Learning from life, right now
It’s about the willingness to completely to surrender yourself to the present moment, no matter what form it takes. No matter the agony you feel inside, the terrible circumstances outside, we only need approach the present with a compassionate heart, a willing attitude, a curious mind, and the occasional pinch of humor.
I first came across the technique of ‘letting go’ from Dr. David Hawkins through his book “Letting Go: The Art of Surrender”, and it has improved my life in more beautiful ways than I can list. My eternal love and gratitude goes out to you.
In short, develop within thyself the courage to face negative/ difficult emotions head on. But why?
The thing about negative emotions
It must be made clear that external circumstances/ factors/ facts do not have the power to trigger us. A car just got damaged in an accident, and we afford it a passing glance. Yet, if it were my car that got damaged in the accident, we’d be the ones feeling horrid about it. In fact, it is our attachment to external facts/ factors that allow the negative emotions that we have pent up inside us to emerge. How else can it be explained that despite differing circumstances/ facts, we still find ourselves feeling negative emotions?
Implicitly, the true source of negativity lies within us, just waiting for the right moment to pop out. In our ignorance, one of the following happens:
- We repress negativity because we are scared of what might happen, due to the pressure of maintaining civility.
- We hold on to it (both consciously and unconsciously) because there are secret payoffs to remaining in negativity.
- We deny our negativity and project it onto the outside world; absolving ourselves the responsibility of developing ourselves as conscious human beings.
Let’s take anger as an example.
We hold on to anger for the secret payoff of being ‘right’. Like a child throwing a tantrum to get what he/she wants., we secretly hope that anger will force external circumstances to change,
We feel that surge of intensity flood our being, feeling our blood boil and our body clench. It is powerful, having the capacity to pull us out of fear, grief, apathy, guilt, and shame, and yet it floods our body with stress hormones and elevates our blood pressure, quite literally killing our body.
The same can be said for fear, pride, guilt, shame, apathy, and desire.
What does one do about negativity?
Nowadays, the common response to negative emotions is to express them. This stems from the saying that the opposite of repressing emotions is expression. In fact, it could not be further from the truth.
Picture the store of negativity within ourselves like a balloon. The very act of expressing negativity for its own sake in any given moment only alleviates a tiny fraction of the pressure within, so that the subconscious mind can quickly suppress the rest out of awareness. That is the very mechanism that drives compulsive/ habitual complainers/ gossipers, who imagine themselves to be ‘dealing’ with their negative emotions through venting, never wondering why they are constantly doing just that. The payoff is the accompanying satisfaction that justifies their viewpoints/ arguments, culminating as a feeling of being ‘right’, and having been ‘wronged’ by a cold, cruel world. And all the while their (albeit unconscious) expressions of negativity only leaves those around them feeling drained.
If expression of negativity is not the way out, what is then?
The technique involves LETTING GO of negative emotions, and so we begin with the saying: ‘This too, shall pass.”
We start by acknowledging that, in this moment we are feeling a negative emotion, and make the conscious choice to not repress or express it. This leaves us with no choice but to face it head on as it is. However, it is vital at this point to recognize that the mind isn’t going to be of any use in this moment, because it will create stories/ wander off/ chatter/ catastrophize, making it a distraction. In fact, it is better to ignore the mind altogether in this process. Now, we are going to let go of all ideas, thoughts, and concepts about the emotion itself. When we let go of all thoughts surrounding a negative emotion, it devolves from a story that involves ‘poor old me versus a bad circumstance’ to a sensation in the body that can be experienced.
For example, when one lets go of all conceptions/ mentalization surrounding anger, it becomes an intense sensation in the torso, a pounding in the head, all sensations that one can be present with. In a short time, these sensations will eventually come to pass, and one instantly feels relief/lighter as the energy underlying the negative emotion is allowed to dissipate. While the external circumstances may or may not have changed, we can now re-approach the situation with greater objectivity, clarity and focus.
This too, shall pass; the same goes for emotions if we’re willing to sit be present with them.
The beautiful thing about the ‘letting go’ technique is that one develops the capacity to be unconditionally present with negative emotions, transmuting them through peaceful acceptance. Through letting go, we develop compassion for humanity’s suffering through we have experienced ourselves. Empathy develops as a consequence as one relates deeply to others through shared experience as the ability to suspend judgement is refined. In the end, one becomes more open-minded and willing, receptive to the sacred miracle and teacher that is life.
The most wonderful aspect of letting go is that it requires no effort, the only prerequisite being that one be willing to try.
To the reader, I wish you all the love in the world. For those interested in the science behind the technique, I highly recommend reading Dr. Hawkins’ book “Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender” for a deeper dive. May you experience the miracle of life and have a wonderful day.