When the term letting go is mentioned, it would be normal to think about physically letting go of something. Just like how one might open their hands and drop something. However, the letting go that I am about to describe here, has more to do with psychologically letting go.
This is something that involves letting go internally and letting go externally. Internally this can be: thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations and perceptions. And externally this can be: behaviours, relationships and environments.
These two sides are connected; as the inner aspects change the outer will typically follow suit. This process can also occur the other way around. And along with holding on; letting go is often described as part of life. There are also many traditions in the world that say attachment is what creates suffering.
Ideally one would let go of that which no longer serves them. As soon as something became dysfunctional or disempowering, one would let go and allow another possibility to enter their life.
And this would take very little effort or energy. One may not even notice that this process was taking place, because it would be so effortless.
When something has become disempowering or dysfunctional and no longer reflects who one is; letting go would be the logical thing to do. It would not make sense for one to hold onto what is only creating pain, suffering or stress.
And yet, this is what often happens and then one ends up holding onto to what no longer has a purpose. The consequences of this can be devastating: this may lead to weeks, months or years of suffering; and for others this may involve a whole life time of unnecessary suffering.
What this shows is that there is an inner conflict going on. Not only is there a battle with what is going on outside; there is also a battle within. And this is because they don't represent who one truly is.
There might have been a time when they did, but this time has come to an end. And even though this is the case, these internal processes and external experiences are still around.
The Ego Mind
To be able to understand what is going on here, it is important to take a look at how the ego mind functions. And ones reality is constantly being created and filtered based on what the ego mind perceives as what is familiar
and therefore safe.
So what this means is; if something does not register as safe or familiar to the ego mind, it is highly unlikely to be seen or experienced.
And one is not the ego mind and this why it is possible to observe the ego mind. If one was the ego mind it wouldn't be possible to observe it. The ability to observe the mind has to be developed and practiced like any skill; until ones become proficient at it.
When this ability has not been developed one will have no other option than to identify with their ego mind. From here one will be pulled into experiencing both internally and externally what their ego mind has come to associate as safe.
These associations that the ego mind has of what is safe and what is not are typically formed in the early years of one's life. And this is why they are often so difficult to let go. With the memories that were the most traumatic and dysfunctional causing the biggest problems later in life.
During these early moments, ones ego mind will form its whole identity and perception of life. And the ego minds stability and identity is based on these early memories and different variations of these memories.
So for the ego mind to let go of these early associations of what is safe, it would feel like death. And that is why any form of change is threatening to the ego mind. It does not run on what is empowering or functional; all it cares about is if it is familiar.
If what was classed as familiar was both functional and empowering; this wouldn't be a problem.
The Present Moment
In the present moment these memories have very little purpose, other that the reality they have created through ones identification to them. And this is because the ego mind can only be active when one regresses to the past or when these past fears are being projected onto the future.
When one is in the present moment it allows for the true self to appear. And the true self is not something that is limited by space or time - it just is. Letting go and holding on do not apply either.
This shows how important awareness is. Because without awareness, it is not possible for one to realise they are not their ego mind, let alone that they are the observers of it. Observing the mind can sound like another product of the ego mind and can be interpreted to mean escaping from it.
These memories have to be expressed and faced. And this is a process that is a lot easier when one realises they are not their ego mind.
And after many years of repression and fighting the ego mind, there is inevitably going to be a lot of things that one is not aware of and that need to be processed. This will allow the conflict within to dissolve.
With awareness comes freedom; the past cannot be changed and doesn't need to be. And neither does it need to be escaped from.
This is why it is important to work with a conscious individual that can assist in allowing one to develop their observing abilities. Here, one can feel and express all that has become frozen in the body.
And due to the build up over the years, this may be overwhelming at first. What this build up has done, is blocked the true self from being realised and known.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.