How To Let Go
What’s on your mind? What could prevent you from sleeping tonight? Which thought have you distracted yourself from but can’t help but returning to throughout the day? It might be a person, or a thing, or a problem. Maybe it’s your allergies. Regardless of what it is, zero-in on today’s issue. Now resolve to just let it go. Obviously it’s not as simple as that, you say, but acknowledgment is the first step.
Like anything else, non-attachment takes practice. We’re taught from a young age to grasp both physically and mentally at what we want and not let go until we have it. This leads people down a road of constant suffering and struggle; satisfaction is never reached because it’s always placed on some sort of external goal. Practice letting go.
For a simple and practical example, if you want to show someone affection, you give them a hug. If you hug them and latch on for dear life and keep squeezing them as hard as you can, it’s very possible you will choke them to death. This is obviously counterproductive. Ideological attachment can be viewed in a similar way. It’s perfectly natural to latch on to what you enjoy; the problems start arising when you latch on for dear life. One can be addicted to stereotypical narcotics like painkillers or alcohol, but sometimes addictions to material objects, feelings and lovers can be just as harmful.
So, back to where we started. Pick a thing, whatever it is that’s on your mind, and work on letting it go. Don’t force it. Start by ruminating on it; do a bit of meditation.
Why is this thing so dear to you?
What gives it priority over peace of mind?
If you achieved whatever it is you’re attached to, how would you feel?
What’s stopping you from feeling that way right now?
The second question is the most important one. When you start questioning your attachments, you realize that what you’re searching for in an external source is with you already. If you stake all your contentment on living in a big house, you will not be content until you can afford a big house. Then, because of the habits you’ve cultivated, you’ll stake your happiness in something else and perpetuate the cycle of constant striving and dissatisfaction. If you find contentment in yourself, though, you’re already good. You don’t need the house or anything else to make you at peace.
The biggest fallacy people fall victim to when attaching themselves to externals is that the contentment they get in the end will last. It won’t last. You’d think we’d learn this after a while. The cycle never stops unless you make a conscious decision to cut it at its root. Enjoy yourself right now instead of grasping for dear life to things you can’t control.