“If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.” Ajahn Chah
There is renowned Zen tale which tells of a senior monk and a junior monk who were traveling together.
At a point in their journey, they came to a river flowing fiercely. As the monks prepared
to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also preparing to cross.
She asked if they could help her cross to the other side.
The two monks glanced at one another because both had taken vows not to touch a
woman. But, without a word, the older monk picked up the woman, carried her across
the river, placed her on the other side, and continued on his journey.
The younger monk was perplexed; he couldn’t believe what had just happened. Soon he
rejoined his companion, he was speechless, and so an hour passed without a word
between them. Two more hours passed, then three, when finally the younger monk
could contain himself no longer, and blurted out “As monks, we are not permitted to t
ouch a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”
The older monk looked at the younger monk and replied, “Brother, I set her down on
the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?”
In this simple Zen story we are reminded about letting go and living in the present moment. How often do we carry around past anger, hurts, and fears, holding onto resentments when the only person we are really hurting is ourselves, the only person who needs to let go and come in to the present moment is ourselves?
Paradoxically, the more you try to let go, the more you hang on. And the more you hang on, the less you can let go. What you resist, persists.
Imagine a perpetual thought, buzzing around in your head. Imagine you tell yourself, I am now letting go of this thought. What happens? You are attention stays on the thought, and the thought get bigger and wider and deeper and more infuriating. What you give attention to grows. We replay past mistakes time after time in our head, allowing feelings of shame and regret to shape our actions in the present. We worry about the future. We hold stress in our minds and bodies, potentially creating serious health issues, and accept that state of tension as the norm. We then find it difficult if impossible to relax.
Imagine you try to let go of a particular friendship. It won’t physically end until you physically disconnect. But even then, you mentally hang on … did I do the right thing? Did I hurt them? What will they (and others) think of me now? And on and on – you are still energetically connected through your thought forms so you have not fully let go.
Resign from a job with an abusive boss? Same story. You may physically leave, but you may remain, for a while at least, energetically connected … I’m glad I left (whilst still thinking of what you left), he’ll miss me now I’ve gone (probably not!), maybe others will leave (maybe yes, maybe know) – you are still connected. You have not let go.
And what of health? We can have all sorts of unhelpful habits that gt in the way of good health and until we let them go, stop them, they will still plague us. If sugar is your weakness, however you eat it, and it is doing you harm, then until you give it up, you can have no good.
I am often surprised at telephone documentary programmes showing people how much they eat and the harm that it is doing them. I know, if addicted, it can be difficult to let go but in small stages it can be done. Who buys the food? How do they buy? And what bad shopping habits need to be let go of. The issue I not in the eating, it is in the buying or asking, “How did my cupboard become full of sweets?”
Sometimes we have to get radical and that means looking at the root cause of our habits and addictions and addressing those.
Until you heal, truly let go, and have no more emotional charge when you think on those past events, or the boredom or anxiety that causes you to over-snack, then you have not let go.
Letting go in order to let go requires, in my world, four things (at least!)
A very cognitive approach whereby intellectually you find out what’s causing you to do what you do then intellectually deciding what you can do instead - letting go of thoughts and feelings
Give up what’s getting you down – either stop it and find another approach or hand it over to God –let God let go
Just hand it over to your Higher Power – which some may call God
Just stop it – if you need to drop the pen you’re holding, don’t intellectualise the process, just release and let it go - The Sedona Method
I appreciate it is not always as simple as that may sound but letting go can be done.
If you have a medical symptom and it is serious eg pains in the chest, indicative of heart condition (perhaps) and you are doing the following :-
Working all hours
Leading a sedentary life
Putting on weight
Sweating and getting breathless
Snacking fast-processed-food on the run
Eating unhealthy food late at night
Skipping meals unhealthily
Getting little “you” time – to retreat, rest, and renew
Drinking mega unhealthy coffees and alcoholic drinks
Constantly being and feeling stressed
Ignoring the pains
…then no matter what you do to treat the pain, the heart etc until you let go ie in this case attend to all those contributory conditions, then no matter how well any medication masks the pain, it is not dealing with the underlying causes and so, behind the scenes, damage is being done.
Only you can …
Reprioritise to work smarter and less hours
Ensure you get more movement, walking, exercise into your life, even standing for five minutes every hour
Allow your breathing to return to normal with or without the aid of medical help
Prepare healthy snacks at home for daytime consumption
Avoid the need to eat late at night
Choose to eat at more regular times, consistently – blaming work, as I once did, is no excuse
Schedule “you” time – not for you and other, time just for you
Changing your drinking habits
Attend to life’s stressors AND how you choose to responds to them – ie avoid REACTING and start CREATING a response
Take the pains seriously – they’re the body’s warning sign, just like the lights on a car’s dashboard.
Things to do to “let go”
Change your perception—see the root cause of any hurt or disease as a sign to change, a blessing in disguise.
Channel your feelings into an immediate positive action — visit someone in hospital, volunteer at the hospital, make a start on making changes to your life
Cry them out - cry away your negative feelings which in turn releases harmful chemicals that build up in your body due to stress.
Engage in a physical activity – walking, gardening, swimming etc. Exercise decreases stress hormones and increases endorphins, the chemicals that improve your state of mind.
Express feelings through a creative outlet, like blogging or painting.
Focus on what you can control and change and not on the things you can’t.
Learn a new skill instead of dwelling on those you never mastered.
Use meditation or yoga to bring you into the present moment
Let Go Of Relationships
Clear any visual reminders – photos, e-mails, clothes, belongings
Commit to letting go of the relationship and to having as full closure as possible
Identify what the relationship and its experiences taught you – honour and respect that
Reward yourself for small steps accomplished – once you have created that space by clearing all trace, have a night out with friends, or walk by a river, anything that is a reward for you
Visualize an empowered single you, living the life the way you want, with the kinds of people you want around you – this is not about the you before, for in relationship we change, this is about giving yourself permission to visualise the best expression of you that you would wish for
What were the highs and lows, the goods and bads in the relationship – not every relationship is 100% bad
Write everything you want to express in a letter. Even if you choose not to send it, clarifying your feelings will help you come to terms with reality as it is now.
Let Go Of Stress
Enjoy the people in your life
Immerse yourself in a group activity
Organise your car, desk, room, workplace
Practise deep breathing techniques
Replace your thoughts
See a show, go to stand up comedy, laugh it out
Swim, take a sauna break, have a spa
Take up Qi Gong
Visualise your life five years from now., then ten, then twenty …visualise life stress free
Write down all your stresses and toss the paper into your fireplace, a stream, or bonfire
Metaphysically and spiritually
You could practise the Sufi Practice of Remembrance*
You could also
Let go of the idea of 'letting go'.
Instead invite God, as you understand a Higher Power,
to give you all you need to handle the situation, to help
relieve you from the situation
let love shine deeply into the tender places, the parts that
ache, the bits that hurt, the thoughts that create the tears,
the pain and suffering
You could simply keep reminding yourself that there is nothing
wrong with you, letting go of any notion that there is something
wrong with you.
Like trying to blow out a candle, stop trying and simply blow out
the candle. So stop trying to love yourself; simply be the Self that loves.
Have no expectation of a specific result. Letting go is freedom.
Letting go the idea of letting go is freedom.
Do this exercise daily and you may notice a sense of peacefulness
and connectedness with the Divine.
Yours can be a new reality.
You can work at letting go or let love shine on whatever gives you
cause for concern.
*Sufi Remembrance Practice
1. Sit comfortably in a quiet place, feet on the floor, well-supported by your chair.
2. Close your eyes and breathe gently yet deeply. Put your hand over your heart. Become aware of what is happening with your body, the tender place two inches below your collarbone and in the centre, under your hand. This is your energetic heart space. Breathe in and out, keeping your awareness of your heart.
3. After a few minutes, select a name of God which symbolizes the Most High for you. Be comfortable with this name. The Sufi’s use the name “Allah”, which means “The One” in Arabic. The vibration of the “ah” sound opens the heart and the vibration of the “lah” sounds goes into the heart. But use the name that resonates deeply within your own heart and spirit.
4. Now repeat, out loud or silently, that chosen name of God as if you are saying the name right into your heart space.
5. If thoughts come – let them pass as a cloud passes. Bring your attention back to your heart and your breathing.
6. Don’t control or force or try to make anything happen.
7.Let your heart space open gently. You may notice that the space softening, or becoming warm.
8. Continue to repeat your name of God, softly and gently, with reverence. Let the name carry you beyond where you are. Let your thoughts and feelings go.
9. Let your whole being be filled with the spirit of the Divine.
10. Let your heart fill and overflow.
Begin with ten minutes once a day – more often if you can.
Work your way up to an hour or more.