July 22, 2017

“Letting Go” Doesn’t Mean what we Think it Means.

Letting go is the foundation of a happy life and a healthy mind.

Some people have started to perceive letting go as the new spiritual trend. But as more people are experiencing its benefits, they’re discovering that letting go is a requirement for a mindful life.

I, like many people today, talk about letting go at length, because I hope that others will begin to understand its essence and invite this concept into their lives. It’s because I’ve experienced the benefits of letting go that I want to emphasize the importance of taking it to heart.

However, we often don’t actually practice letting go. It’s easy to preach about it, rather than put it into action. The phrase “letting go” is, in itself, frightening. It might discourage some, since it involves renouncement. Oftentimes, we associate letting go with becoming apathetic or too lazy to take action. We also frequently misuse the practice of letting go and take it to the extreme.

The opposite of letting go is clinging. Clinging, in Buddhism, is regarded as the prime cause of all our suffering. It’s our human nature to cling to things, because we fear losing them, and we often identify ourselves through them. Additionally, we think that holding on might prompt the result or change we want in a particular situation.

Letting go is basically letting go of clinging.

We cling to unhealthy relationships, unnecessary materials, societal statuses, rigid opinions, and so many other things. In order to detach from our object—whatever (or whoever) that may be—we need to understand that letting go does not mean that we simply cut ourselves off from our emotions and thoughts. Quite the opposite: Letting go brings us into alignment with them.

Instead of obsessing about something, we learn how to view it from another angle. It’s akin to looking at the same scenery twice, but with a different lens. So, letting go is not the renunciation of things—rather, it means relating to things differently.

Letting go means accepting how things are. To let go means to allow the flow of life to take place in ourselves and our lives.

When we hear people telling us we must let go, it doesn’t mean we must develop an aversion toward our object of attachment. It simply means to stop clinging to it and perceiving it as static. We can still appreciate what we let go of—be it an opinion, a person, or an object?

Oftentimes, we think letting go is an outer action—when, in fact, it’s a state of mind. A few days ago, I had a conversation with a friend, and it was quite inspiring.

I sought advice on a personal matter—and as I asked what action I should take, he chuckled and told me, “It doesn’t matter what outer action you take. You can take a lot of outer actions, yet still hold onto the matter on the inside.”

When I worked on letting go of the situation from the inside out, taking outward action no longer mattered to me. In fact, the whole situation became trivial.

We think letting go is easy, but it’s not. To let go, we must maintain awareness and trust in what’s yet to come. We must also be wise enough to know what to let go of. There’s a thin line between taking an action mindfully and obsessing over it.

We should apply the notion of letting go in everything that we do. That means that when we take action, we don’t cling to our expectations of the result. We don’t renounce the thing, but we do renounce our fixed ways of thinking how things should be.

For instance, applying for a job and constantly thinking about the “what if” is an obsession. But, not applying for the job at all, because we think we should “let go,” is laziness. Applying for a job, and then, trusting that whatever is meant for us will happen is mindfully letting go. This is the right thing to do.

Meditation helps us with the practice of letting go, because the essence of meditation is to learn to let go of thoughts. However, the purpose is not to eradicate thoughts—rather, it’s to accept what’s happening in our minds and simply observe without being dragged in to the story. The same goes for life. Dismal events happen, and bad situations arise, but we need to learn to react with a “letting go” mindset.

With time and practice, we learn how to practice “letting go” and become more relaxed. We’ll find out that nothing we hold onto—whether thoughts, people, or results—will benefit us in any way; they only cause us more suffering.




Letting Go of Attachment to People—the Buddhist Way.

A Meditation to help us Let Go.


Author: Elyane Youssef
Image: Unsplash/Neil Bates

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Leah Sugerman
Social editor: Callie Rushton

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