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Letting Go Meditation

There was once an elderly Buddhist monk named Ajahn Brahm sitting a monastery speaking on meditation. He held an arm outstretched pretending to hold a glass of water. With the task of getting the water to be completely still one could practice for years, but minute twitching of muscles keeps the water moving. The only way to still the water is to put the glass down and let it go. At first the water continues to move, but slowly effortless stillness emerges according to natural causes and effects.

In the same way Ajahn Brahm spoke of meditation. Many people adopt a technique using the grip of will, of control. While I am sure this has it's place for many, I experienced a profound shift after practicing letting go. Letting go of technique, of posture, of goals, of keeping the mind quiet, of discomfort, of life, of everything and being in the present, here, now.

There is a story of a meditation master from Thailand named Ajahn Chah walking through the forest with a younger monk. They came across a large fallen branch. They lifted it up together, and Ajahn Chah said to the young monk, "This branch is really heavy." their arms shaking. A few moments later they let go of the branch. As it fell on the side of the path Ajahn Chah said, "Is it heavy now?"

While practicing letting go I often find my muscles tense as I hold something heavy, and all I have to do is let it go. Whatever it was remains, but there is a pressure off and it slowly drifts away. Strangely enough sometimes several moments later I notice muscles in my face tense and realize I picked up the same heavy thing again out of automatic habit. After practice letting go becomes more natural, while sitting with closed eyes and while moving about the world.

When letting go occurs there is often a lightness and joy, like the last day of school or work. Such deadly serious problems drift into the past. I invite you to experiment with letting go, which might have to be letting go of not being able to let go. Relinquishing control, or relinquishing the inability to let go of control.

I once realized while walking to a meditation seat high up on a hill that I was a stardust creature who wasn't letting go of control, but I was letting go of the illusion of it. I did not pull strings to manipulate the fabric of the universe. It was the other way around. The fabric of the universe pulled strings to control "me". A gentleness arose toward myself then awareness of interconnected dependence to the surroundings. I observed the movement of the body and mind in relationship to the flood of light, sounds, touch, and smells streaming into the galaxy of neurons in the brain. Each vibration a raindrop in a downpour. While walking through an orchard still soaked with morning dew a thought appeared, "After letting go of an illusion, what appears in its' place?"

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