How Do You Know It’s Time to Let Go?

Why do patterns hold on?

The patterns of identification that limit us weren’t always limiting. They were adaptive.

If you grew up in a threatening environment, learning how to fly under the radar was adaptive. Playing small and keeping quiet protected you.

The pattern protected you.

But your life has changed. You’ve matured. The world you live in is not that of your childhood. But the pattern persists.

It doesn’t have any other choice. Because the pattern is not self-aware. It cannot turn around in consciousness and witness itself. It needs you to do that.

And as long as you are unconsciously identified with the pattern, you can’t witness it.

Unobserved patterns continue to generate thoughts, speech, actions, and results that conform with the needs of the pattern. Not the needs of your life-as-a-whole. Yes, the pattern cannot embrace your life-as-a-whole. Its horizon of awareness is limited, focused on its own emotional needs.

And, as long as you don’t witness patterns—the pattern’s limited horizon of awareness will continue to define your life.

Building your witnessing capacity is the key that opens the door of freedom.

Through the practice of meditation, you build witnessing capacity. As you practice, you observe how the mind drifts from the object of meditation . . . and re-attaches itself to the familiar patterns.

But rather than becoming lost in that identification, you return your attention to the object of meditation.

Rather than allow the mind to drift into habitual patterns of thought and emotion, you re-center gently, gently, gently on the object of meditation.

What are you really doing?

You’re cultivating witnessing capacity.

As your witnessing capacity develops, your identification with patterns releases. The consciousness and energy that has been fragmented and spent fueling the patterns is freed. In that letting go, you re-discover yourself as freedom, as consciousness.

You are not a pattern of consciousness—you are, fundamentally, consciousness itself.

With each meditation, you become more and more capable of witnessing the patterns and more and more able to rest in the un-patterned presence.

So, why do patterns hold on?

Because they are waiting for you to witness and infuse them with loving awareness.


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Ed: Brianna Bemel

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Lorre Fleming Apr 7, 2014 7:55am

Somatic Experiencing™ (http://www.traumahealing.com/somatic-experiencing/) is one of the most effective healing protocols currently available for addressing the effects of significant trauma. I have personal experience with this modality, as well as a daily meditation practice. I can vouch for the efficacy of this combination!

Lorre Fleming Apr 7, 2014 7:22am

This essay clearly and beautifully describes how habitual patterns of thought and behavior become established, and the importance of the tool of meditation in dismantling those patterns. It is important to note, however, that in the case of significant and/or prolonged trauma, the fight-flight-or-freeze response – a biological survival mechanism of the primitive, pre-cognitive part of the brain – kicks in. If the opportunity to naturally move through the trauma response from activation to resolution is not present at the time, the physiology of trauma can become “frozen”. This can happen without the person even having any memory of the trauma itself.

Because the trauma response is neurophysiological, the most effective techniques for releasing frozen trauma are somatic. Meditation, in and of itself, is insufficient. It can also be a means for an already highly disembodied trauma survivor to further dissociate from his/her experience (particularly when the focal referent of the meditation is the sensation of the breath at the nostrils or something completely outside the body, such as a candle flame), thus perpetuating the problem.

However, a well-grounded, highly embodied meditation practice can bring about deep, intimate awareness of what’s happening in the body as well as in the mind. This kind of global awareness can be a significant boon in the process of resolving deeply embedded trauma.

Bob Doucette Apr 7, 2014 5:06am


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Eric Klein

Eric Klein is one of the few people on the planet to be both a bestselling leadership author and lineage holder in a 5,000 year old yoga tradition. His work translates the wisdom traditions into practices and principles for people who want to bring greater spirit, meaning, and authenticity to their work and lives. His award-winning books include You are the Leader You’ve Been Waiting For, Awakening Corporate Soul: Four Paths to Unleash the Power of People at Workand To Do or Not To Do: How Successful Leaders Make Better Decisions. His signature online program The Meditation Habit integrates neuroscience, behavior change technology, and spiritual practice. Learn more at his website.