One small mindfulness practice

One small mindfulness practice

Most people, myself included, are holding onto at least one thing that is way past its expiration date.

It might be a belief about yourself, such as your aging body is not beautiful and that you are ugly and unlovable. This belief might make it difficult for you to express your feelings in intimate relationships, or you might believe that you must lose a few pounds to be attractive to others. Perhaps it’s a deeply held desire, like wishing that someone would treat you with more kindness, yearning for a certain type of intimate partner, or wanting to cure an illness.

You might feel this as fear, or a grudge or resentment, or long-time grief. You might notice this in your behaviours, such as disconnecting through video games, shopping, overworking or over-exercising. You might also find yourself expressing this by insisting that others do things your way, such as how they load the dishwasher, or insisting that they drive in a certain way when you’re a passenger, or expecting colleagues to meet particular goals at work.   

Some of these things that we are attached to cause us problems, and we usually are aware of the problems, or with reflection, become aware of the problems they cause us—things like feeling defensive, negative self-talk, or compulsions. Although difficult to deal with, these are the things that we have a good idea of how to resolve or, with support, can resolve. 

The harder things to let go of are the ones that make sense or would be good for you or others, like wishing you could attract more traffic to your site, hoping that your recent medical test comes back negative, or hoping that the person you are longing for would contact you. With some reflection, we begin to see that even though you’ve done everything you can, the little plants are still not flowering (you can use any metaphor here; as a gardener, I like this one).

Now what?

Sometimes we have to let things go. 


You can begin by taking a wider view of the situation or stepping back from whatever it is that you’ve attached to. It is as if you are sitting on the top of a mountain, in the warm sun, and looking down into the valley that contains these things you’re holding on to. You can exhale now, just breathing in this moment. After a few breaths, open to what your heart is telling you. 

What is your heart telling you about this thing that you are attached to? Is it possible for this thing to even come true? Or perhaps, is it out of your hands so that all your well-intentioned wishing, hoping, grasping and striving just isn’t going to make it happen?

You have choices. You can choose to keep trying. You can choose to let it go. You probably will become aware of more choices with some reflection. With self-compassion, be with these reflections. And let the possibilities emerge, and sink in.

Sometimes we can feel the reality of the thing that we’re holding on to by holding a small object, like a rock or leaf, in our hand. Imagine that the object is the thing that you’ve been holding on to. Bring your attention to the object in your hand, letting your thoughts about the thing arise; feel all that you’re doing to remain attached to the thing, asking yourself if it is worth the cost to you. When you feel ready, intentionally open your hand and allow the object to drop. Open to any feelings that emerge: relief? Freedom? Insight? 

Another approach to becoming curious about the thing that you are holding on to is to talk to a psychotherapist or a trusted friend. Explore the attachment within a sense of kindness to yourself. The attachment came to be there for a good reason.

Letting go of things that hold space but don’t feel good to you will open space for things that could feel better. You might find, over time, that you have a greater sense of authenticity, peace, and love for yourself and others. 

Let yourself be surprised.

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