Saturday, December 11, 2004

Letting Go

Thirty years of asthma has taught me a lot about breathing, and how essential it is. That seems so obvious, it is almost humorous to say it, but breath is such an automatic and ever-present part of my life that I can easily forget about it until I loose my breath. Asthmatics don’t actually loose their breath; asthmatics loose their ability to completely exhale. So asthma has something to do with not being able to let go.

Have you ever experienced the pain of having to let go of something or someone you were deeply attached to? There have been times for me when grief felt overwhelming. All I could do was hang on from breath to breath. Life comes to a standstill as you focus on each inhalation and exhalation. I exist only in the moment of breathing.

Lama Govinda wrote this, “ The universe breathes in me, streams through me, it is not I who is breathing, but the universe through me. And while experiencing this, we receive and accept the vital forces (prĂ£na) of the universe with our whole being with every inhalation, and we surrender ourselves wholly with every exhalation. This makes us realize that life consists in a continuous process of taking and giving, of receiving and relinquishing, of integration and renunciation, of a continuous exchange and a profound interrelationship of all individual and universal forces. Whatever we receive, we have to give back, whatever we try to hold onto or keep to ourselves, will kill us.”

I was startled when I read that last part, “…whatever we try to hold onto or keep to ourselves, will kill us.” So much of my life is geared towards acquiring and keeping the people and things I want. I resist letting go… especially of people I love. My life has been a series of creations and recreations. I build it one way, and after a time I feel restricted by my own creations. Then it is time to let things go, dissolve and begin anew. “Take two steps back and build it bigger!” as my friend Kim used to say.

More Lama Govinda:

Inhaling I take the world within me,
Exhaling I give myself to the world,
Emptied I live within myself-
Live without self in voidness supreme.

Inhaling I take the world within me,
Exhaling I give myself to the world
Emptied I experience abundance
Formless I fulfill the form.

For more on Lama Govinda I highly recommend his books, The Way of the White Cloud and Creative Meditation and Multi-Dimensional Consciousness.

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