Friday, April 30, 2010

Accepting and letting go

Holding on tightly and pushing away hard, lusting and hating, defending and attacking — traditionally known as attachment and a version —are the primary causes of suffering and stress. Along with indifference, they form the proverbial three poisons of meditation lore.
Fortunately, you can cultivate the antidotes to these poisons by practicing the two most important gestures or functions of meditation: accepting and letting go. They’re inextricably entwined:
Until you accept, you can’t let go; until you let go, you have no room to accept again. As one Zen master put it, “Let go of it, and it fills your hand.” Here’s a little exercise that gives you an opportunity to practice both accepting and letting go:
  1. Begin by sitting comfortably and taking a few deep breaths. Now place your attention on the coming and going of your breath.
  2. After a few minutes, shift your awareness to your thoughts and feelings. Take the attitude that you’re going to welcome whatever arises in your experience without judging or rejecting it.
  3. As thoughts and feelings come and go, notice the movement to avoid or push away or not see what you find unpleasant or unacceptable. Accept this movement as you continue to welcome your experience, whatever it may happen to be.
  4. After five or ten minutes, when you have a feel for accepting, shift your attention to the process of letting go. Take the attitude that you’re going to let go of whatever arises, no matter how urgent or attractive.
Notice the movement to hold on or indulge or get involved with thoughts and feelings you find pleasant or compelling. Gently restrain yourself and continue to loosen your grip and let go.
When you have a feel for both accepting and letting go, you can combine them in the same meditation. Whatever arises, welcome and let go, welcome and let go. This is the twofold rhythm of mindfulness meditation

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