If you’ve ever read any zen texts, then you’ve probably heard about detachment or letting go. It’s a powerful concept, but it can be difficult to understand.
So, what exactly does it mean?
Luckily, we’ve found a great chapter from mindfulness expert Osho that explains in detail what letting go really means. We’ve summarized his excellent teachings below.
First, letting go has nothing to do with being aloof
According to Osho, many people mistake letting go or detachment for being aloof.
But Osho says that when you are become emotionally aloof, you are disconnected from your feelings. You’re not really engaging in life.
However “letting go” means deep involvement in life – because there is a lack of attachment to the outcome.
As spiritual author Ron W. Rathbun wrote, “True detachment isn’t a separation from life but the absolute freedom within your mind to explore living.”
There isn’t an “art” to letting go
Contrary to what you might be thinking, Osho says there really isn’t an art to letting go. It’s just understanding that it’s about “simply being”:
“Let go is certainly the most fundamental principle of religiousness. It simply means no goal, no desire, no longing, no past, no future – just being here in utter totality, drowning in this silence, without resistance. There is no art, there is no knack, there is no method; just a simple understanding. Who is preventing you? Your own past, that you think is valuable . How can you drop it? Is it a treasure, it is your heritage! The future? How can you drop it? Although you don’t have it. Still, you are worried how to drop it: “How can one drop the future? Future is all that we have. All the dreams, all the tomorrows, all the great things that have to happen are in the future. And when I say to you, “Drop the past, drop the future, just simply be.” In that moment of simply being, immense blessings descend on you, silences, ecstasies, effortlessly. And because you have not made any effort and the flowers go on showering on you, it creates a very new dimension in your being: the dimension of gratitude, which religions have wrongly interpreted as prayer. You cannot pray before you have known let-go.”
According to Osho, letting go has a lot to do with gratitude as you’re not asking for anything but instead appreciating:
“All the churches and all the temples are people who are praying, but they don’t know they are not in a state in which prayer arises on its own as gratitude. Prayer cannot mean anything else but gratitude – gratitude for so much that is given to you each moment without your asking. You could not have conceived of any more than what happens in the moment, if you allow it to happen. And the allowing is very simple: No past, no future – just this moment. You ask, “Could you please speak a little more on the art of letting go?” In fact, there is no art. And I have already spoken too much on it which is not really allowed.”
5 steps to letting go
1) Observe your mind
Try to take a step back from your mind and observe your thoughts. What are you identifying with the most? What are your conditioned thought patterns? You’ll begin that the mind, or the ego, isn’t really you which will give you enormous liberation.
Recognize that when a negative emotion comes, it’s probably from attachment. Observing is the first step to changing.
2) Distinguish between the voice of the ego and the actual situation
Your mind or your ego might tell you that not getting the job you want has ruined your career. The actual reason is that you have disappointed over something you never had in the first place. There has been no loss. Nothing has changed except what you perceived to be your future.
3) Embrace uncertainty
Easier said than done, but embracing the unknown actually provides secuirty. Deepak Chopra says: “Those who seek security in the exterior world chase it for a lifetime. By letting go of your attachment to the illusion of security, which is really an attachment to the known, you step into the field of all possibilities. This is where you will find true happiness, abundance, and fulfilment.”
Meditation is a fantastic practice to take a step back from your mind and observe what’s going on. Our mind is conditioned to desire and get unhappy when things don’t go our way. You’ll be to observe your mind and take an objective view about the reality of what’s really happening.
5) Don’t beat yourself up
When you experience negative emotions, don’t get upset with your life. Embrace all the facets of life and be thankful that you’re actually aware of what you’re feeling. Osho explains why embracing our emotions is so important:
“Sadness gives depth. Happiness gives height. Sadness gives roots. Happiness gives branches. Happiness is like a tree going into the sky, and sadness is like the roots going down into the womb of the earth. Both are needed, and the higher a tree goes, the deeper it goes, simultaneously. The bigger the tree, the bigger will be its roots. In fact, it is always in proportion. That’s its balance.”
Looking to reduce stress and live a calmer, more focused life? Mindfulness is the easy way to gently let go of stress and be in the moment. It has fast become the slow way to manage the modern world – without chanting mantras or finding hours of special time to meditate.
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