Friday, 5 August 2011

Letting Go...

I'm learning to let go. Learning, the operative word.

For the past weeks, I've been holding on tightly to an idea/something that has gone/something I have no control over. It's hard to let go of it. I suppose there are many things we can hold on tight to: the past when we are faced with change, people we have lost, feelings or experiences that no longer exist, even youth.

I feel as if I'm living through similar predicaments over and over again. Life is perhaps trying to give me the opportunity to learn here. So, this time, I want to learn properly.

My situation was summed up beautifully yesterday. I went for a Chinese acupressure treatment. The man said to me: 'Let go, you be free. Hold on, you hurt yourself.' When he said it like that, it seemed simple.

So, right now, letting go is something I'm having to do many times each day. It's not a one step process. It's continual. I let go, I feel good about this, I feel freer and then a little while later I realise I'm holding on tight again to a memory or a feeling or a set of thoughts. It seems to be a process that takes time, patience, constant reminders, some struggle, and discipline.

But, maybe if I keep doing it, then I might start having to let go less and less and then before long, I will have let go without even realising it...

I'm reading an amazing book called When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön. She's an American Buddhist nun, and the book is a collection of teachings on all kinds of Buddhist approaches to life. Eric from the allotments lent me the book, he says he's had it in his shed for ages but I wasn't ready for it before.

She talks about being in the moment, even if that's painful or difficult. She encourages being with loneliness and living with suffering rather than trying to escape from it. She talks about giving up hope and accepting that the world being a groundless place. It's interesting actually, I can see what she means, it makes a lot of sense, although I don't feel able to explain it.

To be truthful, she is dealing with complex issues, that I haven't even begun to fully understand. My plan is to finish reading the book which I am doing slowly, and then start reading it again.

It all seems to come down to one thing, trying to live in the moment (which it seems to be is the key to letting go).

When I think about the times when I live in the moment. On the allotment, where I often just turn up, whatever mood I'm in, whatever the weather. I don't always know what I'm going to do. I just turn up and start somewhere on the plot... pulling up weeds for example, or planting something, or like last weekend, clearing the paths of weeds, covering them and putting chippings down. Most of the time, I focus on what I'm doing. It's very practical, often repetitive, and involves exertion. I'm conscious of what I'm doing, and whether it's hot, the birds chirruping, the strimmer somewhere on the plot, when the sun goes behind the clouds, whether I'm thirsty or not, how wet or dry the soil is, how it feels to dig the fork into the ground, the smell of the soil. I still think about other things, but the thoughts come and go. Often I can arrive in a bad mood or a tired mood or preoccupied and it works out by the time I finish. I notice what has grown a little more, I notice everything. It's the time when I am most observant of what's around me, but also observant of how I feel in a very uncomplicated way.

With practice, I hope to be able to spread this outwards into other parts of my life. But I often fall into old habits and patterns.

Letting go is something I've never done very well, but I want to learn how to be better at it.


Megan said...

Annie, good luck to you, mate. You'll so get there. Nothing's certain, anything can change at any minute, which is why it's so good to love what's happening right now. And after things dip, they rise. You're lovely, and the world can be very lovely too (though of course you know that already),
megan xx

annie clarkson said...

Thanks Megan... Hope things are good with you? x

Andrew Blackman said...

Thanks Annie, this really resonated with me. It's a concept I've read about before and believe to be true, but always struggled to put into practice. There's a passage from the Tao te Ching that says a similar thing and that I try always to keep in mind:
Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.

Enjoy your time on the allotment!

annie clarkson said...

thanks andrew, I love that... Very wise words