The Art of Allowing
“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.” – Lao Tsu
Too often in our western culture we think of creation, of “do-ing,” as a very active and will-full endeavor, and our days are filled with this sort of imposition of our will upon the world. How often do we pause, reflect, and let an idea or inspiration come to us? How often do we ask ourselves, “what is the right action or in-action for me to take in this moment?” Thankfully, there are reminders throughout our lives to slow down and allow inspiration to flow through us or emerge on its own. For many, we give ourselves the gift of these reminders in the form of intentional mindfulness practices, moments in nature, or hearing calming music. For others, one’s spiritual path and community also encourages taking time for rest and reflection. I’ve personally been exploring the concept of “allowing” within both of my spiritual traditions, Judaism and Yoga, as well as in my braided practices of singing and physical asana.
In Judaism, we have the opportunity every week to practice stillness and allowing when we observe Shabbat, our weekly day of rest. I feel my whole nervous system calm and settle when I’m lighting the Shabbat candles with my daughter. And in my yoga practice, I practice allowing and surrender in Savasana at the end of each practice. We can all benefit from giving ourselves this gift at the end of asana practice – too often this most important pose is neglected! Savasana involves fully releasing all the muscles, stilling the mind, fully receiving the benefits of one’s practice, and “handing over” all that we can’t control to a force greater than our limited awareness. Easier said than done! Whatever your beliefs, we each have an opportunity to practice allowing in our everyday lives, although sometimes we need to actively carve out that time from our busy schedules! Carving out that time is always worth it, even for just one moment of allowing the different parts of ourselves to integrate through the powerful forces of presence and flow.
In my singing practice, there are moments of rest when we truly need to “reset” and ground before we can actively phonate – how can we more fully “drop in” to those moments and truly appreciate them? How can we allow the breath to fully drop in to us, even down to our pelvic floor, our heels? The inhalation is so important, yet how often are we truly present for the breath entering in without effort? How can we let the truth of a song come to us, and how can we allow it to flow through us with minimal effort? If you find yourself practicing with too much fervor or frustration, how can you bring yourself back to stillness and from there, let inspiration flow through?
No matter how you choose to find space within the rhythm of your days and the rhythm of your practices, remember that sometimes silence is necessary, and that by cultivating an attitude of allowing we can more fully awaken to what wants to emerge. I wish you many blessings as you allow more space into your practices, and your life!