Thursday, October 20, 2016

Letting Go, Part One: Thursday's Reflection

Have anyone ever said to you, "You just have to let go." Or have you said that to someone? We might add with a shrug of the shoulders, "I know that is easier said than done." 

I love this quote from Beatrice Brute in Radical Optimism.
        I think most of the spiritual life is 
        really a matter of relaxing--letting 
        go, ceasing to cling, ceasing to
        insist on our own way, ceasing to 
        tense ourselves up for this or 
        against that. 

Ok, so we can agree--letting go is important. Letting go is a spiritual challenge, but HOW do we let go?

Here is my basic belief about the practice of letting go. 

First, you have to line yourself up with reality. You have to accept where you are and trust that even in the midst of your confusion and pain there is wisdom to be gained. You can use what you have been handed for the kind of inner growth that will make your life happier and more meaningful. 

The first step in the letting go process--and it is a process--is to quiet the mindA still mind sees what is here. A busy mind sees what is not here. 

Our lives are filled with useless battles because our minds are filled with useless thoughts. We carry around unhappy scenes from the past as if they are still happening. We chew on the memory of what we did or did not do. Problems assault us to the degree they preoccupy us. The key to inner freedom is not the elimination of all external difficulties, but the willingness and intention to change a pattern of thinking, of reacting to what distresses us. 

Here's a promise to make to yourself: 
                Every time, and I do mean every time, a thought 
                of anger or anxiety comes to the surface, I will take a 
                cleansing breath and imagine my mind as a calm 
                pool of water. 

                The next time I notice myself being caught in a 
                line of thought I know is destructive, I will interrupt 
                it. I simply won't complete it. Instead, I will think of
                something, anything that contains love or connection. 

Sometimes all that is needed is a shift in focus.

If quieting your mind is challenging for you, try using the "Be still and know that I am God," prayer. 
           Be still and know that I am God.
           Be still and know that I am.
           Be still and know.
           Be still.
           Be still.
           Be still and know.
           Be still and know that I am. 
           Be still and know that I am God.

An Invitation
What has been lingering in your heart for far too long? Are you willing to let go? I would love to know. 

NOTE: Because the topic of "letting go" is such a big one, I will continue the conversation in my next post on Tuesday, October 25. Stay Tuned!

Also, two books have given me great help as I integrate this topic into my own life. The Little Book of Letting Go by Hugh Prather and The Seeker's Guide, Making Your Life a Spiritual Adventure by Elizabeth Lesser. 


  1. “Just let it be.” We frequently do try to control our lives. To some extent that is possible. Much of what happens, however, is beyond our control. Acceptance is a positive spin on surrender. We must accept what is, or actively change it to something better.

    Mark Twain said “the worst things in my life never happened,” yet caused needless worry. Conversely, the best things in life often occur without any planning or expectations. Dealing with what is should be our priority. We must live in the present, rather than dwell on the past or the future.

  2. Thank you for your most thoughtful comment.


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