For those of us who set New Year’s resolutions we often imagine what we want to achieve or change. In a poignant moment at dusk near my father’s pool in Florida I reflected on my own year’s events. Even as a Yogi and a Buddhist Practitioner so much of my life revolves around what I “want” out of life as opposed to what I surrender to. I want more love, the growth of the Minded Institute, creation of this or that, greater fitness, and the list goes on and on. I regularly find that the way I live and the realities I believe in have a hard time meshing. How do we..how do I…. live in the world and engage with it completely while truly letting go? What does that even mean?
Sometimes part of me would like to think it means not writing the proposal for another book, or calling someone to help organize another event and instead standing outside in summer clothes in winter… trusting that the universe will magically make it summer in Boston and London, and at just that moment of sudden the summer, the book proposal is mysterious written and delivered by my dog Elsie, while “the event” I was planning is sold out, specifically because I let go and did nothing to try to sell it!!!
Unfortunately, this is not the case. The real point is to let go of the outcome not the activity. This is a nice catch-22, it seems we must our hardest to do all things good and right and at the same time have no attachment to results. This is so challenging as it generally is desire that fuels that energy to make things happen. Why try should I try till I am blue in the face if it doesn’t matter what happens in the end??? It is some kind of cruel joke with no punchline. However, try as I might to escape this fate it seems the reality of at least my own life.
So as I thought about this at dusk and the sun delicately set beyond the horizon, I grappled with how to handle this puzzle and finally it returned to me. It lay right on the edge of my breath. Every exhale is more delicious and liberating to me than the inhale. Letting go is lovely not painful! I must inhale, it gives me life it feeds me, but it is the exhale the truly lifts my spirit and brings me a feeling of freedom. Further, if I return to my knowledge of science I know that an elongated exhalation is physiologically more relaxing than inhalation. On the exhale we activate the vagus nerve, the main parasympathetic nerve, the main nerve of relaxation, and in so doing this nerve actually reduces heart rate. So when we exhale, which is the most consistent and universal act of letting go, the heart gets a break. On the other hand if there is no inhale there could be no exhale. We must breathe in the loveliness of life.
We must do something with it. Be part of it. Take from it. But. the most wonderful part of life is not the gaining and the achievement, but the moment of ahhhh we get when we accept how things unfold and possibly more importantly that we trust if we are doing right that the way they unfold is the best outcome we could hope for, even if it doesn’t presently seem like it. It is my perception that requires a shift.
So for all of you this year…I wish for more letting go. Letting go of your demons and fears, your need to be more perfect, the desire to have things only one way, while at the same time I wish you a wealth of energy to act and play in the world. May you all breathe in life with vigor and surrender with great release!!!!