Copyright 2006 Brenda Shoshanna
We come into life empty-handed and then expect to grab and hold onto everything. Immediately we make claim for ownership. “This is mine. It can’t go away.” Some enormous hunger begins to develop. What exactly are we hungering for? First it is only food and love that we are demanding. But soon this craving grows more subtle. We want everything. We want to receive, to hold and possess.
We want to keep whatever we have forever. Many even believe that their relationships are possessions which must be grasped in their hands. This kind of attitude can be hard to outgrow. When change happens and these individuals lose something which they felt belonged to them, it is as though a part of themselves is being taken away.
Why We Cling
Most people feel that their security and identity comes from holding on and keeping things intact. They have the illusion that they are in control and cling to expectations, old beliefs, hopes, dreams, old relationships, and the memory of things as they used to be. Naturally, this false sense of security is constantly being threatened. It has to be. It is based upon that which is not true.
The very nature of life itself is change, growth and metamorphosis. That which stops moving begins to die. The very process of our lives may be said to be a process of becoming hungry, (physically, emotionally and spiritually hungry), searching for sustenance, finding it and then becoming hungry again. But we must stop to absorb and digest. We must be willing to take the nourishment offered and discard the waste products, to let go. We must grow to realize that coming and going, giving and taking, holding and letting go is the very nature of our existence and find our true homes and security there.
The sense that our world is stable and stationary, that change will never come, that we will go on in our present form is the nature of all delusion. It arises out of not knowing who we really are. Most feel that they are their job, achievement, name or relationship. This is how they identify themselves. They are this and not that. Their group is good, the other is bad. Some are strangers, others friends. The identity of these individuals is externally determined by who they know and what they have. The more they have the more important they are. This is a dangerous and false position. The winds of change blow continually. We lose our possessions. Our husband or wife goes away. Our hair grows thinner. We try to pretend that this isnt happening and try to keep everything the same.
This very effort causes our suffering. We spend our whole life desperately trying to hold everything together and yet no matter how much we try, everything seems to fall apart, reminding us that we are floating in the wild ocean, seated only in a cardboard boat. All anxiety and stress comes from living inside this cardboad boat, plugging up its leaks constantly, swimming against the tide. Is there a real ship we can board somewhere?
Can we learn to become one with the ocean? Who are we anyway? Letting Go We take in much. But what are we willing to return to the universe? What are we willing to let go of? When change (or loss) comes, it is seen as a villain which is taking our goodies away. But, we must ask another question – what really belongs to us? Even our bodies have a life of their own.
Change is the inherent nature of all life, though few are able to welcome it. For many in our society life is centered around accumulation, the more we have the more successful or secure we feel. It is not so easy to clean out the drawers, to open our hands and let go. Inevitably, along with the process of accumulation, the process of attachment appears. We become so afraid of losing what we have accumulated. Everything seems precious, no matter what. It does not matter whether we need something or whether it is still useful, our attachment forces us to hold on.
The attachment itself has taken over and prevented us from looking at what is happening from a larger point of view. Attachment It is not change which causes pain, it is attachment. Step one in dealing with change is learning about attachment, about our refusal to let go, give back, allow the process of life to work as it has to. When we are confronted with change and loss, the place to work is with attachment and the delusions it is based upon. We must go to the root, not get caught in the branches.
Attachment is never loving. It is never healing, or beneficial. We must distinguish attachment from love, kindness and true loyalty and devotion. Once we see the reality of attachment, it becomes easy to let it go. Attachment is usual, but not necessary. It arises out of our confusion about who we truly are, where we are and what is going on. It arises out of a misunderstanding of life and relationships. We feel the tighter we hold on, the less frightened we will be. The opposite is true.
The gripping itself creates the fear. It is necessary to see that there is really nothing we can hold onto forever, and the tighter our hold, the more we crush whatever it is in the palm of our hand. As we open our hands, we realize that the more we let go, the more we will be filled with what is right for us now. The less we grip whatever we have in our hands, the less pain we will feel and cause, and oddly enough, the more secure we will become. Security comes with letting go of attachment. Its as simple as that. Change does not cause pain. It is our attachment to what was, to our beliefs, images, expectations, our refusal to let go, and let life happen as it has to.
Giving And Receiving Freely
The very act of giving and receiving freely helps us let go. But often we try to hold on by giving to others. Or we give to others to feel good about ourselves. Sometimes we give gifts that are too costly for us. This balance between true giving and receiving becomes vital during a time of change. What do you give others? Some feel they must give to others constantly and are drained themselves, receiving nothing in return. For these individuals, here is a valuable question to consider:
What is life presently giving you? So often we are completely unaware of what we are receiving each day that we feel impoverished, unable to give anything. Becoming aware of what you are constantly receiving is a fine antidote to this. When giving is one-sided in an interaction, there is a block to healthy flow. When we find that we cannot give or take from another, then we must look at what we are holding onto. Something destructive may be going on.
Another help in learning how to give and let go is to give thanks for what you have received, to realize it is a gift you have been given. It is not your due, you have not necessarily earned it, (even though it may seem so). Life itself is a gift beyond our understanding and when we receive it that way, we understand that nothing is permanent in this fleeting world.
Is This Valuable Now?
When we thoroughly appreciate and utilize what we have, we are more able to let it go when the time comes. When the desire to cling arises it is helpful to ask the question “Is this valuable now? Do I want and need this any longer? Is there someone else who can benefit from it? Is it time to make room for something else? Sometimes we just hold on and on because we are simply afraid of not having anything, not being anyone, not believing that our lives will be filled with something new. Yet the more we practice the art of letting go, the fuller, safer and more secure we will feel.
Centering – Exercises
l) Open your hand, give something to another.
2) Take charge of your focus. Stay mindful of the present moment and what you are doing and thinking in it.
3) Identify and relinquish a negative belief that has been crushing you. Turn it around. Prove it wrong. Laugh in its face. Realize it has no power.
4) Everyday find something else to let go of. 5) Take a moment to appreciate something or someone fully each day. Let them know how you are feeling.
5) Become aware of all you have and all you are constantly being given.
6) Find ways to say Thank You for this. Do this day after day.
7) Notice where your security really comes. Even having little, you can feel complete and secure. Try this out. You will be amazed. True giving and receiving are one.
When we give fully without wanting anything in return, we receive as much as we give. Burden, resentment and clinging falls away. There is no giver or receiver here, only an open heart, and a sense of fullness and security even in times of radical change.