I had a different letter written for this week. It was "done," contained three lovely Rumi quotes, a Tolstoy gem, and even led with a funny anecdote from my childhood.
And, yet, I could feel it wasn't quite right; it lacked clarity and authenticity. But I was so attached to different pieces of it—the story, the quotes, the specific book recommendation—that, despite its shortcomings, I tried to force it to work. I edited it for hours until I finally realized I was doing with it what I am guilty of doing in many areas of my life: clinging.
When we cling to things—possessions, people, even ideas—we are sending out some doubt-filled energy into the Universe.
We are, essentially, subconsciously saying: I need to hoard this. I live in a world of lack. If I can't hold on to this money or this friend or this idea—what will I do? There isn't enough for me. I am surrounded by scarcity.
This is a completely fear-based mindset, and one, I admit, I find myself occupying more often than I'd wish. (Me, on Saturday: But if I don't send this exact letter, even though it's not working, then what will I possibly write about??? as if I had entirely exhausted all topics worth contemplating in nine weeks. Lol.)
By clinging, I was ignoring the abundance surrounding me.
Right after college, my roommate and I would throw parties in our Madison, Wisconsin apartment. They were very classy: cheap beer, cheap liquor, loud music. We even had special plastic shot glasses made exclusively for jägerbombs. I'm talking unprecedented levels of sophistication, you guys. (:
When we first started hosting, we'd get very worked up about who was or wasn't going to attend (at least, I can't speak for her, but I certainly did). We worked at this huge tech company with tons of young people right out of college—tons of people who would attend exactly this type of party all weekend. But—would they come to our party? What if no one came? What would that say about us?
In fact, for our first couple parties, I'd spend the first hour or so, you know, ignoring the people who did come and getting all worked up about who wasn't there, sending out frantic, tipsy texts from my Blackberry. (#hostessoftheyear)
The parties got a lot more fun when we loosened our metaphorical grip—when we committed to the idea: We are going to have fun tonight no matter who comes. (I know it sounds cheesy—but it's true and it's likely applicable in more areas of your life than you currently realize.) When we, in short, let go.
Because it's almost impossible to have a fun party when you're clinging to these expectations: Everyone (we choose) must come. And everyone must have fun.
I'm using this example because I think it illustrates energetically clinging well—an area I'm working on. I think of energetically clinging like this: Getting so emotionally caught up in what "should" be that I have no space to appreciate what is.
Energetically clinging is a bit more difficult to express than the classic example of possessiveness: clinging to objects.
If you find yourself opening overstuffed drawers of decades-old tee shirts, I recommend the popular book by Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It's easy to mock. In fact, I was at a recent party where people were excessively making fun of it. (There were also no jägerbombs, though, so can it really be called a party? ;) Jk.) But I think the book is genius, especially the first half, entirely dedicated to discarding possessions. I.e. Letting shit go.
Clearing physical clutter can lead to releasing mental clutter. For example, for years, I harbored the vague notion I might get my MBA. It seemed reasonable and respectable, and is a good path for many. However, when I was doing the Marie Kondo method on my books about five years ago, I was all: "Accounting book—donate! Economics book—donate! Management theory—donate! The Great Gatsby—I need multiple copies!" The process made me instantly and peacefully realize I'd never be applying to Business school.
I've gotten pretty good at not clinging to possessions (downsizing to an NYC apartment helped even more), but I still find myself mentally and emotionally clinging to people and ideas and expectations; harboring the notion that I don't have enough friends or enough ideas or enough inspiration in my life. Since I often have this mentality of lack, a Rumi poem called The Road Home really struck me.
Here's the beginning:
"An ant hurries along a threshing floor
with its wheat grain, moving between huge stacks
of wheat, not knowing the abundance
all around. It thinks its one grain
is all there is to love."
I never imagined I could so profoundly identify with an ant. But how can I avoid this fear-based mindset of lack and transition into the love-based mindset of abundance? In short: by letting go.
There is a beautiful Sanskrit word, aparigraha, which means non-possessiveness or non-grasping. In addition to deepening my meditation practice, I am enjoying this ten-minute Aparigraha yoga sequence a few times a week to help me let go.
I also have the joy of living with two lovely creatures who constantly remind me of the importance of not clinging, my cats, Tywin and Arya. The thing with my cats—which is difficult for me, somewhat of a natural clinger—is if you try to force them to cuddle with you, if you pick them up and put them in your lap, they will, 999 out of 1000 times, jump off your lap and run the hell away from you. This isn't hyperbolic, I've actually tried a thousand times. ;)
Yet, if I just relax around my apartment, my cats will occasionally jump into my lap and purr for hours. It is bliss; only a fire could make me move.
So, these animals help me perfectly convey the beauty of not clinging: When you energetically let go of expectations, you create space in your life so wonders can effortlessly come to you.
with Love and with Light,
p.s. It is also important not to cling to the past. I realize this is a bit mainstream (haha), but if you really listen to Frozen's Let It Go lyrics, they're spot on. (And, debatably, about spiritual awakening. :) I mean: "And the fears that once controlled me, can't get to me at all.") (I saw Frozen on Broadway with my sister in April and it's breathtaking.)
p.p.s. Another beautiful show tune about spiritual awakening is Wicked's Defying Gravity. I don't consider that one up for debate. "Too late for second-guessing / Too late to go back to sleep / It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap."