‘We are what we eat’ - say health experts.
‘We are what we think’ - say philosophers.
‘We are what we do’ - say holistic health gurus.
There is so much wisdom in all of the above. Just as we try to keep our body in shape by physical fitness techniques, training and healthy eating habits, it is equally important to keep our mind free of clutter, negativism and blockages. If our mind is filled with such emotions, no matter how hard we work out to keep our body fit, we will still fall short of achieving the much desired sense of well-being.
I recall having read a very insightful story about the way we look at things.
A teacher held a glass half filled with water and asked the students what they observed.
Some of them answered: “The glass is half empty,” while others said: “The glass is half full.”
“Just as expected,” said the teacher.
“How about looking at it this way? How long can you hold the glass?” She asked.
The class was silent.
The teacher said - “For a few seconds, you can easily hold the glass of water. Or even for a few minutes. But if you try to holding it for hours together you start feeling the weight and pain begins, right? Likewise if we harbour negative emotions for too long then it weighs on our mind to the point of hurting us in the process.
The ‘art of letting go’ is by no means an easy task. Unfortunately, since childhood, our mind is conditioned due to influence of parents, teachers, family, friends and to a large extent our faith, culture and society. Conditioning could also be about behaviour, likes, dislikes, having an opinion, the way we look at ourselves and the things around us.
Observe a child. The innocence, the joy, the act of doing something or not wanting to do anything, comes straight from the heart, free of bondage. This is the true nature of an unconditioned mind, the ‘non-judgmental nature’. As youngsters, we were that way, but as we grew up conditioning of our mind began unknown to ourselves. Sometimes we tend to second guess everything, to the extent of getting paranoid.
We strive for happiness but don’t know how to go about it. We worry about career, how to make a living, how to raise children and so on. The ‘what ifs’ and ‘how to’ syndrome takes its toll over us emotionally and by middle age, we feel overwhelmed and given another chance we may even wish to change the past.
A consistent ‘yoga practice’ coupled with ‘meditation’ can be of immense help in achieving a state of well-being and manage both our mind and body. It not only cleanses our system but also purifies our mind. Just as the physical aspects in yoga open up our body, at a plenary level, the meditative aspects open up our mind.
We must remember to not tread beyond our normal endurance or resistance levels, both in mind and body. We have to acknowledge the fact that each day is not going to be the same for any of us. This knowledge itself is the beginning of opening up and stabilising our mind. This process should not be rushed or timed. It is a slow process of letting go of the past and living in the moment and acknowledging the present, without being anxious about the future.
“Past has unfolded so it is time to let go; future is something we have no control over and so let go of that as well. What is left then? It is the present. We should cherish this wholeheartedly because very soon this present moment is going to be a thing of the past.”
“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. But if you are content you are indeed living in the present.”
I cannot agree more in that it is extremely challenging to live in the present and enjoy each and every moment. “Easier said than done,” people say.
How do we let go?
A friend of mine shared with me an advice she sought from a monk. He asked her to write down on a piece of paper the list of things that she wanted to let go of. Then he asked her to concentrate and mindfully shred the paper to bits and trash it.
I follow another similar technique. I note down in my diary of the situations, memories, negative thoughts and emotions that I want to let go of. When I pen it all down from my mental diary, I feel a big sense of relief. Then I try and push it away from my mind. It is like blowing a bubble in thin air after taking a deep breath.
Initially the ‘art of letting go’ is a very conscious effort, but eventually it will become an auto process and stay in cruise control. It could slip at times, but we need to bring it back in the right gear.
There is a popular thought provoking story of a centipede and the jealous tortoise written by Jostein Gaarder in Sophie’s World. The sad part was that the centipede becomes a victim of a devious mind game played by the tortoise. Unable to let go of the thought wickedly planted by the tortoise, the centipede never danced again. To me, the moral of this anecdote was that we must not overthink or overanalyse and shackle the mind to our own detriment and mental peace.
Feel the breath and enjoy. Let go, let go, let go…