Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Ability to 'Let Go'

Long ago, a mighty capable lion ruled a forest. He would leap hard, chase down animals and relish fresh kill. One day he fell into a trap and was bundled away. Tied to a post in zoo, he would still leap hard but couldn't move beyond tether end. It had curbed his free movement, restricted fresh kill and crushed the spirits. His unawareness of the tether and inability to cut it weakened him mentally and physically leading to his eventual decline. 

For us humans, the tether is our frequent indulgence in stressful thoughts relating to everyday experiences that sap our energy, time and peace. If we don't let them go, this recurring chatter creates a false sense of busyness, stagnation and stress. Stagnant thoughts turn us into an irritating giant suffocating us and others around.

Dawn to Dusk - The Flood
Flashing with incredible randomness and speed, flood of thoughts never abates.

Reality strikes with the sound of morning alarm. As we rub sleep out of eyes, mind starts scurrying through our universe leaving behind a slush of anticipation, reluctance, joy, anxiety or similar thoughts. Before we even kiss the warmth of our morning tea, storm has already started brewing in our cup. 

Day arrives and we again hop-on its roller coaster to ride through the same park, experiences and people creating even more thoughts. At dusk, consumed by resultant feelings, grudges, fears or worries that hold no value in the long run, we finally hop-off to sleep in the stillness of night. 

The Drought 
Like breathing, thoughts are natural too. The problem, however, is not their consistency but dearth of new ones. Most of them are stale yet continue to reappear. Unfortunately, positive thoughts don't follow this pattern. They honor our space and melt away fast. We don't replay them continuously as it needs a new listener every time. 

Stressful thoughts, however, have high repeat-value. They are the ones keeping us engaged most of the time. When left unchecked (often), mind rapidly amplifies them, dramatizes the context and delivers high-octane stressful performance. The listener? We rarely look out. Instead we unwittingly slip, get sucked and start identifying with their stories of victimization, worry or helplessness. Repeatedly!!

Falling into The Trap
Thoughts like "what if"(future), "should"(present) or "should have"(past), when overdone, consistently produce the result we already arrived at. 

We have expectations from everything - animate-inanimate, known-unknown, far-near, even from a newborn baby. When they don't live up to it, we can't accept it. First we build expectations by weaving future threads in present. And when future fades into past, we replay it, again in the present, as if it would produce a result to our liking. The irony here is our constant absence from the present. 

Unawareness of our impatience, fear, intolerance, excessive need to win, mistrust of others, jealousy, micro management, control and perfectionist attitude also fans thoughts that not only bog us down and create stress but also eat up our timeNo wonder then we don't seem to have any time for our passions or even to discover them. 

Wriggling Out
Our recurring slip is so subtle that we can't always avoid it. Instead, how quickly we become aware of it, let go and wriggle out is what matters. Steps to help in recovery or even prevent the slip may include:

1. Take a leap into the future. Will it matter in a month/year from now? If no then what is the fuss all about. 
2. Stop blaming others always. All of us are not born only to cause you trouble. Honestly scrutinize your role. 
3. Be mindful of your indulgence in 'victimization' or 'helplessness' stories with fellow 'victims'.
4. Avoid generalizing - "I or he ALWAYS behaves like that". That's rarely true.
5. Confront the situation if possible. It is a better option than being hammered by 'helplessness thoughts' later.
6. Choose your actions. "I choose to surf net than work on my task" is different from "I should be working on my task" (while still continuing to surf).
7. Fear of forgetting tasks/points causes periodic bouts of anxiety. Unload them from mind to your smart device. 
8. When in dilemma between personal or professional friendship, stick to one else you risk losing both.
9. Practice conscious kindness. It will provide you with more reasons to be happy with yourself.

We can build this awareness with practice, identifying our triggers and looking out for them. Watch and learn from others. In college, I was fortunate to meet and learn 'let go' from Sandeep, now my close friend. Another way is to 'designate' objects - like a ring, bangle or watch etc - that may remind us of our current thoughts. 

Expectations are good until they turn into baggage. Planning is good too, not over/under-planning. We must strike a balance and, on times, even not let go e.g. when our rights or principles are at stake. 

Before the Stillness Reigns
We are fortunate to be free. Our thoughts, however, tether us to our everyday experiences - the side posts on our journey. If we don't cut it in time, we can't progress despite our hard leaps. Our awareness and ability to 'Let Go' enables us keep moving. So, serve something new and good to your mind to chew on. 

Life, or whatever is left of it, is for us to choose. 'Letting go' simply creates that space and, more importantly, the time to indulge in it. Choose, before the lights dim. And stillness reigns, FOREVER!!

Life is the sum of all your choices. - Albert Camus

1 comment:

  1. Hi Vinod,

    Very nice post.I would like to add few pointers.Our mind over the years has been conditioned to treat people,actions,situations,things as good or bad.I think anytime we confront a situation we subconsciously tag things in one of these 2 categories.And the bad tag is often the trigger for such thoughts.Now while this may be good to some extent because it enables us to act within our moral bounds,in many cases it is often the culprit to raise these thoughts.So being aware of this duality and being mindful of seems to be a good way to avoid these thoughts. For example: It is not bad
    1.To come second or for that matter even not hit the merit list.
    2.To make mistakes and screw up things.(Obviously you learnt something from it).
    3.To have a blackish complexion
    4.To not be rich
    5.To take the crowded bus
    6.To not own the latest gizmo device out in the market
    And the list goes on...

    The world has been too unforgiving.It has altered the meaning of what is good and what is bad.And it attempts to push that onto us every moment.It makes sense to step out of the race for a while and create your own definition of them.The world can be unforgiving but its your life.And its more important to enjoy it rather than punish it.



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