When I first let go of control in meditation, I was sitting in a large, darkened hall with over 500 people, inhaling thick clouds of incense, waiting expectantly for “the word” or “touch,” two ways the Master awakened our seemingly dormant “spiritual energy.” This was the way of Siddha Yoga meditation and other yoga lineages for thousands of years. Novices were assured that only a chosen few became masters, gurus, heads of the lineage, and authorized to initiate ready and willing seekers. There was nothing to fear, since the “Sadguru,” (perfect or super guru) in the front of the hall, was respected throughout India and gaining a following in the West. It was all strange to me, but I decided to give it a shot. So why was it so hard to let go of control in the meditation, including physical body identification and self- (as opposed to Self) Consciousness, and merge with the One All Pervasive Universal Consciousness? I was open-minded, curious, but somewhat cautious. I never went hang gliding, diving, or sped down a steep hill on a brakeless bike. So it took some time in and since that first meditation, to let go of control, fear, and all their permutations.
Letting go of control is so beneficial. Good things come when we are open and not wedded to our expectations. I’ve never gotten a job offer by making an elevator pitch, but I have had conversations in elevators that have led to jobs. I’m not dismissing good elevator pitches, as they are terrific focusing tools, if nothing else. But synchronicity happens when we let go of the script and plan, and get out and talk to people. We’ll bump into someone we haven’t seen in 20 years whose son went to camp with our niece, and someone lands a job, dog, doctor, apartment, friend or fiancé as a result. We’ll enjoy close encounters of a new kind over a cup of coffee in our ‘hood. What does this have to do with meditation? Because it is the concentrated practice of letting go and trusting that the Universe has our best interest at heart, and knows more than our figuring out brain does. We don’t have to do anything special. Here’s a simple way to start letting go in meditation:
- Set a timer for as long as you like. Sit or lie down in a comfortable posture.
- Breathe in through the nose and out through nose or lips. Become aware of your breath as it rises and falls and inhabits the particulars of your body. Is it feeling tight in your throat? Is it opening up and lengthening the spine?
- Ease into awareness beyond form; you are not your body or the breath breathing you, but a subtle energy that expands out in infinite directions.
- Let go as far as your imagination will take you and feel yourself float in the deep end of your consciousness and beyond.
- A great way to let go is in the relaxing yoga pose of Savasana, or corpse pose. Lie down on a mat or rug with your arms to the side, palms facing the sky. Place a pillow, folded blanket, or towel roll under your neck so it’s elevated above your chest. Optional: Place a bolster vertically under the neck. It should rest to the small of the back. You can let the knees rest outward on yoga blocks or pillows. Or, use bolster under your knees or just lay flat and bolster-free. Props will allow a natural arch to occur, deepening the flow of the breath, so experiment.
- Relax in this pose before returning to the boundaries of your perceptions and physical form and coming out of meditation. Savor a sense of peace and rest. What have you really let go of, other than tension, fatigue, or excessive thinking? What have you gained by letting go of control for a few minutes?
For more on letting go, especially in the face of job and work transitions, take my class at the JCC, 334 Amsterdam Ave., Tues. July 23 at 7pm. Call 646 505-5708 to register, or visit www.jccmanhattan.org. Or, email firstname.lastname@example.org.