“Clutching your old relationship in closed fists does not work. Acknowledge to yourself that the old relationship is over. You can’t get it back. Your only option now is how much you will open to new possibilities. Open your hands and see what happens next.”
This was the advice my meditation teacher Swami Veda gave to the organizing committee for his teacher training program. In preparation for a meeting with a senior teacher who had decided to leave, he advised us to go back to our rooms and let go of our previous relationship. He made his hands into fists then opened his fingers. “Open your hands to make space for something new.”
This was particularly difficult for me because she was my first meditation teacher. I loved and respected her. I REALLY wanted to fix it. Over the next few months I had to accept the new reality that we were no longer the close-knit group of the last ten years. Some of my pain was sadness and grief. A lot of it was resistance. For months, my mind was flooded with compulsive thoughts of what should be instead of what was as I struggled to let go.
I have remembered his advice so often in the last 15 years and applied it in all kinds of situations. I try to open to the truth of what I’m holding on to. The visual of opening my fingers helps me to let go of what I can’t change.
Maybe it is a friend who is moving and we’re grieving the loss. It could be a change in our health or someone we love. If only our boss would just be kinder or that politician would see the damage they are doing with their policies.
These are high stakes! We cling to what we feel “should be” because it means something to us. Something is out of alignment.
Be kind to yourself. We all struggle with this.
Wanting something to be a certain way can keep us in denial of what is. I stayed in jobs and relationships too long because I was attached to an idea of what should be or could be, even when it wasn’t working.
We miss out on new possibilities when we cling to the past.
In this inquiry we move through the physical experience of holding on with fists then opening our fingers. We work with more complete exhalations to open space for new air on the inhalation. We use effective tools like tapping or tracing on thoughts. We give ourselves permission to feel. To mourn what once was. To open space for new possibilities.