There are a number of times when our mind clings to something tightly, and it is rarely helpful:
- I am right, the other person is wrong
- The person is living their life in the wrong way, the should change
- My preference is the best way, others are wrong
- This is the thing I want, I don’t want anything else
- I really don’t like that, it sucks
- I should have that person in my life, loving me
- I shouldn’t be alone, shouldn’t be overweight, shouldn’t be however I am, shouldn’t have this life
In all of these cases, and more, our minds are fixed in a certain viewpoint, and we often judge others. We complain. We are attached to what we want and what we don’t want.
It leads to stress. Unhappiness. Anger. Righteousness. Being judgemental. Distancing ourselves from others. Closed-offedness.
And it leads to being closed off to the beauty of this moment, as it is, full of openness and possibilities.
If we imagine holding a pen in one hand, we can turn our hand and drop the pen. The pen isn’t attached to our hand. Similarly, our emotions aren’t attached to us. We can let them go the same way we can drop a pen from our hand. The more we practice letting go, the easier it will become and the more comfortable we’ll be with the process.
If you’d like to work on letting go, I would like to offer a simple practice.
The Practice of Letting Go
You can actually practice this all day long, because even if we don’t realize it, we’re clinging and hardening and fixing upon viewpoints all day long.
Here is how to practice:
1. Start by realizing that you’re hardened.
Notice that you are stressed, upset at someone, feeling like you’re right, complaining about someone or a situation, not open to other viewpoints, putting something off, avoiding, tensed. These are good signs that you are holding on, hardened in your viewpoint, fixed, attached, clinging. Get good at noticing this.
2. Notice the tension in your body.
It’s a tightening that happens from your stomach muscles, through your chest, into your throat, up to your forehead. Think of this as your central column, and it tightens up when you think you’re right, or someone else is wrong, or you really want something or don’t want something.
3. Start to relax those tightened muscles.
This is the heart of changing from holding on to letting go. Whatever is tight in your central column, relax. Try it right now. What is tight? Relax that. Soften.
4. Open your awareness beyond yourself.
Once you’ve done this (and you might have to repeat the relaxing, multiple times), you can open your awareness from just your own body and your self-concern, to the world around you. Become aware of the space around you, the people and objects, the light and sound. Open your awareness to the neighborhood around you.
5. Become aware of openness & possibilities.
With your mind opening, you can start to feel more open. Your mind is no longer closed, but has made space for possibilities. You are not fixated on one right way, but are open to everything. This is the beauty of not-knowing.
6. Open to the beauty that is before you.
Now that you are not fixated on rightness or your way or the way things should or shouldn’t be … you can take in the actual moment before you. You’ve emptied your cup, and made room for seeing things as they actually are, and appreciating the beauty of this moment, the beauty of other people, and of yourself.
7. Step forward with a not-knowing openness.
From this place of relaxing your fixed mind, of opening up … take the next step with a stance of not-knowing. You don’t know how things should be, let’s find out! You don’t know if you’re right or wrong, let’s explore! You don’t know the answers, you just hold the questions in your heart, and move into open possibilities.
What You Will Gain When You Practice Letting Go
As we learn to practice letting go, we’ll experience many things. Here are five things we’ll gain when we practice letting go regularly.
1. You will feel calmer and be more relaxed.
The practice of letting go is a quick way to calm our mind and stay grounded. This will cause us to feel more relaxed in the moment. This means our stress levels will be lower and we’ll have more inner peace.
2. You will release emotional blocks.
When something doesn’t go our way, it can cause us to feel stuck. Letting go can help us move past emotions that may hold us back from experiencing what we want.
3. You will be less judgmental.
Letting go allows us to be more accepting and forgiving. We’re more likely to acknowledge, accept and move on from things that may have caused us pain.
4. You will not need to control or know everything.
As we practice letting go, the need to be in control or be right will diminish. We’ll learn to accept many things are beyond our control and we can only focus on our attitude.
5. You will be more open to new perspectives and ideas.
When we’re closed off to ideas, it can generate unhealthy emotions. As we practice letting go, we’ll allow ourselves to see things from new perspectives and explore other possibilities.
Letting go helps us reconnect to our true essence so we can be the best version of ourselves.
It’s that simple. And of course, it takes a lot of practice. You can do this at any moment, but it’s helpful to have a short time of day when you set a reminder and then take a few moments to sit still and practice with whatever you’ve been clinging to today.
When we practice like this, we are shifting from our habitual patterns of self-concern and shutting out all possibilities, to openness and not-knowing, to unlimited possibilities and seeing the breath-taking beauty of the world in front of us.
Life is too short to hold on to things that do not serve us. As let go of unhealthy thoughts and emotions, we’ll create the space for better thoughts and emotions.
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