You hear this phrase “letting go” a lot in meditation circles. It’s easy to say, and pretty easy to explain as well: don’t cling to the past, don’t get absorbed in plans for the future, don’t let fear, worry or anger get a hold of you in the present.
But try telling someone who is fearful or angry – in this present moment – to “let go” and you may get your ears boxed. And it won’t do anything to help them to let go either.
Actually letting go doesn’t come about by doing anything. Letting go isn’t something you do – it’s more like something that happens, almost by itself.
The conditions have to be right, of course. You must be able to let go – often you must have the courage and openness to accept whatever life has to offer – to not resist what might be unpleasant. And meditative exercises help too, of course: focusing your attention on the here and now creates the discipline of mind to not be carried away by anticipations of the future or memories of the past.
But being fully at ease with whatever is present in your experience is hard. It requires an attitude of welcoming to whatever this moment has to offer – an act of faith in the unknown of the future. But such an attitude cannot be brought about by doing anything. It’s more in the act of non-doing and just witnessing.
This is what meditation is about, really. Stopping. Not doing and just being and being aware. Dwelling in awareness is how this total relaxation can happen. And when you are totally relaxed – at ease with everything – there is no clinging and no grasping. “Letting go” has happened.