tossing around the idea of whether or not we could reach that island by swimming.

Behind us, there was a small kiosk selling an assortment of beach items including snorkeling gear. The sales clerk was quite friendly. We inquired about the distance and she rented us the equipment easily.

We stood on the edge of the water and put on the black goggles and positioned the mouth piece. I was looking forward to scuba diving, like in the movies. I teased my friend, she punched my arm and we started our journey. Within seconds of my face hitting the water, I knew the goggles were tight and overwhelming. The mouth piece felt enormous. It wasn’t a very good feeling at all.

My friend took the lead and slowly, I got the hang of it. I kept my thoughts steady. I was careful not to let water get into the tube. I didn’t like the sound of my breathing, but I carried on. At one point, my friend turned around and gave me a thumbs up. A few silvery fish swam by. They were so small and curious.

About twenty-five minutes into our journey, I accidentally ducked my head too far under water causing trouble with my mouth tube. The gurgling sound alarmed me and I realized I was about to inhale some water. I had to stop swimming and empty the tube out. How was I going to do this while floating simultaneously? The idea worried me. I always struggled juggling two things at one time. I bounced to the top and got on with this strange maneuver. Meanwhile, my friend swam ahead. She had no idea that I had stopped. In the midst of all this, I looked up to take stock of our distance. The island appeared so far away. How was that possible, I wondered, we had been non-stop swimming? It dawned on me that we had veered off with the current.

My heart beat quickened and I felt my body weight. I started to doggie paddle while desperately trying to get my mask back down over my face. Regrettably, the inside of the goggles had steamed up and the mouth piece was still burbling. That’s when I lost it and began to go under. More water poured inside my equipment so when I opened my eyes and tried to breathe, it became agonizing. I was really panicking now. I realized I could drown right there. They’d find my swollen body floating in the great in-between.

The water was relentless. The silver fish, adorable just a minute ago, looked like piranhas. To my left a monstrous coral reef. I had to do something quick. I finally yanked off the mouth piece and goggles and tossed them into the water and now free, I swam my way to the top and gasped for air.

Thankfully my friend was nearby. She had seen me lag behind and had come back to fetch me. Both our heads were bobbing in the water, my eyes red and my breathing heavy.

“You alright?” She called out.

“No,” I stammered. “I can’t make it.”

“Try to relax. You can make it. Where’s your gear?”

“I tossed it. I was getting an anxiety attack. I can’t breathe with it on.”

She turned and looked at the island. “We’re not that far,” she said but looked worried.

“I think I’ll just swim now. I’m good at that.”

“Alright. I’ll stay close. Let me know if you need me.”

Screen Shot 2020-06-22 at 3.00.45 PMSuddenly, I remembered that I was a pretty good swimmer. In fact, I was awesome at the back stroke. I felt a burst of energy and began to move quickly. I flipped over on my back and within seconds, I felt my body glide ahead at a vigorous speed. My arms moved effortlessly through the water like oars. The strength returned to my legs. I didn’t stop and I didn’t think— I just sped through the water straight.

After some time, I turned over and slowed down to look where I was. The island was just a few meters away. I swam until I hit land. When I stepped out of the water, I looked for my friend who was close behind. I couldn’t believe we had made it. We fell hard onto the white, sandy beach and looked up at the sky. Then, we laughed.

“You scared the shit out of me,” my friend said.

“Me too,” I said, shaking my head. “I don’t know what happened. I just freaked out. I couldn’t breathe. That stupid snorkeling equipment just wasn’t working for me.”

“Well, you didn’t need it. You were amazing once you let go and relied on your back stroke.”

 

Love in The Dark Night of the Soul

“Real love always involves a transgression.” George Bataille

It’s always important to start and end with love even when we’re conditioned otherwise. Like, how we deal with this strange heaviness about us. This dark night of the soul.

Any experience of darkness needs to be looked at with love or else we might get lost, or worse yet, eaten up alive. Even in the worst of times, we must take care to look at our current life experience as a quest for love. Self-love and our capacity to love another.

Love is the driving force in every human being. It is the life force energy. Even those things we’d rather not see, like ugliness, stealth, pain or misery—we are talking about a love journey.

Everything is under construction. Everything is exploding. There is confusion and discord. Even language, our use of words is deafening.

My husband is dead and I’m aflame. A love sick puppy. Another Black man was murdered on the street. This virus is stifling. And there’s love.

Love makes life worth living. We want to be seen and loved for who we are.  It hurts when we don’t have these two fundamental things. When love is lacking, we are bored like the devil, restless and thirsty. Sometimes, we try to let go of this notion of love entirely. This happens at a very deep personal level or it can happen in large numbers poisoning society.

There are protests and riots on the streets. We’ve been poisoned by hate, fear and scarcity thinking. We uphold rules and social norms that stifle love with its freedom and creativity. We create institutions that are limiting and then we wonder why people want to break free. Where there is no love, there is no freedom, and our souls, our humanity wither away. We see all forms of escape from this dilemma. Some want to burn the house down.

This morning I went to the store for bread with five dollars in my pocket. I greet the cashier, a dark skinned African American lady. She rings me up and tells me, $5.50. I repeat, $5.50? The prices are inflated all over the city. I take out my roll and count as if somehow I’d have enough. How much do you need? She asks me. Fifty, I say, muttering. She reaches under the counter and pulls out a small plastic bag of coins from her purse. She counts out the change and rings me up and my eyes fill with tears and I’m grateful and ashamed. I’m thinking about her brother, son or husband who could have been killed by the police. How is it possible, dear God, that under the circumstances this woman is so kind and loving?

I’m living in my own suffering and she pops my bubble with her love and humanity.

She sees me emotional and tells me, Now is the time to do these things.