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?

When Mindfulness Matters Less

I’m writing to you, dear friend, because I’ve come to some realizations that you may benefit from. I fear that in spite of the fact of having written a great deal on the subject of mindfulness, I’m growing tired of the word. Perhaps it’s just the natural limitation of the word itself or maybe it’s semantics but it seems to me that there is something missing about it. I think now that the term mindfulness may accidentally diminish the central role of heart in our life and conversations.

So there, I’ve said it. I’m unsatisfied with the broad use of the word mindfulness and I’m currently interested in the role of the heart. I’m doing some reflecting on this topic during these somewhat turbulent days.

When I think about the heart, I think about it inside me, the organ, but also the feeling, the outside experience of love which is more like an energy. I’ve been listening very carefully to my heart, starting with its beat in my body. This beating feels so instinctive and expected and yet, I notice how it speeds up or slows down depending on the situation, the person I’m talking with or the circumstances I’m facing. Therefore, I see now the heart is both instinct and radical energy, that which is both within and beyond myself simultaneously.

I will add, and you will appreciate this because you can be a practical person, that there is also an awareness of the relationship between my heart and my gut, both of which are both physical and metaphysical elements, like the body is telling me something about my true nature and the true nature of a situation. You’ve heard the expression, follow your gut, right? Or in Spanish, it would be: do what your body tells you. I believe that the heart (like the gut, or in partnership with the gut…) speaks to us all the time and sometimes it can appear mysterious but the more aware you are, the more you realize that it’s not very mysterious at all.

So now, I hesitate more when using the word mindfulness. It seems to discourage me. It seems to communicate that life centers in the mind and freedom has to do with the level of mindfulness of a person. But I don’t think this is true. You certainly know this my dear friend because the heart has ruled over most everything you do, for better or worst I dare say! I guess I’m just now accepting this, this sense that the heart really does drive human behavior. Isn’t it perhaps the most powerful energy source of all? And why is this a bad thing? Isn’t it that all matters of the heart bring people together? Isn’t it this notion of heart that dictates the rise and fall of families and whole civilizations, everything we value and fight for as a people, as a nation?  

Today, my heart beats a little steadier, but at night it still beats rapidly in my chest: bum, bum, bum. Just like that and I want to stop it with my mind and breathing exercises but my heart is so powerful, like it knows something. In an effort to embrace the path of least resistance, I am now accepting my heart as the center processing unit of my being. After all, the heart is the mechanism by which air flows throughout my body and I do believe in listening carefully. The heart holds the answer to every life decision..

Sometimes I think people turn to mindfulness for safety. When the heart is allowed free reign, open and honesty, we are vulnerable, raw and crying. We are less practical. It’s literally an open window in the eyes, a volcano.

In defense of mindfulness, though, I will say that mindfulness is about becoming aware of the heart, managing and setting aside thoughts so that you can hear clearly your heart beat. This is true and important. Mindfulness can bring you closer to a healthy, dancing heart. But, it’s a tool and that is all.

Home

Home is where the heart is, an old but fitting adage. And yet, dare one ask: where is thou heart? Is thou heart inside you, like a womb or does it reside gently in the soul of another? Where is thou heart, really, when so many of us are somnambulant or worst yet, living in captivity? Shall we agree that we are at our best when we feel at home? This inside out feeling, the feeling of aloneness or oneness with space for another, a welcome guest, a lover or family. Home is a pronounced exhale, the silence of the moon while you weep, the pause between words.

There may come a time when we find ourselves homeless. A migrant, lost, a choice or caught, tossed in that dubious state of in-between. We are forced into motion, we move from one nest to another, we are fluttering outside our cocoon. Some of us take it on with a warrior stance, while others see it as a Columbus journey. Many move kicking and screaming. Regardless of the circumstance, whether you’ve chosen change or not– you find yourself charged with the slippery task of transporting yourself into a different location. The truth is, we know instinctively what is right and what we need because the heart is always precise and telling, however inconvenient it may seem, so you move forward blindly!

And we buckle and bend. And if we are impatient enough we may even distort ourselves with the painful awareness of aloneness, a caricature of such great proportion! Because we’ve forgotten and instead, we settle for a living arrangement. You must never allow yourself to stay in this inexhaustible state because you will certainly turn up empty. Simply put: home can never be experienced as a mere necessity. Rather, it must become a spiritual task, a full-blown coming into being, getting acquainted with your identity.

Where do I belong? one does ask.  And this question cannot be about yesterday or tomorrow, but rather what the present moment requires.

Where do I belong, dear God? Great heavenly God embedded in the true nature of me!

Where will I be love and respond with love? Where will my life be most loving? I so much want to cherish the earth and my soul, I want to bless my whole being. I want to embrace others with kindness and well-being.

I imagine that the question is much less about with whom or for what but rather knowing your heart, knowing that when in place your heart will open up overflowing, budding in the morning and resting in evening.