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The Practice of Letting Go

There are a number of times when our mind clings to something tightly, and it is rarely helpful:

  • I am right, the other person is wrong
  • That person is living their life in the wrong way, they should change
  • My preference is the best way, others are wrong
  • This is the thing I want, I don’t want anything else
  • I really don’t like that, it sucks
  • I should have that person in my life, loving me
  • I shouldn’t be alone, shouldn’t be overweight, shouldn’t be however I am, shouldn’t have this life

In all of these cases, and more, our minds are fixed in a certain viewpoint, and we often judge others. We complain. We are attached to what we want and what we don’t want.

It leads to stress. Unhappiness. Anger. Righteousness. Being judgmental. Distancing ourselves from others. Closed-offedness.

And it leads to being closed off to the beauty of this moment, as it is, full of openness and possibilities.

If you’d like to work on letting go, I would like to offer a simple practice.

mind

 

The Practice of Letting Go

You can actually practice this all day long, because even if we don’t realize it, we’re clinging and hardening and fixing upon viewpoints all day long.

Here’s how to practice:

  1. Start by realizing that you’re hardened. Notice that you are stressed, upset at someone, feeling like you’re right, complaining about someone or a situation, not open to other viewpoints, putting something off, avoiding, tensed. These are good signs that you are holding on, hardened in your viewpoint, fixed, attached, clinging. Get good at noticing this.
  2. Notice the tension in your body. It’s a tightening that happens from your stomach muscles, through your chest, into your throat, up to your forehead. Think of this as your central column, and it tightens up when you think you’re right, or someone else is wrong, or you really want something or don’t want something.
  3. Start to relax those tightened muscles. This is the heart of changing from holding on to letting go. Whatever is tight in your central column, relax. Try it right now. What is tight? Relax that. Soften.
  4. Open your awareness beyond yourself. Once you’ve done this (and you might have to repeat the relaxing, multiple times), you can open your awareness from just your own body and your self-concern, to the world around you. Become aware of the space around you, the people and objects, the light and sound. Open your awareness to the neighborhood around you.
  5. Become aware of openness & possibilities. With your mind opening, you can start to feel more open. Your mind is no longer closed, but has made space for possibilities. You are not fixated on one right way, but are open to everything. This is the beauty of not-knowing.
  6. Open to the beauty that is before you. Now that you are not fixated on rightness or your way or the way things should or shouldn’t be … you can take in the actual moment before you. You’ve emptied your cup, and made room for seeing things as they actually are, and appreciating the beauty of this moment, the beauty of other people, and of yourself.
  7. Step forward with a not-knowing openness. From this place of relaxing your fixed mind, of opening up … take the next step with a stance of not-knowing. You don’t know how things should be, let’s find out! You don’t know if you’re right or wrong, let’s explore! You don’t know the answers, you just hold the questions in your heart, and move into open possibilities.

It’s that simple. And of course, it takes a lot of practice. You can do this at any moment, but it’s helpful to have a short time of day when you set a reminder and then take a few moments to sit still and practice with whatever you’ve been clinging to today.

When we practice like this, we are shifting from our habitual patterns of self-concern and shutting out all possibilities, to openness and not-knowing, to unlimited possibilities and seeing the breath-taking beauty of the world in front of us.

BY LEO BABAUTA     FEBRUARY 4, 2019

zenhabits.net

Obstacles That Stop Us from Decluttering
—And How to Overcome Them

Years ago, Cas Aarssen would spend hours looking for lost items, cleaning and tidying, and dusting items she didn’t even like.
Sound familiar?
Sometimes, we get so entrenched in our routines that we don’t see the belongings that no longer belong in our homes. Or we feel too busy, too overwhelmed, too exhausted to tackle a big project such as decluttering. We think it’ll require energy and effort we just don’t have.
Another obstacle to decluttering is actually letting items go. “We are especially reluctant to declutter things that were expensive, have sentimental value, or things that we perceive as being useful ‘someday,’” said Aarssen, an author and professional organizer. “Unfortunately, almost everything can land in one of these categories and by holding onto too many ‘useful’ items, we are making the spaces in our homes ‘useless.’”
We also don’t get rid of items because our stuff starts to represent different possibilities. And that stuff ends up replacing our actual habits. For instance, professional organizer and ADHD coach Debra Michaud, M.A., worked with a client who had a growing yoga DVD collection, which she didn’t use. “What she really wanted was the habit, but she found herself instead buying more and more DVDs.”
Basically, our clutter can personify the people we want to be. The person who lifts weights and runs on the treadmill. The person who always looks put together in fancy (and uncomfortable) shoes. The person who uses cookbooks to make elaborate dinners for their family. The person who does arts and crafts and makes beautiful things.
“Unfinished projects are a very common cause of clutter,” Michaud said. You might be surrounded by broken things you’re planning on fixing one day and piles of magazines you’ll read next week or the week after that or the week after that or….
“People often hang on to [these items] as some sort of albatross, almost a punishment for not getting everything done.”
All of these are super-common obstacles—which you can absolutely overcome. These tips will help.
clutter
Have a clear vision
“The best motivator to declutter is to have a clear vision of what is beyond it,” Michaud said. She suggested asking yourself: What do you really want? What would you really miss?
Remind yourself regularly why you’re decluttering. For instance, clutter robs us of our time and causes a lot of needless stress, said Aarssen, bestselling author of Real Life Organizing and Cluttered Mess to Organized Success. It also zaps our energy, makes us inefficient, and prevents us from living in the present, Michaud said.
Start small
So overwhelm doesn’t stop you from starting, Michaud always suggests tackling clutter in small chunks. Really small. For instance, you might identify one item per day you’re going to donate.
Michaud also recommended using a timer, and starting with five-minute sessions. “Five minutes of focused decision-making is more productive than two hours of wheel-spinning and moving things around.” In fact, she defines clutter as “the interest we pay for deferred decisions (or projects).”
And because of the decision-making required, pick a time when you can focus, Michaud said. “At the end of a tiring workday, for example, will probably yield a frustrating and inefficient organizing session.”
Start with garbage
Aarssen suggested grabbing a garbage bag and filling it as quickly as possible with things you can throw away without any hesitation. For instance, this might include old receipts, expired medications, stale food, empty boxes, and old magazines.
Address your guilt
Michaud always tells her clients “wouldn’t you rather [an item] go to someone who needs it and uses it, than have it sitting in the back of your closet?” She also asks them if the giver would really want them to feel burdened by their gift. And, of course, they wouldn’t.
When it comes to unfinished projects, remind yourself that no one gets to everything. “In a way, letting go of clutter is…coming to terms with the finiteness of life,” Michaud said. However, “ironically, it’s when we let go that we start to feel in control.”
Self-reflect
If your stuff represents different possibilities, wishes and people, consider if those are still true for you. Consider if you even want to do these things, if you’d even enjoy them. Do you want to lift weights and run on the treadmill? Maybe you don’t—and that’s OK. Maybe you love to take walks. Maybe you actually prefer to cook quick meals, and don’t like cooking from recipes.
Either way, you’ll feel so much lighter once you let go of the stuff that represents your unrealized and unwanted dreams—along with those no longer-relevant dreams.
Donate 21 items
“I love this decluttering technique because it is a big enough number that you need to push yourself, but small enough that it isn’t overwhelming and won’t take you more than a few minutes to accomplish,” Aarssen said. Again, the key is to go quickly, and make it into a game.
Create a time capsule
According to Aarssen, when you’re really struggling to relinquish certain items, pack them in a box and write an expiration date on it: “If Not Used By September 2018, DONATE This Box.” Keep your box somewhere in your home. When that date arrives, if you haven’t missed or needed anything in the box, donate its contents, she said.
Get help
“Sometimes the biggest impediment to decluttering is just knowing when to reach out for help,” Michaud said. She suggested hiring a professional organizer or finding a neutral “clutter buddy.” This might be a close friend or a member of Clutterers Anonymous.
Whoever you pick, it’s important that they’re not judgmental and can ask you thoughtful questions, such as: “Do you love it? Do you use it? Realistically will you use it in the next 2 years? Would you buy it again today? Would you miss it?”
Decluttering does take time and energy and effort—but it’s time and energy and effort that aren’t a waste. It’s worthwhile, and it’s absolutely freeing. As Michaud said, “We often don’t even realize how much clutter is weighing on us until it’s gone.”
By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. 
Associate Editor        8 Jul 2018
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How To Let Go Of Unneeded Attachments And Experience True Freedom

August 2, 2015   Steven Bancarz

              “Attachment is the root of all suffering” – Buddha

We all want to be free and feel free, but what does this really look like?  Most people imagine it looks like something along the lines of being your own boss, not living by the alarm clock, or leaving the ratrace.  The truth is, freedom is more of a mental state than anything else, and you can be working a 9-5 job and be absolutely free.  You can also be your own boss and be totally enslaved.

It all comes down to your intentions, your desires, and your level of attachment to particular outcomes.  Are you resisting your heart and resisting life, or are you flowing with them both and embracing each moment?  For the last year and a half, I have been my own boss.  I have also been more of a slave than ever before up until recently, not because of my lifestyle, but because of my mentality.

Here are 5 attachments we need to let go of to experience true freedom in life:

1) Societies expectations

Your dad wants you to get a good education.  Your mom wants you to find a nice girl or guy to marry.  Your teachers want to see you land a 9-5 job.  The media forces down your throat what the “ideal” life is and wants you to spend your life chasing after the “American dream”.  All of these outside influences keep you trapped in a state of mind that is plagued by the constant need to impress someone or live up to expectations that have nothing to do with what YOU really want to do as a person.

Maybe you want to drop out of school and start your own business.  Maybe you want to be single, and you are content without having very much money or material items.  The world around you is constantly trying to make you into someone you are not by imposing their expectations on to your life.  This creates a program in your psychology that keeps you constantly trying fulfill these expectations to feel like you are “successful”, when in reality you are spending your energy trying to make a mark in someone else’s consciousness to gain their approval.  To be free is to live for yourself.

2) Your past

Your past doesn’t define who you are.  Contrary to what people around you may tell you, you are not defined by your sins, achievements, mistakes, successes, or failures.  Anything you have done in your past, whether it is good or bad, will prevent you from evolving if you are attached to it.  If it is bad and you are attached to it, you are going to cause yourself depression and self-hate over something that no longer even exists.  If it is good and you are attached to it, you are projecting yourself out of the present moment and into a memory-stream.

Your past is meant to act as a guide and a compass to serve you, but we are told by the world that we are the sum of our history.  When we apply for a job, we are expected to provide a resume.  We are also expected to provide a kind of resume to the world when we are discussing who we are as a person.  When we see an old friend we haven’t seen in a while, the first thing that often comes up is “What have you been up to?”.

This translates into “What have you done or accomplished within your recent past?”, which keeps us attached to the past and reliant on it for our sense of identity and worth in the world.  Whatever you have or haven’t done in your past, it doesn’t matter and it doesn’t define you.  The only thing that matters is what you choose to do with this moment moving forward.

change can be hard

3) The need to impress others

The need to impress others ultimately comes from our egos, which are products of millions of years of evolution.  It has created a spirit of competition within us that keeps us enslaved to the constant need to outshine other members of our species. The species that are fastest, strongest, and most adaptable are the ones that carry over into the next generation and reproduce, and this is the purpose the ego has served us in our past.

This is not needed in a modern society of rational human beings, but the sense of needing to compete with one another ultimately stems from an archaic part of our brains that is still wired through millions of years of evolution.  This translates into competing for “likes” with other people on Facebook, comparing cars, bank accounts, or physical fitness levels. It manifests in the need to be recognized, the instinct to compare ourselves with others, the need to make impressions on others, and so forth.

Being free from your ego is the key to being free from feeling like you have to outshine other people.  Live for yourself, and be true to what you want in life.  A lot of people work at jobs they hate to buy things they can’t afford to impress people they don’t even know, and this all boils down to being identified with the ego.

4) Fear of the future

Fear of the future stems from us projecting our attention away from the present moment and into an undesirable hypothetical moment that doesn’t even exist.  Because our attention is consumed with that undesirable hypothetical moment, emotions begin to generate within our energy field that correspond to those thoughts.

There is nothing scary about the future.  The future is only scary of we anticipate failure and pain, and we would only anticipate failure of pain if we lack confidence or self-esteem in the present moment.  The key to overcoming fear of the future comes in two parts.  First, we have to keep our mind and attention concentrated on what is happening within the present moment.  Secondly, we have to overcome any feelings of disbelief we have in ourselves.

The future is nothing to fear. It is just another present moment just like this one.  If we can learn how to tap into the present moment and make it as awesome as possible, our future is guaranteed to be as awesome as possible since the future is just an extension of the present moment.

5) Relationships that aren’t worth it

Relationships come in all shapes and sizes.  Romantic partnerships, friends, family members, co-workers.  Sometimes, we remain in relationships we know we don’t want to be in simply because we don’t want to hurt another person.  In other words, we maintain relationships and friendships with people out of a feeling a guilt.

If you are staying in a relationship that isn’t worth it because of guilt, then you are attaching yourself to an unhealthy situation out of fear.  So many people put up with unhappy marriages and relationships out of fear, forgetting that life is too short to do anything but follow your heart.  Let go of fear and give yourself permission to follow your heart.  Being free means being free to expressive yourself, say what you mean, and feel what you feel, even if it means it may make someone else unhappy.

You are not free in life until you are free from all attachment.  You can still work hard, be ambitious, and be in relationships without being attached and dependent upon a particular outcome to rectify your existence.  Just as much as we pursue money, education, and health we should pursue freedom.   Am I following my heart?  Am I living for myself or for my parents? Am I being true to what I feel each moment?