Letting Go

We humans tend to cling to our perceptions, beliefs, and habits because they give shape to our reality. They make navigating through life seem easier and safer. However, it is sometimes necessary to let go of our deeply held ways of thinking, seeing, and doing.

They say you can trap a monkey by burying a jar in the ground and putting a peanut inside. When the monkey grasps the peanut he can't remove his hand from the jar without letting go. You can then walk up and capture the monkey, because it's not in a monkey's nature to let go of a peanut once it's in his grasp. Sometimes we are like that. We cling to things that appear of utmost value to us, but they keep us from being free. It's not logical. It just works that way.

We do not have to be trapped by our nature like the monkey. We can overcome our tendency to grasp reflexively. We can train ourselves to let go of the things that hinder us.
In some ways life is like a thrill ride. You can't get on the ride if you are clinging to the gate next to the sign that says "You must be this tall to ride." Once on the ride some people find the experience enhanced by letting go some more. Do you understand the concept behind riding a roller coaster with your hands in the air? It doesn't make much sense if safety is your main consideration. But if exhilaration and total engagement in the experience are your goals, it works. You've got the ticket to life. How are you going to do the ride?

How do you know when it is time to let go? Sometimes your hand just opens. Sometimes you need to look inside yourself to see what is holding you back.

We can learn to know what is essential by listening to the small still voice within. Some call this prayer. Some call it contemplation or meditation. Some call it listening to intuition. Whatever you call it, it is done with a quiet mind. We must clear the brush of our mind to see the path.
Give yourself some time to quiet your mind.

Adopt an upright posture that allows you to sit calmly, but which allows you to let go of the tension you are holding in your muscles. Wobble a bit until you find that place of equilibrium, then just sit, don't hold on. Feel gravity and the bones of your body support you without any effort on your part.

Relax your breathing. Let it flow calmly, peacefully, unhurried, and unpressured. Breathe out and let go. The next breath will come on it's own. Your body knows when to bring the air back in.

Continue to breathe in this relaxed way and let go of thinking. Let thoughts come as they will, but release your grasp on them. Watch them come and go.

Feel the sensations in you body. Warmth here, coolness there, tingling, pulsing, pressure. Just relax, and breathe, and feel. Notice the transient nature of experience. Sensations come and they go.

Now ask yourself:
What falsehoods do I cling to that prevent me from being free?

What illusions do I maintain that prevent me from experiencing joy?

What emotional treasures do I grasp that capture me?
As responses come to mind, notice the feelings that accompany them. Then allow yourself to release the emotions that accompany the thoughts. Let go of the fear. It is just an emotion and it will pass. If you can't let go, just let it be. Observe it. Tame it with love. Be at peace.

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© 1997-2004 Tom Barrett