Letting Go is Hard to Do
by Jessica Durivage
That is what this practice is all about, right? Learning how to let go – let go of your habits and patterns. Let go of the clutter. Detach and release. And, of course, as we all know, that is easier said than done.
I was sitting in the Sacred Grove on the day we arrived feeling quite content, spacious and excited to let go into the trustful surrender of my practice. My fingers itched to feel the rough edges of my rudraksha beads, as they have done so many times before; my very first mala, still finding its way with me through my travels and adventures. Wherever I land, these 108 beads and my connection to the tradition had been carefully and mindfully prepared for the journey. As you might imagine, my mala almost jumped into my backpack for this trip as if to say, “Are we there yet?” Upon my arrival in Rishikesh, I found the most beautiful silk pouch made out of old saris and ceremoniously declared it a new home for my beloved beads.
As I dutifully prepared my mind for meditation, I went about two thirds around the string of seeds and noticed a space. My mala has had some wear and tear over the years and there are some spots where the beads are looser than in others, but this felt more like a gap, not the familiar spots that I have integrated into flow of my practice. In the spirit of being in the Sacred Grove and all- I kept going, eyes closed and got back to business. Next round, there it was. It felt as if my focus fell off a cliff into an infinite abyss of uncertainty. What was that GIANT hole in my mala beads? I chose to continue my practice and when I was finished, like a kid in a candy store, the only thing that would satisfy my mind was to get straight to the bottom of my mala issue.
I examined the beads carefully and at first glance, I thought maybe it was just another point where the string got stretched. Wishful thinking, I guess. A closer look reveals a missing bead! Yes, two knots on either side with a gaping hole in the middle. A thorough count also confirmed this devastating news – there were only 107 beads. In that moment, still lingering with presence and awareness from doing my practice, I saw with clarity the great attachment I had to these beads. My mind began thinking of all types of ways to work with my situation. Over the next few days I continued to practice trying to accept my new mala in the condition that it was in. I tried hard to justify in my mind that my mala was going to be ok. I mean, ten years and two beautiful practices! Would I lose my practice if I had to give up my mala? While this may sound a bit ridiculous, the thought did cross my mind.
I finally brought my predicament to Sandy on the HI Staff in Allahabad. She confirmed my fears. It was an imperfect mala and I had a few choices, but ultimately, I could not practice with it any longer.
Option 1: Have it restrung and just add an extra bead. I liked this option!
Option 2: Maybe it was time to let it go, and what better place than offer the mala and the fruits of my practice to the Ganga. I could simply get a new mala and have it blessed by Panditji and continue with my practice.
So, with full disclosure, this was several days ago and I have been hemming and hawing over letting go of this mala! It was obvious to me that Option 2 was the way to go. I am working on letting go of some very big and old energies in my life. It was perfect timing, actually. It all seems pretty straight forward, right? Offer my old mala to the Ganga, get a new mala, have it blessed and keep practicing. But, MAN! My little beads hold the blood, sweat and tears of the last 10 years of my life. Ten years of continuously returning to the sacred stream within.
When I look a little deeper, I realize how grateful I am to have this opportunity to recognize this attachment because it is truly not about a strand of 108 rudraksha beads. It is about my commitment to my practice – and this event has helped me to see the role my practice has played in my life over the years – whether I was inconsistently coming to my meditation cushion or sitting daily – that it means so very much. More than I ever imagined. It is a new beginning for my practice, a new cycle. I welcome it with an open heart and trustful surrender.