Letting go is about detaching or releasing from something that engages or involves you. One of the biggest connotations with “let it go” or “letting go” is to release the control your thoughts have over you about something, often associated with something you perceive as negative or causing upset.
Letting go means you can still have an emotional stake or strong feelings toward that person, place, thing, situation or outcome but it also suggests the process of becoming more accepting of it.
Here are four ways to let go and find peace:
1/ Release judgment with mindfulness.
How can you become mindful about what you want to let go of? How can you release the past? Much of the process of letting go involves awareness where you observe your thoughts and try not to judge them. As explained further in our Self-care blog, mindfulness is based on Buddhist teachings, and requires an outlook and attitude of acceptance and compassion. Mindfulness is defined by Merriam Webster as a “practice of maintaining a non-judgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”
Jon Kabit-Zinn teaches about mindfulness as a professor emeritus of medicine. He defines mindfulness as “the moment-to-moment awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” There is something about non-judgment that suggests simply observing oneself or others and taking a “let it be” attitude.
2/ Stop and step away.
Along the lines of “let it be,” walking away literally or figuratively from the person, place, thing or situation which causes you strife is a way, when possible, to detach and distance yourself from it. If difficult relationships or conflict is involved, is there a way to take the higher ground and not engage? Is there a way to still uphold your values and boundaries?
You may need to let go of something on at least levels: on the tactical, day-to-day basis and at the energetic or big-picture level. At the day-to-day level, maybe it means doing your best to avoid the person and get them out of your thoughts. It it’s a stressful work environment or a project that is taxing you, simply walking away from it for a few minutes will help you to detach from it while building your stress resiliency. Taking regular breaks, such as lunch breaks, are shown to increase productivity, improve mental well-being, and even lead to creativity boosts. Combine a break with exercise such as walking for even greater insights.
On the energetic level, it can be difficult to break away from the emotional and energetic bonds between yourself and another person who is harmful or toxic, especially family members and those who are close to us and who drain our energy and etheric fields. Known also as spiritual cord cutting or etheric cord cutting, you can envision the energetic cords you share with someone that don’t support your higher purpose being severed. Use intent and meditation to do so, or engage a healer—such as a Reiki or energy worker—to help you cut those unhealthy bonds.
3/ Calm your monkey mind.
Instead of ruminating or obsessing in your monkey mind about the person, situation or other thing you want to release, there are many ways to find your inner calm and let go. If you are bothered by nattering thoughts about it, use any imagery or affirmations you can to send them away. Keep coming back to the present.
One way to stay in the moment is to practice embodiment. Pay attention to what’s going on in your body and the sensations you are experiencing. It’s kind of an action-based meditation which can be done in quiet meditation or when you are doing simple, everyday tasks such as brushing your teeth.
To calm your chattering thoughts, you can also use guided imagery of any kind, whether listening to a meditation audio or imagining a calm, peaceful setting. Or try progressive body relaxation: visualize letting go, starting with your toes and feet, and move up and out through the top of your head.
By its nature, meditation is about relaxing and at least temporarily letting go of your attachments. The benefits of meditation are well documented, and include reduced levels of cortisol (the body’s key stress hormone), increased focus, and improved sleep.
Stilling your busy mind is something even the meditation masters struggle with from time to time. The meditation app Insight Timer notes: “Consistent meditation helps the mind accept the reality of the experience without the need to find comfort and happiness from external things.” Writer Adreanna Limbach, author of Tea and Cake with Demons: A Buddhist Guide to Feeling Worthy, says meditation is about occupying a space in the middle between two polarities, things you want and things you would rather avoid.
4/ Cultivate compassion.
Embracing your inner Buddha and practicing lovingkindness doesn’t have to be rocket science.
One simple way to practice compassion is instead of “awfulizing” about yourself or the person or situation you want to let go of, send compassionate thoughts to yourself and others. Think extending kindness and tenderness. John Makransky, PhD, a scholar of Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, in a paper entitled “Compassion in Buddhist Psychology,” writes: “In sum, compassion is viewed as a power for purifying the mind of confusion, for inner healing, and for protection of self and others.” It is also an “empathetic wish for beings to be free from suffering,” he says.
The concept of letting go is suggested in Makransky’s comment on mindfulness: “As our tendencies to cling to illusions of permanence are illuminated by mindful awareness, we become newly conscious of how much anxiety and unease our clinging has generated.” He goes on to say: “sympathy and compassion for self and others emerge with increasing power as we gain insight into impermanence and the constructed nature of self.” Compassion and mindfulness can perpetuate, Makransky suggests, when he says one’s “increasingly compassionate and discerning awareness can lead to increasingly compassionate and discerning awareness.”
Much of life is about constantly letting go so that we can become new again, grow and move forward. In the words of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh: “The message is to remember we don’t come from nowhere. We are part of a lineage or stream … Letting go is a practice not only when you reach 90. Waking up each day as a rebirth, now that is a practice.”
Resources used in this report:
Healthline, “12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation.” https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-benefits-of-meditation
Makransky, John, PhD. “Compassion in Buddhist Psychology.” Chapter Four in Compassion and Wisdom in Psychotherapy, edited by Christopher K. Germer and Ronald D. Siegel, Guilford Press, 2012.
Tanaaz, Forever Conscious, “How to Cut Etheric Cords: A Ritual you Need to Know.” https://foreverconscious.com/how-to-cut-etheric-cords-a-ritual-you-need-to-know