In the papers recently, there was a story about a couple who married in 2003. They lived in Mysore. When she was pregnant in 2006, she went back to the parents’ home in Bangalore, but refused to return to her husband’s home after the baby was born. She even offered to set up a clinic for him in Bangalore. Finally, she lodged a ‘dowry complaint’ against her husband. So, there was money involved.
This story reminded me of a couple I knew who went through almost exactly the same thing. The only difference is that I don’t know if there was any dowry paid by the girl. I’m no expert on sustaining a relationship, but I know that when this couple was first courting, I sensed that something was horribly wrong with their relationship and I guessed it wouldn’t last. In hindsight, I should have kept this opinion to myself. I made a horrendous mistake and shared my views with an aunt. What I presumed was a gossiping session turned into a one-way-hurt-Aneeta session. The most scathing and hurtful comment she made was that I was happy when other people’s relationships fail. To keep the peace in the family, I say nothing of my hurt, but it was festering for years.
I was both surprised and grateful that this was one of the painful thoughts that came to mind during what I call the ‘Letting Go’ session at the Art of Joyfulness-Mindful Living Excellence Retreat from 3rd to 5th January 2014. In the manual, it’s called ‘‘Leaves on a Stream’ Exercise’. What it stated is as follows:
The Leaves on a Stream metaphor is often used as an exercise to help us distance ourselves from almost constant stream of thoughts. To stand back and observe our thoughts rather than get caught up in them.
The steps in the methodology to let go of such painful thoughts involved visualising that we were sitting by a stream. Each time a painful thought arose, we were to imagine putting that thought on a leaf and watching it float along the stream.
Now, since we were on a mountain and there were clouds floating around us, our leader very cleverly changed the metaphor to clouds in the sky. We were told, “When you notice a thought coming into your mind, just put the thought on a cloud and watch it drift away.”
As it happens, it was a rainy/cloudy day and I placed many thoughts on many clouds and watched them all float away. Still, before I went to sleep that night, I had yet another funny thought: if I had shifted my ‘burdens’ onto those clouds, they must be feeling quite heavy now. In that moment, I actually felt sorry for all those clouds. I mean, poor things, they must have been so heavy carrying all our burdens. Think about it. 50 people in a retreat and if each one had just 10 thoughts that they needed to let go of, that was 500 painful thoughts these clouds had to carry.
Here’s a video I took of the clouds floating away.
Other than leaves on a stream or clouds floating away, do you have any other metaphors that can be used to watch these clouds float away?
By Aneeta Sundararaj