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  • Atsuko

How to Let Go

(From Yoga and Mindfulness Workshop on 10th June 2018)

So to be mindful means to be at present moment. To be here and now. What a good idea. But do we really know how to be mindful, how to be more present here and now?

This is how my mind works for instance. A few weeks ago, I was sitting in my garden admiring the apple blossoms with an intention to be mindful. I sat and looked at the blossoms and immediately I started thinking ‘Not as many flowers as last year’. This thought brought another thought, ‘Maybe because it was cold in March’. Then another thought followed and so on.

I am pretty sure your mind works more or less in the same way. To be mindful, we bring in more attention to the present. Use more senses, see, listen, smell and feel. And we must stop using the present moment as a cue or trigger for thinking. Too much thinking and mind wandering are the cause for many sufferings.

Suffering comes from our perception of the event rather than the event itself. This is another simple example.

Many years ago, when ‘phone’ meant landline phone, I was woken up middle of the night by the phone ringing. When I answered it, it was a drunken man just calling random people for fun. In those days I slept badly and sleep was very precious to me. So I was really angry and I couldn’t go back to sleep.

Even then I knew it was not the phone call which kept me awake, but my anger about the incident. If it happened to my rather laid back son, who likes going out drinking himself, he would just laugh and say things like ‘What an idiot!’ and go back to sleep. His perception of someone drunk doing stupid things and his attitude to his sleep are much more relaxed so he wouldn’t suffer.

The contemporary spiritual writer/speaker Eckhart Tolle was talking about someone who was trying to meditate in his room. Then suddenly they started digging the road with a pneumatic drill. The noise was so loud that he got angry thinking ‘How can someone get any peace in a place like this?’. But after a minute or so he calmed down and decided to continue to sit. He focused on his breaths and meditated, trying not to judge or label the noise but rather just hear it as a sound. Then after a while he started hearing something different. The drill noise started sound like…. OM….(I suppose it’s his spiritual joke..)

So I could have just let go of the phone incident that night. When something happens, people often say ‘you just need to let go’. You may even think so yourself. So you may decide to drive home thinking I will let go. And what do you do? You drive all the way home thinking nothing other than what you need to let go.

Letting go means to forget. But can you really forget on purpose? Forgetting is one thing you cannot do intentionally!

Rather, instead of trying to let go, we can try to be mindful. Bring more attention to the moment. Pay more attention to your senses. And don’t let the present be the trigger for another thought. If you want to let go, patiently keep trying to be mindful. If your mind goes back to what you want to forget a hundred times, say things like ‘I just let you go’ and bring your attention back to now a hundred times.

Next time you think about it, the emotional intensity will be less.

It’s so simple! It just needs some practice.

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being mindful

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