I don’t know how many times I have given the advice – just let it be – to a friend going through a rough time – or having a rough day. Great advice…..until you try to take it yourself and realize you don’t know how or even what the fuck it really means.
I have aspirations of learning the meditate. I don’t nap – and usually when I want to nap it is because I’m emotionally exhausted. I figured meditating could give me what I need. Hell, something has to.
So yesterday, after feeling like I could give nothing more, I laid in the grass at the park my family was at, put on my headphones, and tried listening to the guided mediation about letting “it be”. (Gotta love podcasts.)
As the woman’s voice led the meditation, I realized quickly that I truly don’t know what it means or how to do it. And the more she prompted my thoughts, the more this was confirmed.
“Think about everything that is bringing you stress or emotion right now” was the first thing. “No need to make a list” was her quick follow up. Oh hell, I had a list.
“Now thing about your reactions to it all – what you are feeling.”
Another easy one, I thought.
“Accept your emotions and reactions to it all – they are okay – there is nothing wrong with them.”
But there is – I kept thinking – there is. I don’t like my reactions to them. I don’t like the thoughts that pop into my head as those thought are not who I am. Not something I’m proud of even thinking in my head.
“We often control what is uncontrollable. Just like the events that happened were spontaneous, so are your reactions. So let your reactions be. Let what happened be. Don’t try to change them or control them. Just acknowledge them and let them be.”
This is where the lightbulb came on for me, says the self-proclaimed Control Freak.
I spent so much time trying to control my responses and emotions. I control them for me. I stomp them down as much as I can until they go away.
I control them for others, so that I don’t have to worry about their reactions to me. Don’t have to risk fall out. Don’t have to risk my reactions being construed as me being too sensitive or too bitchy. I add them to that cannon – the one they have risk of getting hit by shrapnel when it goes off.
“Trying to change how you feel about the situation creates unnecessary conflict in yourself, so acknowledge them and let them be as they are.”
Oh, so I’m not supposed to fight with them. I’m not supposed to be personally disappointed with myself when my response to something is initially snarky or bitchy or disappointment where I should be none of those things. I shouldn’t fight them but let them be as they are instead of spending time figuring out how to undo it – or feeling something about it. Damn, I truly don’t know how to let it be.
Her voice went on – continuing to guide the mediation around riding the waves of what is happening rather than trying swim against them. Not judging the situation or my reaction to them – but accepting that they are spontaneous and unexpected just like life is. At the end of the day, you can’t control as much of it as you think.
In the end, I learned not to try to meditate while my family is around. The constant milling around me proved distracting – so, having learned something, I stopped trying to fight the distraction.
My personal misconceptions about letting it be was to ignore it all – let it lay where it lands – and walk away without a second thought. What I have tried to do is drop it like a hot potato before my response is even done forming. Or, in the process of stomping down my emotions, I inadvertently pack my emotional cannon full of all of the emotions I don’t like. I pack it nice and full – full of ammo and gun powder which means when it goes off – many will be hurt.
But what I need to do is acknowledge it all. I need to say “you know – that isn’t your best reaction to the situation – it may have surprised you too – but it happened so why think about it.”
Easier said than done – or so it feels right now. Hope it gets easier with practice.