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How to Practice Letting Go of Things
Perhaps more than any other aspect of our lives, the fact that we cling to things in our experience leads us to various degrees of suffering. Indeed, this tendency to attempt to hold onto various components of our experience may be responsible for the greatest share of what ultimately causes us pain, trauma, depression, and anxiety. The fact that we tend to experience strong feelings of attachment toward things (and the fact that this attachment causes us suffering) is something that Buddhist teachings point to as one of the most important things we need to realize. This realization is difficult to grapple with, and many of us struggle to come to terms with it.
However, if our goal is to live in the present, we must be definition work to detach ourselves from various experiences. The harder we attempt to cling to our concepts, our past experiences, our wants and desires, and our notion of how things ought to be, the harder it is for us to be fully present. In fact, if we’re particularly attached to a specific set of concepts, or if we’re too busy judging the present based on how we believe it should be (rather than simply accepting it for what and how it is), being fully in the present moment is practically impossible.
This mindfulness exercise is focused on helping you begin to let go of your ideas, your desires, and your fixations on how the world ought to be. The more you’re able to detach yourself from a particular set of expectations, or from a specific memory of a past state, the more you’ll be able to live completely in the present moment. As you learn to practice letting go of things, you’ll find your appreciation for the present fundamentally shifts: rather than spending some (or even most) of your energy experiencing anxiety for the eventual loss of a particular moment, you’ll be able to live fully in it, appreciating it for what it is.