The Practice of Allowing: More Help for These Times

Moving closer and closer to the November election, we are observing a potential crisis situation in which the president refuses to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the election.

Paradoxically, the president is a teacher in showing us how not to be.  In line with these current events, ‘allowing’ is the theme of this newsletter. Our personal well-being and health calls for our ability to make wise choices, including allowing and accepting without resentment.

This self-care practice of ‘allowing’ is an active decision to accept a situation rather than resisting, refusing, or trying to control.  For example, can you allow your friend or partner to:  Buy something you are not in favor of?  Eat foods you are against? Watch shows/programs you don’t like? Have interests you dislike? Have beliefs you disagree with?

It is striking how seemingly simple the idea of allowing is and yet how uncommon it is as a practice; something I know from personal experience. However, it can be radically transformative to shift our thinking from judging right/wrong, good/bad, agree/disagree, to making a habit of neutrally holding the thought and question: Can I allow this? Can I let go and allow?  Can I stop resisting, stop trying to control and allow? 

Consider the current struggle, resentment and judgment over others belonging to ‘the other’ political party.   Paradoxically, situations such as this can be opportunities to self-reflect and observe our internal resistance and even our arrogance and stubbornness.  Why can’t I allow the other person to believe what they believe?  What is going on with me that is pushing me to feel this way?  Am I building walls rather than bridges? Do I need to draw this line in the sand?

To allow does not mean to agree; it simply means that I accept that you have a right to your believe just as I have a right to mine.  This old folk saying is a reminder: ‘Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water’, suggesting we not destroy a relationship over a difference.  

ConsiderThe Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival

Some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
Still treat each guest honorably.

A Joy, a depression, a meanness,

They may be clearing you out
For some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Rumi: Written in 1230

Just as in the Rume poem, the practice of opening and allowing isn’t to be confused with passivity or giving up when what is called for is to take a stand and make ‘good trouble’.   To allow what is, is about respecting differences and this calls for an active process in which we make conscious choices to let go and release our internal resistance to other people’s choices.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.”  -The Serenity Prayer

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