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Love & Relationships
Let Go of the Nuts

In India and other countries, they’ve learned that you can capture a monkey with a jar of nuts. When the monkey reaches in and grabs a fistful, its hand becomes too big to get back through the mouth of the jar. If it would simply let go of the nuts, it could get free.

Monkey Trap Likewise, we humans are often imprisoned by our own patterns of thoughts, beliefs and behaviors. To liberate ourselves, it takes awareness and a willingness to let go.

In Patanjali’s eight-limb yoga, there’s a practice called aparigraha, which means greedlessness. This applies not only to money and material possessions, but any habit or person to which we cling. What causes us to hoard, to accumulate more than what we really need? Usually it comes from the fear of not having enough, or of losing what we have.

After my divorce a few years ago, I joined an internet dating service and went on one date after the next, greedy to find a mate to replace my ex. Deep down, I was scared I’d lost the capacity to love and be loved. I was fire-hosing these poor women with my desperation. After dinner they’d practically run to their cars.

I finally decided to let go of mass-dating and remove my hand from the jar. This allowed me the freedom and time to meditate, write a book of poems, and enjoy time with my daughters. It also created a space in my life for Valorie to come in.

Then, six months into our relationship, my clinginess re-emerged with such force, I told her I needed to break up with her. This was the last thing in the world I wanted to do, but once I did it, I felt a tremendous release. There was that space again, bigger than ever. I realized I wasn’t letting go of her, but rather, my clinging. Within a week we got back together. Now, whenever that clingy feeling returns, I simply watch it come, and watch it go.

Try this. Stare at something or someone you feel a strong, needy attachment to. If the actual person or thing isn’t available, use a photo or your imagination to form a clear picture in front of you. Now soften your gaze, creating peripheral space around that person, thing or habit, and say goodbye, aloud. Say it a few times, paying acute attention to your voice, your breath, and sensations in your throat, belly and chest. If any previous experiences arise, simply notice and feel what you feel without judgment or analysis. Keep at it until you feel the discomfort dissolve, the voice steady, and the breath relax.

It’s not the behavior, thing or person that’s the issue. It’s the act of clinging. Letting go of our dependence, we declare our independence.
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