“Prayer is when you talk to God; meditation is when you listen to God.”—Diane Robison
Letting go has been one of my biggest challenges.
I hold on to negative thoughts, old resentments, ancient anger and all sorts of emotional chazerai that makes me miserable.
I’ve been meditating regularly for the last two years after taking a mindfulness course at the Interdependence Project and I’m very slowly learning the joys and benefits of staying in the present moment.
It hasn’t been easy for me to sit quietly for 20 whole minutes and listen to nothing but my breath. Some days are better than others, but I believe I’m getting better and now my morning meditation is one of my favorite times of the day.
But now I’m taking a closer look at what goes on in my head after the meditation ends, thanks largely to a recent New York Times article entitle “Think Less, Think Better” that described how freeing the mind allows for more creative thinking.
It sounds painfully obvious, but so many of us overload our brains—yours truly especially--and then wonder why we’re not getting things done.
Moshe Bar, the author of the article, said a series of experiments “suggest that the mind’s natural tendency is to explore and to favor novelty, but when occupied it looks for the most familiar and inevitably least interesting solution.”
In the Center Ring
I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t just stop certain thoughts from happening. Resistance just makes things worse.
But lately, when negative thoughts come to mind, I tell myself “let go.”
Notice I don’t say “let it go” because I’m not trying to get rid of one thought. I’m attempting to eliminate entire thought patterns.
There will always be an ugly memory or a misbegotten belief lurking somewhere in my subconscious, so popping them off one at a time is a waste of energy.
I’m looking to dismantle the clanking, rusting machinery in my head that thrives on fear, worry, and rage. I want to get to the source of all these twisted impulses.
And that’s why the acrobat imagery is so important because when my darker side emerges and I tell myself “let go,” the image of a two hands letting go of a trapeze often pops into my head. But I don’t fall to my doom; I rise.
I’ve tried this on several occasions over the last week and every time I do my breath gets slower and my shoulders drop as if I’m releasing a heavy weight.
I did this during my boxing class on Thursday and I was suddenly throwing punches faster during the shadow boxing session and pounding the heavy bag harder than ever.
I’m not promising an overnight transformation. In my experience the only “miraculous” changes occurred only after a lot of hard work.
I know I’ll be struggling with this for a long time, perhaps the rest of my life. I hope not, but I’m ready for the long journey.
The martial art of aikido, which redirects an opponent’s attack, is often described as “the Art of Unlearning” because it turns the idea of conventional fighting inside out.
That’s what I want to do—unlearn all the destructive habits and attitudes and move through my life with the greatest of ease.