The previous post was all about gathering the most useful prompts to remind me of what I want to be doing every day this year: Letting go and being empty. This post is primarily meant to help, too, because as I have written before, we forget. We are distracted so easily by life and the world, that our focus is often restricted to mere seconds. The distractions are so frequent and persuasive that it might be hours before we eventually remember to return to even the simplest of practices – breathing, for example. When those stretches of time continue for more than a few days, the new habit is forgotten; swallowed up by the swirling familiarity of immediate life.
This post, therefore, is the first of many this year as I seek to maintain emphasis on my goal. One of the strengths of the writing process is that it makes us more aware. The very act of committing something to paper increases your focus. (I shall explore this in more detail in a subsequent post, but you can also read about the power of writing in, ‘Write Stuff Down’.) Writing also serves as evidence of progress, provides the opportunity to refine technique, and allows you to process whatever happens in a way which maximises learning.
The primary issue for me is losing focus and forgetting. Fortunately, the intensity of the past five months’ writing, – summarised neatly in ‘One Year, Three Retreats’, and ‘Let Go. Be Empty.’ – have definitely made it easier to remember. I am letting go more readily. More consciously. Sometimes I am remembering to let go when there is nothing obvious to release. When that happens I look for what I can let go: a thought, maybe, or a slight expectation. Or even just a feeling. When I do, I am reminded of the emptiness. They reinforce each other. And then I remember to breathe. Sometimes the breathing comes first, each approach linked to and feeding off the others. But only when I remember them.
The most noteworthy observation at this early stage is that there are times when I only realise much later that something I had previously been thinking about had been prime material for letting go. Paradoxically, when that realisation comes, I have a strong feeling of making progress – as if this is clear evidence that I am doing well. It sounds counter-intuitive, but when you consider the impact and frequency of forgetting, you realise that any kind of remembering, regardless of how long it takes, is progress indeed.