It is a bright February day. Warm sun hits my forearm as I sit on the soft surface of my bed. My back presses into the pillows behind me and my legs fold gently in front of me. I draw in some fresh air and notice my body settle downward as I push the air over the back of my throat. Air from my lungs slowly seeps out with a long quiet hiss.
Ahhh, sweet sweet release.
My mind absorbs the stillness for a few moments creating the perception of space opening up within me and around me. There I am, rolling around in the delicious serenity of it all, when an uninvited scene takes over. As if, Scotty from the USS Enterprise pressed a button and tele-transported me to a meeting at work. Mentally, I find myself sitting at a table with my coworkers talking about the latest policy changes in the department.
“Oh wait, I’m mediating…bring it back.” I say to myself. I consciously let go of thinking and the whole process starts over.
Like a blip on a radar screen, this process happens over and over again.
Learning to let go
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
Each time I move through this cycle (focus-distraction-disengage-refocus), I practice the skill of letting go and begin to re-wire my brain for resilience. I consciously release the thoughts and reclaim the focus of my attention. Like a ringing phone briefly steals us away from the flow of our lives. Part of us knows we don’t have to answer the call but we often do anyway. We free ourselves when we let go of the urge to pick it up.
Who is in charge anyway, the phone or the person who owns the phone?
The more you can “catch and release” with the little snags in your day, the easier it will be to free yourself from the big barbed hooks life throws your direction. Next time a slow car holds you back on the highway or you discover Walmart is out of the blue cheese stuffed olives you want for your party, welcome these as opportunities to practice letting go.
Letting go of little disappointments makes the perfect play ground for building your cognitive flexibility. It’s safe. The risks of harm are low. You can allow yourself the freedom to watch every dirty detail. Discover and take in what you notice. Look within for your process:
- How does it unfold?
- What happens in your thoughts and body when the thing you DO NOT WANT is exactly what shows up?
First notice, then release. You will reveal and refine a valuable gift to yourself: The keys to unshackle yourself in any plight, regardless of intensity, and the self-awareness to consciously use it when needed.
Letting go is an emotional skill we develop one thimble full at a time. It’s not as easy to gauge as tick marks on a growth chart. Honor where you are and sprout from there. Let your hands get dirty with the little upsets; the dog chews the furniture, the dishes weren’t done, it’s raining on your day off…then use the same resources to wrestle with the big monsters.
Mindfulness meditation really pays the bill for us on this one.
“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”
– Lyndon B. Johnson
Letting go is the starting block for us to spring forward with an empowered response, a sunrise not a sunset. Accepting and releasing allow us to make friends with the reality of the circumstances we face. Our energy lifts for what’s to come, like a birthday balloon snipped free from it’s bouquet.
The crazy-making spin of rumination and worry or the dark pit of complaining and self-righteousness only make it SEEM like you are doing something. It is a sticky illusion. Your mindful disengagement from the struggle with facts liberates you to roll up your sleeves and take action in a deliberate plan full way.
If the predicament is truly out of your control or realm of influence, then you have gratefully just stumbled into the next thing you can let go of.
All the best to you and moving forward, XO.