What if we didn’t need will power at all–ever?
What if bringing anything new into our lives was a normal, natural process that required only one thing before it could happen?
What if this applied to any and all new things: thoughts, beliefs, possessions, people, jobs, health–everything!
Would you believe me?
I had a powerful insight during my morning’s meditation and breathing exercise today. One I just had to share with you.
I was sitting in the “usual” meditative way–back straight with hands upturned in my lap, listening to soft carillon bell music.
My thoughts went something like this: (actions are in green, thoughts in blue.)
Wait! There isn’t anything moving. Not my chest, not my stomach, not my shoulders. When you breathe there “should be” movement. I must not be relaxed.
I tuned into my body as I breathed in and out now.
Ah, there it is! Things are relaxing now. Everything feels softer, easier.
Except for one spot in the middle of my body at my diaphragm. It feels like a clenched fist.
Breathing in to the clenched spot.
Breathing out of the clenched spot. I do this for a while…
It doesn’t want to let go.
I know what might help. I’ll add a mantra to my breath, “It is safe to let go.”
Breathing in, “It is safe,”
Breathing out, “to let go.”
I did this for about 10 breaths and a thought came in and pushed the words “It is safe” away and replaced them with, “There is beauty…” Followed by, “in letting go.”
Breathing in, “There is beauty…”
Breathing out, “in letting go.”
I fight the new words. That’s not my mantra! I want letting go to be safe, not beautiful!
(yeah, even clenching on to that!)
I breathe with the new words and feel the fist loosen–just a fraction. I can tell it doesn’t want to let go yet. It’s filled with so much angst and worry. But just for a small moment it relaxed its hold. Just a little bit.
Then I follow-up this meditation with a pranayama, or breath exercise which has been prescribed for me. It’s a practice in which you forcefully exhale, and then with no effort on your part, you inhale naturally in response to the exhale.
I do this maybe 10-15 times. (It’s harder than you think and I get fatigued by the end.)
And suddenly I get it! Totally and completely get it!
I don’t have to try to bring in a new breath. It’s automatic. It’s the natural response to exhaling, or letting go of the old breath. I don’t have to DO anything for it to happen, other than let go of the old breath.
The simplicity and wisdom in that was so profound for me.
We hold on so tight to what we think is ours, even our anger, our worry, our doubt, our habits, our belongings. We fiercely want something different from that. We admonish ourselves to have more will-power. We feel guilty for not being able to establish anything new.
When, in reality, all we have to do is loosen our grip.
Gently cup your hands together in front of you. Relax your fingers, your wrists, your shoulders. Breathe. How much room is there in your hands for today? Is there room for anything new there? Let’s hold what happens today a little more loosely in our hands, and see how it feels.
There is beauty in letting go.
PS: Why yes! I have started doing morning meditation and breathing exercises!
Here’s a quick bit of background on why I’ve started this ritual.
The main reason I took a break from the blog this year was for my health, which had been steadily declining for years. The final straw on this camel’s back was developing C-diff (a terrible, medievalesque type of gut infection) after taking repeated antibiotics for sinus infections. The very last straw was being put on a central line with in home nursing care right before Christmas, and a recommendation to follow-up with surgery in January 2013.
I just couldn’t stand the idea of going through surgery (seriously, yuck!) so I decided to stop everything, including writing for the blog, and concentrated on my health. I could write everyday for a year on what I have learned, changed, and discovered these past 9 months. It was a journey which actually led me back in time–more than 5000 years back in time, to Ayurvedic medicine. I’ll be writing much more about this in future posts.
The gifted Ayurvedic practitioner I was led to (in a blessed and miraculous way) prescribed a breathing pranayama for me to do in the early morning hours. Think of pranayama as a “breathing pill” prescribed for improved health. There are different pranayama breaths, each one promoting a specific desired state within the individual.