Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Letting go: Part II

Today I have some happy news and some more reflections. The first news is that I've broken the 17 minute mark! I have had this problem with meditating for more than 15 minute. I'd get to 15, 16 or 17 minutes and suddenly started to fidget and find an excuse to stop. Well, not any more. I have sat quietly and practiced letting go for two mornings in a row as part of establishing a new practice of surrender. I'm doing this for 21 days to give the practice a chance to take root. I'm taking this one step at a time and for now I'm just practicing the art of letting go physically. This morning I set my alarm for 20 minutes after I started, not expecting to go that long but knowing that I needed to be done by then in order to get on with my day. Next thing I knew my alarm was sounding. I've done it! The barrier has been overcome. Who knows how long I will sit tomorrow, but now I feel that anything may be possible. My second piece of happy news is that the wonderful woman who gave me the Mary Oliver poetry compilation that I talked about in my last post has started her own blog. This is really exciting for me and I am looking forward to getting to know her better through her posts and to having the chance to cheer her on from a distance in her incredible work and life (I also hope to learn the secrets of her equanimity). My third piece of happy news is that Laini's book has had it's first review, and it is a very, very good review. If you are a fan of Laini Taylor (I personally am a huge fan, in fact she is my girl-crush of the year, along with the marvelous Alexandra) then read this wonderful review of her book and then see if you can resist going directly to Amazon to pre-order your very own copy. I know I can't. I've also been thinking about my holiday and extracting a few lessons. Some are very simple, like the old and oft-repeated lesson about the pitfalls of trying to fit too much into too little time. I'll probably never be that person who plans to do nothing on their holiday, and then does exactly that. But I will keep trying to remind myself that I actually cannot be in more than one place at a time. Also I'll try to remember that when I want to do three things at once it is unfortunately unlikely that simply throwing them all together to make one event will result in a happy mix. But the deeper lesson is about letting go. When I look back over those two weeks I see so many moments in which I was unable to let go of things that were getting in the way of my own relaxation. Even when the people around me were telling me not to worry about them, even when they were looking me in the eye and saying "you are not responsible for our enjoyment of this holiday", I was unable or unwilling to release myself from that sense of responsibility. I had invited some very special people to join the Commander and I on this holiday - the Commander's best friend C and his partner M. It was such a long way for them to come from Portland, Oregon to New Zealand. It was also going to be their only real holiday for a very long time. They got stuck in LA on the way, and were delayed for two days. It was a horrible start to their holiday and cut their time in New Zealand even shorter. So by the time they arrived I had decided to ditch my plans to combine their tour of New Zealand with visits to see my beloved tribe in Wellington and instead focused completely on the beach holiday that they so deserved. There were other options, I could have let them find their own way around for a few days while I went to visit my lovely ladies in Wellington and then met them again on the way back. I could have taken them to Wellington with me and found some decent surf beaches in that part of the country. But I had an idea of what would be the best holiday for them and I wouldn't let go of that. Nor would I let go of my sense of responsibility to make them happy. I had a wonderful time, we visited some of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand. I had a go at surfing, and we hand-fed stingrays (reviving my long-held dream to be a marine biologist). We ate fish and chips and drank Gisbourne chardonnay in Gisbourne. We swam in lakes and in the ocean. M and I went for several runs along the coast, and for walks through native bush and up to a hilltop lookout with amazing views along the coast. When our muscles were complaining about this sudden burst of activity we went for a delicious massage. We played cards late at night with red wine and chocolate and I introduced them all to my favorite ice cream, the New Zealand classic Hokey Pokey. Yes, I had a wonderful time, and enjoyed their company immensely. But I also had moments of regret that I was in my home country and not hanging out with my own tribe. As wonderful as these guys are I was longing for the company of people who have known me for so long that I don't have to wonder whether they are understanding or misunderstanding me. I also had moments in which I felt resentful that they were not helping me plan, that I seemed to be the one constantly left to make decisions and plans. In retrospect, and to some extent I could see this even as it was happening, I know that the reason they were not planning is because they didn't need to plan. They were very content with simply being on holiday and did not have high expectations of doing or seeing very much. It was me who had the expectations, and so it was me who was making the plans to meet those expectations. Sigh. I keep coming back to this lesson about letting go. I find it so hard, and yet (tempting as it may seem) I don't think that the answer is to let this lesson go. So instead I'll take it one baby step at a time, starting with my 21 days of taking 15 minutes to sit in quietness and practice releasing the tension I hold in my body. By the way, one lovely upside to being off-line for two weeks is the treat of having so many wonderful posts to read on my favorite blogs all at once. I'm glad that my big meeting in Kabul was postponed because it has given me space to ease back into my work gently and time to catch up on the other things that make my life here work (like reading your blogs and doing yoga). In fact I'm off to do a session of yoga with my new-found yoga buddy and teacher now.

9 comments:

susanna said...

Surfing, hand-feeding stingrays, swimming in the ocean, hiking, massages, and icecream - sounds perfect! You're a terrific hostess! I can understand that you wanted to see your group, too. Doesn't it always seem that way...we go back Home and there isn't enough time to do everything, meet up with everyone we want. We just have to take in all the beautiful moments that we do have.
PS - Congratulations on making it past the 17 minute mark!

Regina Clare Jane said...

such a very thoughtful post, Frida. Letting go is a huge issue for me right now as well... I think everything that we go through is a lesson for us to experience that sense of letting go- both positive and negative experiences. It's not easy, certainly, but that's not even the point- the point is to let go...
I am so proud of you for making it past the 15 minute mark! Yay! And I am glad that you have had some time to acclimate back in... let me know how your yoga session goes! I started a new blog on just yoga, so maybe come for a visit when you have time! (www.yogaspark.blogspot.com)
It's so great having you back, Frida! I missed you!

tiny noises said...

damn damn damn! I knew I should have pushed you to see your tribe in Wellington! I know we all had an incredible time and we all appreciate how much you gave on that trip--but I'm so glad to hear you are working on letting go and being present for yourself.

Mary Oliver helps me do just that--so glad she had caught fire for you like she has for me. She's part of my own little "bible" that I pull out when I need a reminder of how wonderous even the smallest dogfish are or when I need to land smack in the middle of Morning Poem. (the journey and wild geese were my first calling to this amazing woman) Keep up the good work--21 days!!

Alex aka Gypsy Girl said...

We're so alike... We do mirror each other in so many ways... :D I keep doing that every time I go to Brazil and take Rich with me. I plan plan plan and then I regret that I will tour with him and not see my tribe. And when things go wrong on the trip (or just different), I find a way to blame myself or worry that I did not provide the best possible experience! I also resent ~ even though I'm the one to put the work upon myself! In the meantime, everyone is just cruising casually... Rich is so easygoing... All he ever cares about is seeing me happy while he holds a "caipirinha" in his hand! :D We are silly overachievers, givers, and we mean well... But you're right... time to learn and practice letting go... So WE can relax!

paris parfait said...

I think I'm a lot like you and Alex - always concerned about other people having the best experience and perhaps stressing a little too much, when sometimes there are other things I'd like to be doing. But it sounds like you and your friends all had a wonderful time - and next visit home, you'll get to do the things you didn't have time for this trip. Congrats on your meditation "work;" you've inspired me to try to be more disciplined in attempting this on a daily basis.

Yes, very exciting news about Laini's great review (which was absolutely glowing - how many first-time authors can say that??!!) and I've already pre-ordered my copy as well.

As for Mary Oliver, I am a big fan of her poetry and just received her book "Thirst."

Hope you enjoyed your yoga. xo

paris parfait said...

I think I'm a lot like you and Alex - always concerned about other people having the best experience and perhaps stressing a little too much, when sometimes there are other things I'd like to be doing. But it sounds like you and your friends all had a wonderful time - and next visit home, you'll get to do the things you didn't have time for this trip. Congrats on your meditation "work;" you've inspired me to try to be more disciplined in attempting this on a daily basis.

Yes, very exciting news about Laini's great review (which was absolutely glowing - how many first-time authors can say that??!!) and I've already pre-ordered my copy as well.

As for Mary Oliver, I am a big fan of her poetry and just received her book "Thirst."

Hope you enjoyed your yoga. xo

Sophie said...

A rich post in spirit and
pure gust of living!
Congratulations on your
milestone ...
I love meditating - and yoga -
they centre me -

Mary Oliver is a personal fave of mine and I read Laini's review -
it was wonderful - can't wait
to read her book:)

Laini Taylor said...

Frida, your holiday sounds wonderful, though I'm sorry you didn't get to see your ladies. Wish you could have fit it all in; especially if your Oregon friends were content to just be on holiday. I know the kind of resentment you mean -- I am the planner and map-reader and drill sergeant when Jim and I travel, and when people come to town I feel a need to come up with lots of things to do. I need to learn to let go a little too. I think some New Zealand beaches and some stingrays to feed might help me! Actually, a beach holiday sounds so so good right now. But I don't think it's in our cards any time soon. Sigh. I do so want to get to NZ some day though. Glad to hear your meditation practice is progressing, too! The 21 days always seems like SUCH a good idea to me. And thanks for the link to my review -- so sweet of you! (& hi to my "ladies," the first to live in Afghanistan!

mati rose said...

i know i know, what you said about the blog world and the connections!!!
what an amazing blog & life you have my dear!
i'm excited to read more... a window into afghanistan! thank you.
be well,
mati