Thank you to those of you who have written to me with ideas of things to write about in the coming days. It is helpful to have the prompts as inspirations and lovely to have your support and interest. Please keep the ideas flowing, folks! They are really appreciated. And I will try to get to them all! Thank you!
The first question I received today by email may be the hardest to answer. But it is a good question and one worth really thinking about. A friend asked me how I go about letting go of the things that no longer serve me, how I let go of the things that don't shake free very easily, things that I may not WANT to let go of but know are in my best interest to.
I try to be in constant awareness of my habits and behaviors, my thought processes, my moods, and my attitudes, as well as how they affect me and the others that I am interacting with. Being in a committed relationship, in which I am with the same person every day, helps me see these things more clearly. This becomes possible when I am able to be fully present in the moment. I see the aspects of my self that make living more difficult and those that help make living more enjoyable and easy, for everyone. Every day, I try to choose the enjoyable and easy over the difficult and negative. It is really a daily process, a continual process of assessing, of catching myself earlier and earlier in my habitual patterns of behavior. Of willing myself to stop that pattern even if it is in mid-stream.
But, foremost, we have to WANT to change in order to be able to change. We have to see the benefits of doing so. We have to be willing to no longer live with habits that do not serve our highest good and the highest good of those who are in our lives. Without that personal motivation, it is hard to grow.
For myself, this continual daily process of letting go is greatly helped by the daily meditation that I do. (Though I will admit right here and now that it has been several days since I have done this meditation!! And I can tell the difference in my well-being as a result!) In the Burning Inner Anger meditation, I fully inhale for a count of 2 seconds and fully exhale for a count of 2 seconds, continuing for 11 minutes. At this pace, it feels like a fast pumping of the diaphragm.
As I am breathing in this manner, I scan through my day and pick out the moments where I felt flashes of anger, fear, resentment, selfishness, impatience, stress, overwhelm, saddness, etc. The moments may be on a personal level or on a more global level. With the force of each exhale, I try to send the negative feelings and their sources out of my being with the breath. Because I believe that our bodies hold our emotional and psychological tensions and anxieties, I imagine as I am exhaling that I am wringing the accumulated negativity from every cell in my body. I release these things individually with each breath, over and over, sometimes day after day, until I start to think of them less and less and they eventually go away.
As the days go on, I find that I am able to do this process more and more in the moment, not just during my meditaion. I find myself in a situation where I feel stress or anger, and I notice it. I make the choice in that moment to let that feeling go, taking a deep breath and exhaling it completely from my system. Then I am more likely to be able to start from a fresh calm place.
I don't think there is a sure way to let go of the things that no longer serve us. It is a process. The process is continual. The process is individualized. Negative habits are hard to break. They need to be replaced with positive habits. When I inhale in my meditation, I imagine that emptied space I created with my exhale as being filled with good things...patience, understanding, love, light, compassion, generosity, trust. The more we focus on feeling these positive things and less on the negative, the stronger are the positive neural pathways that we build and the more likely we are to automatically have those thoughts without effort (rather than the negative or undesireable.)
Being continually aware of these habits is a powerful way to let go of them. When we are aware, we start to notice that we are engaging in this habit earlier and earlier. And then we can start to stop the habit earlier and earlier in it's sequence. It is a process. We need to be patient with ourselves and forgiving as we stumble over ourselves in our learning.
I know that I have a lot of growing left to do, a lot of learning as to how to serve my highest self in the most positive way. So, here is to our processes of letting go and letting in the light and the love that surrounds us to help us in our growing.