Let Go of the Clinging

“Dear Self…You can only lose what you cling to.” – Buddha

Throughout the month of September, I was (and kinda continue to be) on a cleaning out, clearing out, giving away, donating and purging spree. I’ve emptied every closet, kitchen and bathroom cabinet, drawer, rubbermaid bin, and had a shredding feast as well. The more I emptied and cleared out, the more things I found that needed releasing and/or discarding. What a metaphor for life, right? There’s most definitely a sense of lightness, airiness and freedom in letting go.

I think my latest project has something to do with the fact that I will be celebrating my 60th in a couple of weeks. That, and the fact that I’ve been thinking of my Mama since today marks 10 years since she left the physical realm. Mama was the queen of giving away things. It brought her joy and satisfaction. She always said that all she needed when she was ready to leave this world was a bed and a crucifix above it. Well, that was certainly the case since she resided in a nursing facility for the last 3 years of her life. All she had were the essential items for grooming and dressing. When I think back to those years, it was happiest I ever saw her. She was absolutely free! I guess her wisdom and life experience knew what I was only starting to learn at the time.

Reflecting on these times left me with the feeling of wanting to enter this new decade even lighter than ever.  I want even more expansiveness. More space. More freedom of all kinds. I do not want “stuff” weighing me down. Even things that brings me joy, and I’ve been holding onto, have had to go. Let these things bring other people joy.

We often find ourselves wondering why we are holding onto something even if we are not using it. Better yet, we question why we continue to buy “stuff.” That’s a big one for me. I cannot tell you how many filled shopping bags I have given away AND donated. And mind you, I do this a couple of times a year! Truthfully, I get sick to my stomach when I think of all the money I’ve spent on “stuff” over the years. Why do we cling to these behaviors?

Well, in speaking with various friends, I think it has a lot to do with growing up not having had much. Many of us did not grow up in an affluent home. Some of our parents came to this country with very little or nothing at all. Perhaps some parents were children of the depression, and they held on to everything out of fear because they lost so much. So naturally, they instilled that sense of “fear/loss” in their children. For others, it could be that they grew up in messy, disorderly conditions and vowed their own homes would be totally different. Whichever the scenario, I am willing to bet we’ve ALL accumulated more than we could ever need / use.

So, if we find ourselves in this scenario, the charitable and harmonious thing we can do is to pass these items on to someone who will get joy out of receiving and using them.  Allow others to feel a sense of abundance. Besides, it clears our spaces  and allows for more light and energy to flow in. After all, our homes are our Sanctuary, our Soul Spaces, and we should care for them as such. We should  be able to walk in our homes and be greeted with beautiful and peaceful energy. But first, let’s get clear on the whole “detachment” thing.

Detachment and letting go are often misunderstood. Many wisdom traditions speak to the concept of letting go of attachment. Detachment does not mean that we should own nothing, On the contrary, it means that nothing should own us. Yet, how many of us cling to something as if our lives depended on it?

Let’s get something straight here Darlings, detachment in no way implies we must renounce our desires and worldly possessions and live like an ascetic at the base of a mountain. On the contrary, it’s looking at the fears behind why we are clinging to some thing, outcome, or expectation of some kind and choosing to let go of the clinging. This also holds true for people and relationships. There’s freedom and transformation in this, and I think it’s because we are all energy…unbounded, intelligent, intuitive, beautiful free spirits. On a deeper level, we recognize this feeling even if we are unable to name it.

The following quote, by Deepak Chopra, really speaks to me:

“Detachment is a natural quality that emerges as your higher self becomes your internal reference point. You engage in life with joy and passion yet no longer get swept up in the ego’s fears. You are rooted in the knowledge that you are pure love and pure spirit.”

When we seek refuge in this knowingness, I think we put things into perspective. We see through a clearer set of lenses. Instead of seeking something / someone outside ourselves to bring us peace, security, happiness, validation, etc., we come to realize that we no longer have to cling to these notions. The more we let go of our “stuff” (whatever that may look like) and attachment to it, as well as our attachment to outcomes and expectations we set for people in our lives, the freer we become. We have license to soar. In addition, I also believe we have more space for love, wealth and abundance of all kinds to enter our lives.

Darlings, there is freedom in our choices. Even when we pause to take notice of how/why/when we are clinging to something- a thought, feeling, expectation or outcome- and we choose a different behavior, is a moment of expansion. It’s an evolutionary moment. A moment to celebrate. A moment to witness our growth. A moment where we realize where we once were and where we are going. A moment we see who we were and who we have become (and are still becoming). And for some of us, it’s recognizing that we have arrived!

Conversely, some of us have not arrived- yet. We are still clinging, fearful, holding on to dear life and believing we are in “control.” As Maria Shriver notes in her Book, I’ve Been Thinking, some people view holding and hanging on as a sign of strength. However, it takes much more strength to know when it is time to let go, and then do it. Hmmmmm…..powerful, or what?

The act of letting go comes more naturally for some of us than it does for others. If letting go is something you are strugglling with and finding it tough to do, perhaps the following simple prayer from Ms. Shriver’s book can help soothe your soul:

Dear God, letting go is hard for me, because I want to hold on and be in control. That makes me feel safe. Help me to realize that I am safe, even when I let go of the way things are and allow them to unfold in the new ways there supposed to. Amen.

Note to self: let go of the clinging!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

The Issues Are in the Tissues

“Courage faces fear and thereby masters it.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

Stored way down deep on a cellular level is the history of past traumas, life experiences, all types of loss, grief and family and cultural belief systems. Welcome to the pain body. My guest blogger Blondie, spoke about this in one of her essays, Red Lipstick is My Armor. If you missed it, be sure to check out the blog titled My Guest Blogger Returns.

These unresolved traumas, life experiences, losses, family and cultural belief systems are so deeply stored in our bodies that, unless we muster up the courage and consciously work at dislodging them, we risk all sorts of illnesses as well inability to fearlessly move forward in life. We have all experienced what happens to our minds, bodies and emotions when we are trapped in a state of fear. Fear paralyzes us…both physically and emotionally. Fear eats away at us and keeps us stuck in a cycle much like that of a hamster wheel. The good news is that we can liberate ourselves and free ourselves from this prison that we’ve been in for way too long.

Once we know our individual demons and where they stem from, we are better able to look at why we have allowed fear to hold us hostage. We can identify the triggers that set off alarm bells. We can examine how these fears came to be, the damage they have/are causing us mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We can see how fear has played out in our personal and professional lives and in all our relationships. Once we do so, we come to a place where we no longer allow fear to run the “semblance” of a life we are living. Let’s face it, when fear is the master, we aren’t living. We’re barely surviving. When we gain the courage we need to face our fears head on, WE learn to BE the Master of our fears. Welcome to Fearless Living!

Fearless Living, by Rhonda Britten, is the book I am reading in my book club as I write this essay. I’m only about half way through (because it also requires work, exercises, journaling, etc) and have already recommended it to numerous friends and acquaintances. It also has a wonderful study guide that can be found at the back of the book. As a matter of fact, one of my yoga teachers even did a workshop on it, which I missed, so I was glad when our Goddess Book Club chose it as our next selection.

Whatever issues we are dealing with, have dealt with and have yet to deal with, absolutely get stored in our tissues. Hence, the discomfort, dis-ease, disease, self-destructive behaviors and poor choices we make that do not serve us. They only serve at keeping us stuck in our “stories” and threatening our immune system and overly taxed nervous system. Rhonda Britten refers to this state as our Wheel of Fear. While we each have our individual fears, the “mechanisms” that keep us spinning in our individual wheel of fear is identical for everyone.

Essentially, the wheel of fear has 4 components: The trigger, fear response, core-neagtive feelings and the self-destructive behavior. So, I want to give you a glimpse of what the “mechanism” that keeps us on our wheel of fear looks like. And if it speaks to you (which I am certain it will), then I strongly recommend you read the book and do the work. Maybe even start your own little book club or get together with a couple of friends to do the work. It always helps to have a support team to keep us accountable. Oh, and if you’re getting together with friends, don’t forget the snacks!

The following “mechanisms” are found in the second chapter in the book:

“First, something happens that triggers your fear of being thought of by yourself or anybody else as having what you believe to be, a serious character flaw. You urgently want to avoid that outcome, so your body prepares to handle the emergency.

Second, your fear response makes you do something, usually unconsciously, that is meant to ensure that you avoid the dreaded outcome. Just as you would run away from an object you perceive to be a snake, you try to run away in the figurative sense from the thought that terrifies you. Ironically, your response – for example, trying harder to succeed or making promises you can’t possibly keep- almost certainly guarantees that the outcome will in fact happen. In a cruel trick of nature, we unerringly choose behavior that only serves to confirm our worst fear about ourselves.

Third, as you realize you haven’t avoided what you fear, the consequence is that you experience the gut-wrenching, negative feelings of not being good enough – whatever your particular version of that is. And that is what you are truly afraid of. The thought you are trying to avoid is a cover for the feelings that you can’t bear to face. That feeling is always underneath your thoughts and responses, both of which keep you distracted, helping you to avoid the very thing you must confront; your version of not being good enough. Self-loathing is next, You globalize from this one instance, and you fear that you can’t do anything right.

Fourth, you find some way to numb the emotional pain, almost invariably through self-destructive behavior such as drinking, gambling, eating unhealthy food, or shutting yourself off from the very people who could support you. And you use these behaviors as evidence that you’re not good enough. The wheel keeps spinning.”

As we know all too well, because we have all been there, these mechanisms are indeed the same for all of us. While our own hamster wheel, carousel or, like Rhonda Britten calls it, The Wheel of Fear, is different of for each of us, the book helps us to identify what keeps us on that wheel and gives us tools and skills to identify the negative feelings we attach to us “not being good enough.” The common fear responses and self-destructive behaviors listed in the book are really an eye opener, as are the “symptoms” that help us to see when we are operating from a place of fear. These symptoms cause us to feel: impatient, exhausted, self-righteous, misunderstood, paralyzed, shamed, defeated, out of control, confused, over-whelmed and victimized.

I am big into self-inquiry and inner-ivestigation practices, so I think it is key for us to look each of these symptoms and see how they all play / have played a part in our life. How have they shown up? When? Under what circumstances? If we take the time to do so, we can better understand the roles they’ve assumed throughout the different stages of our life. These are the issues that are in the tissues. Unless we deal with them and show them who the Master is, we will continue to suffer inside a prison we have created for ourselves.  It takes some courage, but it’s worth it. It’s liberating!

And speaking of liberation, the book also provides self-affirming behaviors for us to choose from that will kick us off our wheel of fear and place us on our Wheel of Freedom. Yes, there is such a thing! Along with what are called “Fear Buster Exercises,” the chapters on Fear Junkies, Expectations, Excuses and Complaining will definitely catapult us to another level and put us on the path to living fearlessly.

The irony is, not only will we be able to identify the “fear junkies” in our lives that help to keep us stuck, but we will also see how we, too, have unknowingly played the role of fear junkie in the lives of others. It’s the whole duality thing at its best.

As of this writing, I still have much reading and work to complete in the book. However, I am fascinated by the unexpected “aha” moments that I am experiencing each time I peel away a layer, and another layer revels itself. And if anyone out there has the audacity to think “I have no issues,” just you wait and see…..wink, wink! That’s just a story you are telling your Self….the question is why?

Much like our journey through life, each decade brings with it opportunities for digging deeper and applying the meaningful lessons we’ve learned along the way – just in a more significant and grander scale. Each year of life on earth will invariably always bring us traumas, life experiences, losses, and ingrained belief systems to question – maybe even dismantle. The key is to ask yourself, “Do I want to live on the path of Fear or the path of Fearlessness?” As always, you have the free will to choose.

Choose wisely darlings!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC