Of all the principles of a mindfulness practice, non-attachment or “letting go” is typically the most challenging. We usually need to “let go” most when the stakes feel really high. Whatever it is we are trying to “let go” of tends to feel very sticky. We try to breathe it in and out and it seems to go no where. We try to distract ourselves, but the sticky thing we are trying to let go of is waiting for us at the end of the day. Sometimes, it feels like the harder we try to let go of something the stickier or more attached to it we become.
This sticky feeling or experience could be feeling caught in our own negative self-talk or self-doubt; feeling wounded by someone’s words or actions; or even the physical feelings of illness that seem to linger on and on. But, how do we “let go” and what does that really mean?
Letting go or non-attachment is sort of like catch-and -release fishing. You may catch that feeling, thought or judgement and turn it around in your hand. It’s on the hook, but you can let it go. You still experience it, feel it (scales and all); but then consciously let it slip back into the water without biting the hook yourself.
Non-attachment does not mean detached or not caring, but it is a practice of not drowning yourself in the feeling. We must touch it and acknowledge it without resistance. As Jung said, “what we resist, persists.” The more we try to avoid a bad feeling, the more it seems to haunt us. This week, see if you can practice non-attachment by “catching” the uncomfortable feeling, noticing it, honoring it and then releasing it back without getting caught on the hook.
Mindful moments are short practices to be used throughout your week to relax, integrate and center yourself. Inspired by the wisdom traditions and science, mindful moments are meant to be accessible and simple enough for anyone to practice. Many teachers and leaders in integrative medicine have influenced our approach to mindful moments. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” Pema Chodron would say it is “practicing in the gaps.” Look for the weekly mindful moment every Monday. May it support you in finding your center to live life to the fullest.
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