Four Ways of Letting Go

How often do you think “Why is time going so fast? I still have so much to do!”?

Most of the time this is because we are not really living our life as it happens; instead we are either lingering in the past or worrying about the future, forgetting the most important thing – the here and now.

A few months ago I stumbled across a Buddhist talk given by Ajahn Brahm, the abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery in Western Australia. I was so inspired by his talk and the way he presented Buddhist philosophy in a practical and relatable way that I started to listen to his talks daily from that point on.

In today’s post I will share his view on living in the moment by letting go.

The Four Ways of Letting Go*

1.      Throw things away

Things are only heavy when you hold onto them. Is holding a stick heavy? Only when you hold it; if you can just let it go it weights nothing at all. So grab a stick or a rock and write something that you hold onto and throw it away. In your journey of life, travel lightly…don’t go traveling with a backpack full of rocks. Throw these rocks away (the future, the past, complaints etc.) Have the conviction that it can be done, and it is good to do. Only keep one thing, the present moment…what is happening now.

2.      Learning what freedom truly is

Any place you don’t want to be is your prison. There are many prisons in life. If you are reading this and you want it to end, then this is your prison. If you are in a relationship which you don’t like, your relationship is your prison. If you are in a job that is not giving you satisfaction…another prison for you. But you don’t need to change your husband or wife, you don’t even need to change your job, all you need to do is change your attitude and want to be here. When you want to be here, you are free. It doesn’t matter how painful or uncomfortable it is, as long as you want to be here…then you are free. That’s called contentment. Want to be here, wherever here happens to be.

zen monkey prison

3.      Giving

This is not ordinary giving, but giving while expecting nothing in return. Too often we expect things back in return, and that causes a huge amount of suffering in life. And our expectations never get realized. If you go into a relationship, giving and expecting nothing in return you will get a huge amount of fulfillment. The same counts for meditation, if you do it to get enlightened or to get peaceful, if you do it to expect something, there will never be any peace for you. You meditate not to get something, not to attain something, you meditate to let go. Give to life, give all your energy to this moment, expecting nothing back.  When you have no expectations life becomes so interesting. You are not demanding anything, but life gives you so much.

4.      Don’t allow things to stick to you

If you have a beautiful moment, enjoy it now and know it is going to go so you can be free for the next moment to come, not allowing the last moment to influence this one. Do not allow the past to stop you from enjoying this moment. This also counts for your prior knowledge — let it go. This way you can see things as they are, rather than see things as you are told that they are.

*Source: Ajahn Brahmavamso Mahathera, Buddhist Society WA, 9 April 2010 – Four Ways of Letting Go

Watch the whole talk here:

Letting go in Taijiquan

After practicing many years of Shaolin Kung Fu I built up a lot of tension in my body**. My Taijiquan teacher always told me to relax more and once asked me “Do you know what letting go is?” I don’t remember with what kind of answer I came up back then, but I’ll never forget what he said: “Letting go of something is simply to stop holding onto it”. So simple, but very profound.

In the Taiji classics it is said that “When you move you need to be light and limber”.  To do this you need to let go of any physical but also mental tension. If you are thinking about what happened the other day or what you need to do afterwards your mind is not relaxed and your body will not be able to relax either. Instead, feel what you are doing right now, experience the moment. It is not the starting point or destination that counts, but the journey.

**Note: The Key Principles in the Online Academy will help you structurally release tension build up in the body.  Register today if you haven’t already!


About Jimmy

Although I am a young guy from the Netherlands, I am often compared to being an old traditional Chinese man from the 80's. Hobbies include practicing Taijiquan and Qigong, reading Chinese philosophy, studying Chinese language and mountain climbing. The comparison is still a mystery to me...

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