“I can now see that the real challenge of surrender, for all of us, is not just letting go–but letting go of something we yearn for.” ~Mark Nepo
Every morning I wake up early and, to the best of my ability, engage in three practices that have become routine for me. I start by writing in my journal for about a half hour–at 5:15 a.m. while my brain is fuzzy and I am drinking my coffee that usually only amounts to writing one page. Then I participate in a guided meditation that is less than 15 minutes long, and afterward, I climb onto my stationary bike and ride for 15 minutes or so. I used to struggle to get all three in–I went through a phase where I could not drag myself out of bed early enough to do all three. It was 30-30-30 minutes for each of the three practices, a time frame that was unsustainable. So for a while, I dropped a meditation practice and stuck with my exercise regimen. Then at one point I dropped the exercise and was only journaling. I remained stuck in this constant system of trading off one good thing for another, for a number of months before I started again.
My current system works with my limitations. I could no longer spend 30 minutes in meditation and 30 minutes exercising, so I scaled everything back. I had to start again and begin where I was, folding my limitations into the practice. Now rather than doing nothing, I am doing a little something every day. For me this has been about accepting as best I can the current realities of my life and allowing them to work for me. This has involved metaphorically opening my hands and letting go of all the unrealistic things I was pressuring myself to try to do and embracing what’s real.
I’ve noticed a variety of shifts that I’ve made recently. Things I used to get much more upset and worked up about, I am learning to let go of. I have simply chosen to not let them bother me in the ways they once did. I am working to live and operate in the moment and releasing the timetables I might have attached to things I want to accomplish. It doesn’t mean I give up the goals or interest that I have, it means that I don’t chase after them. I am strategic in looking for the opportunities and let more things come to me and letting them happen in their perfect timing, rather than pushing something that is not yet ready to happen. I still get bugged from time to time–I do suffer the human tendency to want things to work out the way I want them to in my preferred time frame. But, it simply doesn’t work that way. And so I have to accept what is, breathe, and let go.
This is not easy. I don’t mean to sound all deep and spiritual and unnaturally calm about all this. I still get plenty angry–I have quite a temper when I perceive that things are not going as they “should.” But I have actively worked on letting go, challenging my assumptions, and loosening my expectations. And trust me, for a perfectionist like me this hasn’t been easy. But I am learning that if I resist the temptation to jump into something to try to make something happen and allow something to happen in its own time, the end result is often better than if I’d rushed it. Even when I have “failed” to launch an initiative or complete a project in the time frame I’d set for it, just at the time that I begin to chastise myself for missing my self-imposed time frame, something happened that made me very glad I hadn’t done what I was planning. You gotta love divine timing.
I will no doubt write more about letting go over these 40 days. It’s a consistent theme in my life and like a particular weather pattern, it is stationary and not going anywhere anytime soon. What does letting go look like for you? It’s definitely worth exploring during these self-reflective 40-plus days of Lent. Thank you for joining me on this journey. Let’s allow it to unfold as it is meant to and see where it leads us.