I often ask my students, “What are you really hungry for now?” They don’t say French fries or more clothes. These are the common responses:
- I want peace.
- I want more time.
- I want to feel more connected, and be able to stay in the present moment more often when I’m spending time with those in my life.
Seem like a tall order? Not necessarily. In fact, we can reach some of these goals by simplifying our approach to everyday activities and encounters. One practice that brings us closer to strengthening our inner stability is letting go.
I came into contact with the practice of letting go from one of my first teachers and mentors, James Baraz. James is a Co-Founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the author and originator of the class and book, Awakening Joy and Awakening Joy for Kids. Earlier in the year, James and I were talking about how the act of letting go helps you to be more content with less. Here are the three different types of letting go we talked about:
1) Let go of story. What stories about yourself are keeping you wound up? For example, when difficulty arises in a relationship, it may trigger thoughts like: “I am not good enough,” or “I don’t have enough.” What story can you let go of? What story do you want to cultivate that creates more peace and balance? This is one that I use often: “I am being fully supported and have everything that I need right now.” I automatically feel more peace and inner stability after a minute of repeating this phrase. We can replace the old story with something more supportive at any time during the day or simply repeat it over and over as a way to calm the mind and body.
2) Let go of stuff. We acquire so many things because we believe that this thing, this experience, etc., will make us happy. By continuing to search outside of ourselves for pleasure without a strong inner practice to tether ourselves to, we will always be hungry and our hearts and bellies will never feel full. What if you could come from a place of enough—how much stuff would you actually need? What do you really need to feel full?
Sometimes the best way to have more—time, connection, and freedom—is to commit to less.
3) Let go of busyness. This is the one we are all in search of. Everyone I meet seems to feel stretched with the information overload, the list of neverending tasks, the musts, and the shoulds. Sometimes the best way to have more—time, connection, and freedom—is to commit to less. How can you simplify your life so you have time for what really matters? What is the first thing you can let go of today?