There is an old Zen story that I really like, with many versions of it, rendered slightly differently, but I will go with this one for the purpose of this letter.
Two monks are walking along a country path. They soon are met by a caravan, a group of attendants carrying their wealthy and not-so-kindly mistress and her possessions. They come to a muddy river, and cannot cross with both mistress and packages – they must put one down and cannot figure out how to do so. So the elder monk volunteers to carry the woman across the river, on his back, allowing the attendants to carry her things, and then all can go on their way. The woman does not thank him and rudely pushes him aside to get back to her caravan.
After traveling some way on their own, the younger monk turns to his master, and says, “I cannot believe that old woman! You kindly carried her across the muddy river, on your very own back, and not only did she not offer thanks, but she actually was quite rude to you!” The master calmly and quietly turned to his student and offered this observation: “I put the women down some time ago. Why are you still carrying her?”
The art of letting go of that which bothers us seems to be ingrained since we were small. Some people are naturally good at it, due to whatever life threw at them early, and some hang on for dear life. The good news is that due to the brains plasticity, we can train ourselves to think in any manner of ways. It’s not necessarily easy and is done gradually rather than instantaneously.
One way is that each time you find your mind chewing on an incident like a cranky old labrador with a bone, train your mind elsewhere.
One trick I was taught ages ago was to go to ‘a happy place’, and think about something that brings happiness. Like taking one toy from a little child and replacing it with another, the mind becomes pacified.
Another is to let the thoughts sit to the side, and instead bring our awareness to our senses; what are we seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling and smelling.
Another is to get as expansive as possible with our awareness, to bring our attention to the entirety of the universe, tracking through the room you are in, the suburb, the city, the country, the planet, the galaxies and the whole universe.
Wrongdoings and problems and challenges will always occur in life, but conflict doesn’t need to stay within us.
Sent with love,