by Jennifer Shannon LMFT, with Doug Shannon
Letting Go a Little
I started back to Toastmasters this week. It starts at 7am and I like to be on time, but I am staying temporarily with a friend way out in the country, and getting to town takes a long time. After packing up all the things I’d need for a long day at work, I ended up leaving 10 minutes later than planned. As I turned the ignition my mind started racing, grasping for a way to control the situation. How late will I be? What route is the fastest? Then I remembered something I’d heard Tara Brach, a terrific Buddhist teacher, say in a podcast.
Let go a little and you get a little peace
Let go a lot and you get a lot of peace
Let go totally and you get total peace
“Letting go” is not in my nature. I like to be in control. But then again, I do want peace. I decided to let go of the possibility of arriving on time. I took my normal route and drove at my normal speed. I did not look at the clock.
But I did not feel instant peace. Being out of control felt more painful than trying to stay in control. My chest felt tight as I instructed myself to breath into it. But with each mile I felt a little more relaxed. It wasn’t peace exactly, but I knew that I was investing toward more peaceful commutes in the future.
A bigger letting go challenge has been around housing. After losing our home to the fire, finding a home in a very competitive and scarce rental market has been difficult. We found a place I thought I could love and I did everything I could to secure it. I met the current tenant, I reached out to the neighbor and I e-mailed the landlords repeatedly. If I could just nail the place down, I’d feel safe and secure. But when the landlords decided to hold an open house instead of committing to us, I had to let go.
We kept looking, and an acquaintance from my recently joined Toastmasters offered to rent us her Airbnb. It is month to month, and it is in a flood zone, but it is beautiful and fully furnished. We decided to sign the lease. Of course, my monkey mind went wild trying to make certain it’s the right decision, revisiting the pros and cons. Is the space big enough? Did we look in enough places? Will we get flooded out? Woo-woo-woo! I want control, but I also want peace, and I can’t have it both ways.
For now anyway, I do feel a little peace. And I know that in the future, there will be a lot more opportunities for me to let go, and that will bring a lot more opportunities for peace.
As a therapist and author who specializes in stress and anxiety, and has lost my home in the Santa Rosa fire, I am writing this blog to remind myself of the powerful tools I use in my practice with my clients. If It helps others to deal with their own challenges, nothing would please me more.