While walking on the beach, a white stone catches my eye. Picking up the small rock, I notice the cool smooth surface. In these moments, I am walking with my father. He loved the outdoors and would take us somewhere on the weekends or camping on holidays. Being self-employed, he worked long hours and weekends, but he always managed to take time out for his family. A Sunday drive with the family may include checking on a project, balancing the time for the beach or park for a picnic or a dinner out.
Walking with my father on a beach, we would play a simple game, looking for the whitest stone. The activity used to keep me quiet and occupied, reinforced the bond when we were able to share the moment of finding the treasure. My Dad has been gone now for over thirty-five years. Today, the white stone often finds me when my brain is occupied, bringing back to the moment.
Grasping, clinging are words used to understand the desire to hold onto the pleasant sensations, objects or loved ones. We see the world and us not changing, and we have a belief we will live forever. We hang onto our stories as if they define us. For many letting go means to get rid of or leave behind. They feel this is abandoning loved ones or identity.
To demonstrate letting go, I use the image of holding a stone or jewel in the palm of our hand. Grasping or clinging is like a tightly closed fist, not wanting to lose the stone, and continue to hold the object as hard as possible for a long time. Noticing how uncomfortable this becomes, the muscles are sore and aching. Hanging on like this is not sustainable.
Loosening the tight grip allows the muscles to relax but still holding with the fingers softly around the stone. We take a few moments to savour the new sensations, observing how this feels now and discovering a comfortable gentleness.
The third part of the instructions is slowly opening the fingers with the palm upwards still carrying the stone. There is openness, spaciousness, enough room for more if desired.
I often pay attention to my own hands when I bring myself back to awareness with a mini moment, opening and closing the fingers like a butterfly’s wings.