The Art of Letting Go

We’ve all have had one of those days where life seems like a struggle. Sometimes we can feel like we are fighting with life, rather than dancing with it. Whenever we fight life we become exhausted; whenever we dance with life, we become more alive. Here are four ways we can rejuvenate ourselves and embrace life fully:

1) Embrace negative emotions

Part of being human is appearing on earth and experiencing a wide range of emotions. We gain so much wisdom noticing how our different beliefs, perceptions and reactions affect our physiology. It is natural to enjoy positive emotions, however it is unnatural to resist negative emotions. When we push against anything we have an argument with reality. Let us make peace with what’s occurring now, otherwise we create unnecessary stress. There is the emotion, and there is resistance to it. Resistance only creates an added layer of suffering. This extra punch is optional. When negative emotions arise simply allow them to be exactly as they are.  Let your awareness hold space for them. Don’t follow the thoughts attached to them, just enter the body and locate where you feel the emotion. You may try giving your emotions a shape and color. Emotions make beautiful and interesting shapes which morph and dissolve over time. One of my clients painted her anxiety, mounting the image of a magnificent orange star on her living room wall.

2) Mind your own business - change yourself not others

Attempting to change others consumes valuable energy and is futile. Beware of statements containing if only: "if only my partner would be tidy, then I could be happy", "if only my friend would turn up on time, then I wouldn’t get so irritated", "if only my boss was nicer, then I would enjoy work". Whenever I notice myself adding "if only" I remind myself that I’m not taking full responsibility for my moods. The mind may try to convince you "if only that person would be different then I would be happy". But if this were true, and we needed that person to be different in order to be happy, then we are a slave to that person. This is disempowering. Take a moment to pause and remember that person is on their own unique karmic journey, making their own choices and discovering their own paths. Who are we to interfere? If we are trying to play God we will not succeed. The key to our happiness includes minding our own business. Rather than trying to make changes in others, we can turn inwards and make changes within ourselves.

3) Let go of pushing and pulling  

You may have noticed the perpetual tendency to want to hold on what’s perceived as pleasant and get rid of what’s perceived as unpleasant. This pushing away, or pulling towards, can cause anything from mild irritation to deep sadness. Pushing away (aversion) may occur in everyday life, for example the way we react to specific sounds in the environment. Birdsong is labelled as "good", whereas traffic noise is labelled as "bad". Both sounds are simply vibrations that can pass through the body. They can both be used to deepen inner stillness, when not pushed away.

When we let go of aversion and enter an allowing and curious space,  it’s possible to experience equanimity or even bliss. Try seeing things in new ways...the sound of cars now remind me of waves crashing on a distant shore. Yes, it is possible to find positives in everything! My dog is very good at finding joy everywhere. The human mind labels as empty plastic bag on the street as "unpleasant" but my dog sees it as fun object to play with.

By Aruna Shields (CHP, CMT)