Perhaps you think that worrying, keeping control, and resisting change will prevent catastrophe. No offense, but maybe you’ve been born a bit “contracted”. It has happened to many of us. It is their first reaction when they experience pain or they are afraid: they “crawl”, everyone thinks. And let’s tell the truth, we’re all a little kids in some circumstances. Sometimes I think maybe we’re still too shaken by the birth trauma to let us go completely.
The funny thing is that the best way to handle stress is to relax, literally relax, let go. Describing the movement of a horse when it leaves and relies on its jockey completely, so that their movements become a happy and fluid dance. Of course, we can face “live” life, but only can guarantee great results. To live in full it is necessary to return a little to that slow, that absolute tension of tension before our first breath. Reveal that undisturbed trust in a universe that supports us and has no interest in hurting us, just wanting to teach us dancing.
To help myself I try to relax first with very specific methodologies and make sure that the result is not a disaster. If that is not the case, we can always go back, but if nothing terrible happens, we can find the courage to relax more and more. Here is my list of things to do to let go …
- Let your relaxation need go
A long time ago, during one of my daughter’s gymnastics meetings, I heard a mother of a six-year-old girl hissing in her daughter’s ear: “Damn Danielle, why do not you try to relax?” I doubt that poor Danielle has been able to relax before or after that, no matter what she has tried. The problem that arises when trying to relax is paradoxical: when you start trying, you are no longer relaxed.
To address this dilemma, you begin to let go of your need to relax. Now, consider the tension levels in your body. Notice if your breath is contracted, if you have facial muscles tense, if your stomach is agitated. Then, check your mental state: are you completely calm and serene or tormented by fears and stress? Whatever the answer, take a deep breath and … do not relax. In no way. Indeed, tell yourself that you are so well agitated as you are. Allow yourself to feel what you feel.
- Relax your attention
Once the first obstacle has passed, the key thing to do is loosen your level of attention. It’s just the opposite of what you taught them when they were adults telling you to concentrate on something (a teacher, a boring school book), ignoring everything else. But researchers have found that absolute attention to a single thing can prevent relaxation.
So abandon this conviction. Instead, look straight ahead of you and find something to put in the center of your field of vision (a flower, a flame of a candle, a stain on the wall). Then, without looking away, enlarge your view so as to include not only a specific object, but all that is at that moment in your field of view, from the center to the outer margins. Think that your “chosen” object is something important and that everything else is secondary. At this point, look at everything (everything you see) as if it were of the same importance. From top to bottom, from right to left, everything is paramount.
Have you tried it? If you did, you may have noticed that while your attention was “enlarged”, your body and mind did the same. You may have felt your muscles become less thinner and more elastic. Maybe you forgot to worry about it. Or maybe you cannot remember what happened because, for a moment, you did not think of anything. Contrary to what is believed, this “suspense of thought” so serene and light, is just the feeling that you feel when you are careful and receptive. Try different situations: while cooking or cleaning, perhaps. If you start burning the dinner or, by mistake, use a detergent, stop. Give your attention to the previous level. At least you will have tried it.
- Relax in the face of events
The journalist in the nineteenth century, Margaret Fuller, once declared, “I accept the Universe.” At this exclamation, essayist Thomas Carlyle replied, “Well, you should!” Tom was right. Fighting reality is an exhausting effort that leads to very disappointing results. I worked with a lot of customers who were constantly fleeing from the events of their existence. If you are so, try to relax in spite of the circumstances. Anything that is happening is out of your control, so now (and in a minute, an hour, and so on) let it happen. For the time you stay while reading this article, stop trying to change things. Feel the energy that fills this space suddenly empty.
- Abandon expectations that you cannot meet
Many of us fight the circumstances they find because they do not match expectations. “It’s not right,” we think, “I should not be a divorced captain, anxious with wine stains on my shirt. I should be an example of a perfect woman, spiritually evolved but also extremely attractive.” Well, good luck.
For several reasons, almost all of our beloved “standards of excellence” are in fact goals that we cannot reach or support. To aspire to “perfect happiness” will only divert you from real happiness.
Observe your relatives, people you meet in the street, people in a row at the supermarket. How many of them do you think respond exactly to the models you aspire to? Try to lower your standards, think that all those people are doing their best (to live, to experience feelings, to deserve understanding). If you did it for yourself, would you go to hell? Maybe. Or maybe, who knows, your world might begin to look like a little more to paradise.
- Abandon your “resistance to uncertainty”
Knowing that you have tried the small experiments mentioned above would really make me happy. Knowing that you will come back tomorrow, the next day and the next day, I would be astonished. Most people who turn to me seem to think of them more than meditation techniques rather than real remedies to really resort to.
I think it happens because doing something unusual puts us in front of the innate uncertainty of life. When we are in the face of the unknown, we become little Hamlets, fought between two choices: “to endure the evils that we have, rather than running on to others who are unknown?” If we fall back on ourselves, as the infant in us is suggesting, there will be nothing unexpected or unpleasant.
Obviously, this will only make us blind in the face of the opportunities and adventures that life offers us. If we never abandon that comfortable womb, we will never experience the world. As the spiritual writer Mark Nepo has said, “We are the only creatures who are looking for certainty and, by doing this, we turn off the flame of discovery.” Abandoning our need for security, our control illusion is the only way to turn that fuse back on.
Try the relaxation techniques that I have just described. Then, when you’re less “closed” than usual, take five minutes to sit in a quiet place. Exhale and repeat mentally “Now I’m dying”. Inspire and think; “Now I’m born.” Both of these phrases are true. At every moment, your current “I” disappears in the past and a new “I” takes its place in the world. Try it for five minutes. You die and rebirth, die and rebirth. Get used to doing so. If you manage to let go of death and rebirth, you can face everything.
Every moment is an opportunity to reborn, without tensions and contractions. But this is not a goal, nor a virtue to exercise. If we look at it this way, we will never relax. Letting go is just a way to be better now, and it’s fine to yourself.
Once we have stopped trying, loosening our tension, accepting the circumstances, abandoning our stern meters and allowing us to follow through its uncertain path, our life experience will become less tough, turning from something scary and painful in something stimulating. The forces that shape us are not vindictive monsters but positive energies that can teach us by showing us how much life can be full of joy, light and wonderful.