Liberation or Stamina?

In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself. It will be a permanent self, rooted in awareness and creativity. Once you have captured this, you have captured the world. -Deepak Chopra

The first sentence of Deepak’s quote brings up all sorts of feelings in me; here’s why: He speaks to the idea of liberation; I am fond of this idea. I don’t find myself to be attached to many things anymore. I say this generally because there are still things I do have deep attachments to, and there are days when I tend to hold on to things I normally wouldn’t due to my current life situation on that given day. Still, overall I have released many of the attachments I used to hold onto in my life, say 7+ years ago. I have people in my life that have even told me I have an unhealthy detachment to certain things; I disagree of course, but I understand their reality. I started evaluating my attachments back when I read The Four Agreements; the tag line of the book, “a practical guide to personal freedom” became reality for me. My yoga practice carried it a step further, giving me tools to release past events that were holding on to me. I think this is one of the reasons the first line of his quote strikes me the way it does; because I know it to be true. Another reason it strikes me is because knowing it to be true doesn’t always make it any easier to accomplish.

When you let go of things, you lose things. You may lose relationships. You may lose belief systems. You may lose opportunities. You may lose lots of things, some life changing, some on a much smaller scale. But, these things you’ve started thinking about while you read this, are they flowing with you as you move through life? If they were flowing with you would they have popped into your head while reading about letting go? And if they aren’t flowing with you then that means you are carrying them, or worse dragging them… Man, you are strong! Just look at all of that stuff you carry with you. Carrying an extra load sure takes stamina. You’ve built so much of an endurance around it you may not even notice the extra weight. You may not even remember a time when you weren’t carrying it; it feels like part of you now.

Let’s try something, do this step by step, give yourself time to experience each answer.
Allow yourself to feel the weight of those things you carry.
What is the weight of each one?
How much of your energy do you spend holding them?
Do you notice that mass of these things makes you feel weak?
Or exhausted?
Something else?
Under this weight, are you able to feel your strength?
Are you able to express your desires and aspirations?
Take a moment to ponder on how you feel about your answers.

You are strong enough to keep holding on to anything you choose to. You are. You will adapt. You will juggle. You will figure it out until it kills you. You are human; that’s what humans do. You will reiterate to yourself all of the reasons, obligations, perks, and responsibilities you have, over and over. And you may choose to listen to those stories.
You may choose to reevaluate those stories. You many choose to lose those things, or set them down. You may choose liberation. You may choose to take all of that energy and strength you’ve built from carrying those things and use it in a new way. You may reclaim that power of choice. Because you do have a choice… Liberation or stamina?

I’m going to paraphrase Jack Kornfield here… The knowledge and memories of your past stay with you. Letting go does not mean you lose the experience. When you let go you release the images and emotions, the story, of the experience. You release the grudges and fears, the clingings and disappointments of the past that bind your spirit.
This is liberation.

When Good Intentions Are Just That

Through this idea of the letting go process I’ve been told multiple times over the years to set intentions around it. I’ve heard several different approaches… the intention focuses on the act of actually letting the thing go, or it focuses on the what you want in the future after you’ve let the thing go. So over the past two weeks I’ve been digging into intentions more. What is an intention, really?

in-ten-tion |inˈten ch ən|
1 a thing intended; an aim or plan : she was full of good intentions |

A desire. A focus. A plan. A plan… I don’t know about you, but I can plan with the best of them. I LOVE planning and then daydreaming about the plans I’ve made. All of those plans start with an intention of sorts. They are beneficial; they give us a defined direction, like a destination on a map. But what is a destination without the directions on how to get there? Living a life full of good intentions does not equate to living a fulfilling life; it is only a piece of the whole. Don’t get me wrong – living with intention is a powerful practice. I’ve seen it change lives, mine included. Yet, there is so much more to it than just setting an intention for your practice, day, or your life. You can set the best of intentions and then still end up numbing out to your life experiences, and staying stuck in patterns.
You can say you are going to be more active, but then decide to go grab a drink instead.
You can say you are going to read that book that’s been sitting on your dresser, but then decide to watch your favorite TV show.
You can say that you are going to eat better, but then decide to grab the quick & easy thing as you run out the door.
Having the intent to do something, and doing it are two different things; both have ramifications.

Creating an intention is significant because it brings things into your awareness. Awareness sounds empowering, doesn’t it? However, without the desire or mapped route toward that intention, your awareness can have a dark side. Have you ever become aware of something that was hurting you, or someone else, but you didn’t know how to fix or shift it? How did that make you feel? Or realized your dream and purpose, but it feels more pretend than real? You have this knowing that you should be “there”, but no clue on how to leave “here”. It brings up all kinds of possible feelings! You might feel helpless, sad, frozen, overwhelmed, or even ashamed… all because you are aware with no map. This is when that choice to numb out comes into play. It may not even feel like a choice at the time. The good news is that it IS a choice, and the awareness is your call to action!

As you read above, an intention is an aim or plan, like the big picture. Avoiding the dark side means turning that big picture into actionable steps toward each and every desire that you’ve cultivated for yourself. Its the breakdown of why you have this desire; what is the passion or driving force behind it? That way when you start to set up your actionables, you have a very clear purpose to keep you motivated. With these smaller actionable steps, your big picture awareness does not seem overwhelming. Learning how to create the actionable steps is a whole other post, instead I am here to share with you that setting an intention is not where your work ends. A good intention without any action behind it, is just that, an intention. You must make steps. You must believe in your intention. You must believe you are worth taking the steps for. And you are.

So tomorrow, you and I, hand in hand, are going to take a small step together toward the intentions we have set for ourselves; I will not be eating bread and butter for dinner as I run out the door… what small actionable will you take?