I am in the middle of my doctoral research right now and started to notice how badly I am looking forward to finishing this work. After all, I have been at it for years now, have given up a great deal to go for this degree, and am ready to take some downtime. However, I have just begun to sit with mounds and mounds of data to analyze so the truth is I am nowhere near done. I know this yet my mind was unwilling to let go of the grasp into the future and where I wish to go.
The first place I recognized this grasp was in my body. All week long I noticed the tension build in my back and neck. I could feel the discomfort and noticed it was there yet I struggled to let it go. It led me to contemplate on grasping and what this means in mind and body. It is one thing to plan for the future and to hope for something. It is another to cling onto and grasp as if life or who you are depended on it. Grasping is a quality of the ego that leads us away from the present moment into the future. It consumes a great deal of mental, emotional and physical energy as we concentrate on where we wish to be, rather than where we currently are, right here, right now. The Buddhist view of grasping is attachment. We often attach when we are in desire of something, someone. Desire moves us away from the moment and consumes the mind in search of, rather than in awareness. I often have my yoga students recognize how this shows up on the mat in their practice. For those of you who have ever done yoga you will know what I mean. Many students come into the class hoping and wanting and wishing for a certain experience, whether it is a good release, a rest, a workout. Whatever it may be. Then come the ideas of wanting and wishing for the teacher to instruct a certain favorite pose. All this mental energy consumed by desire, by the grasping of what we hope for rather than the ability to step back and see and feel what unfolds, what is. As often we learn the most from what we are resisting, not what comes easily.
This is such a challenging concept to be with, and to embody. To release my mental grasp I literally went “upside down.” I decided that the only way I could release the grasp of grasping was to turn it all around and flip it all. So, I found myself in headstand. I concentrated on my breath, my core strength and then slowly released. As I sat in the release the rest of my body released. All the tension began to fade as I had a good cry and let go of the expectations and desires. A headstand may not be necessary for you however, I do challenge you to be in your body in a way that you are not used to as a way to embody the idea of grasping and what you may be clinging to. Watch how your mind will fight and initially resist a new way. Meet the resistance rather than fight it. Embrace it with compassion and remind yourself that if you wish to reach a future intention that you must come back to now, as the future is dependent on now, not what will be.
May all beings live in peace and ease.