A meditation teacher once asked me to pay attention to how I hold onto life. This question has become a powerful practice in noticing the effort, attachment and clinging present in any given moment. When we can lighten up and loosen our grip to the outcomes of any given moment, life becomes a lot more full of light, presence and joy.
In her book, Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living, Pema Chödrön gives it to us straight:
The key to feeling at home with your body, mind, and emotions, to feeling worthy to live on this planet, comes from being able to lighten up… This earnestness, this seriousness about everything in our lives—including practice—this goal-oriented, we’re-going-to-do-it-or-else attitude, is the world’s greatest killjoy.
To me lightening up means I can recognize what is beyond my control. It is a recognition of my own responsibility and at the same time a recognition of the great mystery always present in life. To loosen our grip and cling less doesn’t mean we don’t care, we don’t persist or engage with life fully. It means we’re less attached to the outcome. That we can step into an experience fully - and be open to staying present with it, however it turns out.
If lighten up feels bristly to you, try coming up with a phrase or question that reminds you to pay attention to the effort you bring to any situation. You can use these phrases as a signal to notice how you're holding onto life.
Allow life to flow through me
Let it be
And this too...
What gear am I in?
How attached to the outcome of this experience am I?
Ride the wave
Breathe through it
And as a dear mindfulness practitioner I meditate with puts it:
"Love more. Smile more. Be kind. Practice gratitude. Let it be."
When we can be open to the moments of our life with full acceptance, compassion and presence, we have a much easier time navigating the tough parts. We can ease the tension that builds inside of our minds/bodies/heart by loosening our grip. This is all part of our lives’ curriculum.
How is your hold on life impacting your moment-to-moment experience? Your wisdom and insight is welcome in the comments below...