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“Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you may have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life. What is it you would let go of today?” -Mary Manin Morrissey
Why Letting Go Is The Way
In every moment and in the face of any circumstance, you have two choices: resist what is happening right now or be one with life. One choice leads to suffering, and the other choice leads to freedom and a new life.
Can you guess which one? Why is it that most people choose resisting life rather than being one with life?
The answer is simple: resisting what is appears to change the life situation. It makes perfect, logical sense: if something negative or “bad” is happening to you, resisting the situation will apparently move you away from the negativity and create something new, and hopefully refreshing.
A friend on my master team told me a story about how his real estate business went from big success to an enormous failure. He was a builder, contractor, flipped houses, and was a landlord. During the business’s prime, he accumulated a nice asset portfolio of real estate that was well worth in the half million dollars; and he was twenty-five years old when he did this. Pretty good for someone in their twenties, eh?
Then, the real estate market crashed and banks were going out of business from dirty dealing. My friend found that with the real estate crash his attitude crashed, too. And so did his asset portfolio. He lost all of his homes to foreclosure, except for one, and every penny he earned in real estate went to zero. He was out of business, filing for bankruptcy, and had a steep amount of debt hanging over his head that could not be paid.
If you talk to him about this devastating financial experience, he will admit to holding onto the past pain of what happened. He felt awful and unworthy to how he could not pay anyone back. Many relationships were ruined. And banks were suing him left and right. The energy it took for my friend to stuff the pain away and bottle it up was overwhelming. He eventually could not handle the suffering anymore and was forced into letting go.
Yes, if you can endure suffering long enough, you will eventually let it all go. Because those who endure great suffering awaken to a deeper, absolute reality that is beyond the apparent reality you interact with everyday. And when you awaken, you realize that the suffering you have endured was not caused from the apparent problematic life situations that happened to you, but from the resistance to those life situations.
It is not your life situations or the past that cause you suffering. It is the resistance itself that causes you suffering. When you do not resist what arises in this moment, life just is. A situation. An event. A person. What follows is a story about life. And that’s what you resist, a story.
When you let go of the resistance to what is, a clear and direct route to sustainable change becomes present. You have dropped the story and baggage that keeps you stuck, and have created a portal for life to flow through.
Imagine that life is like a flowing river. Resisting life or what is is like stacking rock boulders one-by-one next to and on-top of each other in the river. The more resistance you harbor, the wider and higher the dam becomes that blocks fresh, clean water. However, when you let go moment by moment, you surrender to life and become one with it. The water flows around, over, underneath, and through the “rock obstacles” of life.
You realize that choosing this moment, no matter how ugly or desolate it appears, is freedom and liberation. It is within your suffering that no-suffering is found. In other words, become one with your momentary suffering, allow it to be present, and within your focused concentration of suffering is liberation.
I know what you fear: “If I surrender and let go of my problems, they will intensify and take over my life.” That thought or fear is the ego scaring you so it does not die. Because when you let go moment to moment, you, the ego (not the body) die over and over again.
How to Let Go
When you let go, you’re releasing the emotions, concepts, and illusions that keep you stuck in your Karma. In other words, letting go is going beyond the dualistic mind and seeing your life from a non-dual perspective.
Challenges and obstacles will still arise in your life, but they will flow through your life with grace and ease. In other words, the challenging life situation will not stick around for long. If a problem has been lingering for some time, you probably have not fully accepted the situation as it is. Therefore, any change you make is infusing the old drama and problems into the actions you take. If you look closely, most people’s lives have the same drama and problems, but with different events.
Even though my master mind buddy folded his real estate business years ago, he experienced more suffering and problems for a few years. But when he released and let go of the baggage, and wanting of things to be different, his life changed. He carried an underlying peace in all his actions and allowed life to flow. And all he did was choose to be here, now, and one with apparent reality.
Letting go is not a goal to attain. It is seeing that you have a choice and that you have no choice in life. You have choice in life because in this moment you can choose to be one with or resist life. However, you have no choice in life because it is manifesting and presenting itself regardless of what you do – life is as it is.
Whenever you are confronted with difficult or challenging situations or people, first become aware of any negativity going on inside of you right now. Awareness of how you are reacting to your current life situations begets letting go. Then, ask these three questions to let go and be free:
1. Am I willing to let go?
2. Would I let go?
Ask those questions from your heart and give a genuine yes. If you find yourself stuck or not wanting to say yes, then ask, “Would I rather be stuck or free?” I guarantee you want to be free. And as you say yes to each of these questions in the moment, you let go and accept the situation at hand. What happens next, I don’t know. But I do know is that wisdom and compassion are now available to guide your actions.
Here’s an example of the process for letting go.
A creditor calls and reminds you how much debt you owe. You cannot pay them back. Your finances do not currently allow you to do so. In the past, you have reacted to the situation by yelling at the debtor and living with fear. You’ve pinched pennies and feel unworthy and not good enough.
However, instead of reacting and trying to push the situation away, you fully accept and allow the fear and negative emotions to exist. You realize that those emotions are already present, so you embrace them and know “this too will pass”.
Finally, you go through the questions: Am I willing to let go? Yes. Would I let go? Yes. When? Now. There is a light and ease to your being, and to the situation at hand. You can see that your resistance to debt has been preventing resourceful action for getting out of debt. The path is incredibly clear. You work on getting out of debt with ease and eventually you do.
It is a conditioned habit to resist life and push away negative situations. Resistance is believed to get rid of your problems because it appears you are distancing yourself from them. However, the opposite is true: resistance enables the problem to persist. When you let go, moment by moment, and observe the challenging life situation with intense presence, you are free from the karmic wheel of suffering. What you realize is that you are life and there’s nothing to fear.
This article is generously contributed by Nick Pfennigwerth from Big Heart Small Business, helping small business owners connect with their heart and larger vision so that they can make a difference and a healthy profit. At Big Heart Small Business, Nick applies his buddhist, spiritual, zen teachings into growing an authentic, heart centered business without the hype and strong arm tactics.
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© Thea Westra publishes a wealth of material for increased life power, self improvement, inspiration and personal success. Adding wings to our unique journey of life. See her many personal development resources at www.forwardstepsblog.com
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