January 22, 2017

What we must do before Letting Go, according to Buddha.

For me, the hardest experiences are the ones I don’t choose, but must feel in order to move on.

We all must face them, even though none of us want to.

Letting go is one of the most challenging things we will do—and we can’t get out of it.

It will come as our children grow and leave home. It will arrive when death inevitably takes those we love. And it will happen when the relationships we thought would last a lifetime suddenly end.

Luckily, releasing our tight grip is an ancient practice, which the Buddha began teaching thousands of years ago.

Why do we need to learn how to let go?

Because when we don’t we become victims of our ever-changing reality, and we suffer. If instead we accept what is here and release it, we can experience a greater sense of freedom.

Sounds easy, right? But for some reason, letting go is hard.

Here’s the secret the Buddha knew: before we can let something go, we must first fully experience it.

The Buddha taught that aversion increases our pain. When we ignore our feelings or our reality, that doesn’t make them go away. In fact, it increases their power.

I spent a good chunk of my teens and early adulthood struggling with an eating disorder. One of the main reasons for it was that I didn’t think I should feel as intensely as I did. I was afraid that my deep feelings would overtake me, so I numbed my experience with food (or lack of it)—and my suffering persisted.

In those years, I had no idea it was safe to feel things as they came up. I desperately wanted—and needed—to let go of many memories from my past. But because I was too afraid of feeling them, they continued to haunt me.

It wasn’t until I seriously got into meditation that I began the real process of letting go and healing.

I finally understood that holding onto or turning away from things did not bring me peace.

In Buddhism, we fully accept and surrender to difficult experiences or feelings, rather then denying them. This allows them to flow through us and transform.

Feeling our feelings will not destroy us, but denying them may.

What if we could see letting go as a sacred practice that results in more space and light?

For a Buddhist, the path to freedom is through renunciation (letting go), but we must first fully acknowledge what is present.

Here is a step-by-step method that has helped me to feel and then releasing the feelings and experiences causing me pain. I hope it may be of benefit to you, too.

Let’s keep in mind that even complex things, people and emotions are at their essence, simply an energy wanting to move on through. How about we allow them to flow!

How to let go consciously:

1. Become aware of it.

What does the thing that needs letting go of look like? Is it a person, place, memory, emotion? What does it feel like? Does it have a story it plays on repeat?

As we become aware of something, we can then observe it, which is the basis for Buddhist meditation. Observing means we put all criticisms of the experience aside.

2. Allow it to be here.

I believe this is the most important step in letting go, and many of us fail to do it. Allowing means we stop resisting or trying to change our experience. We welcome it. When we allow ourselves to be as we are, our interior environment shifts from one of fear to one of love.

3. Send love and acceptance.

When I am working with a challenging experience, I repeat, “I love and accept myself [or this experience] completely.” These words soften the intensity of whatever needs releasing. When we stop fighting what is, it can finally run its course and dissolve.

4. Release the story.

Often it’s not the raw experience that’s the problem; it’s the story we have made up about it. If we can witness our feelings and reactions without judgement, we can release the energy (story) behind them. The story prolongs things—so stay out of the mind and kiss the drama of the experience goodbye.

Repeat these steps as many times as necessary until letting go occurs.


This practice works for any kind of release—heartbreak, intense feelings, deep grief and more.

Like the Buddha, we all prefer to be in a place of peace.

Each of us is completely capable of undertaking the letting go process. Holding on does not make us feel less pain. It is actually by releasing that we promote our greatest ease.


Author: Sarah Norrad

Image: Pixabay

Editor: Toby Israel


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Lincoln Read Oct 14, 2017 1:56pm

The beginning of this piece was my every morning mantra for years, to help me let go of the past that hurt so much and that I knew was limiting me from growing. Acceptance I accept all that was And all that wasn't, All that is And all that isn't, All that will be And all that cannot be. I accept it all Unconditionally. I may feel I deserved better But I didn't get that And that's ok. I may feel I deserve better now and that's ok too. What I do right here, Right now, is what determines My joy today And my experience tomorrow. So I focus on the now Accepting all the yesterday's and All the tomorrows unconditionally As what placed me I am now: Ready to grow. L. Read, 2017

Richard Lennon Sep 15, 2017 2:51pm

This is very Powerful Wisdom, and concisely to the point. This is timely for me too, as I have a nagging relic of a past failed relationship to lay to rest. Thank you, Sarah... My Canadian Sister from another blog !! ❤

Sarah Norrad Jan 28, 2017 6:16pm

I hope it brings some beautiful ease! ��

Sarah Norrad Jan 28, 2017 6:16pm

Sending lots of light to support you in your releasing. It is never too late to become a little more free. � Much love, Sarah

Rebecca Dettman Jan 27, 2017 2:16am

So simple yet really profound.

Angela Cupelli Jan 26, 2017 9:36pm

Thank you f0r breaking this process in steps. My only regret is that I didn't read this 10 months ago when my life took a turn which I thought was for the worst. This is a process to be respected and practiced with hopes that it will become easier. Yours in prayer.

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Sarah Norrad

Sarah Norrad was born a wild woman in the rural and rugged forests of the Nimpkish Valley, on Vancouver Island, BC. This is a place where the mountains, forests and rivers speak louder than the people. A transformational coach, certified yoga instructor, mindfulness and lay counsellor, and authoress, Sarah muses at the world through a lens steeped in mindfulness, adventure, and tenderness. Currently, she exploits the cracks in her own heart to write as a columnist at elephant journal, her busy brain to create content for others through her business and her keen spirit to sit as coach and counsellor, teaching powerful tools for success in all aspect of our lives, especially personal power. Please track down her offerings and her mindful self on elephant journal, her writer’s page or her personal Facebook, her website, Cowbird, Twitter and Instagram.