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By Michael Doko Hatchett
There is a saying in Buddhism: "Let go a little, have a little joy, let go a lot, have a lot of joy, let go completely, have complete joy".
What I find with this statement is that when we read it our heart tends to skip to the end. "Ahh, 'complete letting go', 'complete joy', wouldn't that be nice". Well sure it would! But if we want to understand this statement, if we want to understand both what 'letting go' is, and the sort of joy and potential Buddhist psychology is speaking of, then we need to be less dreamy and impatient for the big 'ahhhhhs' of life. Instead, we need to start esteeming and practicing the little things that nurture us.
The best place to start finding the little 'ahhhhs' in our life is with the breath. When we exhale, not only are we activating the soothing Parasympathetic Nervous System, but we are learning about ourselves and our power to embrace the most foundational 'little letting go' there is: the letting go of the unnecessarily uptight breath and the Sympathetic Nervous System's fight, flight or freeze relationship to life.
- Breathe in gently in your normal fashion, or even better, breathe in deeply. Feel the whole body breathe in and pause for a moment before breathing out.
- So now.....breathe out.....really breathe out. Feeling the whole body breathe out and 'let go'.
- Feel the tone you have just created in your body and mind.
- Make your exhalation two, three, even four times longer than your in-breath. Feel it... really feel the release as you let go.
- Repeat this several times or as often as you like throughout the day.
The Buddha said:
"Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body.
Breathing out, I am aware of my whole body.
He or she practices like this".
Now, you've just gotten in touch with what the Buddha described as your inner 'nobility', your inner 'potential for wisdom and kindness'. This may be a little practice, but it is no small thing. Easy wasn't it?
Let me add one more thing you can do... bring a little half-smile to your face in the midst of this practice. Now you are really getting the hang of this... you are getting the hang of the most important foundation for releasing the unnecessary suffering in your life, and finding the joy that is waiting for you if you just learn to stop and slow down a little.
That reminds me....'stopping and slowing down', now there's another little 'letting go' practice.... let's talk about that next month!
Bye for now, take care