You have to work on developing an attitude of letting things be – but it is worth all the effort!
How do you simply be? How do you let anything just be? These are questions that a reader asked me recently.
To answer these questions, we must first ask ourselves, what is the difficulty in letting things be? One is that if you don’t do something about some situation, you will have abdicated responsibility. Or if you don’t do something, something worse will happen. Or that you may grieve later that possibly you could have done something. So, for these reasons and perhaps a few more, you will find it difficult to let things be! And you want to get back into control.
Let’s also be clear about what situations call for action and which ones call for letting them be. Your house is on fire, obviously, you can call the fire service. Your teenage child is taking to drugs. Surely you can counsel him and take him to a de-addiction center and work on getting him back on track. So, you act when you can act and must act. No issues. But there may be situations in Life when you cannot do anything. Someone close to you is dead. What action can you take to bring the person back to Life? So, let it be. Or someone is seriously ill. The doctors are trying. But they too say only a miracle can save her. What can you do to work that miracle? The best you can do is to let it be. Or a relationship is suffering because someone is hell bent on interpreting, and not understanding, whatever you say. You have clarified, apologized, fallen at their feet, but the person keeps on bludgeoning you. What can you do? You want the situation to heal, but what can you do? Healing takes time. So, you just let it be. Sometimes, when you have tried everything and nothing works, while you may still want to try newer approaches to dealing with a Life situation, you just let it be.
When you let things be, the mind will make matters worse. It will remind you that you are doing nothing about a grave situation. It will amplify every small fear. But fear has to be dealt with head-on by facing it. Only then can you overcome it. Once you have crossed the threshold of fear, all other emotions become manageable. If you are not scared of what will happen, how can worry even exist? When the future doesn’t worry you why will the dead past haunt you anymore? Your entire being then slips into just being – alive, in the moment, pulsing with the joy of being in the present, in the now!
So, to practice letting things be, take stock of your Life:
1. Make two lists: areas that you can act on and areas you cannot act on
2. Act on all areas that you believe there are options available to act on
3. And on those areas where you can’t do anything anymore, where you don’t have any more options left, just let them be. Watch your emotions as they obsess with you. Meet them head-on. Only then can you transcend them.
4. When you transcend your emotions, beginning first with fear, you will slip into just being
5. This may take days, weeks, months, years, but only through continuous practice can you arrive at that state of just letting your Life be
6. And once you have let it be, you have given up the need to become, you are now free!
That’s how you experience true freedom. You feel alive – because fear, anger, worry, guilt, everything, every uninvited guest who was residing in you, holding you in their grasp, has taken leave. The house is empty. And what resides there is a free spirit and lot of light. It’s pure. It’s beautiful.
The simplest way to inner peace is to walk away from things and people that imprison you, trouble you, anger you and tempt you.
It doesn’t mean that you abdicate your stand or your responsibility of those things or people or relationships. It only means you don’t react. Instead seek time to think through the situation and act on it calmly.
Consider what can possibly be imprisoning you. Your fears, insecurities, anxieties are all the metaphorical shackles that keep you nailed to the ground. Or you could be feeling suffocated in a relationship. You want to break free but are still suffering in it, cooking in it, for social or familial reasons. Because you are not free, and are a prisoner of your own thoughts, you are in despair. You are troubled. Continuously being in an agitated state can eventually cause you to explode. Initially your tolerance levels are higher. But over a period of time you become a victim of your own reactions. You are angry first. But soon you are angry that you lost your cool; you are angry with yourself. Then you start pitying yourself and get into that ruinous depressive spiral.
Your suffering can also come from your temptations, your desires. From eating an extra piece of a Black Forest to having that smoke to compulsively wanting to control, everything is a temptation that you find hard to resist. When you are controlled by your desires, you are but a slave of your mind.
To be free, to be the Master of your mind, and therefore of your Life, you must first walk away. Don’t think. Just walk away. From an argument, from a bar, from your desire to light up, from irrational behavior that provokes you, from people that make you feel sick and negative. Walk away and ask yourself what will be lost if you don’t succumb, if you don’t indulge, if you don’t get involved. Almost always, the answer will be that nothing will be lost. Though the mind would have been tempting you, creating often a sense of urgency, that without your immediate involvement, Life will go out of control. Greet that mind game by a physical response: walk away! Almost instantaneously, you will discover that you are at peace with and in the moment.
Just this awareness that your walking away is not going to bring the world to an end, is empowering. Once you experience this awareness, you will want more. Walking away does not mean running away – it is not an act of cowardice. If anything, it is an act of courage. By walking away, you are demonstrating to yourself that you are the Master, you are in control, not your mind. Try it on anything that is troubling you or holding you in its vice-like grip (a habit, an emotion or even a relationship perhaps). Try it on your fears or on your compulsive urge to get angry. Or try it on your inability to resist ruinous temptations. For once, just walk away. You will find that you are peaceful in a nano-second. And then, like Oliver Twist, you will want some more – and more!
|Hansie Cronje at the King Commission hearings (left) and the movie DVD (right)|