Wednesday, October 5, 2022

transitions and letting go



Different transitions challenge our attachments in different ways.
 Just going from one day to another—Friday into Saturday—is not so hard for most of us.
 But what about going from one season to another, one year to another, one job to another,
 one relationship to another? Each of these transitions becomes harder as our attachments
 and expectations around them increase. Perhaps you are used to being able to get up and run 
or jog each day. There may come a time when this is no longer possible, and you must
 forget about jogging. That kind of change can be very difficult to adapt to. 
Maybe you’ve always had one kind of relationship with your parents, but now
 it’s become another kind of relationship. Now, instead of gathering for barbecues or parties,
 maybe you visit them in a hospital or nursing home and hold their hands. It’s a change.
 You are not used to it. It’s hard to transition to the new phase of life 
if you’re still attached to the previous one.

Because bigger transitions are more difficult, we must focus on our ability to let go now.
 If you look at this moment of your life, right now, how many things could you let go of? 
Think of one thing at this moment that you are attached to, that you’re identifying with,
 that you are holding onto, that causes pain. Perhaps you have a difficult relationship 
with someone in your life because of a grudge you are holding onto, or perhaps your
 attachment to the relationship itself is holding you back.
With awareness, we can see that when we struggle with a transition, 
it has something to do with an attachment, whether to an identity or to something external.
 If you let that one thing go, and then another thing and another and another,
then all the smaller things you can let go of will help you to be free. Each act of letting go
 benefits you, making it easier to let go of the harder things that will come along the way.
 If we do not apply ourselves to these opportunities to let go, if we can’t handle the little things
 that come along, then we are certain to have a harder time with the big things.

Letting go is like cleaning your garage or your closet.
 How many of us have cleaned our closets and found stuff in there that we were not using?
 This is a simple opportunity to practice letting go. When you open your closet and see something
 you put in there five years ago that you haven’t used, haven’t even touched, go ahead
 and take hold of it and let that one thing go! Energetically, these small acts of letting go
 can make a big impact. Even just deleting photos from your phone—a simple act of selecting
 and then deleting—can lighten our attachments. Do you know someone who has too much stuff, 
whose house has almost no space for people to move, let alone any sense of spaciousness? 
Often, at times of transition, we behave without awareness. 
We behave with condition, with pain, with fear. We feel we don’t have a choice.
 Just knowing we do have a choice can make all the difference. The choice comes
 when we can take time to be still, silent, spacious. We practice not doing, not saying,
 not thinking (not thinking is harder, but at least not doing and not saying).
 Then, once we have calmed down, we find a new space from which we can do 
and say and think, and what we do and what we say might be different from what we originally
 would have said or done. One thing that we want to be able to see clearly and to say
 to ourselves is, “If it’s not good, I will not make it worse.” 
Leave it as it is.

We have so many opportunities to be aware. Think about approaching it this way:
 I’m going to handle this little transition well so I can handle the next, harder one even better. 
Each time we make these little transitions and feel free, feel good, the world opens up for us.
 Moments, places, locations, changes, transitions happen all the time in life. 
These are all opportunities to cultivate and practice to better support the transition. 

~ Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
with thanks to Lions Roar
art: Visualizing a Lost Painting by Vincent van Gogh
 using X-ray Fluorescence Mapping


Penelope Notes said...

It is interesting how simply resting in the word "spaciousness" can feel freeing. There is a wider world not quite so claustrophobic when letting go.