2020-08-29 Mindfulness of Breathing (6 of 7) Letting Go
3:20PM Aug 29, 2020
So, in that meditation I was connecting, breathing with the idea of letting go. And there's letting go is stands at the heart of the liberation teachings of Buddhism. They're easy to misunderstand this idea of letting go. We get a little different flavor from it when we realize that there are many different words that the Buddha uses for letting go. But a good number of those words are closely related or sometimes used to also mean giving or generosity. And we used we do a little bit of that in English as well with the idea of giving up which giving up is kind of a surrender, kind of a, kind of often popular colloquially kind of means kind of a kind of a, not having any hope or kind of surrendering to something. But I believe it originally meant offering something up to the altar. There's something sacred about this handing off and something we do with empowerment with strength with purpose. It's not a diminishment of ourselves or a loss of anything.
And so this idea of giving and generosity implies that this letting go is actually something very wholesome and good. And we get some sense of that, when we realize that when we let go fully, we're more fresh and available to receive, to be attentive, to see clearly without bias and prejudice and without the filter of our wants and not wants, our resentments and our in our attractions, our repulsions. We really there to see and experience what's there. And so this metaphor, analogy of using breathing for that, that we're relaxing and letting go as we exhale, and then we're available to inhale. But because breathing is so intimately connected to our, all the other aspects of how we live our lives, partly because we adjust how much energy we need to do things by how much we breathe, or we engage our breath in a certain ways, in order to best support us in times of danger and fear and times of joy and activity. And so there's a constant modulation and movement of the breathing. But we also do that when we have emotional reactions and we have desires about things which have nothing to do with the present moment. And so the breath is constantly coming and engaging in different kinds of ways. And to learn, especially meditation, to have an ease, full breath and relaxed breath, and then to see how in that easeful breath, as the breath gets held, we're probably attached to something probably holding on to something, resisting something, concerned about something. And really, the more easeful and relaxed the breathing is, the more we can notice when things shift. Sometimes in meditation, the breathing gets very, very quiet and still, and then lo and behold, you'll have some kind of thought about some person that you have some trouble with, and you can feel now the breathing has changed. It's getting more active, breathe more fully, because of the the shift of our concerns and the breathing is indication of what's shifted in our minds and hearts.
To connect breathing with Letting go of what we're holding on to, can be quite profound. And it It also kind of reminds us that letting go is not an end in itself. Letting go is also then with letting go to be available to see things as they arise. Things are constantly beginning and ending, arising and disappearing. Much more than we usually meets the eye because or meet if that's the right word meets the eye meets the thoughts. Because we're thinking about things and judging them or think have ideas about them or conceptualizing about them. We tend to add to the present moment experience more continuity than there actually is in the river of time. It actually direct moment of experience. And the more we can kind of relax and soften the conceptual mind, story making mind, the more we're living in the present moment, the more we kind of see how much fully things are constantly changing and moving. And then to be able to be fresh for the next moment, is a phenomenal gift to ourselves in the next and the world around us.
And we can see that you know, in small things like, like, you know, we see a friend after some time, and rather than meeting the friend fresh, we meet the friends with ideas of who the friend is and how we're supposed to be from how we were in the past. And I've made mistakes with friends where I see them and I blurt out something to them without being available to see what's new now what's coming. And I remember once that a friend turned out my friend's best friend had just died in the last 24 hours, and I didn't take the time to be fresh and open to find out where the person was at because I was continuing the momentum of our conversations a way of being together in the past.
So this idea of kind of being available fresh, the Zen teacher Suzuki Roshi, he defined mindfulness in a kind of Zen way, his way maybe, as a readiness of mind. To be ready for whatever comes in, what comes out arises. Suzuki Roshi also said that letting go, what we really were not really letting go. He talks about allowing, allowing things to go in that things don't want to stay if unless we hold on to them and cling, and it's a very generous thing to allow things to go. And you can see that with certain emotions and certain thoughts that they linger because we're involved with them. We're holding on them. We're picking them up, we're peeking into them, we're debating them, engaging them, planning them, fantasizing about them. But if we could just let go of the ways in which we're actively involved in holding on and reacting to them, even pushing them away, then a lot of these things in the mind don't have a lot of continuity power by themselves. And we allow them to go when they're ready to go.
As some of you probably many of you know this, I keep forgetting the exact length of time. But researchers of emotions in the last 20 years have said that, if you leave an emotion alone, it doesn't last more than a minute or two. In order for emotions to last longer, there has to be some kind of fueling and involvement with it. And it's a kind of a challenging idea that our, you know, the way we experience our emotions, that these difficult emotions that we have, sometimes are being perpetuated by some kind of involvement we have. So you know, it's a little bit of a challenging idea and disturbing idea for some of us at times. But it does point to that idea that these some emotions, continue because of our involvement. And then to learn to not let go that involvement, to respect the emotion, to allow it to have its own life. And if it's not being fed, the emotions will either fade away or morphin change into something else. And it's very respectful to let this inner life keep allowing it to arise and unfold. There's a lot of wisdom in our inner life that is limited when we're holding on to things and involved and blocking the new arising of things, the new appearing of things.
So this idea of letting go is not a diminishment to who we are, I would say that it's a enhancement to who we are. It's actually allows for some inner strength and, and vitality and wisdom and intelligence and compassion, the best in us to start coming and appearing. What's worse than us tends to be a problem when we hold on to it and cling to it, and reinforce it. But the idea of just letting go. Letting Go and being available before it arises, is a beautiful thing.
So to breathe, your breathing is your companion and friend in this regard, because you can find in the breathing, how you're sometimes held and and the breathing has shifted and changed in maybe the breathing has become more chest breathing than belly breathing or become faster or it's held in check or all kinds of subtle ways but you Come back to the capacity for the ease for breath and in that ease for breath or close to it, to let go. Or to develop a habit, healthy habit that you can if you need to, on the exhale to really be there for the exhale. So to help you let go of what you're holding on to help you relax, help you settle, help you kind of de stress. Breathe, breathe, breathe. Breathing is such a wonderful and powerful friend. It's well worth learning the skill well worth taking the time. not always easy, but it's a great thing. So letting go.
So we have one more day. Tomorrow morning at seven o'clock we'll do another day on breathing. And some of you are meditating a lot today. Some of you are living your life. And what you might do is see what you can do today. Experiment where it seems appropriate to just experiment with just letting go of any ways in which you're holding. Suzuki Roshi also said we're not letting go of things, we're letting go of the holding on things, the clinging to things. And the analogy I like to use for that or the metaphor kind of is you know if I'm clinging to this striker, you know hold a gripping a tight for dear life. And then I realized how much it hurts to grip and how limited that life is. I could let go of it this way. Just drop it and if I just let it fall on the podium here it would have made a big, not so nice sound probably. But it's another way of letting something go. And that is we can release it. We can let go. But still hold it in our hands, it doesn't require something disappear, to let go. But in that open hand and holding in this way, there is an availability and allowance of things to do what they do. And if the striker is actually a butterfly, it will fly away. Or if it's a good thing to have, maybe it'll stay there and in the open hand, something new will come, in useful will come. It is available this way. So experiment and play around with and stretch yourself in this world of letting go, take some chances today to let go let go and see what it's like to meet your anybody you meet or anybody you communicate with or email with. What happens if you can really let go before you actually start that engagement with someone and can you then be available to see them in a fresh way in a new way? I say this kind of experiment today with letting go so that you will maybe be ready for what will follow with tomorrow morning. So, thank you very much and may this day be a happy day for you. Happy and letting go. Thank you.