Letting Go

9 attitudes of mindfulness

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.

Lao Tzu

Let your experience be what it is and practice observing it from moment to moment. When we start paying attention to our inner experience, we rapidly discover that there are certain thoughts and feelings and situations that the mind seems to want to hold on to. Similarly, there are others that we try to get rid of or prevent or protect ourselves from having. In mindfulness, we intentionally put aside the elevation of some experiences more than others. Instead, we let our experience be what it is. Letting go is a way of letting things be, without grasping and pushing away.

  • We let things go, both pleasant and unpleasant, and we just watch
  • We notice pleasant experiences arise, change and fade and we watch unpleasant experiences arise, change and fade without clinging to either and without pushing anything away.
  • 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 holdingfeels like. Holding on is the opposite of letting go. Being willing to look at the ways we hold shows a lot about its opposite.
  • You already know how to let go; with every new breath we breathe, we let go to enable the next.


Just sitting:

We can practice the art of letting go by just sitting and doing nothing. This might form part of a formal meditation practice, taking place before or after a breathing practice, for instance. Alternatively you might practice just sitting as a meditation in itself. The key is that you are not trying to do anything at all. You are not trying to make anything happen. Instead you are watching the constant flow of change in your own experience. You might sit for a minute with your eyes closed and watch how physical sensations change, or the ways in which your thoughts and emotions change, without pushing anything away or clinging on. In this way we are letting go of our experience as it naturally changes, moment-by-moment.

Letting go in practice

In my own meditation practice, when I just sit and allow thoughts to be there, without fighting them, I tend to find that there are less thoughts. By letting go of outcome, I can just let the practice unfold and it gives me an insight into my own mind at that moment.