Control - and a letting go meditation
By Jim Pescud
In a way, meditation is a process of letting go of control, or letting be. In meditation we let go of the limiting devices of our views, opinions and agendas so we can experience this moment as it actually is. We let go of trying to direct our body and mind to be a particular way, we just observe how they are right now. We let go of the mind’s need to control. In meditation the mind itself is observed as much as the body and breath. No one, no thing, is in charge - all is a process of unfolding, moment after moment.
The mind, or the ego, if that term makes more sense, does not like to let go of control. It has been trained throughout this life to maintain ‘fortress me’. The end result of such a belief and behaviour is fear, anger, frustration - it is suffering.
It is unawareness which leads to our suffering, to our inability to truly see what we are doing and why we are doing it.
Meditate by just sitting still, becoming aware of the sensations of your breath and body, the movement of thoughts in your mind. Hear sounds as just being sounds, smells as just smells, seeing as just the seen, thoughts just being thoughts, without any name, mental image, or story attached to them. If you stay with the practice, you will start to see what you react to, what you mentally/emotionally push away or grab onto. You will see the stories you construct which you then take to be reality.
You will feel this process of constructing happening in your body first. Areas of the body may tighten, butterflies appear in the stomach, your heart rate may change and so on. This process in the body will be reflected in the mind with corresponding thoughts and also with emotions. Your mind is constructing its version of reality and then reacting to it.
Just sit and observe this process happening. Don’t try to control it, don’t try to form it into the shape your ego wants. Simply let it be the way it is and see for yourself how you are in this world. Allow your emotions to run their course, but do so in the field of awareness. We don’t blindly act out our emotions when we are fully aware and accept our present state because we are observing them as opposed to being immersed in them.
Meditation is a way of being which is honed in formal meditation practice, but is practiced in our everyday life.
Look at the little, everyday things in life that we hold onto with such a vengeance. That parking spot up ahead, will we make it in time before it goes? That particular seat at the café next to the window, will we get to it before that young couple does? The last slice of banana bread in the display window and so many people standing in front of me in the queue, someone is bound to get it before I do.
How does it feel driving towards that parking space in the hope of getting it, and how does it feel when that parking space gets taken by someone else? What feelings and thoughts are you having as you try to get to the café seat first, and how does it feel and what thoughts do you have when you miss out on the window seat? Really see what you are thinking, feel the emotions, the body reacting.
At the end of the day, cast your mind back to these events. Are you still upset about losing the car space or the seat at the café or the slice of banana bread? Probably not, yet at the time you probably suffered with some degree of anger, frustration, annoyance. Why is this so? Because we live in our story of want and aversion and not in the space of awareness.
Such trivial events are not unlike the more serious events in our lives. We suffer more with major events, but the reason for our suffering is the same. That is, we are not living in the space of awareness - we are drowning, wrapped in the straight-jacket of our mind-made story. We suffer because we want to control circumstances in order to have a particular outcome. When our desires are thwarted we have an emotional reaction - anger, frustration, a touch of panic maybe. Such feelings come from a degree of unawareness - unawareness of the bigger picture. The evidence that we are not seeing the broader perspective is our strong emotional response. Why such a strong response over a parking space, or a slice of banana bread? Well, it isn’t over a parking space or the banana bread that we get so overwrought. Our emotional reactions are due to our attachment to a given item or situation. The parking space, the banana bread, whatever it is, becomes a part of us psychologically and emotionally for those few seconds or minutes.Why have our emotional reactions to these events subsided when we re-look at them at the end of the day? Because our identification with them has gone – they have drifted back into the neutral background of the world, they are no longer unconsciously viewed, in a psychological sense, as being a part of us.When we are in a state of awareness, we can see this process playing itself out. We can feel the emotional attachment forming in our mind and body.
When we practice mindfulness/awareness, we are bringing into our awareness our previously unconscious emotional attachments and reactions. We can see what is happening, so the object of attachment is no longer a part of us and instead is something we are observing at arms-length, as it were.
As we let go of the need to control the item, event or person, so it’s perceived power to control us disappears. As we let go of the need to control a particular situation, we increase the level of control we have over our own emotional states. We move from being overcome by anger or frustration, to being in a state of calm awareness.
If we can let go of our agendas that things need to be a certain way and instead be with circumstances as they actually are, then the drive to control the uncontrollable is not present. The energy in our being then feels free and open because it flows with the way things are, not the way we emotionally demand they should be.
When the mind has stopped the emotional battle of control, when our set agendas are dropped, it freely opens to other possibilities. Life in all its permutations becomes an endless source of wonder and joy.I saw a flock of birds the other day, they were high in the sky and the wind was howling. These birds weren’t putting up a fight against the wind, or trying to dictate the terms of their flight. They had simply spread their wings and let go, gracefully soaring and swooping. They were one with the wind.
ARTICLE - The Space of Other Possibilities
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