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“The only way to achieve happiness is to achieve freedom, and letting go is the only way to achieve freedom.” It is impossible for us to be free if, in our hearts, we still cling to anything, whether it is anger, worry, or things. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Imagine that there is a river passing through you at this very moment.

Your whole life’s experience is like a river that runs through you and out into the world. The flow of the river influences all that you experience, including your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Your feelings, your points of view, your sense of who you are… Your routines, diagnoses, and decisions are not static or unmoving entities that are stored away someplace. They are brought to life, experienced, and then they gradually go away. They are in a state of perpetual flux, and are thus organically replaced by an ongoing flow of fresh experiences.

Whatever travels downstream of the river is not your responsibility.

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The precise ideas and emotions that come up aren’t yours; they belong to someone else. You did not place them there, and in the vast majority of instances, you did not choose them. They are only an inherent component of the natural course of existence.

Your ideas and emotions do not originate from the world that lies beyond the river; indeed, they are not even capable of doing so. The river is the source of everything that travels downstream of it. What this implies in human words (given that this is a metaphor for how human existence works, after all) is that the genesis of the feelings that you experience lies inside yourself. Your experience is not something that can be created or controlled by the world around you, including your relationships, career, body, and health, or any other event. Your experience starts and finishes with you, both literally and figuratively.

You (or whatever you want to refer to me as) are not the water in the river. You are what is left after after everything else has gone through. The water and sediment in the river are always moving and changing. You are the one constant in this world.

It’s got a fantastic look to it! Is it possible for you to obtain a sense of who you are? Because of the transient and unthreatening character of your experience?

You are the consciousness of the very act of living. The things that you see don’t make an impression on you. This indicates that there is nothing to steer clear of, be afraid of, alter, or try to get rid of. This is taken care of for you by the current, which continuously brings each and every moment’s experience into the modern era.

Why, if this is a realistic metaphor for human existence, can we sometimes feel like we are just spinning our wheels? Why does our experience seem to keep repeating itself, and why do our problems seem to drag on indefinitely and bring us down?

The problem is straightforward: we are misunderstanding the design.

Because no one explained to you how life worked, you tend to associate yourself with whatever is happening on the river and grasp onto it. You make statements similar to how I felt when I had that thinking. This sensation is not one that I like having. It is expected of me to be unique. I can’t believe I just did that, said that, thought that, or felt that.

In the end, it’s occurring on the inside of you.

You, like everyone else, are blind to the truth that the things you experience are not you. It is not a significant matter. It’s life giving itself a transient shape and communicating with you about how it feels. After then, it will flow downstream, creating room for new and diverse expressions that are only transitory.

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Your state of being and the essence of who you are will, in the end, remain undisturbed by the things that pass over you. But if you are unaware of that fact, you will unknowingly create obstacles for the natural flow of things. We all do.

When anything that’s moving through you seems to be personal and consistent, it’s natural for you to want to correct it or modify it. You decide to dive into the river that is moving along wonderfully on its own and renewing itself. You stand in the flow with your bucket, scooping up water that was attempting to flow downstream. You go about with that bucket, demonstrating to everyone the extent of your difficulties.

“See!” you say. “I’ve got it in this bucket right here!” You keep going over what you did the day before and fixating on the anxieties and concerns you have about the next day. When it seems that the life that exists outside of us might harm us, or when it appears that the life that exists inside us can harm us, we are overwhelmed with worry about what could occur next. Then we are left to question why adjusting to change is so difficult.

We get to the conclusion that “there must be something wrong with me.” We’re broken. Our plan has a flaw that has to be fixed.

But make no mistake—you and the design of existence are flawless. The only issue is that you have an honest misunderstanding about the origin of the things you have experienced. The simple mistake (which is held by almost every person on the planet) about how the river flows.

When these misconceptions are cleared out, everything shifts in a fundamental way. When individuals get a glimpse of the robust and health-affirming design of existence, they discover the well-being that has always been there for them.

It is no longer accurate to claim that a person “has” a habit, characteristic, or problem in this day and age. Thoughts, emotions, and actions are all things that you have, but they don’t have to stick around or leave an imprint on you. They should not be taken personally.

Back when I was struggling with bulimia and engaging in behaviors like as bingeing and purging, I felt like I was desperately trying to stay afloat in that river. “with a vengeance,” since it seemed that doing so was the only option to stay alive.

Everything seemed to be significant, particular, and significant to the individual. What I ate, when I ate it, and the way life seemed to me both inside and outside affected how it seemed.

I was working hard to avoid being submerged in my own worries and bad patterns of behavior. I didn’t know what else to do but flail about and attempt to modify my ideas, emotions, and actions against my will.

I was completely unaware that my life, as I had known it, was being constructed inside of me, moment by minute. Life wasn’t occurring to me. I wasn’t experiencing the affects of my background, my weight, or any mental fault that I had. None of those things were affecting me.

I had no idea that one could stand on the riverbanks and take in the scenery of the river. that my experiences have not left me with diagnoses or labels that indicate anything significant or permanent about who I am as a person.

Labels and diagnoses are ways of describing some of the thoughts and actions that we encounter at a certain moment in time and as a result of specific mental states. They offer an account of the composition of the water in every specific pail that has been drawn from the river.

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“The details are not clear.” “There is no doubt about this.” These are the descriptors that may be applied to the water in a bucket at any given instant. They don’t describe water, or the river, as a whole. They are a frozen moment in time.

“Feeling terrified and hopeless today,” “Feeling tranquil and smart,” and “Obsessed with eating today.” These are natural, objective, and universal glimpses of the human experience, which we, inadvertently, take much too seriously. We name ourselves based on what’s passing through us, but if it’s moving through us, how meaningful are those labels?

There is a constant influx of clean, fresh water. To realize that there is nothing that needs to be fixed, all we need to do is look upstream rather than downstream.

As I continued to investigate this river and the inner workings of the human experience, I suddenly became aware of how much easier life seemed to be. I was no longer walking around with buckets in my hands.

My natural state was to get less entangled in the current of existence. There is no such thing as the past, no matter how recent or distant in time it may be. It’s surprising how much smoother life becomes when you stop thinking about the things that have happened in the past and stop making plans for the future. when you aren’t actively attempting to influence or alter what appears before you.

Everyone has a tremendous reason to have optimism because of the remarkable way in which this system was designed. You have the ability to rid yourself of everything that causes you stress in order to expose the health and happiness that are already present inside you at this now.

**While it is true that for many people, just comprehending their blueprint is enough to bring about healing, for others, this may be only a portion of the process, and they may benefit from other types of professional assistance. All healing paths are unique. Find out what works best for you and stick to it. This is the most essential thing.

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