Attitiude 7 – Letting Go

“If you want to forget something or someone, never hate it, or never hate him or her. Everything and everyone that you hate is engraved upon your heart; if you want to let go of something, if you want to forget, you cannot hate.” ― C. JoyBell C.

This is last of the seven attitudes that Jon-Kabat-Zinn believes are the basis for Mindfulness.

so what is Letting Go?

Definition: Letting our experience be what it is.

  • Letting go is a way of letting things be, of accepting things as they are rather than striving all the time to hold onto something
  • We let things go and we just watch…
  • If we find it particularly difficult to let go of something because it has such a strong hold on our mind, we can direct our attention to what ‘holding’ feels like. Holding on is the opposite of letting go. Being willing to look at the ways we hold on shows a lot about its opposite.
  • You already know how to let go… Every night when we go to sleep we let go.

This is the last and in some cases the most difficult of the attitudes of Mindfulness. It is the one that I have the biggest difficulty with. Relationships. Family. Work. Life itself. I find letting go so hard. I used to jump in and try to cling onto something when I thought I was loosing “control; a relationship; a work situation”. Almost anything. 

For me, nothing worked to help minimise the feeling of loss. Until that is, I came to Mindfulness. It has only been through both the daily formal and also the informal practice have I come to recognise where I try to cling and in so doing, get even more caught up in the situation.

Rather, in our meditation practice, I see my thoughts, body sensations, and feelings, come and go, over and over again. With time I have become better at intentionally letting them go. God, it is hard. Sometimes it is almost a conscious effort. Others, I just feel as if I am moving thorugh the moment. 

As I continue my practice and become more comfortable with it, I see that this is not unlike life. Everything in life changes, in the outer world and in our inner world; the more clearly I see this, the easier it is to let things go. See for yourself if it causes discomfort to hold on tightly to things. Keep in mind it is also very natural to cling to the things we love and want or believe are important to our well-being, so we don’t have to force ourselves to let go.

Using trust, acceptance, non-striving, patience, beginner’s mind and non-judging can lead us to the ability to let go.

The video where Jon describes the Letting Go attitude can be viewed here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBCithP9JrM&list=PLkgahhWgJW97ADlyc2BYMwOD8wZjcBZ8D&index=7
I leave you with the following quote which really struck me.

“This life is what you make it. No matter what, you’re going to mess up sometimes, it’s a universal truth. But the good part is you get to decide how you’re going to mess it up. Girls will be your friends – they’ll act like it anyway. But just remember, some come, some go. The ones that stay with you through everything – they’re your true best friends. Don’t let go of them. Also remember sisters make the best friends in the world. As for lovers, well, they’ll come and go too. And baby, I hate to say it, most of them – actually pretty much all of them are going to break your heart, but you can’t give up because if you give up, you’ll never find your soulmate. You’ll never find that half who makes you whole and that goes for everything. Just because you fail once, doesn’t mean you’re gonna fail at everything. Keep trying, hold on, and always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don’t, then who will, sweetie? So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.” ― Marilyn Monroe

Attitude 6 – Acceptance

 

“Some lose all mind and become soul, insane. Some lose all soul and become mind, intellectual. Some lose both and become accepted Charles Bukowski

This is the sixth of the seven attitudes that Jon-Kabat-Zinn believes are the basis for Mindfulness.

So what on earth is the idea of Acceptance?

Definition: Simply put, coming to terms with things as they are.

Some of the key things you can try include:

  • Seeing things as they actually are in the present. If you have a headache, accept you have a headache.
  • We often waste a lot of time and energy denying what is fact. We are trying to force situations to how we would like them to be. This creates more tension and prevents positive change occurring.
  • Now is the only time we have for anything. You have to accept yourself as you are before you can really change. 
  • Acceptance is not passive; it does not mean you have to like everything and abandon your principles and values. It does not mean you have to be resigned to tolerating things. It does not mean that you should stop trying to break free of your own self-destructive habits or give up your desire to change and grow.
  • Acceptance is a willingness to see things as they are. You are much more likely to know what to do and have an inner conviction to act when you have a clear picture of what is actually happening.

Practising non-striving leads us directly to the next attitudinal quality of mindfulness which is acceptance. Sometimes we confuse acceptance with approval or resignation.

Accepting something means seeing things as they are right now. It doesn’t mean we aren’t going to do something about it. See if there is something you feel challenged to accept, and what resisting it feels like.

Does it help? Does it make you feel stuck? Just notice. The attitude of acceptance can have a quality of compassion and understanding to it. These qualities actually make it easier to change something. I once heard someone say with regard to weight loss, “No one ever changed by hating themselves into it.” When I reflected on this statement, I found it to be true for myself. See what is true for you with respect to acceptance.

The video where Jon describes the Acceptance attitude can be viewed here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOGsj0Aklx8&list=PLkgahhWgJW97ADlyc2BYMwOD8wZjcBZ8D&index=9

I leave you with the following quote.

“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

 

Attitude 5 – Non-Striving

. . . My opinion is that you never find happiness until you stop looking for it. My greatest happiness consists precisely in doing nothing whatever that is calculated to obtain happiness: and this, in the minds of most people, is the worst possible course. I will hold to the saying that:”Perfect Joy is to be without joy. Perfect praise is to be without praise.”  ― Thomas Merton, The Way of Chuang Tzu

This is the fifth of the seven attitudes that Jon-Kabat-Zinn believes are the basis for Mindfulness.

What is non-striving?

Definition: Trying less and being more.

  • Meditation has no goal other than for you to be yourself. The irony is you already are.
  • Paying attention to how you are right now – however, that it is. Just watch.
  • The best way to achieve your own goals is to back off from striving and instead start to really focus on carefully seeing and accepting things as they are, moment by moment. With patience and regular practice moving towards your goals will take place by itself.

Another aspect to living mindfully is practising without striving for any particular outcome. It is almost unnatural for us all to practice non-striving. We approach life with the idea of constantly trying to “fix things”; t strive to sort out problems. We may even approach our meditation practice with a goal of trying to fix a problem, and the harder we try to accomplish this, the less we experience what may be unfolding quite naturally. The notion of trying to get somewhere with your meditation has built into it the belief that there is something wrong with where we are right now. Instead, allow things to unfold naturally and try to stop the driving desire in you to get somewhere other than where you are right now, and see how it makes you feel. Then explore what it’s like to practice with no specific goal and see what happens. I have just sat and concentrated on my breath and have been amazed a the depth of peace that I can achieve.

Is there to be found on earth a fullness of joy of non-striving, or is there no such thing?


. . . What the world appears to value is money, reputation, long life, and achievement. What it apparently counts as joy is health and comfort of body, good food, fine clothes, beautiful things to look at, pleasant music to listen to, etc.

What society seems to condemn is a lack of money, a low social rank, a reputation for being no good, and for being different.

If people find that they are deprived of these things, they go into a panic or fall into despair. They are so concerned for their life that their anxiety makes life unbearable, even when they have the things they think they want. Their very concern for enjoyment makes them unhappy.

. . . I cannot tell if what the world considers “happiness” is happiness or not. All I know is that when I consider the way they go about attaining it, I see them carried away headlong, grim and obsessed, in the general onrush of the human herd, unable to stop themselves or to change their direction. All the while they claim to be just on the point of attaining happiness.

. . . My opinion is that you never find happiness until you stop striving for it. My greatest happiness consists precisely in doing nothing whatever that is calculated to obtain happiness: and this, in the minds of most people, is the worst possible course.

I will hold to the saying that:”Perfect Joy is to be without joy. Perfect praise is to be without praise. Perfect peace is without striving.”

Contentment and well-being become possible the moment you cease to act with them in view, and if you practice non-striving, you will have both happiness and well-being.

The video where Jon describes the Non-Striving attitude can be viewed here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cl0DreXY4JI&index=6&list=PLkgahhWgJW97ADlyc2BYMwOD8wZjcBZ8D
I leave you with the following quote.

“In mindfulness practice there is nothing to achieve, nothing to get, and nowhere to go. Instead, you are cultivating another way of being, learning how to be fully aware of exactly where and how you are in this very moment, even if the moment is painful or you don’t like it, because in this moment, this is your reality. A non-striving attitude can be especially valuable during childbirth. As you will see, allowing things to be exactly as they are during labor actually creates the optimal mind-body condition for your body to open, change, and give birth.”

Nancy Bardacke, Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond

Who are you?

Thank you it made me stop and think

Julian Summerhayes

“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” ― Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

Your name?

Your job title?

Your bank balance?

Your circle of friends?

You don’t honestly know, if only because, apart from your social conditioning, you’ve never looked much further.

It’s OK. It’s like that for most people. If they do look, it’s usually too late.

The flipside is that if you go looking for the next (faux) liberation, you’ll find yourself exhausted.

Stop.

Sit.

And do nothing.

No, this isn’t a meditation instruction but rather my crass attempt to get you to sit still long enough to ask one simple question (thank you Darryl Bailey):

What is there when there is no thinking?

If you’re able to construct a semblance of an answer — which may be nothing more than a series of hackneyed lines — then you may find yourself exploring new territory. If nothing…

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Attitude 4 – Trust

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them” ― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

This is the fourth of the seven attitudes. Trust is talked about is so many different guises, how does it reflect on mindfulness? Trust is important in mindfulness because you can’t expect mindfulness to give instant results. Trust me, when I started the formal eight week programme, it wasn’t until week seven that I realised that something was changing and growing. Without genuine trust, you may not put your heart into the process of developing a mindfulness practice and thereby reduce the chance of enjoying your journey into mindful living.

So what is Trust?

Definition: Trusting in your intuition and your own authority.

  • Developing a basic trust in yourself and your feelings.
  • Trusting in your own authority and intuition, even if you make some ‘mistakes’ along the way.
  • Honour your feelings. Taking responsibility for yourself and your own well-being.

The foundation of Trust encourages us to look deeply at trusting ourselves. Many of us have given our power away to an outside authority, or to a system or institution. Meditation takes us back to ourselves, where we can access our own wisdom, and trust ourselves. Pay attention to self-doubting thoughts when they arise and look deeply into where they really come from, instead of just believing them. One of the gifts meditation can offer is that of authenticity.

  • We aren’t meant to be like anyone else, we can only be ourselves.
  • Looking at our thoughts and feelings can lead us to a more authentic life.
  • Finally, can you trust yourself?

The video where Jon describes the Trust attitude can be viewed here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9HhURnnlh4&list=PLkgahhWgJW97ADlyc2BYMwOD8wZjcBZ8D&index=5
I leave you with the following quote.

“When you’re surrounded by all these people, it can be lonelier than when you’re by yourself. You can be in a huge crowd, but if you don’t feel like you can trust anyone or talk to anybody, you feel like you’re really alone.” ― Fiona Apple