The head of the monastery and his disciple had finished looking after the sick, so they left the village and headed home. After a 45 minute trek in the woods, they came to the most difficult part of their journey, a wide, raging stream that had to be crossed. But today was different, for standing close by was a lovely maiden that also wanted to cross so that she could visit her uncle who lived on the other side.
Sensing her distress, the head of the monastery approached the young lady and said, "If you can place your trust in me, I will carry you across the stream." She agreed and thanked him. He scooped her in his arms and entered the stream, followed by his disciple. Although the ten-minute trip across was arduous, they arrived safely. The elderly monk put her down, said farewell, and he and his disciple continued on their way to the distant monastery.
An hour and a half later, they had finally reached the gateway to the monastery. But instead of being relieved, the disciple appeared agitated. When he was asked what was wrong, the disciple replied, "Master, as monks we have taken vows to never touch women. Yet, you carried the maiden in your arms." "Yes, I did," answered the master, "but I put her down ten minutes later. It is YOU who are still carrying her."
Like the disciple, many of us refuse to put down what is troubling us. We carry resentment, anger, hostility, mistrust, suspicion, grudges, fear, anxiety, worries, and other burdens. How can we travel very far if we are weighed down by so many concerns? When will we learn to drop our cares, release our worries, and let go of whatever is troubling us?
We mistakenly believe that we are held captive by our emotions and impulses, unable to act as we choose. We are like prisoners in a cell that is unlocked. We refuse to leave because we falsely believe the cell protects us. Fear is an example. Although it limits us, holds us back, and blocks our progress, we refuse to let it go. We cling to it, believing that it protects us. Protects us from what? Well, what if we were to try to reach our goal and then fail? Rather than experience the pain of a possible failure, we seek shelter in the arms of fear. For if we are too scared to act, we will be protected from the pain of failure.
We cling to our negativity; we cling to what is holding us back, just as a child clings to a security blanket. But what we cling to is needless, useless, and destructive. Of what use is regret, other than having something to wallow in? Of what use is jealousy and envy other than a venue for self-pity? Of what use is anger, other than trying to control people or events? But happiness is not found in controlling others or events; it is found in controlling ourselves. And the best way to control ourselves is to loosen our grasp, to let go of our worries, and free ourselves from the bondage that disguises itself as protection.
What good is worry? It doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but today of its strength. The idea of letting go of our worries isn't new. It is part of perennial wisdom, part of the Wisdom of the Ages, part of the Wisdom of the Sages, and part of the Wisdom of the Mages. Put some magic in your life by practicing it. A good way to start is by heeding the advice of Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65 ~ 8 BC), the Roman poet known as Horace, "Happy the man, and happy he alone, He, who can call today his own; He who, secure within, can say: 'Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.'" It is easy enough to talk about letting go, but how does one begin to do so? Some steps you can take appear below.
1. Before our world can change, we have to change. Before we can change, we have to do something different. And before we can do something different, we have to learn something different. What we have to learn is EVERYTHING IS AS IT WAS MEANT TO BE. So, accept it. At first, you may not like it, but by accepting it you can develop discipline, patience, and your threshold for tolerance. As you change your attitude by accepting what was meant to be, you eventually will arrive at a higher level, where you rejoice in everything that is; after all, everything is here for your own good. Start, then, by understanding these simple principles of life. But remember, knowledge has little value as information; its power lies in transformation. Use it to change.
2. Focus on whatever is troubling you. Don't try to run from it or hide from it. Allow yourself to feel it in its full intensity, for change is what happens when the pain of holding on becomes greater than the fear of letting go.
3. Ask yourself, "Can I let go of this feeling?" Realize that you are not your feelings and they are not holding on to you. It is the other way round; you are clinging to them.
4. Now ask yourself, "Am I willing to make the decision to let it go?"
5. Then ask, "When will I let go?"
6. Practice this visualization technique. Imagine that the troublesome emotion is squirming, writhing, and twisting in your hands. Feel it slithering in your hands and see yourself releasing it. Drop it. Let it go. Watch it fade away into the distance.
7. Repeat the above steps as often as needed.
The power of the above steps lies in the fact that by following them, we are putting ourselves in control. Usually, rather than analyzing our feelings and the consequences of following them, we merely acquiesce, allowing them to take us wherever they wish. By using the rational part of our brain, we remain in charge of our destiny.
If the above introduction to letting go is insufficient and you want to learn much more, I suggest you look into The Sedona Method. This course on the art of letting go used to sell for US$239, but now sells for less than $12. By letting go of approximately US$12, or less, you'll be able to become a master of letting go of your worries!
© Chuck Gallozzi
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