Bending with life

There’s something to say about flexibility. Flexibility of body, something I slowly seem to be losing, is important, but I’m talking here about a flexibility in our nature. The suppleness to bend and sway as we move along the windy and sometimes obstacle-strewn path that is life.

The first time I came across the notion was in conversation with a Buddhist monk on the way to the Monastery. We were discussing the traditional Buddhist act of bowing three times before the Buddha Rupa when entering the Dhamma Hall at a monastery. His view was that this simple act of bending our backs is an important symbol that signifies on one level that we don’t hold our personality, our sense of ‘me’ as the highest thing we possess. The act of bowing to the symbol of perfection, embodied by the Buddha Rupa is an act of acknowledging that there is something we hold higher, that we respect and look up to; an ideal we set before us.

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I have found his words to be true and the notion of flexibility must have taken root in me, for without really realising it, I started bringing it into my everyday life. Sometimes it happens in the smallest of ways, for example as we walk along the pavement we may have to move aside, perhaps even step into the road to let others past. When this act flows naturally, without resistance, then there is a very easy and beautiful letting go. A little bit of space opens up, a little freedom comes in.

It’s not something I think we can force, but each day, as life unfolds, we can allow flexibility to be present. In each interaction, as each little challenge arises, we can watch and see where there is a tightening, a holding on, and in that moment, allow it to be let go. There is a sweetness to each small act of letting go that reveals the simplicity of the path.

It takes a little mindfulness but it is perhaps in this simple presence, openness, flexibility, that we first begin to experience freedom. We open that door to freedom bit by bit through any number of small acts of letting go. This presence in the moment, this natural flow is uncluttered with self view. When we let go of ‘self’ through stepping aside there is a deeper recognition of oneness. Giving, be it giving time, kindness, space to others takes us away from self view and towards seeing all as one. Each small act of letting go takes us along the path.

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