How well did you love? How fully did you live?
How deeply did you let go?
I talk with my mom on the phone every week. She’s in another country. She’s 83 years old. The other day, she told me that she met a man at her tai chi classes who is “interested” in her. I was delighted for her and told her that I thought it was wonderful. “He’s black”, she said. I was silent for a moment and said “mmm, so?” Then she admitted that she had some trouble with this because of her fears of what some of the other people might think. Mind you, she’s Japanese who fell in love and married an American soldier so I thought it was rather odd that she holds any kind of racial relationship prejudices. But I remained spacious when talking about this with her. I know that love knows no boundary.
The next week she told me that she had several dates with her new “friend” and that she had dropped her feelings about him being black and that it surprised her that one, she had them in the first place and two, how quickly it has dissolved as she’s gotten to know him and how she really likes him and enjoys his company. I smile every time I think of her being in a new relationship at 83 overcoming her fears.
In every moment….we have choice: align with love or align with fear. Many years ago one of my teachers, “Emanuel” spoke these words channeled through Pat Rodegast. He reminded us to keep choosing love. We can’t hold both love and fear in the same moment. Fear can be so subtle, has many disguises, but our practice of meditation and living yoga can help us gain greater discernment and clarity and through expanding our awareness we can choose thoughts and actions to align with love rather than fear, and to know the difference.
At the end of our time here, what we take with us and what we leave behind is … love.
When you align with love you can do extraordinary things. Like my mom dating at 83 and finding she can let go of her prejudicial fears and enjoy a new loving relationship with open heart. When fear is in charge how can we live fully? If we are afraid to take risks, make mistakes, fail, be vulnerable we lose a big part of being alive and creative and we diminish our capacity to continually learn and grow. In the book written by Bronnie Ware, “The 5 Regrets of the Dying”, she had the opportunity as a professional carer to interview people who were dying and was so moved and inspired she wrote a book. The #1 regret was “I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life expected of me”
There is a difference between detachment and non-attachment. Distilled down to the essence, detachment is often motivated by fear and non-attachment by love. For example, I notice that if there is a feeling of hurt there is an automatic tendency to close down and detach. Detaching as a self-protection mechanism motivated through fear tells us that we won’t get hurt again if we remain detached. But this detaching is not what is meant by deeply letting go. When we detach, the heart stays partially closed and we become disconnected and feel separate and alone.
Non-attachment is a completely different energy. It is love. It is an open heart that doesn’t grasp, attach or become identified with. Nor does it push away and try to avoid. It’s bigger than our personal preferences. It asks that we trust and have a willingness to flow with changes. And that trust and ability to remain non-attached and surrendered comes with our resolve to continually practice non-attachment. The more we practice the better we become at embodying it. In the yoga sutras it’s called abhyasa and vairagya. Abhyasa means the persistent consistent practice towards stilling the mind. Vairagya, meaning our ability to remain non-attached, non-reactive to whatever arises, physically emotionally, mentally. How deeply we let go has a direct relationship with the stilling of mind activity and the stillness of mind, nirodha, reveals the true self; an all-encompassing love.