Events and Life Mindsets

The importance of letting go

As I grow a little older, I am reminded more and more how important letting go is. The Four Noble Truths state Buddhism’s fundamental principles and the second one links suffering to craving or attachment. I like the way it is explained on the Zen Buddhism site:

The second noble truth tells us that the root of all suffering is attachment. To avoid suffering, we need to understand what causes suffering and then weeding out these causes from our lives.

According to Buddha, the basic cause of suffering is “the attachment to the desire to have (craving) and the desire not to have (aversion)”.

My wife reminded me about this with a good post she published on her blog which touches on this theme:

#Zombieprompts Week 13

It is so easy to create expectations of our world and form attachments to how we want things to be. That just creates so much stress and it’s only when we pause, take a breath and let go a little that we realise just how damaging our attachments are. It’s also easier said than done but little releases help a lot too.

Image credit: Bossfight

Events and Life Mindsets

“I was giving up on the life my false self tells me I must live”

Dr Kelly Flanagan’s post titled “Why We Should All Just Give Up” resonates with me. I often feel as if I am fighting against some impossible force to get simple things done. My first thought is to fight and keep fighting until I have overcome the challenge, and that is sometimes just getting out of bed at the end of a demanding week. Then, sometimes, I remember an important practice: “let go, surrender”. When I do that, I feel like this:

Because I wasn’t giving up on life; I was giving up on the life my false self tells me I must live. I felt laughter begin to swell up from somewhere inside of me.

The sense of relief that I feel when I stop fighting to make something happen that probably has no intention happening and just let it all go (yes, I also hear that Frozen song when I write that!) can be profound. How often do we approach a task with an idea about how it has to be completed (or even that the task is the best thing we should do at that time) and then become so frustrated when it doesn’t work out the way we expected.

My usual response is to work harder to complete the task or find other ways to complete it. Letting go or surrendering is a potent practice but you can’t just walk away from every challenge. Most of the time the only direction is forward and in the face of things that terrify you but, like the famous Serenity Prayer, the wisdom lies in figuring out when to keep fighting and when to step back and surrender to the moment.

Take a breather
Take a breather

The better word for it is probably “surrendering” because it involves taking a breath, standing still and opening yourself to something other than the thing that you are fixated on and increasingly frustrated with. Often, when we let go of our insistence that something happen, we open ourselves to other things we didn’t realize were possible, let alone better.

Somehow, doing that, helps us be better humans and more capable of dealing with the next challenge that faces us.