Let Go of the Rice…

I often find myself in the facilitator’s seat of a group of some kind – one of the things I love to do.  Regularly, that role calls on me to prepare those in the circle for the experience we’ll share together, whether that is a therapeutic process, a time of shared silence or a classroom setting.

Of the facilitating tools I carry in my quiver, guided meditations are a favorite.  My experience is that our lives are so scheduled and/or dictated that we rarely have or take time to focus on that which is in front of us for very long.  I find that meditations provide an image or word that can bring us in touch with the reality of our lives in ways that other things seldom do.

One of the meditations I find myself returning to over and over is the one below, adapted from The Book of Awakening, by Mark Nepo.  The image it presents has become a centering and helpful one for many of those I sit in circles with.

 Let Go of the Rice

So much more can happen with our hands and hearts open.  Closing our grip on something, literally &/or figuratively is what often keeps us stuck, though we want to blame everything and everyone else, maybe especially what we’re holding on to.

In ancient China they used to catch monkeys by putting rice in a hollowed coconut with a hole carved in it the size of a monkey’s open hand.  The hungry monkey would smell the rice and reach its hand in.  But once its hand was full of rice it could no longer pull its hand out.  The monkeys that were caught were those who would not let go of the rice.

For the monkey, the rice became the master and the monkey the prisoner of its own making.  The lesson for us is easily seen, though maybe more difficult to experience: “What is our rice and what is keeping us from opening our grip and letting go?”

·         Sit quietly and recognize, what is the rice in your fist

·         Breathe deeply – are you able to see what is keeping you from letting go?

·         Practice opening yourself by making a fist when you inhale; then open your fist when you exhale.  

Obviously, the topic of “holding on & letting go” is a core theme of the on-going conversations we have here at CP101, but it exists in all places in our lives: parents-children, work-family, self-others, career-life, and the list goes on and on.  So, might I encourage you to explore what “rice” you may be holding on to.  You may let go and find that tomorrow you’re holding onto it again.  You’re then given another opportunity to practice the art of letting go.  This is, for me, not a daily practice, but a multiple times/daily practice as I explore the depths my own ego will go to take control.

I often refer to this as my “coin of fear” – a coin which on one side is worry and the other control.  I attempt to convince myself that I can control what I worry about, and then worry about what I can’t control.  This is, I believe, at the core of what we hold on to, and what we are asked, in myriad ways, to let go of.  I’m hopeful that this can be a helpful image for you as you decide whether to flip the coin, or consider setting it down.

Peace, Dane


Author: Dane

Dane Anthony’s career in higher education spans 30 years on both public and private university campuses. In addition to serving as a faculty member, he has worked in the areas of Counseling, Residence Life & Housing, Student Health & Wellness, New Student & Parent Orientation, Parent Programming, and University Chaplaincy. Dane & his wife have 3 grown children and currently reside in Nashville, TN.

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