The Joy of Letting Go


A surprising number of our daily struggles stem from our attachments.

Let me list a few:

  • Overeating: There’s nothing wrong with eating, but when we eat out of the habit of comforting ourselves or not knowing when to stop, it can lead to feeling bad or having worse health over time. The attachment here might be an attachment to comforting ourselves with food, to tasting certain foods every day, or to finishing everything on our plate even if we’ve already had enough.
  • Overworking: If we’re working too much, there might be an attachment to getting as much done as possible, maybe to feel like we’re good enough.
  • Putting things off: This can be caused by a number of things, but one possibility is an attachment to doing it right or to getting a particular outcome that makes us feel good about ourselves or safe.
  • Frustrations with other people: The attachment here might be to having people behave the way we want them to, or to having them be happy with us.
  • Feeling overwhelmed: We might have an attachment to a feeling of order, simplicity, or knowing exactly what to do.
  • Addictions to social media: The attachment might be to a feeling of comfort, or maybe a feeling of being entertained.
  • Clutter: If we have too much clutter, we might have attachments to the comforts and security of shopping and receiving packages in the mail, an attachment to possessions for emotional reasons, or it could be the attachments mentioned in “Putting things off” above.
  • Social anxiety: There are lots of reasons for social anxiety, but the attachment might be to having people view us a certain way, or a feeling of comfort or safety.

I’m not going to pretend that these are easy problems to deal with, or dismiss them in any way. I’m saying that our attachments are at the heart of these problems.

If that’s true … can we let go of our attachments? What would it be like to gently release what we’re holding on to?

I try to practice a joyful letting go.

Let’s take a look at how that might go in practice.

A Joyful Letting Go

The first thing is to realize that our struggle comes from an attachment. Review the list above and see if any of them apply. It can be easy to point the finger in someone else’s direction, or to feel bad about things. But what if we could simply notice where we’re feeling attached to something?

Once we can see the attachment, we can practice with it, and see if we can release the attachment.

It might go something like this:

  1. Breathe. Turn towards the present moment.
  2. Let yourself feel the emotion associated with the attachment. Just be with it, mindfully, and feel it as sensation in the body.
  3. Ask if the attachment is serving you.
  4. Ask would it could be like without the attachment.
  5. Joyfully release the attachment like releasing your grip on a balloon … and let it float away! See if you can experience a few moments without the attachment, and see what that’s like. What’s available to you when you are free of the attachment?

Try it now — is there something you’ve been frustrated about, avoiding, addicted to? Could you notice the attachment that you have and joyfully release it?

What would that be like for you?


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