The ultimate aging skill: The art of letting go…

The ultimate aging skill: The art of letting go.

About mastery in releasing attachment

Do you find that getting older asks you to change in ways with which you are not always comfortable? As we age our bodies change, as do our minds. We sometimes lose things. We can lose friends, family, pets and car keys and these are among the many things that are sometimes lost and then found. One of the most important things I see increasing age asking of me right now is to get good at letting go. It seems to be asking me to get better at letting go of relationships, friendships, objects and possessions, family and loved ones. This includes little or big  things that might mean a little or a lot.relaxing scene of sunset and letting go

Releasing attachment:

“Letting go” may not be the best phrase  for what we are called to do. To me “letting go” implies that  what is lost is no longer in our thoughts or emotions. I prefer the words, “releasing attachment to.” Perhaps that is because “releasing” an attachment can mean we can still have in our heart and mind the loved missing piece that is no longer there.  It is  remembered and felt, but the charge is lessened.

Strange bedfellows:

Anything we become attached to becomes a part or extension of ourself and not just emotionally but physically as well. Getting upset to the point of becoming ill over a scratch on the car, a lost wallet, a missed appointment, etc. (maybe you can think of more examples) shows us how we have made these things a part of ourself and a part of our physiology. 

We have choices.

Sometimes we can find peace in letting go or releasing attachment or we can hang on for dear life to things that no longer serve us, or are simply no longer in our lives.  Clinging and hanging on will not change the reality of loss. It will only bind our energy in an unhealthy way. Bound or stuck energy is a precursor to symptoms, illness, misery and unhappiness.  Some people hang on until they become ill mentally or physically. Let’s “let go” of that idea.

The attachment/loss cycle          image of relaxing lily pond

It must be a part of our human nature to create attachments to things. Sometimes those attachments are healthy and sometimes they are just the best we can do with our current state of conditioning and needs. You become attached to your grandmother’s wedding ring. You lose your grandmother’s wedding ring.  Or, you lose your pet, you lose your glasses or car keys in the house, you lose your husband or wife or best friend or brother or sister to illness or accident. Agonizing as it may be, in times of loss like this, releasing our attachment is a  necessary part of a wholly functioning person in society. If we live long enough and we hope to become healthy and optimally functioning beings, mastering detachment becomes a given.  It does not mean we have to forget. Attachment, loss, letting go, attachment. One of life’s many cycles. That is why I prefer “releasing attachment.”

Life goes on

How many times and ways must we let go? How many times can we? Over the course of the decades of my life,  my experience tells me the answer is these cycles of attachment and loss happen more times than we can count. We get knocked down. We get back up. We lose our job and we get back up, we lose our spouse and we continue on. One gets sick, one fights to get well. Until we don’t any more. My grandmother lived to 109 years old. She lost ALL her friends and family along the way. What would that be like for you?

Releasing and letting go. Not the same as forgetting.

If we are to grow as humans we must learn to release and let go of things as simple or complicated as old ways of doing things, of thoughts that do not serve us anymore and bad habits that are holding us back. SO many things to let go of or release our attachment to. Some of these we can choose to move away from, some are “taken” from us. Some attachments are easy to release, some very difficult.
Some things we simply must let go of no matter how hard or difficult it is. Some things are worth fighting for. So then, how many times do we fight? How hard to we fight before letting go if we must. How do we know when to give in and truly let go?

The BIG letting  go

After a lifetime of working hard to keep our attachments in place, when do we know it is time to let go? Some things are easy to  let go of and some are not. And then there is the BIG letting go, The ultimate

Lake Tahoe

letting go. To let go and allow our life slip away from our body and not fight anymore. After a lifetime of falling down and getting back up, when is the time to stay down and surrender our life to the cycle of give and take? Some of us have a choice in matters like this. Some do not. We read all the time about people who just stop taking the chemo or  stop taking the pills and give in to the inevitably inevitable reality that fighting is only going to take away one’s  spirit more than is gained in continuing. Here is an inspiring video by Emily Levine on just this subject.  Her insights into living and dying are moving.

Loss can bring great pain: mastering attachment healing

The pain of loss is always in proportion to the degree of our attachment and  our skill or ability to release and heal the attachment.  Read that one again. Sometimes this healing can take months or years. For the mother who loses a child for example, a lifetime.  What are some things or people you are attached to? Can you think of anything or anyone that if “they” or “it” went away you would feel pain? What have you had to let go of in the last year or decade or two? What degree was the pain? How quickly were you able to release your attachment and “let go.” What will you be letting go of in the next few months or year that you know of already? I would love to hear about your process of observing your attachments and letting go of things you can no longer hold onto anymore.  As we go along, and in the end, we must become masters of releasing attachment. I wish I had some great advice for you here. Have you heard any inspiring stories about this? Have you had a loss you can’t let go of?

How to let go:

Many things are not easily surrendered.  Letting go and releasing attachment can be difficult. Here are a few skills that some people find helpful in healing attachment.

  1. Gratitude. Maybe this doesn’t need to be explained but I’m going to assume most of us have things in life we can be grateful for. Focusing on those things, even for just a moment can help.
  2. Forgiveness. Which came first the chicken or the egg? Forgiveness or healing? I’ve heard it described both ways. Forgiveness is for the forgiver. It will help. Work on this.
  3. Live in the present moment. Projecting hurtful or worst case scenario thoughts and emotions is harmful, plain and simple. Allow the pure emotion to fully express for about 3-60 seconds then move on as best you can. Easier said than done? Yes. Without a doubt. However, science tells us our pure emotions last only that long. Really, they only last a few seconds to a few minutes. Beyond that, it becomes what our mind does with it.
  4. If you meditate  give it a go.  Sometimes it can be difficult s to meditate when anxiety is elevated. If so, repeat steps 1-3.

 Your experience:

Now I have to release my attachments to making this article any longer than I already have. Feel free to share your thoughts and experience in the comments section.  Thanks!

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