“Let it go!” People tell us when something is really bothering us. But how? Stuff it? Try to forget it? Distract ourselves? These approaches might work for a while, but the unpleasant thoughts and feelings pop up again later.
There is a simple practice for letting go, and it requires no thought or analysis. We can do it anywhere, anytime. In fact, we can use it as soon as we notice we are getting upset about something and prevent the build-up of more stuffed feelings.
The need for letting go implies that we are resisting something we do not want. We can get a sense of the resistance by tuning into the physical sensations felt as tension, unease or other discomfort. These sensations let us know that energy is being blocked. We can learn how to let this energy flow and be released, and how to stop blocking the flow.
Thinking about a situation takes our attention away from the actual feelings. Thinking about a situation usually places the power to change it outside of ourselves. For example, thinking, “I don’t like what they are doing.” We have no control over them. When we focus on our feelings, we have the power to change our reaction to these situations.
A simple practice for letting go:
- We begin by offering our willingness to experience our feelings and tell ourselves that it is safe to experience feelings as sensations.
- We tell the mind to take a break and that we will not need it to analyze, interpret or label anything during this time.
- We take a couple very deep breaths.
- We notice the how it feels to be supported by the earth, and tell ourselves that it is safe to let the body surrender to gravity.
- We notice that we can feel the body as a whole.
- We allow the physical sensations into awareness.
- We take some more deep breaths, let the breath fall into it’s own natural rhythm.
- We invite the breath deeply into our being, knowing that it brings to us exactly what we need right now.
- As the breath moves back out, we know that whatever is ready to be released is being let go right now.
- We continue noticing sensations throughout the body, until we sense a shift in the original resistance, tension or discomfort.
When we notice we’re having a reaction to a situation, we can use this practice to tune into the physical sensation of the reaction. We allow ourselves to be absolutely engaged in the experience of sensations. We feel the breath moving into and then back out of the body. Awareness and breath help soften and release the energy of resistance within us. As we relax into awareness and breath, we will notice that the sensations shift in quality and intensity.
If we have not spent much time meditating or in silence, thoughts from the mind may repeatedly divert awareness away from sensations. When this happens, we gently redirect awareness from the thoughts back to sensations, without frustration or self-condemnation. This technique actually creates energetic and neurological pathways for letting go, so that repeated practice increases our capacity to let go.
The pathway of letting go eventually melts the frozen places within us, softens our entire being and lets our energy flow more freely. Observing the natural flows that happen in nature can also help us tune into our own natural flow.
(By Liz Tanke)
Author Liz Tanke leads Invitation to Surrender, a guided meditation, and is an Unwind and Explore facilitator.