Letting go is the sand crumbling into the sea as the tide rises and the waves crash upon the earth, ceasing things that once sat stable. Life is constantly changing and the ability to let go is just a part of it. Letting go is required in the smallest of incidences, for example, parting ways with your favorite sweater that has been well worn with holes. It is also required in some of the biggest events in our life such as making peace with those we love who leave our life.
From our earliest memories of childhood, we were challenged by the concept of sharing. Letting go of a toy we wanted to play with in order to include a sibling or a friend. The simple act of wanting to hold on to something we want and having to open our hands and release it was reason enough to create tension and tears. Though we move into adulthood with greater understanding and see the purpose of letting go, it can be tremendously difficult at times.
As I look out my window, in a moment of stillness, I reflect upon the deciduous trees this Fall letting go of their leaves. The rhythm of nature requires that all things let go in order to renew and give way for new growth. Do the trees ever grasp on to their leaves and beg them to stay? Or do they trust that Spring will bring renewal? What is it about human beings that makes the process of letting go so much more challenging? Why can’t we be like the trees that let go and renew and flow with the natural current of life?
The Dalai Lama said, “Most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things we misapprehend for enduring entities.” By attaching our happiness to people, circumstances and things we live in fear. When the inevitable day comes when we lose something we hold dear, we are struck with grief. When you stop trying to control the world around you, you open the capacity to your fulfillment. The world has the ability to offer great fulfillment and it also has the ability to destroy you. It depends on whether you choose to live in fear and try to control things beyond control, or if you let go, live in the moment and recognize that your struggle does not change the outcome of your life, it only changes the momentary quality of your experiences.
It is certainly not an easy skill for most of us to learn, but the continuous practice of letting go will make room for more happiness in our lives. Here are some ways you can begin exercising your ability to let go:
Be Fully Present. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow has not yet happened. Live in the moment and enjoy it because it will eventually pass. Fighting that reality will only cause you pain. Be grateful for what you have now and trust that it is enough. When spending time with someone you love it may never feel like enough, so focus on the quality of your time with that person. Attach to the idea of living well and loving fully in each moment.
Be Conscious of Your Thinking. Identify your thoughts when you notice them trying to grasp at people, things, or circumstances. When you dwell on keeping, controlling, manipulating, or losing something instead of simply experiencing it. Our experience of the world is largely a result of how we internalize it. Instead of replaying dramatic stories of the past or preceptions of the future, challenge your emotions and focus on lessons learned.
Redefine Yourself. By defining yourself by your possessions, your roles, and relationships you are confining yourself to attachment because losing any one of these means losing not just what you have but what you are.
Save yourself the Added Pain. No matter how much you practice letting go, you will still lose things that matter to you and feel some level of pain. Save yourself the pain of worrying and trying to avoid the actual pain. Even when you feel yourself dwelling in anger, sadness and frustration choose to work through them and don’t dwell.
Write. Write in a journal to get your feelings out, even if they are never read by the person who inspired them. Writing can be tremendously clearing and a great way to be present with your feelings.
Embrace the Full Circle. Embrace your joy, love fully and be so passionate it’s contagious. If darker moments come, understand that it is there to teach you something. Everything is moving in a continuous circle, the darkness meets the light and vise versa. Let is be so.
You have the power and ability to choose how you experience things. Are you going to let fear and the desire to control your life fuel the present moment, or are you going to choose freedom, peace and love?
With Compassion and Faith in You,
Megan Fleming for Marin Ayurveda
Ayurvedic Health Educator