We spend most of our lives holding on to so many things, usually framed by the past, that we never truly know what it means to be free. Sometimes we think that things can only be accomplished by holding on, whether it’s relationships or situations. Yet to hold a bird, tightly, we’d probably squeeze the life out of it. Even holding the bird gently, the bird is not fulfilling its purpose of existence, which is to fly. If I hold a flower in my hand, how long will it last? If I let the flower float in water, it will last longer. If the flower lives in the soil, its natural habitat, it will last even longer. First, there is the desire to have the flower, and so I cut it. And then it’s not good enough that the flower is in a vase, but it has to be mine I have to hold it, and thus I deny it life.
In relationships, when I hold onto someone, I’m not giving them space or freedom to express themselves and be who they are. Holding on and not wanting to let go reflects my own insecurity; I’m afraid and so I need to hold on. The moment I become stable, secure and confident within, I don’t need to hold on.
Letting go is absolutely important in order to live and let live. If I don’t let go, I’m not allowing others to survive. Why are we not willing to let go of circumstances? Circumstances change, nothing stays the same. From one moment to the next, it’s a different scene. We hold onto these scenes in our minds. The image of a particular situation or the impression of something that’s left in the mind keeps repeating in my head. I’m hanging onto this state of consciousness and it is occupying precious space. I have only a limited amount of space in my mind. I can choose what to do with it. Often it seems that the beautiful memories disappear and only painful memories remain. This is strange because I don’t want to experience pain, and yet I hold onto the painful memories. By thinking about these memories, again and again, I’m inflicting recurring pain on myself. Nobody else is the oppressor. I become my own victim by oppressing myself and not letting go of that particular situation.
Thankfully, we’re not in this state all the time, but certainly there are periods of our life, situations or relationships in which we get stuck. It’s important to allow myself to grow, flow and move forward. If I’m doing that for myself, I’m giving space and permission for everyone else around me to be able to move and grow also.
So that’s the theory – how do you do it? First is to recognise that I need to be doing something about my own inner world, because the process is happening in the mind. It’s on the inner level that I have to be free. Most people think that if they fix things externally then things will get better. Sorting things externally is like putting on sticky tape, it holds things together for a little while and then another bit of tape is needed, and another, and another. A quick fix is not enough. When we understand that things begin in the mind and then move outwards, we can begin to look for the answers inside. I will then come across permanent solutions.
Letting go does not mean to cut. If I try to cut something with a sharp knife, then probably a lot of blood will flow and it’s going to be very painful and not a happy experience. Cutting things is no good. Gently move away, disentangle and find that you’re able to let go at the right moment when things are ready to shift. That’s a much smoother and less painful process.
Ask yourself: what is it that I really need? When I start to fulfill my own inner needs then I’ll realize that I don’t actually need to hold onto that bird. When I open my hand and watch the bird flying free, I can love and appreciate its beauty and its flight. The bird will probably come flying back and rest in my hand, out of its own natural will and choice.
In the same way, I have to let go of my desires. When a desire is born, it spins around and keeps coming back into my mind until I’ve been able to fulfil it. Once the desire is fulfilled, then there are more desires, and then more and more. It’s an unending stream in which I’m never going to come to a state of peace and fulfillment. When I let go of desires, I can have peace within. To let go is to know that all that I need is within.
There are lots of empty spaces within the soul. We think that those empty spaces will be filled by my post, position, possessions and partners. The way to fill the empty spaces is not by the shifting sands of relationships, or the changeable circumstances of position at work, or the possessions that work is able to provide for me. I can fill myself by tapping into my own inner resources and connecting with the Divine. This infinite source is never going to let me down, or dry up. As I fill myself, I can feel the strength of love, peace, joy and power returning to my own inner being. There’s security in knowing that I can be self sufficient and self-reliant. I don’t need to hold onto people and things anymore.
When I’m with others, there’s an exchange of love and happiness, yet I’m not dependent on others. If they’re not around, I don’t miss them. That is the state of freedom that the soul is able to experience. Letting go is not deprivation or sacrifice. Letting go means to step away, and to be free. It means to give freedom and space to another. In that state of letting go I’m able to step away and see things from a distance. When I’m seeing things too close up I don’t get a very clear picture. When I see a tree I don’t realize that it’s part of a whole forest. Stepping back a little allows us to see things on a broader scale. To look at things differently is the process of inner wisdom. To teach myself to look at things from many different perspectives is the path of spirituality.
Most of our responses are not logical but emotional. When something happens, our emotions and feelings are triggered immediately, and our response is instantaneous. So, mostly it’s too late by the time I realize… because I’ve already said something, I’ve already expressed something and then I think about it. We can choose to live like that, continually reacting, creating a mess and then mopping it up later. The problem is that the cleaning up process takes a while.
Letting go means to be in that inner state of peace, then to do whatever is right according to the situation. What I can do is learn to develop a considered response, one filled with warmth and love, and one based on understanding. Not just see and react, but give myself a moment of space to pause… reflect… and then respond!