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Letting Go of Burdens, Shaking Off Worries August 13, 2012

Posted by Living Abundance in Uncategorized.
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In a previous post, I shared this quote from Thay in his book Peace is Every Breath:

“Know how to shake off the worries and live joyfully. This is an art. Practice to let go of unimportant things that don’t bring happiness.”

This quote was and is still meaningful for me because I find it a constant challenge to feel that I am allowed to let go of my worries, that I can actually let go of my “problems” and just live mindfully in the present moment.

I am also reminded of a quote from the book Solitude that I just read that “life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.” This quote was and is also meaningful to me, because it often seems that that is the way I approach life: Problems keep coming up that I have to solve, and once all of my problems and issues are sorted out and figured out, then I can finally relax and actually be happy and content.

My tendency to act this way has become quite apparent because of recent events. Last week I spent several days out of town visiting family and didn’t have access to the internet. I brought some notes with me for job hunting but didn’t look at them once. So I spent almost a full week not spending any time working on job searching. (The worry came up after a few days that I hadn’t checked my e-mail: “There might be an urgent e-mail right this minute that needs a response!” I couldn’t do anything about it, though.)

It seemed that for much of a week, because I was travelling and away from where I was staying this past month, that I could drop the burden of looking for a job. And it has become a burden much of the time. I can get feeling quite stressed out and worried about whether I’m doing the right steps or spending enough time on it. Sometimes my fear builds that I won’t find a job or I will run out of money.

So coming home from my trip I noticed that my stay with family was very relaxing in the sense that I had dropped the worries when I left on the trip, and experienced relief and some sense of peace. Nevertheless, it seemed that the closer I got to home from my trip, the more burdened and anxious I got. Sure, I might have dropped my worries when I left, but I picked them right up as soon as I got back.

I’ve noticed similar experiences on meditation retreats. I make all of the arrangements to spend a few days away from home to focus solely on my spiritual practice. I feel confident enough that everything is in place until I get back that the retreats are experienced as a huge relief from the usual daily burden of my worries and “problems.” And of course, the struggle after the retreat is how to continue my life after I get back without picking up the burden of my worries and concerns as soon as I return home.

But perhaps this is why meditation retreats, and vacations as well, are so successful. I am in a different location so all of my usual reminders of my worries and problems are gone. I’m surrounded by people that I only or mostly know through meditation. Finally, I’m completely taken care of on retreat in terms of a place to stay and sleep and all of my meals prepared. Of course I don’t need to worry about my usual problems in a such a setting!

I also find it amusing how I thought that the act of moving would somehow magically make my problems disappear. I noticed in Ontario that I frequently had the thought that when I move I won’t have to worry about certain problems or issues I was facing. I would be leaving the cause of the problems behind, when the causes came from where I live. At times I had the wisdom to notice, “No, the problems will follow me wherever I go, unless I am truly able to transform my difficulties wherever I am in the present moment.”

Sure enough, my foresight came true. Of course, I left my degree program behind now that I’ve finished with all of its struggles and challenges, but the same habit energy is still in me: The same behaviours and strategies I used to work on my school work are now directly transferred to my job search. I worry about spending enough time on job searching, I am obsessing over strategies to use to achieve my goals, I worry about what other people think and perceive of me, and I feel impatient and rushed because I have to many things I “have to do” and not enough perceived time to do it.

What I’m trying to explore now is how to practice the art of shaking off my worries and living joyfully and freely in each moment. I want to try to not worry about my “to do’s” if I’m not actually doing them in that moment. I want to offer myself gentleness, lovingkindness, and compassion by deciding that I am allowed to let my projects go, and everything will be just fine if I do that. I hope I can experience more peace, freedom, and joy by doing this.

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