By Kathy Keary
Our full series in the Contemplative Prayer Video Series is here.
Revisit earlier articles in our Contemplative Life Series here.
My inspiration for this week’s reflection is the book, The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology by Jack Kornfield. Kornfield was trained as a Buddhist monk, holds a PhD in clinical psychology, and has taught meditation internationally since 1974. He is a founding teacher of the Insight Meditation Society and Spirit Rock Meditation Center.
One of the chapters deals with letting go in the face of suffering. He asserts that wakefulness and freedom is possible amid our joys and sorrows. He states: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is not. Suffering arises from grasping. Release grasping and be free of suffering.”
I share with you a meditation that is contained in The Wise Heart as I found it to be a worthwhile exercise for people of all faith traditions who are serious about spiritual growth and achieving a sense of interior freedom.
Take a moment to center yourself. Perhaps focus on a few deep breaths.
Now bring into awareness any story, situation, feelings, and reactions that it is time to let go of. Name them gently (betrayal, sadness, anxiety, etc.) and allow them the space to be, to float without resistance, held in a heart of compassion. Continue to breathe. Feel the unhappiness that comes from holding on. Ask yourself, Do I have to continue to replay this story? Do I have to hold on to these losses, these feelings? Is it time to let this go?” The heart will know. Ask yourself if it is indeed wise to release this holding. Feel the benefit, the ease that will come from the letting go.
Now begin to say to yourself, “Let go, let go,” gently, over and over. Soften the body and heart and let any feelings that arise drain out of you like water draining out of a tub. Let the images go, the beliefs, the self-righteousness, the unworthiness. Let it all go. Feel the space that comes as you let go, how the heart releases and the body opens.
Now direct the mind to envision the future where this circumstance has been released. Sense the freedom, the innocence, the ease that letting go can bring. Say to yourself “Let go” several more times. Sit quietly and notice if the feelings return. Each time they return, breathe softly as if to bow to them, and say kindly, “I’ve let you go.”
The images and feeling may come back many times, yet as you continue to practice, they will eventually fade. Gradually the mind will come to trust the space of letting go. Gradually the heart will be easy and you will be free.
It’s quite common for people to have difficulty letting go of painful experiences resulting in anxiety, depression, fear, confusion, grief, anger, hurt, addiction, jealousy and frustration. By letting these go, we are freed to become more aligned with the person we were created to be. It is my hope that you will return to this practice as the need arises.
May the good Lord bless you, keep you, and hold you close.
[Kathy Keary, spiritual director, holds a bachelor’s degree in education, a master’s degree in theological studies, and completed Sophia Center’s Souljourners Program, an intense study of spirituality and spiritual direction. Kathy believes that the Divine is present and active in all of life and encourages others to be awakened to the God in all including the Divine within. She enjoys accompanying others on their journey to wholeness discovering the person they were created to be.]
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