Mindfulness is the ability to be present to what is without reacting to it.
One of my favorite mindfulness exercise is: Letting Go.
Letting go is challenging because we are unable to dissociate the emotions we feel from the situation or person that provoked them.
In a situation that triggers strong emotions like anger, fear, anxiety or resentment, we’re pushed off our center and react automatically. We are on automatic pilot.
However, at no point are we actually feeling the emotions that come up, we’re reacting to what provoked them. So to ask someone at this point to let go, is well honestly insane. We need to dissociate the emotion from the situation.
First Mindfulness Step: Setting the stage
The first step therefore, is to allow ourselves to feel what we are feeling without judgment and without the story. In other words, we don’t go into the situation. How do we do that?
Sit in a comfortable sitting position or lay down. Take three deep breaths and with each breath in, imagine inhaling peace and relaxation. With each exhalation, allow your body to settle a little more fully in its position.
At the end of the third exhalation, let your breath return to a natural and uncontrolled state. Mentally scan your body, and become aware of the parts of the body that are tight and tense. Each time you exhale, consciously relax every part of your body, let go of any remaining tightness and tension.
Once you’ve scanned the whole body, from the tips of the toes to the finger tips to the top of the head, focus your attention on your natural breath. For a moment, be aware of every inhale and every exhale, and be aware of the subtle movement of your breath in the stillness of your body.
Now, allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling. Feel what your emotion(s) feel like. Allow yourself to feel what it feels like in your body, any sensation you might feel in your body. As best you can stay away from judgment and from the story. What you are feeling is not wrong… and it is not you… it is a kind of energy clawing at your insides, a kind of energetic pain. Can you feel it moving or changing? Is it increasing or decreasing? Is it moving in a different area in your body? Does it feel like a wave expanding and then easing.
Second Mindfulness Step: The Letting Go Questions
Each time you feel your emotion easing ask yourself the three basic Releasing questions:
1- Could I let it go? In other words, you always have a choice to either hold on to it or not, so can you make a decision?
2- Would I let it go? Would you be willing to?
3- When? the only answer to that is ‘NOW’
Then once again, allow yourself to feel the emotion(s) without getting into judgment or in the story. Notice what has changed if anything. And when you feel an ease again ask yourself the three basic Releasing questions.
You can do that until you feel lighter, more centered, and at peace. And that’s how easy mindfulness can be!
What happens when we allow ourselves to feel and then let go of the emotions that overwhelm us? We are experiencing mindfulness and bringing ourselves back into courage, peace and acceptance. In doing so we are empowering ourselves, we are no longer the victim, but rather we take “respons-ability” for ourselves. When we do that, we are better able to respond to the situation and we are truly free.
Check out my new blog on mindfulness,