Meditation on the Feeling of Letting Go – Pacification!
Pacifying the mind is a desired outcome of regular, stable meditation practice. Pacification may be done via meditating on the breath, general mindfulness awareness, vipassana, and various other forms of meditation. However, the wise mind skill of “letting go” of unhelpful, negative, and harmful thoughts and emotions may be more difficult for many people, even many meditators. In this post I hope to teach you how to LET GO. Since letting go is much more than a cognitive action, it is necessary to examine other human processing channels – especially sensation, body movement, and emotion. “Monkey Mind” can be pacified! Pacifying “monkey mind” when it contains strong negative objects of awareness will require a bit more practice and determination. Discernment of finer details in thoughts, sensations, body movement, and emotions will be necessary. Let’s begin.
- Begin with a comfortable but functional meditation posture.
- Pay close attention to your breath just as it is. Do not try to control it.
- Now slowly begin to slow and deepen your breathing, noticing breath passing in and out of the nostrils, the chest area, and how your lower belly moves in and out.
- Continue with abdominal breathing as long as it does not cause the opposite effect – making you anxious.
- Now become aware of your mind, and the thoughts that are passing through it right now. Practice bare attention without making any evaluations or stories about the thoughts. Just let them pass.
- Check your personal stability in posture, breath, and clear seeing regarding the coming and going of your thoughts. Still no judgments or analysis – just moving thoughts like a leaf in a stream.
- At this point make a conscious effort to produce a negative thought you would rather not have in your mind. Just notice it! Drop judgment and the need to respond to the thought. Just allow it to be.
- Notice that it tends to produce unwanted sensations and/or emotions – feeling associated with negative thoughts. Just notice. No need to respond.
- It is important that your realize just how easy it was to intentionally produce a negative thought in your consciousness. Yes, we have automatic negative thoughts, and we have intentionally created negative thoughts. Both are unhelpful, unwanted and uncomfortable. The important thing is that thoughts – like breathing – can be under both voluntary and involuntary control. Positive thoughts are the same way.
- Now give yourself a SUDs score (0 to 100) regarding the negative thought. The higher the score on Subjective Units of Discomfort, the stronger the unpleasantness is.
- Let’s practice. Make the negative though more clear in your mind, then let it go. Just use your intention to let it go cognitively. Add sensation: get the thought going again, and feel it in your body. Intentionally let it go, and focus on the subtle change in sensation. Do it once again, but this time focus on the emotion the negative thought produces in your body. Focus on the thought; let it go, and notice the subtle emotional shift. Let’s add body movement to this process. This time let the thought go, and make an arm gesture as if gently flicking the thought away. If it helps use both arms at once.
- Now practice it all at once. Produce the thought. Intentionally let it go cognitively, and notice the subtle shifts in sensation and emotions. Add you arm flicking movement. Really get into letting it go, over and over again. Do it one more time. Include cognition, sensation, emotion and the body movement. Now give yourself another SUDs score from 0 to 100 to see if the overall discomfort has been reduced.
- Practice this skill often!!!!! If you relapse into autopilot mind, STOP and intentionally make a new thought.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness
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