Archive | December, 2017

My lesson about letting go

27 Dec

Sometimes I think it would be better to be a cat: as far as I know, my cat lives truly in the moment, and doesn’t show any sign of clinging or aversion the way we humans do. This could be a sample of how the mind of my cat works: “I am hungry. Give me my food now. I’m waiting for my food. Petting is good. Yes. I’m hungry. Give me my food now. I’m smelling my food- smells good, eat it!”

The following is a true scenario that illustrates how I am not like my cat. This is an example of how my mind works: “WAIT! I came to my dad’s house to cut some boughs for decorating my house for Christmas like I have for years, only to find that dad had the lower boughs of his 50 foot tall spruce tree cut off. Now I can’t cut any boughs, like I ALWAYS have!” (Pause to feel the enormity of this reality). (Pause to pout like a little girl whose daddy should be there to take care of all her needs and wants). (Pause to remember that Mom, who died in July, ALWAYS let me do this- and who would NEVER have cut those lower limbs off her tree! But- she’s no longer here). What I actually say to my dad: “Oh. That’s right; you had the lower limbs trimmed off your tree. I’d forgotten. Oh well, things change.” (Experience extended mental struggle, and grief over how things used to be). (Experience the dawning realization that it’s hard to let go of what’s familiar and comfortable. Engage in self-talk: It’s ok, Christina. Things do change, and that’s ok. This is a year of big changes, and how you experience them depends on how you view them).

What’s amazing to me is that the above thought process and concomitant emotions took only several seconds to happen; and the echoes of those emotions and thoughts continued for many days afterwards. Letting go doesn’t seem to be something that happens immediately, but is rather a process of refinement and maturation. Here is where Thich Nhat Han’s method of addressing our emotions can come in handy: “Hello, my little grief; hello, my little anger.” Then when you have problems sleeping, or with your digestion, or your skin breaks out, you understand that you’re literally processing your emotions, through your body, and you can have some compassion and appreciation for that!

When we acknowledge our emotions, they have less of a hold on us. As life continues to throw events at us, and we gain more and more experience dealing with them, that refinement process gets faster and faster, until we encounter a difficulty and…seemingly shrug it off. At least, that’s my theory- I have yet to embody that ability!

Back to my cat; perhaps she’s not so different after all. When she encounters a difficult change in her life, she has stomach and elimination upsets, sometimes on the carpet, sometimes on the wood floor. At least she knows how to relax and take care of herself by eating well (voles and mice) and doing her daily yoga!