Image / Mihail Ulyannikov
Life asks of us nothing less than this: In every moment, be ready to be changed.
And if we in fact stand ready to be changed by life in any moment, we must stand with our palms held open.
Not clutching. Not grabbing. Always and forever letting go.
Letting go of the beliefs we held yesterday, before the new understanding arrived.
Letting go of the stories our old self used to tell, so that our new stories - our now stories -
have their space to unfold, space to be spoken into being.
Letting go, over and again, of that "ideal" plan we made for our life. The plan that told us
what our health, our career, our relationships, our adventures should look like, should feel like.
Letting go of our fixed ideas of where and who and how we might be in this world,
in order to better serve and fully honor this precious life.
"What if we could trust life like we trust the breath? What if we could take in all the nourishment
of the moment and then let go fully, trusting that more nourishment will come?
Just like the breath gives us nourishment, so does life in the form of homes, work,
relationships, routines that bring ease, beliefs, stances and images of ourselves.
There is nourishment until we get attached to these things, often unconsciously,
and then disturb ourselves with expectations, opinions, criticisms, disappointments,
all because we forget to trust life, exhale, and let go. Like the breath when it is held too long,
the things that nourish us can become toxic."
- Deborah Adele
Living with palms held open, we are continually letting go. And we are forever and always receiving.
Life is continually renewing us if we accept each new reality and release our grip on what once was.
In every moment, it is possible to allow life to change us. Possible, and not always easy!
Every time we are able to do this, we become a little more receptive, a little less attached
to pre-planned outcomes, and our trust in the greater wisdom of our lives can deepen.
Things begin to happen without our struggle. We find a little more ease in being.
More and more, we see that we generally have what we truly need.
"I cannot lose anything in this
place of abundance
If something my heart cherishes
is taken away,
I just say, "God, what
And a hundred more appear."
- St. Catherine of Siena,
from This Place of Abundance
In the Yogic ethical disciplines, the Yamas and Niyamas, this practice of non-possessiveness is called Aprarigraha. Also interpreted as nongreed, nonattachment, nonclinging or noncovering, Aparigraha is the practice of enjoying life to the fullest and yet packing lightly. It is the practice of remaining ready to release anything and everything in its proper time, rather than trying to demand a continuation of an experience, a presence or a satisfaction we once enjoyed. We are invited to open to the present moment, engage with it intimately, and then let it go so that something new can arise.
For those of us living in the world, rather than in the forest or in an ashram, this practice is fertile ground for our practice - daily, hourly, and moment-to-moment. How tempting it is to hold on tightly to that which is passing! How painful, to move our attention and life energy away from what is and what is trying to become!
Opening our palms removes the source of our secondary wounding - the pain caused by our denial of what is happening and our resistance to it, however pleasant or unpleasant the original change was to us. We benefit in all ways by not adding to our own suffering. According to The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, there are other gifts which arrive as we cultivate our ability to live life with palms open:
When the yogi is firmly established in non-possessiveness (Aparigraha),
there arises knowledge of past, present and future incarnations
as well as knowledge of the how and why of existence.
- Sutra 2:39, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
translated by Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati
As with any other practice, we can start small. In fact, we should! Set yourself up to have success in your practice by starting small and going at a steady pace. Kindness and curiosity are so important here.
Begin to notice the habits, thoughts, actions and interactions that awaken your tendencies to cling. These moments are our teachers! And then, starting with something on the lower end of your own personal scale of attachment, begin to play with letting go...a little. Then a little more.
Notice what happens in your own body/mind/heart as you practice. As you find your palms more and more open towards these smaller attachments in your life, begin practicing with the people, situations, and ideas that carry a stronger charge. Let it be playful, let it be an experiment, do what you can...and then let it go.
May your practice have energy and vitality, may you remain curious and engaged with it, and may you release
what no longer serves and receive the nourishment that awaits you in this moment.
Dana Wyss Healing Arts
Breathe deeply, practice often, be well.