February 10: Letting Go of Grasping

Grandparenting from half a country away is a challenge. It's easy to fall into a grasping mindset, wanting to see them more regularly, wanting to be the next-door Nana they skip home to after school or the weekend Nana who keeps them overnight. Yet it's not always feasible to move there, perhaps because of work commitments, or caring for elderly parents, or because here is...home.

So what do we do with these grasping desires of ours that can sometimes gnaw away at us? 

Buddhist wisdom holds that grasping, aversion, and ignorance are our main causes of suffering. But of course it's human nature to experience each of these conditions, and sometimes all at once. We can learn to accept the feelings -- invite them in with compassion and non-judgment -- and then let them go, dropping the storyline we've been telling ourselves.

On the day I sketched one of our grandsons recently, I acknowledged my grasping ("I wish I could see them every week") and the bodily sensation that accompanied it (a sense of heaviness in the chest), and then I breathed deeply. As I began to draw, the grasping dissipated and the marveling settled in. And when I look at the drawing now that I'm home, that peaceful joy returns. 

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