Tag Archives: advaita

Leave It Alone

There is something far deeper in all of us than our thoughts, emotions, or sensations. Even the word ‘deeper’ doesn’t quite capture it – it is not only deeper but bigger, wider, clearer, wiser, calmer. This ‘something’ is the foundation of everything else that can be experienced and the ‘space’ in which it all takes shape and passes away. It comes before everything else that can be experienced and it stays during and remains after whatever is experienced. The ‘something deeper’ is our Sanity, our Wisdom, our Innate Intelligence.

I use capital letters because I want to distinguish what I’m pointing towards from the typical way we usually conceptualize the words ‘sanity’, ‘wisdom’, and ‘intelligence’. Usually, we define those words in personal ways, as if they say something about us or our personal, little brain. What I’m pointing towards is so much bigger than that. It is available to anyone and everyone who has ever taken form as a human being regardless of ability or disability.

If you’re like me, you’re probably asking ‘so, how do I get to it? What do I have to do to access this Sanity, Wisdom, Innate Intelligence?’ The answer is good news: nothing. We don’t need to do anything to access or ‘live from’ this something because it is what we are. All we need to do is leave our thinking, our emotions, our sensations alone. Do nothing with them. Nothing.

This can be tricky for us because we are taught to ‘manage’ or ‘change’ or ‘replace’ or ‘avoid’ much of our thinking, feelings, and sensations. We learn that there are ‘good’ thoughts/feelings/sensations and ‘bad’ thoughts/feelings/sensations and we attempt to keep the good ones and get rid of the bad ones. It is rare to find a person who learned that it is OK to just let everything be as it is without doing anything to it, for it, from it, or about it. The great secret to living a life of greater peace, compassion, and ease is to leave all of our thinking, feelings, and sensations alone.

What might this look like in daily life?

Just last night, I visited my 91 year-old mother as I do every day. As you can imagine, she takes a lot of medication and needs help managing it. I typically put all of her medications for the week – morning and night – in a pill caddy. This past week, I got off schedule and forgot to do it. Last night, I happened to look at the caddy and realized it was empty. I said, “Mom! I can’t believe I forgot to fill your meds. Why didn’t you tell me!?” She responded in a way that sounded (to me) helpless and needy – she is neither (beyond some physical limitations). My thinking really started racing with ‘why didn’t she tell me?’ and ‘how could I have forgotten?’ and ‘why does she have to act so helpless when she isn’t?’ (and many more thoughts critical of her and myself) and along with it came lots of uncomfortable emotions/sensations that I would describe as mainly irritation, frustration, sadness, and worry. As soon as I felt the discomfort, I did my best to just relax my body and mind and left all of the thinking and sensations alone. I just let them be and rested back in this openness that is completely present even in the midst of the storm of thought and emotion, just as the open, spacious, sky is always present even in the midst of black clouds, driving rain, lightning and thunder. I did NOTHING to, for, from, or about any of the thoughts or feelings. Just like clouds, in time, all of my thoughts and feelings about what had happened – which seemed so solid and real and ‘called for action’ – just dissolved like a fog burns off in the morning sun. All of this happened naturally and effortlessly by doing nothing!

There are only four basic actions we can take with any thought/sensation/emotion:
* grab hold of it and jump into the middle of it – making it seem real
* avoid it (oddly enough, this makes it seem real, too)
* try to change it
* leave it alone and just rest

See that your uncomfortable feelings or racing thoughts are really friendly reminders to leave everything alone for a moment. Do nothing. No matter how intense the feeling or convincing the thinking, leave them alone. I promise you that they will dissolve on their own – dissipate like a puff of smoke in a gentle wind – and you don’t need to do a thing for that to happen. What you will discover is this clear, open space from which you will be able to see clearly the next step that is most compassionate for all involved. Practice leaving your thoughts, emotions, and sensations alone and let me know what you notice.

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