Letting Go of the Overburdened Mind

 

Lightly, child, lightly (Photo credit: Annie Spratt via Unsplash)

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly, child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.” – Aldous Huxley, from his last novel, “Island.”

Sometimes life comes attcha hard. Hard and heavy. And you find a stranger living inside who doesn’t have a clue what to do about it. You hate it and you struggle with it and you look for a way out. A way back to lightness. To lightly. To yourself. 

Something as simple as losing a Medicare drug prescription benefit, as I did in December, triggered it. Hard and heavy unceremoniously plunked itself down. In time, the problem was solved.

But even after the problem was solved, I was not “myself” for a couple of weeks. The heaviness of it all just hung on. Lost was the mature, reasonable elder I thought I was – or that I felt I should be.

I expected to return to normal. Normal meant that I could get back to a contented, in-control, independent, dependable life again. But normal did not show up. Some stranger had unceremoniously plunked herself down. And the things that had worked before to get me back to normal no longer worked.

Who we think we are always takes a hit some time.

It turned out that this was my time.

It turns out that we each wind up needing to find our own particular way back to the lightness. And the way to the lightness can change over time.

The prayers of a religious person are one path, and one that has sustained me since my 30’s. But even praying can need to evolve over time.

Many find the lightness in nature, or in the many embraces of love. Others cultivate a lightness from a mind filled with gratitude.

Creativity in all its forms opens the lightness up as our minds reach for the truth and beauty that we can find there.

Humor and laughter lighten the load, as do stories shared with someone who understands.

I could go on…name your own.

What tends to show up when the need is dire – and when our spirit is ready – are saving graces that come out of the woodwork, piling on top of each other for attention, eager to lead us away from where we’re stuck. To lead us on the way ahead that’s just been waiting for us to show up. Leading us, yes, to the lightness we yearn for. No matter how young or how old we are.

And so they showed up. Those graces that always bat last! And they led me this time to mindfulness meditation.

The first grace: a chance interview that I came upon with Eckhart Tolle – beloved modern mystic who talks about being in the present moment, in the “now.” About letting go of thought that leads nowhere good, so that we can be fully present in this now. About meeting the good of peace and calm and presence.

The second grace: the surprise gift of Eckhardt Tolle’s pivotal book, “The Power of Now,” from my blogger mentor, showed up so that I could begin to learn more of the gift of meditation and contemplation.

The third grace, a chance video that appeared on YouTube by Fr. Richard Rohr, a Christian mystic, who made sense of these newly minted things in the context of my Christian beliefs showed up.

Then the last grace: the chance beginning of a mindfulness meditation series – done by phone – by my blogger friend, Martha Brettschneider, showed up. Mindfulness meditation centers on the present moment, on learning to let go of intrusive thoughts and feelings and finding calm in the moment. (Whoa! Our brains are actually changed by meditation, it turns out!)

They all showed up within days of each other. They appeared in those days when I was just “not myself” –  because “hard and heavy” knew I needed to find a renewed Self. Of course, that would mean change.

A desire to change is the crucible for a renewed life.

My crucible, at 78, was to be found in mindfulness meditation.

Eleven days of meditation now – rising at the ungodly hour of 5:15 – was a major challenge for this night owl. Exhausted and in a fog on days 4 and 5, I thought I might be too old to make it through 30 days. I hated that my ageism was showing up!

But this had become my Boot Camp.

Both of my sons were in the military, and both had made it through Boot Camps. Why? Because those who make it through have decided that a worthy goal is worth any sacrifice. That even the toughest stuff doesn’t need to defeat us.

It takes grit, determination, commitment and hope.

I have all four. And believing in the goal is where it has started and where it remains: the goal and gift of living lightly.

My sleep deprivation has been overcome. And neuroplasticity – the capacity of the brain to grow stronger connections in meditation – just may be at work. I’m seeing intimations of just that and I’m eager to see it showing up some more in the next 19 days.

Lightness. Yes, there is a new lightness, child.

Finding the way to a renewed Self.

Major letting go has already arrived.

It’s freedom, my friends! Sweet, sweet freedom! Believe in the goal, and your graces will come.

Seek your own path and they will show up.

Trust your road ahead and give yourself to it and the lightness will find you.

And I’m betting that we’re all pretty alright with that!

Check out my mentor, Bill Apablasa’s blog, http://www.oxygenbuzz.com and Martha Brettschneider’s blog, http://www.damselwings.com

Two delightful and wise ways to find that lightness we all need! Well worth your time! Look where they led me!

8 thoughts on “Letting Go of the Overburdened Mind

  1. “To lead us on the way ahead that’s just been waiting for us to show up.” I love this phrasing. I studied life stories and believe that our ever-evolving life story (the story about ourselves that we choose to tell) does take us where we need/want to go. Thanks for sharing, and I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

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    1. Mary, thank you so much! And thanks for following this blog. At 78, I can say that I agree with you. The twists and turns have been surprises, and all have led me to where I am now. And I’m pretty happy with that. I hope you enjoy upcoming pieces, too. Tomorrow’s begins with my refrigerator door! And is more about where life leads us.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad you’re finding your way back to lightness, and that mindful meditation is working for you! And I also like the way you encourage everyone to find their own way back during the times when life becomes just too heavy, because I agree that the path is not the same for everyone. What is the same, as you point out, is being open to new paths when we find the old ones don’t work any more. Thanks for sharing this!! It has helped me, and I suspect it is going to help most of your other readers as well.

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    1. How did I miss this one, Ann? We share the journey, don’t we. I’m so glad that this was helpful. That’s my hope every time I write. And I have found help from you so often, too. Thank you!

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  3. I’m glad that you’re finding your way back to lightness, Martha. As I was reading your post, I realized that I only think of heaviness in relation to how I’m moving through the world. Lightness is something I am perfectly capable of visualizing and aspiring to!

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  4. Oh, how we marvel at children…the ability to simply sit and do nothing, to contemplate the universe. And from there, they come upon great ideas. Strange, but a bit of idle time watching the clouds, watching the birds, watching the trees move, stirs one to a better place. It is a place where we realize the universe is so vast…and so endlessly beautiful. Our brains do need a break at times…time to be still, to be lost in the moment. Our society does not push that way of ‘thinking’. And yet, when we take a break, we are restored, made whole again. We remember to dream. We remember that God is with us in every pit of despair; we remember to whom we belong, and He will not let us go. Sadly, we often push ourselves for too long without rest; people need rest; they need time alone to themselves. (Sorry, to be going on like this!!! I am glad the meditation is working for you! Anything that helps us to find some restiveness is wonderful!) 🙂

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  5. I’m going on the record as saying hooray that they took your prescriptions away (for a short spell, of course). You have gone from heaviness to lightness…and from not being yourself to being more of yourself than you ever thought possible. What a well-earned transformation. And an inspiration to us all. Thanks Martha!

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    1. Thanks, Bill! You’ve been there for me through a lot of this transformation, so I guess you’d know. Truth is that it’s easy to think that by 78 we should be done “finding ourselves.” What a surprise when that turns out not to be true! More of myself “than you ever thought possible” is a good enough for me to stick around to find out what’s next! And who, come to think of it.

      Liked by 1 person

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