Life can feel like a dream– elusive and abstract, like a Picasso, where at times, much doesn’t seem to make sense. So much that we might find ourselves in the position of trying to figure out and understand the meaning behind every incident, thought and emotion.
But doing this can bring us more confusion, more seeking, more desires and more holding onto the idea of wanting to control the circumstances in our lives. When we desire any and everything that we feel we lack, the desire to try and control events, people and circumstances becomes a Mount Everest, nestled in the center of our minds and our souls, in which, we don’t truly see what is… but instead, what we wish to have and accomplish, which is to be “on top and in control.”
Our desire to be in control can be our undoing.
We selfishly hold on to what we want and, paradoxically, hold on to what we don’t. So many say that they don’t want to suffer, but unconsciously hold on to suffering like a child who carries his security blanket wherever he goes.
But what is going with the flow and letting go? What does it really mean? What are we letting go of, and what happens when we finally do relax and go with the flow?
To start, letting go means that we need to recognize, or become aware that we are holding on to something.
But what? A relationship, a job, your story, protecting the self from suffering? People hold on to any and everything. The result is that we lose our authenticity and our child-like qualities of enjoying every moment, of flowing with life. Flowing with life can point us in the direction of what we really want while further expanding and revealing who we are to ourselves, and reminding us of why we are here.
Recently, I asked myself, “what am I holding on to?” I laughed out loud as I thought of the wishes and wants that I have that haven’t yet been recognized. Then thinking back over my life, I recall the twists and turns that led me to more fulfillment. A better fulfillment than I could have seen at the time. But as the changes were happening, I was fearful that it was ‘wrong’ and would lead me to destruction or worse… when it was the path of my life and if I let go and let it happen, ‘went with the flow’… it all led me to a better place of being.
As humans, we LOVE to know things and to have all the answers, but when we think we have the answers, or think ‘we know’, there’s no room for anything new to enter that can change our perceptions, which will ultimately transform who we are.
This is the first and most vital step: asking yourself if you really know what it is that you’re holding on to, and why. And to be honest with yourself, if you don’t know, and to be honest with yourself, even if you think that you do. This is the beginning of the journey – where the answers begin to arrive.
Lao-Tzu practiced Wu-Wei, which literally means “non-action,” and from this state gave us the immortal Tao Te Ching, which is one of the greatest writings on letting go by doing nothing, ‘without force’. Here are a couple of examples he wrote regarding the freedom of allowing: “The sage experiences without abstraction, and accomplishes without action. He accepts the ebb and flow of things, nurtures them, but does not own them, and lives, but does not dwell,” and “Water overcomes the stone; without substance it requires no opening; this is the benefit of taking no action.”
What Lao-Tzu is essentially saying is that when we perceive life correctly, without placing our story on it, our lives naturally flow like water which has no desire, no needs to fulfill, has its own course, cannot be controlled, and will overcome any difficulty presented to it.
Nature is our greatest teacher, in letting go, and allowing life to naturally unfold. When the winds blow like a tyrant from an unknown land, a supple tree will not break, but will bend and allow, while a tree that is brittle will resist the ‘isness’ of the wind and be uprooted and destroyed. When we relax, our lives become like supple trees, and no matter how hard the storms may come, we will flow with them, allowing them to take their course without breaking with brittleness and frigidity.
Watch a river. Throw a rock into it. The river accepts it then returns to its natural course. Throw a branch into it and it will carry its weight without complaint. Throw a boulder into it and it will naturally find a way around it, and over time will carve its way through it. This is the nature of our lives without abstraction – following life’s ebb and flow. No longer forcing, but always embracing and allowing our individual rivers to travel their own unique and beautiful coarse.