"If we can see ourselves as we are, with clarity, precision, gentleness, goodheartedness, and kindness and, having seen ourselves fully, then let go, open further, we begin to find that our world is more vast and more refreshing and fascinating than we had realized before..."~Pema Chodron
"The journey of awakening--the classical journey of the mythical hero or heroine--is one of continually coming up against big challenges and then learning how to soften and open...
The whole journey of starting to say yes to life, is first of all realizing that you've come up against your edge, that everything in you is saying no, and then at that point, softening."
The energy of Release is in the air during the Full Moon. This is a culmination point and cocoon-shedding moment. The instinct to grab, to close up, to hide in the tough crab shell, the beautiful armor, may protect feelings in the short term, but in the long run, if we never look outside, it can limit our potential and keep us "safe" from all the beautiful aspects of life itself, that we really want to experience. That is why this meditation which embodies the feeling of "letting go," gently and easily, is especially appropriate.
“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.”
To help with softening and opening out of tight-closed-crab-mode into open-aware-swimming-crab, here is a meditation practice as described by Pema Chodron in her book, The Wisdom of No Escape. The book is a collection of talks she gave during a one-month meditation practice period (dathun) in the spring of 1989 at Gampo Abbey.
Chodron explains, "If we can see ourselves as we are, with clarity, precision, gentleness, goodheartedness, and kindness and, having seen ourselves fully, then let go, open further, we begin to find that our world is more vast and more refreshing and fascinating than we had realized before. In other words, the key to feeling more whole and less shut off and shut down is to be able to see clearly who we are and what we're doing. It's about not trying to make out thoughts and feelings go away, but just seeing clearly with precision and gentleness.
This meditation technique cultivates these qualities of precision and gentleness which are innate within us. They are not something that we have to gain, but something that we could bring out, cultivate, rediscover in ourselves...Also, inherent in this technique is the ability to let go at the end of the out-breath, to open at the end of the out-breath, because for a moment there's actually no instruction about what to do. Because there is no particular instruction about what to do until the next out-breath. there's a possibility of "gap" at the end of the out-breath:
You're mindful of your breath as it goes out,
and then there's a pause as the breath comes in. It's as if you...pause.
The mindfulness is on the out-breath,
and there's some sense of just waiting for the next out-breath, a sense of no project.
One could just let go at the end of the out-breath. Breath goes out and dissolves, and there could be some sense of letting go completely. Nothing to hold on to until the next out-breath." A gently embodied sense of spacious freedom...This sense of letting go is a powerful tool for coming back to the present moment, if you are distracted feelings about the past, or absorbed in thoughts about the future, and seeking to fully experience being alive in the here and the now. There are three simple steps to this meditation technique:
Seated comfortably with your back straight, your eyes are open and your gaze soft--not a tight gaze. You're not shutting out all the other things that are going on. The purpose of this practice is to be fully present, awake to the ebb and flow and movement and creation of life, being alive to the process of life itself.
There's a very light touch on the breath as it goes out. Touch the breath and let it go. Touch it very softly and let it go. If you find your body tensing, relax it. If you find your mind tensing, relax it. Feel the expansiveness of the breath going out into the space.
Notice your tone of voice when you say 'thinking.' Let it be soft and gentle, but at the same time precise. When thoughts come up, touch them very lightly, like a feather touching a bubble. The spirit of this practice is: "Good for you, you actually noticed! You've noticed that mind thinks continuously, and it's wonderful that you've seen that. Having seen it, let the thoughts go. Say "Thinking."
The experience of labeling your thoughts "thinking", over time, becomes much more vivid. You may be completely caught up in a fantasy, in remembering the past or planning for the future, then suddenly you realize, and you just come back to the present moment. You say to yourself, "Thinking." and as you're saying that, basically what you are doing is letting go of those thoughts. You don't repress the thoughts. You acknowledge them as 'thinking' very clearly and kindly, but then you let them go.
“Relax, allow the mind to become empty, and surprise yourself with the great treasure that begins to flow from your soul.”
About Pema Chodron
Pema Chodron is an American Buddhist nun in the lineage of Chogyam Trungpa and resident teacher at Gampo Abbey in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. She is the author of numerous best-selling books including When Things Fall Apart and Living Beautifully.