5 ways to let go

Many of us have been conditioned to believe that the way to get what we want in life is to formulate a plan and take lots of action. Then we try to get other people to cooperate with our plan – which some of them find annoying. If the first plan doesn't work, we formulate another and start again. This can go on for years – it’s exhausting and frustrating. There is another way, says John Purkiss, the author of The Power of Letting Go – How to Drop Everything That’s Holding You Back.


Test: What’s stopping you from letting go?

Letting go isn’t the same as giving up. On the contrary, once you let go you may find yourself taking a lot more action than before. However, you’ll relax and enjoy the process. The results are far better than when we try to achieve things through struggle and effort – and by controlling other people.

If you do yoga or practise any form of silent meditation, you may already be accustomed to observing thoughts and emotions as they come and go. If you’re new to this whole subject, all you have to do is notice thoughts and emotions as they appear. If you can observe something, it isn’t you. You aren’t the thoughts or emotions, you’re consciousness itself. There’s no need to be carried away – you can just observe them:

  1. Let go of thoughts about the past. 
    Many of us respond to an event in the present by comparing it with something in the past. This makes life feel dull and heavy. Next time you have a thought about the past, see if you can observe it without talking about it. If you just watch and listen, you’ll create a space for something new to happen.
  2. Let go of stories. 
    Things keep happening all the time and life unfolds naturally. However, our minds make up stories about what has happened, is happening or will happen. We tell these stories to ourselves and to other people, which makes life more and more difficult. For example, we may think or say that “(Wo)men are like this”, or “Life is unfair” or “I’m not good enough”. These are all stories which limit us and hold us back. Once you notice them, it’s best just to observe them. Above all, don’t talk about them. Just allow the stories to come and go in their own time. Then something new will happen.
  3. Let go of the need to explain everything. 
    I’ve had many experiences for which there’s no scientific explanation. Maybe you have too.  Some people make up explanations which have no scientific basis whatsoever. It’s better to experience life with an open mind. If we let go of the need to explain everything, things happen much more easily.
  4. Let go of the pain that runs your life. 
    Think of the most traumatic event that you can recall in your early childhood (before the age of seven). Don’t tell anyone about it. Just feel it. Where is it in your body? Most people can locate the pain, which is still there – decades later – running their lives. That’s why we’re triggered by what other people say and do, and by what happens all around us. Fortunately, there’s a simple, ancient technique called completion*, which has been revived by Sri Nithyananda Paramashivam. It involves imagining you’re that small child again and then reliving (not remembering) what happened. We relive to relieve, allowing ourselves to feel all the suppressed emotions from beginning to end. If we do this over and over again, they lose their grip on us. (It helps to do this while looking at yourself in a mirror.)
  5. Let go completely. 
    Another word for this is surrender. When we let go completely, we stop trying to control people and situations. Our intuition tells us what to do, then we do it quickly and efficiently. Life becomes much more fulfilling and enjoyable. Everything falls into place and the things we want to happen do so much more easily. (You’re also on the way to enlightenment.)

John Purkiss is the author of The Power of Letting Go – How to Drop Everything That’s Holding You Back.

*Source: ShivaJnana Upanishad, Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, 94th verse, 22nd technique.

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