If I am certain of one thing, I am certain that the mind is a suitcase. And in it we carry around the day's events. We fold up memories and tuck them into the corners. We hide our unmentionables at the bottom, stuffed underneath a stack of less incriminating articles, like our trusty blue jeans and white t-shirts.
And this suitcase travels everywhere. Some things we unload. Some things we hold onto for the next trip, even if the journey doesn’t call for them. Some articles are helpful, while others just weigh us down or hold us up. And when the day’s journey has come to a close, the suitcase of our mind can become overwhelming because we can’t find what we’re looking for because it’s buried underneath a pile of junk we stopped needing years ago. And that pile of junk becomes a real problem.
We start to lose our minds because of the chaos. We’ve complicated our travels because we just can’t seem to let some things go. And because of this, our load just gets heavier and heavier.
You get the metaphor...
I think we all have a list of things that haunt us, packed deep inside our minds. Perhaps they’re should haves and could haves. Perhaps they’re what ifs. Sometimes we stew over a relationship that came to an end. We wonder what we did and why it didn’t work. We play the blame game. We torment ourselves over what was said and what wasn’t said. And then there’re the relationships we’re all in now. We love these people. But they drive us crazy. Why don’t they listen? What were they thinking? We wonder why they do this or why they do that.
The list of mental preoccupations can go on and on and on…
And they do. They keep us up at night. They are the object of our obsessions. They are the catalyst for our bad moods. If we’re ranting and raving… they’re probably what got us started.
I won’t deny I’ve done this… and a lot. But something I’ve recently learned in my quiet time and meditation is that as a simple human being I have very little control over anything other than my own mind. I can’t control traffic lights, my family members, or the state of affairs. Heck, I can’t even control what others think of me; that’s their doing, inside their mind.
And it was with this small epiphany, in which I was reading Wherever You Go, There You Are, that I felt a huge release of tension escape from my chest. I felt relieved! All the things I’ve been packing into my suitcase so that I could analyze and fret over them later shouldn’t be in my suitcase at all! I can kick them to the curb because all that worrying is for naught. I’ve got to let go... and that's OKAY!
And you should too! So what I purpose is that we all make a list of five things we know we’ve been obsessing over, and choose one to let go of today. And if it works, we’ll let go of one more tomorrow… and so on and so forth.
You can do this through prayer, meditation, contemplation, writing, or action… Do whatever suits you. It might take a minute or a day; it may take the month, but that's okay. Just be sure you're letting go of that certain something...
Let go of its torment.
Let go of its weight.
Let go of your expectations and your need to understand and control whatever it is.
We can’t control anything but our thoughts. So let go and revitalize your mind. In return, you’ll be rewarded with a greater sense of peace and wellbeing because if we purge our suitcase of these unneeded articles, we can make room for the things that matter, things that we could actually use in this journey.
As Jon Kabat-Zinn explained, “Letting go means just what it says. It’s an invitation to cease clinging to anything… It is a conscious decision to release with full acceptance into the stream of present moments as they are unfolding. To let go means to give up coercing, resisting, or struggling, in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome which comes out of allowing things to be as they are… It’s akin to letting your palm open to unhand something you have been holding on to…”
So open your hand, release your clutched fingers, and let the things you've clung to the very most go, and let them ride out on the wind. Then sit back and welcome that smile of peace as it crawls across your face, as you watch the fear and regret and anxiety that once gripped you disappear into the air as well.