I wrote a piece last year about why Mickey Singer was my favorite spiritual teacher. The reason was simple: He’s the only one who emphasizes the need to let go of the emotional baggage we’ve accumulated over the course of our lives.
Most teachers, like another favorite of mine, Eckhart Tolle, stress the importance of being present. And they’re right. Nothing is healthier than living in the present moment, aka, being conscious. But most people, like just about everybody, say the same thing: I’d love to be present, but my mind is insanely busy!
What causes our minds to think so much?
So what Mickey does, far more than anybody I’ve encountered, is tackle the question of: What is it that prevents me from being present? Put another way, what is it that makes my mind so active? And the answer is: All that egoic baggage we’ve stored is the cause; letting it go is the solution.
Long story short, letting go of this stuff is central to becoming more conscious/living in the present moment.
That being the case, I’m always on the lookout for ways to assist in that letting go process. Because it isn’t easy. Far from it.
The Crème Brulee brouhaha
If you have body image issues and somebody suggests you order the fruit cup rather than the crème brulee for dessert, the emotion that arises will be difficult to let go of. You’ll do everything in your power to either push it away or attack the person who offended you.
A few weeks ago I wrote an article (link) about dealing with a painful piece of baggage as we would a muscle knot in our back during massage — instead of pushing it away, as we normally do, I suggested breathing through the pain and staying present with it.
This week’s letting go aide also involves a muscle metaphor, but in a different way. A knot in the back is something we want to work directly on so that it will smooth out, sort of like kneading bread.
The pulled hamstring analogy
Not so with an actual muscle injury. If we pull a hamstring muscle, a physical therapist won’t normally work directly on that muscle. What they’ll do is stretch and massage the muscles around the injured one. Doing so will allow the injured muscle to relax and loosen up.
It’s the same when we encounter an emotional “injury” like the person ordering the crème brulee. That person doesn’t want to dive in and massage or stretch that injury directly.
What’s the emotional equivalent of direct involvement in the injury? That would be saying inside, “Oh God, that’s too painful. Just ignore it and move on.” That’s just suppressing it.
Or they could go the opposite direction and say, “Go F*#K yourself! I’ll order whatever the hell I want!” That would be expressing the emotion which, while healthier than suppressing, still doesn’t let go of it.
Relax around the injury
The healthiest response is to relax around the feeling. We can feel these painful emotions just like we can an injured muscle. And it’s usually in a specific area. I feel most of my emotions in my gut/stomach.
So what we do is relax around the area of the emotional pain. And then what? Then we do our best to remain relaxed and not allow ourselves to either suppress or express the pain.
Relaxing around the painful feeling has the same effect as it does on the injured muscle — it allows it to loosen, break free and rise up.
And loosening and allowing a piece of egoic baggage (or Samskara as Mickey Singer and the ancient yogis refer to it) to break free and rise up is the highest work we can do. Why? Because if we do it enough, we’ll find ourselves living presently, no longer burdened by our thought factory minds. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Try using this image of leaning away and relaxing around your egoic injury/feeling. Loosen up as much as possible the area around the painful feeling.
Just as with an injured muscle, the feeling will loosen up, but only if you refrain from diving in and engaging with it.
Relax and let it go. It’s a mantra to live by.