Although my son is well past the Disney-age set, I have not been immune to the force of the cultural phenomenon of the Frozen movie, specifically it’s omnipresent anthem “Let It Go.” I wouldn’t originally have considered Princesses Elsa and Anna to be Zen aficionados, but the message about learning to leave behind what no longer serves us is applicable to everyone. Buddhists consider “clinging” to be the root of all suffering–in essence, trying to hold on to things, people, behaviors, even thoughts, will lead to frustration, disappointment and pain. Letting go can be a challenge for the most resolute of souls. But with practice, we will discover that unclenching our fists from around whatever we are convinced we so dearly need leads us to enlightenment, peace and freedom.
TIPS FOR RELEASING YOUR GRIP
Not sure where to start? Try some of these techniques to practice letting go:
1. If you are troubled by shame from your past, negative thoughts about yourself or others, or long-carried anger, try writing it down. Put pen to paper and, in as much detail as possible, describe the thoughts, feelings or events you’d like to leave behind. Then rip up the paper into tiny pieces and throw them away. Or even better, burn the paper to ash, allowing the painful words to literally “go up in smoke.”
2. Buddhist meditation practice may involve noticing our thoughts and learning to release them without judgement. Try picturing the person, event, feeling or thought that is troubling. Imagine “touching” them lightly, either physically or energetically, and allowing them to float away into the air, dissolving slowly into the ether.
3. Imagine standing at the edge of a pool of water. Cast your thoughts, pain or shame into the current, and watch the waves carry them away, engulfing them until they are a part of the waves.
4. Imagine holding the thoughts or feelings in your clenched fists. Flex your hands and arms as if you need to hold on to those ideas for dear life. Then slowly open your fists, allowing the tension to drain from your hands and arms as the painful material leaves your possession. Feel the relief that comes with the release.
Letting go is not for the faint of heart, but neither do we need to have a crown and title to practice this essential action. Even attempting to let go is a form of “un-clinging”– an unclenching from fear and doubt as we try something new.