The Art of Letting Go
At times when we experience emotional pain..
… or suffering, the solutions we seek often increase our suffering…. Not many people can “sit with” the discomfort, and instead paradoxically, engage in self destructive behaviors, obsessive thinking, avoidance, denial or isolation.
Can you relate to avoiding pain? Yes, of course, most of us can. There is good news…With self-awareness, there are options and choice. Both Gestalt therapy and Buddhism offer simple truths to consider: be in the moment and accept what is.
Buddhism offers four central tenets…
…to help us understand how controlling and micromanaging our circumstances causes us agitation and restrictions. Learning to let go of our attachments can transform our lives in creative ways. Easier said than done, of course, especially when we are triggered.
In order to alleviate emotional discomfort and ultimately, embrace change, we must change our mental process, or mindset. Wayne Dyer profoundly said “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” The Buddha taught four noble truths to help people free themselves from thinking patterns and behaviors that perpetuate suffering.
By exploring and contemplating these truths…
…we can begin to break out of the need to be in control and practice acceptance of what is in the present moment. It’s only in the present moment we can find courage to let go of resistance and embrace changes we cannot control.
Let’s explore the four noble truths and what we can learn from them:
In life, there is suffering. As humans, we feel more secure when we have a sense of predictability and deny the simple truth of impermanence...Nothing stays the same. Rather than surrendering to the inevitability of change, we resort to fear-based behaviors such as controlling, forcing and ‘managing’ people, situations and circumstances.
2. The Cause of Suffering
The cause of suffering is attachments and expectations; grasping and clinging. According to the Buddha, the cause of suffering is "the attachment to the desire to have (craving) and the desire not to have (aversion)". All of us have desires and cravings. But, since we cannot satisfy all our desires and cravings, we get unsettled and angry, which is but another manifestation of suffering.
3. The End of Suffering
The good news is that our obscurations are temporary. By practicing non-attachment, we can liberate and free the mind of worry and troubles. This may sound simple, but it’s not easy. It takes lots of self awareness combined with self compassion and loving kindness. It’s a constant practice, not a quick fix.
4. The Path to End Suffering
By living a balanced and ethical life, practicing meditation, and developing inner wisdom, we can take exactly the same journey to enlightenment and freedom from suffering that the buddhas do. We too can wake up.
So, here’s the paradox of change: until we accept what is, we cannot move into what might be. When we cling to the past, we cannot be present in the moment…and that’s where life is happening: here and now.