As many of you know, I’m always on the lookout for ways to help goose people along the spiritual path. Sometimes it’s words or phrases that can be used as mantras. Sometimes it’s analogies.
And sometimes, like today, it’s images. This piece is about using the inner image of hands to aid in your spiritual growth.
Let me explain. I believe that letting go of our egoic baggage is the central work of the spiritual path. That “stuff” is all the junk we’ve accumulated and held onto from our earliest years and throughout adulthood.
Buddhists and Mickey Singer
The Buddhists would call this letting go of our attachments. My favorite teacher, Mickey Singer, simply refers to it as letting go.
Whatever you want to call it, at its core it’s about freeing yourself from “stuff” that is holding you back; that is blocking your energy flow. If that sounds too “woo-wooey wacky” for you, don’t worry. You’ll get what I mean shortly.
How do we let go?
The central question then is, how do we get rid of/let go of all this baggage? The answer is that when it comes up we: 1. Become aware that it has come up; 2. Lean away from the feeling/energy, wherever it is; 3. Relax, and 4. Let it go.
The big kahuna, obviously, is #4, letting it go. So once we’ve become aware, leaned away, and relaxed, how best to let it go?
That’s where the hand’s visual comes into play. How? The best way to explain this is through using the Buddhist concept of resisting and clinging.
Resisting and clinging
When we experience something we don’t like we resist it. If it’s something we like, we cling to it. In both cases, those experiences become lodged in our lower selves as energy that blocks the natural, upward flow of our chi/shakti/prana energy, as it’s known in different traditions.
Let’s use examples for both resisting and clinging and how the hands thing comes in. You were a lousy athlete growing up and were always picked last for any team. Thirty years later, you’re a partner at a law firm. Eight of you get together at a high school gym to play basketball. You get picked last. Ouch.
This brings up those feelings you had all those years ago. Why? Because you held onto them and they stayed inside you.
Picked last at the pickup game
Fine. So 45-year-old you are standing there in your gym shorts, feeling like crap. What do you normally do when anything like this happens? You resist the feeling by pushing it away. The result? That feeling just nestles right back into your lower self where it’s been living for decades.
Let’s take a closer look at what you did. You “pushed” that feeling away. You get what I mean. We all do this when we don’t like something. We say, without actually saying it, “Get out of here. I don’t want you. Go away.”
So here’s what a 45-year-old lawyer you could do to help let this old feeling go. How do we push something away? We put our hands on it and push.
So in this case, you close your eyes and visualize inside your hands pushing away/resisting the lousy feeling. Then you make the conscious decision to pull your hands away from the feeling. You stop pushing it away and just leave it alone. You visualize letting it go.
As for clinging, let’s say you won your club golf tournament last year. You were thrilled by this. While playing in this year’s tournament you find yourself nervous and moody. Why? Because you’re clinging to the good feeling you had a year ago and are worried you won’t get to feel that again.
Letting go of the trophy
When those feelings of fear come up while you’re playing, relax and go inside. Imagine your hands holding onto last year’s trophy. Then imagine yourself pulling your hands off the trophy and letting it go…
Overlaying this whole concept is one macro idea about life: We are meant to experience things and then let them go, whether good or bad. The golf tournament winner doesn’t need to renounce his win. He just doesn’t store it inside. He lets it go.
It’s the same for any of the millions of experiences people have that they don’t like. It’s okay, natural, and normal to dislike any number of experiences. But it is not natural, nor healthy, to hold onto these experiences.
Letting go is hard
The problem with this letting go thing, as most of you know, is that it is NOT easy. It’s hard.
Why? Because our “stuff” comes up all the time. Every day. And most of us have developed a deeply ingrained habit of either clinging to or resisting that stuff. In fact, most people don’t even know there is an alternative to clinging or resisting. That’s their only reality.
My attitude on the whole matter can be summed up in this equation:
Letting go is hard + Letting go is central to spiritual growth = Find/do anything that helps you let go
And that is why I wrote this article. Using your hands as a visual to see yourself letting go inside is simply something to use to make this vitally important but difficult process easier.
So if this hands thing resonates with you, do it! When something comes up that upsets you in some way, just imagine your pushing or clinging hands letting go of that feeling they’re grappling with. And just let that feeling go.
You’ll be one small step closer to liberation.
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