Give It Up

I hold my breath.  I grind my teeth.  I get migraines.  Even though I try to focus on loving kindness, nature finds a way to work out my physical stress.  Yoga is my daily reminder to breathe with purpose; to release my jaw; and to drop my shoulders and relax my neck.

In May 2008 and May 2010, I went on a week’s silent retreat in Maine.  The retreat leader, Surya Chandra Das, has tremendous spirit:  patient, generous, peaceful.  It was through interview with Surya, yoga and meditation for 6 hours a day, and seven days of silence that I was able to release my grasp of control on daily life.  (At the 2008 retreat, I also became a vegetarian.)  Surya asks you to let go of striving and rest in simply being.  On the last day of silence, Surya gave us each a copy of the poem below and it has become one of my most treasured possessions.  Sometimes I read it after yoga practice or meditation, and it reminds me of the only authentic truths I know for sure:  1)  life happens whether you like it or not, and 2) happiness is always available if you want it.  Basically, give it up.  Give up your need to control your life; your need to manipulate circumstances; your need to be perfect.  Just let it all go.

Happiness can not be found through great effort and willpower,

But is already present in open relaxation and letting go.

Don’t strain yourself, there is nothing to do or undo.

Whatever momentarily arises in the body-mind has no real importance at all, has little reality whatsoever.

Why identify with and become attached to it,

Passing judgment upon it and ourselves?

Far better to simply let the entire game happen on its own,

Springing up and falling back like waves –

Without changing or multiplying anything –

And notice how everything vanishes and reappears,

Magically, again and again, time without end.

Only our searching for happiness prevents us from seeing it.

It’s like a vivid rainbow which you pursue without ever catching,

Or a dog chasing its own tail.  Although peace and happiness

Do not exist as an actual thing or place, it is always available

and accompanies you every instant.

Don’t believe in the reality of good and bad experiences;

They are like today’s ephemeral weather, like rainbows in the sky.

Wanting to grasp the ungraspable, you exhaust yourself in vain.

As soon as you open and relax this tight fist of grasping,

Infinite space is there – open, inviting, and comfortable.

Make use of this spaciousness, this freedom and natural ease.

Don’t search any further.  Don’t go into the tangled jungle

Looking for the awakened elephant, who is already resting at home

In front of your own hearth.

Nothing to do or undo,

Nothing to force.

Nothing to want,

And nothing missing.

Everything happens by itself.

~Lama Gendun Rinpoche


4 Comments on “Give It Up”

  1. Lorin says:

    Oh, I silent retreat sounds like an amazing, wonderful thing. I think I would love to do something like that. Will you do it again, do you think?

  2. oh boy, i do those things too (hold breath, grind teeth, get migraines). yoga is instrumental in keeping me sane.

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