“Non-attachment is self-mastery; it is freedom from desire for what is seen or heard. When, through knowledge of the Atman, one ceases to desire any manifestation of Nature, then that is the highest kind of non-attachment.” -P&I
A few weeks ago, God changed my breath-prayer.
A breath-prayer is a short prayer that is said in time with the breath, often during meditation as a centering/focusing word or prayer. For example, the most common breath-prayer in the Christian tradition is called the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Some shorten this prayer to “Jesus” on the inhale, “Mercy” on the exhale. I don’t really know the stats, but saying the Hail Mary with the rosary is probably the other most common Christian breath-prayer.
Fr. Tom Ryan suggests using the word maranatha, Aramaic for “Come, Lord Jesus.” Breaking the word up with syllables, it might be said over two breaths: Inhale “ma,” exhale “ra,” inhale “na,” exhale “tha.”
For several years now, I have been using the phrase “be still,” as in “Be still and know that I AM God” from Psalm 46. This verse, foundational to my journey, is even written inside my wedding rings. For a long time, the breath-prayer fit, but it didn’t feel quite “right.”
So, a few weeks ago, as I lay me down to sleep, I heard another two words: “Let go.”
It was the first night of a yoga retreat, and I was lying in a twin bed, across a narrow aisle from my mother who slept in a parallel bed. I was worried that she might not like the retreat, that she might be too hot, that she might not sleep, that she might be bored with all the conversation. I was worried about the book I am writing and conversations that I would have that week with potential subjects for my book. I was worried about how my husband and my father would get along at home. I was also worried that I wouldn’t sleep…
…and I heard God say, “Let go.” Gently, but forcibly.
So I breathed “let” on the inhale and “go” on the exhale.
I fell asleep, and the next morning got up for our yoga and meditation practice.
Again, during meditation, I heard God say, “Let go” to all the anxieties that I felt coursing – literally coursing – through my veins.
So for twenty minutes I breathed, “Let go.”
“Let go” is the same as “Be still,” just more direct. It’s an action command, whereas “to be” is more of a being command. “Be still” wasn’t strong enough for me to practice. I had come to a place where I could no longer simply “be still.” So God said, “Let go.” The path to being still is a bit more clear.
Richard Foster, in Celebration of Discipline, says that the difference between Eastern meditation and Christian meditation is this: While the goal of Eastern meditation is detachment, “Christian meditation goes far beyond the notion of detachment…No, detachment is not enough; we must go on to attachment. The detachment from the confusion all around us is in order to have a richer attachment to God. Christian meditation leads us to the inner wholeness necessary to give ourselves to God freely” (77).
In the yoga sutras 1.15-16, I see a similar behest to the practitioner: let go. Detach from your passions – and I think that worries are passions too, just in a negative sense. If I am worried about not writing the book well, that means I have a desire to write it well. If I am worried about money, that means I have a desire to have enough money to pay the bills. “Let go” means “detach” from both.
What I love about this command to “let go” from God is that it’s also an inverse command to “Trust Me.” Not trust me, Renee, but Trust ME, God. Foster’s idea of detaching from self to attach to God is important here – it means to trust.
Let go. Trust Me.
What is God saying to you?