Often in the pursuit of happiness, we will cling to our attachments to people, things, and circumstances that make us feel safe or content. The fundamental Buddhist teaching of impermanence relays that we will not find sustained happiness through this clinging, only suffering. With practice and applied wisdom, releasing our grasp on attachments allows us to be with what we cannot control and accept that everything changes. Consider the attachments you may be clinging onto, whether it’s a possession, a relationship, a career goal, or a certain sense of self. Letting go encourages us to open ourselves to meeting the world with a sensitive curiosity. Below is a list of teachings and tips to aid in this practice.
Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself
“The process of letting go is a tender one. We should notice the poignancy and humor of this very human struggle. It is less of a battle and more a path of acceptance and accommodation to the natural arising and dissolving of our ordinary experience. The two-step process—first letting go, and then letting go of the letting go—allows us to approach the idea of letting go gently, precisely, step by step. In doing so we see that even though we so often tend to re-solidify our experience, between the letting go and the re-solidifying there are real glimpses of openness.”
—from “Letting Go” by Judy Lief
Allow Feelings to Flow
“When feelings are allowed to flow through the body, they too are safe; they do not poison or destroy the container that conveys it. But when our emotional life is blocked, put off by distractions and the busyness of life, it becomes toxic; pressure builds over time, it seeks out other routes; the blocked energy eventually floods, spreading all that has developed in this damaging state.
And so when we open to our feelings as they arise, we create the causes and conditions of mental and physical health. This is what acceptance-based inner awareness entails; it is not a practice to put off, any more than breathing, sleeping, or consuming nourishment.”
—from “Flowing Feelings” by Josh Korda
Liberate Yourself from Stagnant or Limiting Narratives of Self
“We are constantly being transformed when we travel on the path. While we may be the same individual on one level, on another level we are different. There is always continuity, and yet at each major turning point on the journey we have become transformed because certain habits have dropped away. The spiritual journey is dynamic and always tends forward because we are not fixating on things.”
—from “Letting Go of Spiritual Existence” by Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche
“A simple action that can be helpful in terms of relinquishing is this: on a regular basis—perhaps once or twice a year— choose something to give away. Not some old relic you don’t care about any more, but something you do care about, that has value to you. There’s no need to go overboard by giving away something that will change your lifestyle or will make the kids resent you for the next twenty years. Give away something you like yet are willing to relinquish. During the entire process of selecting and relinquishing, be mindful of your feelings. This can be more challenging than it may at first appear, but it can help us prepare for the day when we must relinquish all that we hold dear.”
—from “Lightening Your Load” by Allan Lokos
Recognize Each Moment as Enough
“A wonderful result of letting go is to experience each moment as being enough, just as it is. It allows us to be present for our experience here and now with such clarity and freedom that this very moment stands out as something profound and significant. We can let go of the headlong rush into the future, as well as the various, imaginative ways we think, ‘I’m not enough’ or ‘this moment is not good enough,’ so we can discover a well-being and peace not dependent on what we want or believe.”
—from “What We Gain When We Learn to Let Go” by Gil Fronsdal