Think – Day 18 – How to escape your mind-made prison? Just let go.
Are you finding yourself accepting where you are?
Good!! Acceptance is a major catalyst for all positive change and it enables the process of ‘letting go’, which merits some discussion today.
If not, be patient…a little more acceptance each day.
Apparently there is a clever way that hunters catch monkeys which is a good illustration of the mind-made prisons we trap ourselves in.
It works like this: Hunters cut a small hole in a coconut shell just big enough to slide in a banana.
They attach the coconut to the base of a tree with a wire.
When a monkey reaches in to grab the banana he discovers that he can’t pull out his hand without letting go of the banana.
Even when the hunters come most monkeys don’t let go, and they lose their freedom.
The monkey is trapped because of his own unwillingness to let go of his prized banana.
As it turns out, we’re all a lot like monkeys…
…we tend to be SO ATTACHED to our thoughts and beliefs that we allow them to hold us in oppressive bondage.
This happens in ways we cannot even see most of the time.
But meditation practice reveals this to us by degrees, and we teach ourselves first to see, then not to judge, then to accept, and finally to let go of our thoughts…
When we let go we are free!
Or more accurately put: we are ‘more free’. Because beneath the thought we released is another belief that still binds us down to some degree.
“The real question to ask is, ”To what degree am I a prisoner of my mind?” We are all living an illusion and mistaking it to be real.”
“This illusion is the cause of all our suffering in life.”
“We are constantly mistaking our subjective interpretations of the world as truth and it is causing us immense suffering.”
“We are so sure about who we are that we get offended when someone questions it. We are so sure about our beliefs that we defend them and have arguments over them. We are so sure of the correct way to live life that we may look down on others who live differently.” – Mateo Tabatabaiy (The Mind-Made Prison)
This surety in our beliefs holds us in bondage – the Mind-made prison.
Only when we become aware of our thoughts and beliefs, choose not to judge them as good or bad, and accept them for what they are, can we then let go and become free of them.
If we are judging them, we’re still grasping tightly.
If we resist them, and deny that they are part of us, we’re in bondage to them.
Think of the monkey…he wants that banana so much!! He craves it…Just like we want to be RIGHT so much!
Just like we want to not accept that the cherished belief we have held so long may actually NOT be serving us!
This would be a huge slap in the face of our ego which so desperately wants to look good, to admit it was wrong.
But do you want to be happy or do you want to be right?
You must choose…you can’t have it both ways…as long as you are holding the banana you are trapped.
“But who would I be without these beliefs?”
What do you have to lose by letting go and finding out?
You aren’t going to be ‘more trapped’ by letting go.
And if you ever want to stick your hand back in and grab the banana again, you’re more than welcome to.
It’s okay to give yourself permission to let go…even if you have to start by just loosening your grip a little on the thoughts your mind wants to hold so tightly to.
“If we find it particularly difficult to let go of something because it has such a strong hold over our mind, we can direct our attention to what ‘holding on’ feels like.”
“Holding on is the opposite of letting go.”
“Being willing to look at the ways we hold on ultimately shows us a lot about the experience of its opposite, the experience of letting go.”
“So whether we are “successful” at letting go or not, mindfulness continues to teach us if we are willing to look.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
So don’t worry and judge yourself if it’s hard for you to let go…this also takes practice. Be easy about it.
I love this statement by Joseph Campbell on the topic: “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”
There truly is beauty, peace, and grace in boundless measure waiting for you…
…picture yourself as the monkey with an entire forest of vines to swing from and fruit to eat…
…then picture yourself letting go of the banana that is holding you in place.
With thoughts that feel heavy or troublesome, see yourself let go and feel the freedom.
Keep meditating. Make Today Amazing!