ReMindful - What Does Letting Go Actually Mean? (4:26 mins)
On the face of it, the path to a more peaceful mind is quite a simple one.
As we practice being mindful, we repeatedly get to witness the mind’s tendency to generate thoughts, judgements, stories and compulsions that lead to unnecessary suffering, and its through this seeing - this awareness - that we learn we can choose to simply let them go.
We develop a clear recognition that the activity of the mind is just that - activity - patterns of energy - and that our thoughts are not describing reality as it is.
Nor are they instructions for how we have to feel or behave in the world.
It’s just the mind doing what the mind does; playing out it’s conditioning.
This is why so much emphasis is placed on the willingness and ability to notice our thoughts and to let them go.
Simple? In theory, yes. Easy? Not always, as may have found.
Possibly the biggest hurdles to letting go are the misunderstandings as to what letting go really means.
Letting go is often confused with getting rid.
If an unwholesome thought or feeling emerges, there can be the temptation to calmly banish it as quickly as possible.
But we can’t let go of something simply by ignoring that it’s there, or turning away from it each time it emerges.
If the mind creates a pessimistic story about your current circumstances, letting go of it doesn’t entail looking on the bright side or consciously creating a better version of that story.
To understand what letting go really means, it can be helpful to consider it’s opposite, which is to hold on.
In terms of our human experience, holding on refers to the way we tend to identify and attach ourselves to the thoughts and stories our minds create.
We take them personally.
“This thought is MINE. It’s significant. It’s describing something important about the world and my place within it. It’s a reliable indicator of who I am and the way things are.”
It’s holding on in this way that’s the cause of so much of our suffering.
Letting go is the process of ceasing to hold on; of becoming non-identified and non-attached.
When we let go of a thought or feeling, we’re not trying to drop it like a stone. We’re simply loosening our grip to such an extent that it becomes free to leave, all on its own.
Because that is the nature of all human experience. Thoughts, sensations, feelings and emotions arises on their own and, if let be, they pass on their own.
This is rarely an immediate process, because all patterns of energy need time to play out.
Our job is to just trust the process. Its not our job to keep feeding the pattern with our rationalisations and justifications. Because that just introduces more energy to keep it held in place.
It can be surprising how quickly thoughts, feelings and emotions do play out and pass through, when they’re unencumbered by the grasp of identification and attachment and story.
When we let them be we’re leaving the door open for them to leave.
So what thoughts are standing between you and a more peaceful state of mind right now?
Notice what happens to those thoughts as you simply rest in the awareness of them.
Can you see them simply as patterns of energy?
Just watch them play out, without judgement or interference.
And when they leave, notice what’s left behind.
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