In previous eras, physical labor was a huge part of life – people plowed fields and had to do manual labor to earn money for their food and shelter. That’s not how most people operate in today’s jumpy world.
This electronic age is constantly assaulting your nervous system. The computer and almost everything in the modern world makes people tense. Television programs don’t even hold the same frame for more than 15 seconds because people lack the attention span for it. Entertainment is one aspect, but more importantly, we are losing the ability to stay present to what is happening in our own lives.
Many will tell you they’re relaxed when you can visibly see their tension. Most people are unaware that they habitually tense and strain; and, if they are aware, they probably have no idea to what extent. Letting go has to have a certain amount of appeal to you before you can actually start the process. If you don’t see a problem in the first place, you’re going to have a difficult time trying to fix it. You must recognize that you are constantly straining and tensing.
We’ve been brought up our whole life to seek control – to control what happens now, what happens next. The trouble is that we cannot control the external world. You can become awake, allow it to be, allow it to work and make your accommodations, but the point of meditation is not to learn how to be more in control. Meditation is meant to help you release the need for control in the first place.
Letting Go Into Happiness
Taoists put a lot of consideration into letting go, which they called dissolving. When sugar dissolves in water, the sugar lets go of its separate characteristics and just becomes part of the water. Letting go is the easiest way to describe what people in the ancient world called dissolving.
If you watch a thought long enough, it will just disappear and another one will come along to replace it. Then another will replace that one. That’s not what letting go is about. Letting go is going behind what generates every thought, feeling and sensation until you reach the one place where everything attaches to the nexus or to the root of the tree.
For happiness to well up inside of you, whatever is stopping it has to leave to make room. To hold pain inside you, a terrible memory has to remain intact for you to continuously relive it. Letting go is about releasing whatever stops you from being happy and, equally, keeps you miserable.
Typically, people do not consciously think, “Well, I know I need to let go of this now.” They don’t recognize the 10,000 connections attached to a given blockage that allows it to continue to exist and progress. In essence, they don’t know how to get to the root of the symptoms that the blockage is throwing up.
Likewise, if and when they subsequently do get rid of the blockage, most of the time they’ll never know how it happened. If we’re honest, don’t we all have a character flaw we wish we would address? We want to get rid of it, but we don’t always get to the energy behind that effect to see what’s driving it in the beginning.
Whatever you are holding on to, whether it’s a demon or an angel, will connect to other blockages inside you. It’s unlikely that you are ever going to be able to make sense of these links intellectually. To know what something is, you have to be able to think about it. You couldn’t think in the womb. You couldn’t think or speak the first few months of your life. So from the perspective of where you sit today, how could you possibly know what it was that got locked inside you at that time? You cannot articulate what you do not know, but those sensations and feelings are still very much there, controlling you from the inside.
In times past, tension in human beings generally involved the muscles and physical body. Today, tension comes from the way we use our minds. The more we use our minds, the more skilled the mind becomes at hiding what is deep inside that makes it difficult for us to let go.
The 10,000 ways of being in denial, fooling ourselves, the masks we wear, they all prevent us from understanding what is really going on. Maybe you won’t ever realize you are imprisoned. Maybe you won’t know if your prison has steel or gold bars. But, if you’ve ever found yourself in prison, locked behind bars, and you get the chance to open the door and walk out into the sunlight, does it really matter how you got in there and why? The important point is that you got out, that it’s finally over. Can you finally let go? Can you finally relax into your spirit? Are you willing to let whatever joy is naturally inside of you come out? Can you finally go from the prison of being half-dead into the light of being fully alive?
You have learned how to scan through your entire body from the top of the head down, feeling for every single place where there is strength, tension, something that doesn’t feel quite right, especially if you don’t know what it is, or any type of contraction. This is the basic Water method Taoists have used for thousands of years to recognize where energy is blocked.
Now that you know what is blocked, you need to know how to fix it. If you are fine to leave it inside you for the time being while you work on other blockages or generate the chi you need to deal with it, you don’t have to do anything. It is perfectly okay to leave it alone. However, some blockages are particularly problematic so you need a method for releasing what has become stuck inside you.