The following is the handout I give to students in my Living Untethered course. It assumes you have strong motivation to learn to let go. Your personal mind will try to trick you into thinking you should let go of the discomfort, of the reactivity, but that’s not what you should be trying to let go of. It’s the resistance to reality that you want to drop. Let yourself experience the emotional discomfort, accept the reality of the situation, accept that things don’t need to be as you want for you to keep your heart open.
Mindfulness is very important. The first step in letting go is being aware of resistance. Resistance takes effort and there is a sense of struggle. Letting go is a dropping of effort, a ceasing to exert will, a surrender and letting be of whatever you’re resisting. Letting go is something to practice both in formal practice (e.g. sitting meditation) and throughout the day.
Some Important Concepts
- What is Resistance? – some examples of resistance
a. Body – tension, holding, bracing
b. Mind – wanting things to be different, to change. Needing to figure things out. Wanting discomfort to go away.
c. You – any sense there’s a problem, any sense of struggle
- Drop Resistance
a. Accepting – recognizing that this is how things are in this moment, this is reality
b. Allowing the experience to move freely, to unfold as it wishes, not as you wish
c. Opening – some mental gesture of opening, of wanting to fully experience the moment, to let it all the way in, e.g. saying “yes!” or “thank you”.
- Notice the Personal Mind (unintentional mental talk, voice in your head) – self referential:
a. “I want…”, “I don’t want…”
b. “I like…”, “I don’t like…”
c. “I wish…”, “It better not…”
d. Judgements, opinions, beliefs e.g. “it shouldn’t be like this”, “They should / shouldn’t…”, “I worked hard, so I deserve this…”, “It’s not fair…”
e. “It will be okay”, “I’m screwed”, “I’ll never…”, “I don’t feel like it”
Commit to Letting Go
When blockages release, the discomfort or desire from the original experience will be there. It’s like removing a thorn that’s touching a nerve. You need a strong will (motivation + intention) to overcome the fear / urge to defend against pain.
Make a sacred vow to learn to let go. You won’t always be able to drop the resistance. That’s okay.
Start with the Small Stuff
Start with the really small stuff. It’s like if you’re learning the piano, you don’t start with Mozart! You start with the scales. With small things like lineups, traffic, weather and other minor inconveniences where the only real issue is your reactivity. See reactivity as an opportunity to learn to let go, including the micro stuff, like a subtle sense of lack, unease, boredom or restlessness.
Make “learning to let go” the purpose of your day!
“NOTICE, RELAX & RELEASE” – Practice with the SMALL STUFF
• Ask “who notices” this experience? Don’t try to answer. Just ask and watch what happens. You can also try other variations, e.g.
…… Make it specific – “Who notices the tension?”, “Who notices these thoughts”
…… “What is having this experience?”
• Say “hello” in your head – relax and be aware you can hear “hello” in your mind
• Lean back into “witness consciousness” (a.k.a. the “seat of awareness”)
• This allows you to be centred, to have space & perspective
…… You are not your thoughts or emotions – You are the one who notices!
- Relax & Release
• Be on the lookout for resistance. Resistance is an opportunity to learn to let go!
• Notice if your heart is closed. Ask if it’s worth closing. It’s never worth closing!
…… Generate an intentional positive thought – this will create space
• Invite the body to relax – around your heart, your shoulders, other areas of tension
…… On an out-breath, the body naturally relaxes
…… Don’t force it, just allow.
• Notice the pull of the personal mind
…… Drop the mental resistance – the trying to figure it out
…… Recognize it’s the Personal Mind talking. It’s not you.
………… • Most of what the Personal Mind says is garbage. Don’t buy it.
………… • “Silly mind!” – “No thank you!”
…… Prioritize the Inner Problem, not the Outer Problem
…… Release the pull of the personal mind. Move the focus of your attention away from your thoughts. Put your attention on your body.
• You, the one inside watching, relax!
• Allow the inner experience to unfold as IT wants, not as YOU want
• Open to the experience. Let it all the way in.
- Thank You
• An optional, but very helpful thing is to actively appreciate the moment
• You can say “thank you” or whatever phrase you like to help you recognize that every moment is a gift, even the uncomfortable or unwanted ones
• Bring an intention to love whatever is there, to love everything
Responses to the Unwanted – Effect on Blockages
- Expression – you lose it! You send the angry email, lash out verbally, etc. This temporarily releases the energy, but strengthens the blockage
- Suppression – you grin and bear it. Better than expression. Blockage unchanged, no release of energy.
- Transmutation – you drop all resistance, energy released, blockage released!
a. Can be partial, some resistance dropped, but still trying to escape, e.g. if relaxing in order to calm a reaction, rather than dropping all effort to defend against feeling it.
b. Requires both will and grace. Resistance may not drop. You cannot make it happen.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at laurieclearmind [at] gmail.com.