“Nirvana means stability, freedom, and the cessation of the cycle of suffering (samsara). Enlightenment does not come from outside; it is not something we are given, even by a Buddha. The seed of enlightenment is already within our consciousness. This is our Buddha nature, the inherent quality of enlightened mind that we all possess, and which needs only to be nurtured.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Most people do not think of spiritual practice as the practice of letting go. You may ask, “letting go of what?”. On one level, it’s letting go of everything. Everything from preconceived notions, ideas of separated individuality, to believing what we think and our addiction to following our thoughts into action.  What we want to let go of is that which is no longer serving us. What no longer serves us? Negativity. In particular, negative emotions.  And how do you go about doing that? And my favorite question is, how do you know that you have let go of it and not just buried it in denial?

Just to clarify: letting go of negative emotions is, or should be, the foundation of all spiritual practice.  Without that as a primary focus, how can you benefit others? Sounds easy, right? For some, it may be easy and it most likely depends on the complexity of the emotion, the strength and depth of it. Otherwise known as, your triggers.  The first step is being willing to notice when you are triggered. This is what is referred to as the practice of “mindfulness”.    When you feel yourself reacting to a situation or another person, can you stop and just notice it? Notice where it lives in your body, get familiar with the sensation and become very intimate with it?  I suggest that you do, as this is the most important first step to letting go.

Next step is own it. It’s never the other person causing your trigger. That is a very radical concept which reflects a profound truth: your triggers are yours. How you respond to any situation is entirely up to you and has nothing to do with the external situation.  It’s deeply buried emotions coming to the surface thanks to the situation or person’s actions.  Stress is not that you just got rear-ended, it’s how you respond to the person who rear ended you. So how do you get yourself to a place where you can thank the person who just rear ended you? Well maybe not exactly thank them but definitely not respond in any negative way.  Neutral or above is my motto. Everyone pretty much believes or knows that anger primarily affects the angry person the most and if the person it’s aimed at is teflon, it’s not having the unconscious desire anyhow so why bother?

Here’s what you can do. First, integrate what you just read into your consciousness. Believe it on every level if you resonate with it. Then, start really noticing who, what, when and where you are triggered. I like to give my trigger feelings a color, shape and size. I.e,  Sally just said something, I react then stop, drop and roll. Stop what I’m doing, drop the chatter and roll into the feeling in order to label it something like blue, cold, tin foil in my chest. That takes the person out of it and objectifies it in a way.

After identifying and connecting with your triggers, you have to be willing to let them go.  I think of this more like using sandpaper to wear them down vs. an immediate drop of a coin. Sometimes we can instantly let go of something but generally, the deeper the trigger, the more time it can take to fully eradicate it out of our being. Here are some tips to sanding down or fully dropping negativity:

  • Daily, weekly, rituals can help. Using the new moon to let go and welcome the new and the full moon to embrace the moon can be very helpful
  • Write letters to yourself and burn them
  • Light candles in the bathroom during bath time
  • Spiritual bathing
  • Make time for yourself and unplug from technology
  • Concentrate on not-thinking aka meditation
  • Go into nature


Monique Lang @ https://moniquelanglcsw.com/