Tag Archives: rest

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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Give Your Thinking Away

We can all be unnecessarily attached to the form the Principle of Thought takes as our personal thinking. That sounds a little awkward, I know. The reason I phrase it like that is because it has been important for me to see the Principle of Thought as neutral and formless. Even worse, right? Let me explain.

The Principle of Thought (as in Mind, Consciousness, Thought) is itself formless. In other words, the Principle of Thought has no form itself. An analogy might be water. Water in its liquid state has no real form other than the form of the container that it is in. If water is in the old Kool-Aid pitcher that many of us grew up seeing on TV, then it is ‘Kool-Aid pitcher’ shaped. If water is in a shallow, wide vase then that is its shape. Water in a pond takes on the shape of the hollow that makes the pond. When water is blown about by air and other water currents, it might take the shape of a wave or bubbles or a whirlpool.

You get the idea. Water (at least within the limits of this analogy) is formless. As a result of its ‘formlessness’, water can take on absolutely any form at all. Water is both form and formless at the very same time. Its quality of formlessness enables it to take on any form (shape); and it can be absolutely any shape (form) because its nature is formless.

So, when I wrote in the opening paragraph of this article that we can be ‘unnecessarily attached’ to the form our personal thinking takes, I am saying that the formless Principle of Thought is what is taking form as our personal thinking. Think about it! Just kidding. Don’t think (too much) about it.

What I have discovered is that when I intentionally think (personal thought) too much about anything, I can easily become very attached to that thinking. That is just the nature of the human experience. We have lots of thinking and we can become very attached to it.

Because Thought is formless, our personal thinking can and does come in all kinds of shapes and sizes: opinion, analysis, argument, belief, poetry, conversation, MORE HERE…and we tend to ‘hoard’ our thinking – especially when we are in a low state of mind. That just happens to be the worst time to attempt to hold on to our thinking and the worst kind of thinking to hold on to! It’s like keeping the garbage in the house and then wondering why the house smells.

Attempting to hold on to our thinking is never a good idea. In my experience, attempting to hold onto any of my thinking creates a kind of tension in my body that is not pleasant. In trying to hold onto the good thinking or push away the unpleasant thinking, we end up creating a kind of ‘knot’ that doesn’t feel good. In reality, there is no ‘knot’ at all – it’s still just our thinking – but attempting to ‘grip’ our personal thinking just feels rotten.

So, what to do? NOTHING!

Because the Principle of Thought is formless, its nature is simply to flow through us taking on a million different shapes in any single day. By just allowing Thought to flow (which it does anyway!), both the pleasant and the unpleasant tend not to hang around long. What we are left with is a sense of ease and spaciousness regardless of the form our personal thinking is taking at any moment.

We can trust that the formless Principle of Thought will always continue to flow through us creating infinite shapes and sizes and colors and textures of experience. We only get into trouble when we attempt to hold onto or push away the form Thought is taking in an moment (and this includes how we happen to feel in the moment – thought and feeling are inseparable…might as well call it ‘thoughtfeeling’). Most of our suffering comes from attempting to capture a particular wave or eddy or swirl of foam – all shapes of Thought – and keep it as it is or, conversely, push it away.

What does this look like in daily life? Think about any particular opinion you might HOLD (even our language gives it away, no?). There is nothing wrong with having an opinion. The problem comes when we HOLD the opinion and in so doing attempt to freeze it into a particular shape. Then we hold the opinion against other opinions and we start thinking that we have to defend its particular shape and form. That’s when things get unpleasant: arguing, analyzing, pushing and shoving intellectually (pushing our personal thinking against the personal thinking of another).

If we understand the nature of Thought, if we begin to see in real life that the Principle of Thought is always creating an infinite variety of forms, we will see that our opinions naturally and effortlessly change and evolve. Just like a river continues to flow and take on an infinite variety of shapes and movements, so the Principle of Thought takes on an infinite variety of shapes and movements as thinking that occurs in the moment.

By ‘giving our thinking away’ – seeing it for what it is in the moment and letting it move through us easily and naturally – we have the experience of ease and creativity in our life. The really good news is that this is exactly how the system is set up: the Principles of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought are always producing a new experience, a new moment, and there is nothing we need to do to make that happen. We can’t really even get in the way of that occurring because even the experience of ‘getting in the way of the flow’ is itself a part of the infinite movement and creativity of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought. We can rest; and, by simply resting the formless will continue to create new form always realigning us with a greater Wisdom no matter what the current circumstances in our lives.

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