Thoughts and feelings
At this moment.
Series of events
What is my own?
—William Segal, Openings, (Continuum Publishing, New York, 1999)
My effort to journal daily yielded mixed results. I was able to write and didn’t achieve the daily standard of practice I expected. Being aware of the thoughts that came up as I wrote generated an internal frustration that I could not capture these thoughts. They came too fast and I couldn’t link them together in a meaningful, coherent fashion. Discovering the “drift” that transpired and following whatever came forth proved to be the path of least resistance. At least the fear that acted as sludge lessened to the point that the “mess” stabilized.
Over the past week of this experiment I came to see a useful pattern that I have previously employed and passed on to others. Succinctly, four steps to create a discernible process of “letting go”: Notice, Allow, Ease, Release. This “formula” (recipe, chant, process, algorithm, …whatever term one could choose), offers me touchstones of mental actions to sustain the action of “Letting Go” or ultimately non-attachment.
I have used this little script extensively and I discovered/articulated it through my longstanding practice of mindfulness meditation. It seems I need to “rediscover” it periodically as I am now, and as I write this. With each iteration something is revealed that expands my awareness. Please indulge this limited description of my experience of a cycle.
As I sit in front of the keyboard, I NOTICE the thought: “I don’t want to do this.” A flood of additional thoughts also happens that re-enforce this; I “pick” the most prominent (intense) thought and simply ALLOW it to be present. I repeat this over and over many times (often within a few milliseconds) with as little effort as possible to bring forth and strengthen the emphasis on “noticing”. Then coupling with “allowing”.
This picture may look like slowing down the frames of a video until there is a single, almost still image that is repeating: notice, notice, notice, notice, with the image: “I don’t want to do this.” “I don’t want to do this.”“I don’t want to do this.” “I don’t want to do this.” At a point that I see there is more “strength” to the notice vs. the image, I move to “allow”, saying with a more relaxed tone; “OK, here’s the prominent thought: “I don’t want to do this.” that is present right here, right now and I’ll allow it, let it be present, for now.” That statement may be more of a transition phrase to strengthen the “allowing”. As this state becomes “stable”, something like curiosity becomes perceptible. Or I see a more healthy form of judging or other quality appears and creates an opening or further relaxation.
This blends into the next identifiable change to EASE, which for me is characterized by this light curiosity that may be observed as, “Isn’t this interesting that I can see: “I don’t want to do this.” as a thought that came from somewhere. An interesting, suspended animation of a kind of unpleasantness and not so threatening.”
With the further presence of tolerating of this intermediate phase for whatever period needed to strengthen this state, a point comes that says, “Enough.” and the RELEASE almost spontaneously happens. The “I don’t want to do this.” doesn’t necessarily disappear and go away completely, it mostly has less power to keep me stuck in it. Many iterations may follow through the attempts of this brain to go back into its familiar rut. Clever brain, I see what you are doing. My new strategy is simple and creates a new “familiar” and perhaps more resilient path (not a rut?). Notice. Allow. Ease. Release. Of course “I don’t want to do this.” is only a single, first example of an obstructive thought. I use this technique on a widely diverse range of thoughts, creating and sustaining a resilient path of awareness.
This process is by no means linear and smoothly continuous. I discovered that I needed to practice with many repetitions at low levels of intensity before the “training” stuck. It does occur quite rapidly and becomes fluid. I found that less effort was key. Further insight into some of the physiologic principles can be gleaned from this TED video. (about 18 minutes). The repetition of this little script: Notice, Allow, Ease, Release is an excellent example of: “neurons that fire together, wire together” in action, directly applied to a conscious choice to approach an obstacle (in my case here, graphophobia).
At this point I find myself energized to tsunami proportions with ideas, possibilities, insights that I have acquired and continue to generate with this little mantra. Notice. Allow. Ease. Release. Further noting that I may frequently forget to do this and I can “begin again”. Many more discoveries to share here, too. Time to pause, now. What has happened with this perturbation? Internally, I’ve jumped onto the water slide and swoop down the flue. A bicycle metaphor looms in the background as well. How does this resonate externally? Did I connect? How?