There is an ancient story about people catching monkeys in an innovative way. They would hollow out a coconut, put a hole into it, and tie it to a stake. Then, they would put a banana into it. The hole was just big enough for the monkey’s hand, but wouldn’t allow it to grasp the banana and pull its hand out. When the monkey refused to let go of the banana, he would be caught. There can be trees all around him with bananas, but the monkey would cling to the one he was holding.
Do you do the same thing?
You cling to ideas and beliefs, material things, your own sense of who you think you are … in relationships that keep you doubting yourself and your worth; in a job that is slowly killing you. Maybe you are clinging to the past thinking those were the ‘good ole days’. Perhaps you cling to expectations of how things should be. Here is what I know … When you cling to something, you begin to find yourself stuck in thinking there are no other options, possibilities, or solutions for you to grasp.
Why do you cling?
You cling when you feel vulnerable. Vulnerable to change that is happening all the time and all around you. Change can be difficult to handle. It can have you feeling groundless. It is the vulnerability which has you resisting. It’s that resistance that causes suffering and lack of motivation to change.
Clinging narrows your focus and keeps you in a mindset of lack or deprivation. It can cause you stress almost like a low-grade fever keeping you from accessing the parts of your brain that can think of solutions to problems. Like the monkey with his hand in the coconut, you can’t see that there are hundreds of other bananas that you can go for if you just let go of the one that is right in front of you.
Here is 1 way you can stop clinging …
Begin to notice those times when you are clinging to something by developing awareness around when you feel the need to cling along with what it is you want to cling to.
Start by taking a moment to sit with your eyes closed and take a few deep breaths. What’s going on in your mind and body? Allow yourself to relax and open to what you are feeling right now. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed by it, then back off and pay attention to your breathing or to the sounds that you are hearing. As you practice noticing what is going on inside your mind and body, you may begin to notice what it is that you tend to cling to that causes you to cling. Can you identify the emotions that are coming up as you notice what you cling to – anxiety, fear, sadness, etc.? What stories, judgments, or beliefs are you holding on to?
The more you become aware, the more you can loosen your hold and begin to invest in different ways of being.