Awareness brings clarity and empowerment. As we become aware of what arises in us, we can choose what to let go. There is no point in resisting what is already here, but we can practice seeing it all for what it is. By connecting to our presence, we can more clearly see what is ours and what not.
We cannot let go through struggle. Like a clenched fist trying to let go, it happens when the palm is open.
There are a lot of things we can let go of every day through staying open.
We can let go of what does not belong to us. We can let go of ideas and thoughts about who, what, and how we should be. Thoughts created by old, destructive values and conditioning.
We can let go of thoughts that are not beneficial to our well-being – and to those around us.
We can let go of the illusions (like the illusion that we really are our thoughts about ourselves).
We can acknowledge that for a brief while, maybe these ideas did serve us, maybe in some way they protected us. We can honour them, and let them go.
We can remind ourselves that they are based on the past, and that it’s ok to let them stay there.
We can let go of what is not ours. What we are not. What is not our Self.
Letting go is not a one time event, it happens over and over again.
We can put the past to rest, every new day. Every moment even.
We are always in the process of creation, and re-creation.
“What we call obstacles are really the way the world and our entire experience teach us where we are stuck.”
This quote is by one of my favourite Buddhist teachers Pema Chödrön. It’s from her incredible book When Things Fall Apart, which I highly recommend to anyone looking for wise words on how to meet difficulties in life.
These particular words encourage us to practice befriending what we see as an obstacle, instead of viewing it as the enemy. Pema Chödrön tells the story of how Buddha was sitting under a tree, on the night he was to attain enlightenment. While sitting there, he was attacked by the forces of Mara (illusion, desire, death and rebirth). The story goes that they shot swords and arrows at him, and because of his power of awareness, their weapons ended up turning into flowers.
She reminds us that we call obstacles, are really the way the world and our entire experience teach us where we’re stuck. What may appear to be an arrow or a sword, can turn into a flower, depending on our relationship with ourselves. The first step is being able to acknowledge and willing to meet whatever discomfort or pain that is arising. If we are not open to it, if we just push it away, it will be hard to find any teaching there, and to move through that place where we are stuck. Sometimes that is needed too, and the flower in that situation is just being aware of what and how we tend to push things away.
Mindfulness gives us awareness about when and in what ways we try to escape those difficult emotions (a natural thing we all do). It’s not something we should be hard on ourselves for, but instead see as very valuable information – it’s how arrows turn into flowers. Most importantly we will notice that we can fully meet all these experiences, which are a natural part of life. And that to be truly alive means to never really arrive. There will always be new arrows – but we learn that we can let life have its natural ebb and flow, and still rest in our presence and find wisdom there.