How to Let Go

This post is for those who feel tortured by a thought. Maybe it is the thought of a person, the memory of an event, or a broken dream. The problem is, you can’t get it off of your mind. The harder you try, the more it haunts you. You’d do anything to be free of it, but you just don’t know how. You feel tired and defeated.

Here is an insight that can help: You are working too hard to push it out of your mind. Thoughts naturally flow. This is why we speak of consciousness as a stream. Left alone, thoughts simply move from one to the next. Ironically, your efforts to push the thought out of your mind are getting it stuck.

If I tell you, “Don’t think of a pink elephant. Think of anything you want, just not a pink elephant,” what comes to mind? – A pink elephant, of course. Now, if I tell you, “Think of a pink elephant. Let nothing else come to mind. Keep your focus on a pink elephant,” what happens? – Your mind wanders, right? You can’t hold onto the thought. These are two extremes of obsession. One tries to push away the thought; the other tries to hold onto it. Both are attempts to control thought, and this is where they get themselves in trouble.

Try this instead: Find a place where you can sit for a moment in quiet. Place your feet flat on the ground. Let your hands rest gently on your legs. Sit with awareness in your posture, but not so much that you feel stiff. Take a few breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Allow each breath to be a little slower and gentler than the last. Feel your feet on the ground. Notice each of your toes, the balls of your feet, your arches, and your heels. Feel the connection between your feet and the earth below. Let your awareness move upwards from your feet through your body. Imagine a gentle sun shining above you. As its rays warm you, let yourself become aware of the sky and the great world extending far beyond us. When you are ready, invite that obsessive thought into your mind. Just allow yourself to think it and feel it. No judging. No good or bad. Just allow it to be. If you feel scared, connect with the ground under your feet. Feel the strength and solidity of the earth. If you feel sad, allow the rays of the sun to warm your heart. Let golden light open and soothe any pieces of your soul that feel closed or hurt.

Know that you are okay – not because there is a magical solution, not because something needs to happen or change – but because when we are connected, in the present moment, grounded and open – life is okay. It flows, and we flow with it – learning, loving, growing. No good or bad. No holding onto it or pushing it away. Just being. Being fully present – and that is the treasure itself.

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