“Don’t hurry anything. Don’t worry about the future. Don’t worry about what progress you’re making. Just be entirely content to be aware of what is.”-Alan Watts
Impermanence is the nature of all things.
Be it possessions, institutions, bodies, money, objects, or the universe, or thoughts, feelings, and sensations; all form shall come to pass.
This means that the practice/process of letting go is an automatic one.
What does this mean?
A simple example will suffice. Let’s say someone cuts you off in traffic and you get annoyed. You may choose to drop it consciously through mindfulness, or hold onto it for 2 days/ 2 decades, or forget about it as you go about your day. Life circumstances help or force you to drop it, but you certainly can’t carry it around forever.
To know that all negativity/ suffering will come to pass is a game-changer. For some, it means that change is possible in their circumstances, giving them the courage to try. For others, that they may re-contextualize or find peace in their suffering. For others, it is a reminder to be compassionate towards others, not take any transgressions too seriously.
The statement: this too, shall pass, is wonderfully appropriate here.
Practical applications, please
Given the above, how does one put this into practice?
Accept the what is-ness of every moment.
That’s it really. To allow every aspect of the moment to be as it is: thoughts, feelings, objects, the circumstance itself. You only need observe them, and do nothing. Observe the movement of your breath, the feeling of being in your body, the present moment as is.
A powerful pointer in this regard is to focus to letting go of feelings. Or more precisely, letting out the energy pent-up behind feelings.
Watch it all as it comes and goes. Sometimes, the tension in the body lightens, or the painful feelings intensify before disappearing, leaving one with a ‘high’ or a state of peace. Sometimes the situation unravels itself without any actions needed, and at other times one is left with clarity where effective action can take place. And sometimes one discovers the absurdity of the situation and has a good laugh.
Become aware of any resistance too, such as tension in the body, the compulsion to make a person or party wrong, the urge to run away/ be anywhere but here and now, or the endless justifications/ explanations of a mind going nuts in the moment.
Sometimes there is resistance to the resistance, such as when the mind justifies that a painful sensation/situation ‘shouldn’t’ be present. In which case one only has to let go of the resistance to the pre-existing resistance, simply by accepting what is. And in the case where the mind goes into a spiral, the best thing would be to ignore all thoughts and shift the focus to one’s feelings.
Desiring anything? Let it go. Painful feelings/symptoms? Let go of resistance. Need clarity? Let go of preconceptions. Bored? Let go. Sometimes the desired outcome may pop into your life, sometimes miracles happen, sometimes the perfect solution appears, and sometimes one finds serenity/bliss, but who knows until you let go? The only guarantee is peace of mind, and a learning experience.
Above all, the key is resist nothing, and observe it all.
Why not now?
The power of letting go, or simply being present is something that’s inherent in everybody. To say that it is impersonal would be an concession made with respect to the human condition, because it ultimately is a fundamental property of the universe.
Letting go in other spiritual paths may look like the following:
The Law of Attraction: ‘Trust the Universe and Let Things Happen (Abraham Hicks)’
Non-Duality: ‘Abiding as the Self/ “I am” (Rupert Spira meditation for contemplation)’
Christianity: ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. (Psalm 23)’
Buddhism: ‘Form is emptiness, emptiness is form (The Heart Sutra).’
A Course in Miracles: ‘I rest in God (Workbook Lesson 109)
Personal note: Letting go has changed my life dramatically. I have met and fallen in love with a wonderful woman, gained spiritual insights and new material things, re-evaluated my life, improved my relationships, and am about to make bigger changes for greater freedom in life.
But above all, I think you can, too.
“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.”–Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation