Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop – Rumi
For any change in life, the first thing to do is let go of the past. It could be habits, experiences, or whatever you are holding on to. Unless we empty our cups, we cannot fill them freshly. Nature is the best teacher. As Rumi’s quote says, trees never hold on to dead leaves. They let the dry leaves out to grow the new ones.
What are the reasons we hold on to unwanted thoughts and experiences? Most of the time, they are resentments and regrets. Both of them would do no good for us other than rusting our minds. Is there anything new in this? We know which thoughts are good for us and which are not. We have the awareness to keep our minds lighter, not to drown with unwanted thoughts.
Why do we avoid it? We allow our minds to take control of us. It is easy to maintain the status and keep all resentments and regrets there. No effort is required, like in the case of finding ways to resolve them. So, to feel lighter, unload your mind to allow freshness, you need to train your mind on what needs to be done and take control of it.
Training one’s mind is like training the child who rebels to go to school. As you do with the child, you need to either console or be strict to get the expected result.
Forgiveness is the key to a lighter mind. Action is forgiving oneself in case of regrets and forgiving others for the resentments.
Regrets: Can you forgive yourself for past mistakes and wrongdoings? Yes, you can. What else is the way out? However long you hold on to old mistakes and beat yourself, you can not change the past. As in the Zen story, holding a cup of water for five minutes is of no harm to your body. But if you are holding it for five hours, your hand gets into a problem. The same is the case with worrying about earlier mistakes. The more time you keep thinking about it more it hurts. You may take a deep breath, leave it out along with those troubling worries. Take time to sit quietly with closed eyes and be mindful. While releasing your breath each time, release those hurting thoughts. Your imagination is your reality. As you release the thoughts consciously, you feel lighter and better. You may opt for guided meditations or soft music to focus on while you are doing this.
Resentments: How do you forgive others who have wronged you? Or the situations when they said/did things that made you get angry, anxious, nervous, sad, or any other negative feelings? It is possible to do it. You need not have to go and tell them that you have forgiven them. It is all mind game. You can do it!
If you are angry with someone and keeping rage against them in your thoughts, it would affect you more than that person. Your mind and body get negatively impacted than the person with whom you are angry. If you think worrying about the past can solve the problem, you may take days and weeks to do it. But nothing comes out of that worrying than spoilt mood and tiring body.
You do not know the background, situation, and upbringing that person had. Maybe it was the right thing to do as per their thoughts at that time. You cannot revisit the past and change the situation and its consequences. The only possible thing for now to do is forgive the person in your mind. Release the troubling thoughts from your mind and look for ways to ensure that you will not get into such problems and situations. Act on it to avoid or confront it so that you would not get hurt. Learn the lessons from the past and be prepared. Let go of the past.
Each of us is different and our experiences. For some, it would be enough to sit quietly with closed eyes and be mindful. Forgive people in each instance when you were hurt. Re-imagine the situations in a better light till the feeling towards the person changes. But for some people, guided meditations can help, while for others consulting qualified personnel is needed.
Whatever the situation may be, clearing our minds, letting go of the past, bringing in fresh thoughts and ideas would soothe our body and mind.