With new age spirituality, meditation, mindfulness and self-help books at the forefront of our generation- I am sure you have heard the term ‘letting go‘. When you are afflicted with a trial, people will often tell you to simply “let go” or “relax” or “don’t let it get to you, be strong”.

I never quite understood the term “letting go” until I practiced it quite literally early last year. I never understood that it came with both physical and mental connotations- letting go is more than just letting go, it is a complete way of life, it is a complete change of life.

Letting go is defined as “an open, relaxed, non-judgmental acceptance of what is and requires no action”. The most difficult part of letting go is the necessity to leave behind all judgement. As humans we are conditioned to judge, it is in our nature to judge, we judge ourselves and those around us on a daily basis. Becoming conscious of the judgement we impose upon ourselves is the first step in being able to let go. For e.g. when we feel sad or angry or down, we might hate ourselves for feeling that way. We might believe ourselves to be weak or needy, incompetent or inferior.

None of these belief systems are true- they are merely judgements we have made based upon our past experiences and external sources. The next time you are overcome with a strong emotion, observe your thoughts and behaviour surrounding it. Note how you might be trying to resist the feeling, how you might be pushing it to one side, how you might try and hasten the experience so you feel “normal” again, how you might engage in negative self talk because of it and the list goes on.

Your brain is an accumulation of all the experiences you’ve ever had, of all the emotions you’ve ever experienced- all your brain knows is the past so naturally it will use these experiences to create “default settings” of some sort. Letting go is about resisting these default settings, it is about rewiring your brain and taking control of your thoughts and emotions.

Once you have become aware of your own harsh judgement upon yourself, you can begin to unlearn this behaviour- this takes perseverance and patience. Every time you feel a certain way and catch yourself having thoughts like “why am I feeling like this” or “I’m so weak” or any self talk that isn’t productive, try to take a deep breath and let the thoughts dissipate. Let the thoughts dissolve into the air around you, create an opening in your mind and allow them to leave. Learn to sit in your emotions without judgement. Sit in your sadness, your happiness, your grief, your pain, your sorrow. Sit in it, be at one with it.

Let yourself wholeheartedly feel that tightness in your chest, let your heart burn, let the feeling of sickness simmer in your stomach, let your tears release, let the feelings ripple through your body like a wave. Try not to resist the way that you feel, resistance only amplifies the emotion further.

Have you ever noticed that the more we try to run away from something, the more it catches up with us? So, I ask you to not run. I ask you to remain still and present. Your thoughts and emotions are mere energy. They are only powerful if we allow them to be powerful, they only have the meaning and weight that we give to them. Become an observer of the way that you feel, become an observer of your experiences, of your mind and body. Learn to not get caught up in the mental traffic, try to just watch it, observe it without getting involved. When the world becomes heavy and burdensome upon you, sit in solitude and let go. Let go of the weight of the world, let go of your past, let go of your future, let go of your judgement, let go of your hopes, let go of your dreams, let go of your sadness and let go of your joy. Sit in what is, in the present.

The present is the only thing that exists, learn to befriend it. I have found that the most difficult part of this fantastical life is not learning, rather it is all the unlearning that we have to do. It is the unlearning of childhood trauma, of negative behaviour patterns, of toxic self talk. We are beings of routine and regimen so to unlearn ourselves is in part defying one’s nature.

Practical Tips to Let Go:

-Replace every negative thought with a positive one.

-Physically tell yourself positive things, say them aloud.

-Try daily positive affirmations.

-Let go physically: let your shoulders melt away from your ears, let your tongue relax from the roof of the mouth, relax your hands, smooth your eyebrows, hold a light/relaxed smile.

-Breathe deeply from your diaphragm. Put one hand on your stomach and one on your chest and breathe as you normally would. If the hand that is on your chest is moving, it means your are breathing from your chest. Chest breathing signifies stress and anxiety. Consciously breathe from your stomach.

-Breathe in, breathe in again, hold your breath, exhale.

-Meditate for 10 minutes before you sleep every night. All this means is sitting in silence with yourself for 10 minutes. Focus on your breath, you can count the inhales and exhales. Each time you lose focus, gently bring the attention back to the breath.

-Try not to resist your feelings. Let them wash over you.

-Become mindful of the physical sensations you feel when sad/angry/stressed etc.

Above all, stay consistent! Letting go is a lifelong journey, it is all to do with exercising the mindfulness part of your brain- think of it as a muscle that needs to be trained and worked. We are all so much more than our feelings, than our self talk, than our anxieties and stressors- we have the power to completely transform our lives and it all starts in the mind. Here’s to a journey of rediscovery!