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Letting Go

As the days get shorter and the shadows get longer, I’m faced once again with the truth that all seasons pass. Whether it’s the movement from summer to fall, the transition from childhood to adulthood, the death of a relationship, or the passing of animals and people I love — my heart grasps at life as it was. I, like many of my clients, don't like to let go.

We know intellectually, of course, that the nature of the world is impermanence. Nothing lasts forever. Yet we hang on tightly, grasping and clinging, trying desperately at times to will a different outcome. How many of us stay in the unsatisfactory job or relationship too long? How many of us fight the impending death of a loved one? There is fear in letting go. We tell ourselves we can’t handle the unknown, the pain, the grief.

Sometimes we prevent ourselves from fully entering life so as to avoid this pain. A sentiment I’ve heard from many is “I don’t want to feel too happy, because the other shoe always drops.” What they mean is “I can’t handle the pain of the loss.” This strategy of minimizing risk narrows life and, while protective, prevents us from fully feeling the joy, excitement and love life offers.

Our minds work diligently to stay in control. To prevent change. The hypervigilent part of us believes “If I just work hard enough, I can figure this out. I can stop this from happening. I can fix this.” Our thoughts run rampant as we worry, ruminate, look for danger, and attempt to solve inevitable loss. This strategy is normal. It’s part of our genetic hardwiring to look for and prevent danger. And it’s a strategy that ultimately creates a ton of anxiety and suffering.

How do we learn to let go?

We name what is happening. We label our thoughts. We see through our mind’s attempt to defend against the truth of loss. We drop into our hearts and feel the rawness inside.

While heart-seering at times, the feeling of raw pain is manageable. It’s when we think that the feeling is unmanageable, too much, that we scare ourselves away from facing and feeling the reality of what is happening.

The new discipline is to drop below the storyline and feel into our bodies. This takes compassion and tenderness as we hold ourselves with utmost care. We feel the surging, the flow, the constrictions, the tightness, the wildness of our somatic-emotional world. Softening in this way opens us up to the raw pain, confusion, emptiness and grief that accompany loss. We will cry. And this vulnerable raw heartbreak is not error.

As we open up to what is here and now, we open up to the groundless ground of our being. We open up to that which never comes and goes. Call it spirit, call it consciousness, call it awareness, call it love. In the Heart we see the nature of life is to come into form and to pass away. Every season. Every moment. Every breath. Arising and falling. Endlessly.

Becoming fused with the forms love takes will always end in heartbreak. And this is the way of the human heart, to fuse and to break. And in each heartbreak we are invited to see how we are more than the forms. We are invited into the ever present, infinitely creative, erupting mystery of who we are.

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