Letting Go

by Fred

The phrase “letting go” usually applies to coping with the death of a loved one or loss of some other loved thing. My dad had a tough time letting go of his farm. He was born in the very house where he raised ten children. When it burned down a few years after he let go, he had to let go again. By watching his struggle, I suppose I developed the habit of cherishing as few things as possible.

I buy used cars. I wear no jewelry or watches of any kind. Not even pocket watches any more. I rarely buy new clothing. I occasionally wear the same clothes three days running, including sleeping. No exaggaeration. My work desk is a hand-me-down from Tessa’s ex-husband. This does not mean we live in a poverty mind-set. We buy and serve fine wines and whiskeys to our guests. We select and prepare fine foods by hand. We rather strive for a mind-set that avoids attachment.

Detachment is vital to a clear perception of the world and of your own feelings. What am I talking about? For example, if I become attached to the laws of geometry on a flat plane, I will have trouble using geometry on curved planes. I have used the example of the interior angles of a triangle on this site. The sum of the interior angles equals 180 degrees on a flat surface. But that sum exceeds 180 degrees on a convex surface and does the opposite on a concave surface.

How does that apply to feelings? Depression, for example. You must become detached from depression. Depression is not you. It is not even a part of you. It is a predator that longs to destroy you. I am not going to argue whether it is the natural entropy of the the universe that destroys all life or whether it is the brain waves of people who dislike you. Those issues are all exterior from you and must remain detached from you. The only thing that matters is that you sever the depression from yourself and let it go. The more you use phrases such as “my depression” the more you become attached. We must learn to let go.

Just one more illustration before I leave you with an exercise. There was a movie released in 1998 titled Smoke Signals. This movie is a daring attempt to show the importance of detachment from the past, from a supposed or “proper” view of the world. The point of the movie is this: It is not important to remember things exactly as they happened. It is the way we tell the stories of the past that gives our lives meaning. Another way of saying that is this: The present moment is the most important moment that ever existed.

The technique I’m going to describe is a means by which you can take a journey into the present moment. But you can’t remain there. The more you do this exercise, the more you will learn to take this journey anew in every moment of your life. Yes, life can be viewed as a series of moments. And, to live in each moment means to become present in that moment. Actually, you already to it. Even dogs do it. In fact, dogs are much better at it than humans are. The problem humans have is letting go of the spent moments. Here is how you do it.

Go into a Basic Meditation. Once you have reached a state of relaxation, simply repeat a mantra silently in your mind to this effect. “Let go. . . . Let go. . . . Let go. . . . Let go.” I highly recommend developing your own phrase. The words are not important. The act of letting go is vital. Repeat on each breath and feel your old heavy burdens falling away from you with each breath. When you are ready, bring yourself out of the meditation and view the world as a new thing with each arising moment. Repeat daily.

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