Letting go of the plan

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Let it all go. Let it fall. Let it out like a sigh.

First the gratification of being in control by making a plan. The excitement of how things will work out perfectly if everything goes according to plan. Then the rigid trying to keep to the plan and the rules implied by the plan.

As the plan does not play out as ‘planned’ the tension starts to build. The anxiety begins. The hand that wants to control turns into a fist of anger for things not working out as planned. The frustration irritates the body. The mind starts to search frantically for answers to the wrong questions. Why is my plan not working out? Why is this happening to me? If only things will work out according to the plan, then everything will be okay.

Then the idea, let’s be flexible and make another plan. Plan B. Again, the craving to feel in control. So the cycle continues until none of the plans work out and you realise the only option is to let go of the plan/s. Deep within you, you know it is what life is asking of you. Yet, you struggle to open the fingers that are tightly closed around the plan.

When you finally do open your hands, you feel the release. Vulnerability and sadness flows out of your hands like tear drops. You realise the more important question to ask is ‘What will enable me to let go of the plan?’ The answer – knowing you are not in control. You can’t control time.  You can’t control nature or the rhythm of life. You can (and must) do your part but then you need to trust in the unfolding of life.

Like a farmer carefully planning for the season. Preparing the ground so that when the rain comes the crop will grow. But after he has done everything that is within his control, the farmer trusts and believes that nature will run its course…

Be patient, trust the process of life. Let go of the plan. Let go of the ‘I’ and the idealised images. Like a teardrop, surrender and go with the flow. Life may surprise you.

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Life is chaos and order

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What a relief when I read the words ‘ life compress chaos and orderliness together’ in the book The way of the wizard by Deepak Chopra. I like to think of myself as someone that easily goes with the flow but if I’m really honest, I can be a bit of a control freak. I like it when things are going according to the plan and everything is in order. But life is not always like that. At times life is uncertain, messy and even a bit chaotic. Flights get delayed; thunderstorms damage internet routers; meetings get cancelled, we get sick, etc. Life can throw all our plans upside down.

The problem is that all the plans we make and the rules we set in order to make things perfect only create a false sense of control. When it does not work out ‘according to the plan’, we get stressed and struggle with the “whys” in life. Why don’t things work out for me? Why is life so hard? Why do I struggle so much when others seem to have it easy? We start to beat ourselves down. This reaction can create a downward spiral, it triggers our nervous system and we become less creative.

When in fact, it is just the way life is. Real life is unpredictable. Feeling off balance or uncertain at times is part of life. The struggle starts when we don’t want to accept what is real and work from that place. Deepak Chopra writes that ‘if you want to be in the flow you cannot struggle against it at the same time.’ This was a big ‘aha’ moment for me as I always thought that I’m only in the flow of life if things are running smoothly in my life. Now I realise that the waves that crash on me and the times when I feel that I’m gasping for air are part of what it is when learning how to surf. When I’m stumbling it does not mean I’m not in the flow of life. However, the way I respond to the uncertainty or unpredictable things that happen in my life influence how I experience life.

I’m not saying that from now you can just sit back and don’t make any plans. Structure and order is also part of life but it is not all that life consists of. Observe how you are trying to control your life and how open you are for other possibilities. Next time when something unpredictable happens, acknowledge that life is uncontrollable, surrender to it, trust that things tend to work out (even if it is not according to your plan), celebrate the situation you are in and be open to what comes to you. Ride the wave!

Learning: The flow of life is like surfing; there are times when you surf the wave and then there are times when you need to paddle to get to the next wave.

Healing question: How can I ride the wave of life with more ease?

Become comfortable with uncertainty

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Black or white, right or wrong, yes or no, in or out, happy or sad. Nowadays it feels as if we constantly need to choose between one or the other. I don’t have a problem with making a decision or choosing what you like or dislike. However, lately I’ve become curious about the type of answers we expect. It sometimes feels so rigid. It feels as if there is no place for flexibility, uncertainty or a range of possibilities. We don’t allow ourselves the time to sit back, to feel our emotions without acting them out, or to observe our thoughts without trying to change them.

Greyish, not yet, maybe, in the middle, confused. How do you feel when you read these words? These words tend to make us uncomfortable. We don’t know where we stand or what action to take next. We can’t take control of the situation. We are uncertain how to deal with these answers or emotions, as it does not fit in a category that we are familiar or comfortable with.

I realised that is something I struggle with. I struggle to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. To feel my emotions without labeling them as either good or bad. To not have all the answers. To move at a different pace. To be able to be flexible without being a pushover.

The image that comes to mind is that of a field of moist green wheat. The wheat stalk stands erect but if you stroke your hand through it, it bends softly. When your hand leaves, it returns to its original position. There is something in that flexibility that draws me. The ability to adapt to the situation without breaking. They can allow themselves to get blown in different directions by the wind but once the wind calms down they are erect, just as strong as before. However, if the wheat stalk is very dry it easily breaks when you try to bend it.

I realised that this is how I am as well. If I keep on nurturing (moisturising) my soul either by taking time for myself to meditate, pray, exercise, read, etc. It is easier for me to bend and not break when the winds of life blow through me. But if I don’t take time to nurture my soul, I become rigid and get stuck in fixed preconceived ideas.

I want to ask you to join me to be curious about the range of emotions we can feel and the variety of answers there are to a question. Learn being more comfortable with uncertainty. Eckhart Tolle said ‘when you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.”