40 Days to Practice Letting Go

Hello my fellow human Beings:

Those of you familiar with the Christian tradition know that this past Wednesday was Ash Wednesday the start of a forty day period of inward reflection, personal piety and spiritual renewal.  It is a period of prayer, sacrifice and almsgiving to reflect on the life and teaching of Jesus Christ culminating in the events remembered by Easter.

I enjoy this Lenten season as a time to renew my commitment to my spiritual goals.  This year, I’m working on my practice of letting go.

For those of you living in Toronto, Canada like me, you know that we are in the dead of winter with bitterly cold wind chills creating frigid sub-zero temperatures.  In the winter cold, we tend to want to clamp down, hold tight and bundle up.  We may find ourselves not only holding tight to layers of clothing, but also to old beliefs, old patterns of thinking and of behaving, as well as fears, doubts and worries.  We may bundle ourselves up by winding around and around in our minds old tapes of past worries, past regrets, and past hurts or future worries, future fears, and doubts about future uncertainties.  Yet, by practicing letting go, we can learn to move away from suffering and move towards living an abundant life.

Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, Thich Nhat Hahn notes:

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”

 

Bryant McGill, author, speaker and activist in the fields of self-development, personal freedom and human rights states:

“Abundance is a process of letting go; that which is empty can receive.”

 

Practicing letting go involves developing the skill of living in the present moment.

Our breath awareness and insight meditation practices help us hone this skill of living in the now – fully immersed in the present moment.  These meditation practices help us train our minds from wandering off into replaying the old stories and old feelings of the past, or from rushing off into endlessly planning for future uncertainties and fears. Our meditation practice helps coach our minds to let go of negative self-talk (self-judgment, self-blame, and self-criticism) and to just be with the now – experiencing the feelings, sensations and circumstances of this moment as they are.

In her book, A Heart as Wide as the World: Stories on the Path of Lovingkindness, Buddhist meditation teacher, Sharon Salzberg reminds us that:

“In those moments when we realize how much we cannot control, we can learn to let go.”

“With the practice of meditation we can develop this ability to more fully love
ourselves and to more consistently love others.”

“The movement of the heart as we practice generosity in the outer world mirrors the movement of the heart when we let go of conditioned views about ourselves on our inner journey. Letting go creates a joyful sense of space in our minds.”

So I hope you will join me in this 40 days of practicing letting go.  Finding the time to be still, to connect with the present moment, accepting all things just as they are and letting go of judgment to create a joyful sense of space in our minds.  Through this journey of letting go, we will learn to love more fully and live more abundantly!

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