A couple of weekends ago, I took a walk across Central Park to say hello to the office I had for 33 years. It lives on the corner of 90th and Central Park West in New York City, and for all those years I was able to look at trees in Central Park every day, all day long. That office and I had many powerful experiences together over those years and as I walked back across the park a practice came to mind that I spoke into the phone as an email and sent to myself to work on later. The process of creating that practice reminded me that for all the years I walked across Central Park each weekday morning, I often had my most creative inspirations during those walks.
A couple of days later, when I settled in to write up the practice, I discovered that it had disappeared into the mysterious realm of “where did that email I spent so much time creating go”? The email I sent to myself is nowhere to be found. No amount of searching has revealed it. So, that practice is lost somewhere in cyberspace and seems no longer to be in my head, either.
What this brought into my awareness was the importance of recognizing when there’s nothing to do but to go with the flow of what’s unfolding. And so, what arises from my experience is this practice that I’m sharing with you right now. Since I realized the email was gone, gone, gone, I’ve been having to accept that what I had wanted to share is no more, so I can now engage the practice of letting go of preconceived expectations and, instead, being present to what is.
One of the things I’ve noticed is that this is both a psychological and a physical practice. When I accept that the creative piece I lost is simply gone, two things happen. My mind eventually quiets—and that quieting invites a certain tension in my body to let go. As I notice the softening in muscles that move into ease and acceptance, a breath spontaneously happens and some more letting go unfolds.
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to be aware of moments you encounter along the way where things aren’t unfolding as you thought or hoped they would. We run into this kind of experience all the time, so play with whatever situation feels most charged for you when you bump into the fact that something you expected isn’t going to happen, or isn’t going to be.
This is an invitation to explore not only your psychological experience of connecting with what is and then letting go, moving into the flow of what is mentally but also to notice what happens in your body as you adjust to what you’ve encountered. Allow yourself to engage a process of actively and consciously letting go of what you thought would be, or what you thought would happen, and come into the present moment. Notice your body’s response to being right here, right now, aware of what actually is. When I finally accepted that the email was gone for good, that’s when my body and mind truly relaxed. Notice what happens for you.
As with all these practices, be sure to bring along curiosity as your constant companion. And, also be sure to pat gently on the head any judgments that may arise—including any self-criticism you may notice—allowing all of that to move on through without your having to do anything about what arises. Because you’re probably letting go of something, also be sure to allow mixed feelings—noticing them but not jumping into them right now. For this moment, orient to the feeling of letting go, to the feeling of moving into the flow of this present moment.
Here’s a recorded version of this practice, if you’d prefer listening to it…