How To Let Go, by Pascal Auclair

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About Pascal Auclair:

Pascal Auclair has been immersed in Buddhist practice and study since 1997, sitting retreats in Asia and America with revered monastics and lay teachers. He has been mentored by Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Massachusetts and Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California, where he is now enjoying teaching retreats. Pascal teaches in North America and in Europe. His depth of insight, classical training, and creative expression all combine in a wise and compassionate presence. In addition, his warmth and humour make Pascal a much-appreciated teacher.


First, maybe I’d like to really want to acknowledge the practice that you’re doing, that you’ve been doing all day, yesterday, and today. It’s a- I don’t quite know- it’s a strange practice, isn’t it? It’s a strange and beautiful practice and powerful practice, and sometimes we are confusing- what is that about, why did I come here? Why would I do this to myself? *laughs*

Yes, so that many people get together for that many days to actually develop that much honesty about what’s happening that the- into- maybe go- I don’t know if you feel that at this point, but one way to describe this is to go from some kind of chaos to some kind of clarity, because it’s a title of a Dharma book, but- so you’ve been on my experience on retreat, or different times to see before sitting, you know, for a few minutes, or for a few days or several weeks, how the mind can been in an experience of confusion, or many ideas, many perceptions and with the paying attention how it can settle, how clarity can come in calm, can come in balance of heart and mind so that we, yeah, we can understand a little bit more what’s happening, what makes us move, what makes us do what we do, or not do what we don’t do.

So tonight, I- we’ll see how it ends up. It was hard for me to gather ideas, because this afternoon, I ended up ___ to be practicing than thinking about it. *laughs* So, it was interested by going upstairs and downstairs. ___. It seems like a better idea than concepted idea, so let’s see what’s going to arise here tonight. I certainly had the intention to talk a little bit about last night, this ritual of letting go, or calling forth, or inviting. So, a little bit about this. So we better go into that now. You know, so we do this ritual, it’s kind of dramatic. You know, you come in the middle, and then there’s the microphone, and then you drop something, you know, and finish with my resentment, finish with myself loathing, finish with myself, I don’t know what, dryness, so whatever else, you know, and we burn it with the ice bucket. You know, it’s kind of very dramatic, and then you wake up the next morning, and “Why am I still resentful?” “Why is this the first thing that comes to mind is like that person did that to me?” or “Why do I wake up again like not sure if I can complete that day, you know, like everybody else has probably able to do this practice, but me?” or “Why do I wake up still with this arrogance like I’m the best than everybody else?” I don’t know what else is your pattern of your favorite ___ pattern, your favorite miserable pattern, but so, I wanted to look at this a little bit- the process of letting go. What makes letting go happen?

Sometimes, when I do this ritual like I did a few weeks ago in my sanga and ___. After we’ve done the whole dramatic part, then I said to people, so my understanding of what we did tonight and it’s my understanding of what we did last night, is actually, and that’s touching to me just to think of it and this way is we actually voiced, we named the practice we’re going to do in 2016. You know, we said, I’m actually going to bring a lot of care to this, to inviting this into diminishing the power of this pattern in my life, yeah? So, that’s how I understand it as I took on a practice for the year, because the chances of this thing coming back again are pretty high, yeah?

And so, one way that we can certainly talk about this practice and one way that I experience it is that for me, the weight happens and you might recognize something in there is- I learned through Buddhist practice where my attention could go and how its quality could have my attention. Again, I was saying the other day, it seems to me that there’s always attention given to something and I’m learning a little bit that maybe there’s other things that would be worth paying attention to than the one that I’m used to. For example, for ___, thinking and giving a lot of attention to the story of ___ is absolutely fascinating. I’m ___ with that story. The ugly part, the possible parts that could happen, those that could have happened, I mean, I have no limits, like there’s no shame, it’s totally free in there. Like, I can go in any direction, you know, like the fact that it’s past and it cannot be that kid anymore like it doesn’t limit me, because I could have been that kid or young adult, or I could you know, I could be looking differently and having different qualities of mind, like it doesn’t matter, I could spend a lot of time thinking about that.

And I remember when I went to the first time I sat to a retreat, what I heard was like, yeah, you could spend the whole half hour, forty-five minutes thinking about this and you would probably be very rich and you would end up at the same place at the end, but you could also just put your attention on your nose, which was very surprising to me. Like, oh, you’re suggesting that putting attention on my nose as more value, more potential to be liberating than actually getting, staying stuck in my story. How amazing.

And so in the practice, we say, hey, yes, you could be obsessed with the past, with the future, and planning, planning again, whatever you do worrying, you could, but you could also just see if you can hear sounds or silence. Just if you could feel the tolls right now, cold or warm, or you could just discover that there is a body sitting here.

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About the author 

Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]