As Thoughts Come, Let Them Go
On this blog, I have a page for “Words.” As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I have dedicated this page to those words that I have encountered in my life and that, in some way or another, have impacted the way I understand, approach, or treat my life. These words may be from literature, from film, from the mouths of the rich and famous; or they may be words that have been said to me personally, words that I have said to others, good or bad, positive or negative. What they have in common is that they have been productive in some way. They have come to inform my mind, shape it, or be taken into it.
I have recently taken up yoga, and in several practices I have attended, this statement is often repeated: “as thoughts come, let them go.”
I am a big fan of personal interpretation, of allowing one to form her own decisions about how she understands words, concepts, thoughts, etc. So while I highly encourage you to think about what this statement may mean on your own, what it may mean for you and for others, I would also like to briefly share its impact on my life.
It seems that such a simple statement would equally have a simple impact, and perhaps that is the case. The impact is a simple one. But it is by no means small. For the past five or so years, I have dealt with a strong case of OCD, Purely Obsessional OCD, and several phobias. In the last year, I have worked with a psychologist and learned how to deal with these parts of me, these elements of my life that comprise and inform a lot of what and how I am. I recognized all the positive things that these challenges brought to my life (more on this later), but that they brought me a certain productivity made them no less difficult to deal with.
In the last year, I have worked very hard on acceptance. Acceptance: simple, but by no means small, nor easy to achieve. A big part of acceptance is coming to terms with the fact that you are of a certain disposition at the moment, and while that might be unpleasant for the time being, you actively acknowledge that yes, it is the case that this situation currently sucks, but I accept this suckiness and will see it through. It is a very difficult, very mentally taxing thing to accomplish. That said, once you learn this acceptance, once you allow yourself to give into such a radical relinquishment of control (or attempts at control, I should say), life gets betters. Obsessive thoughts get easier to deal with. They leave quicker. Not because this is some failsafe, or a trick you can use each time such a thought invades your mind. It’s not quite that easy. It is a practiced behaviour and involves something of a rollercoaster of successes and failures before you internalize it. But simply by virtue of practicing this acceptance, those obsessive thoughts show up and dissipate of their own volition. It’s rather lovely, actually.
How does one maintain this state, though, where your thoughts just leave on their own? I used to think my biggest problem was that my brain was always on overdrive and clung on to every thought that showed up in my mind. Perhaps I am still like this. But as thoughts come, you let them go. It’s not even an active behaviour, because I think to actively do something about it forces the thought to stay, or forces you to focus on other things to distract yourself from the thought, but let’s face it, it doesn’t go anywhere that way. But eventually, through acceptance, those thoughts come and go, and you let them. You don’t stop to worry about them, to obsess over them. They come and they go.
Written from a Starbucks near you.
Lots of love,