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Holding on and not accepting change can cause great suffering, often referred to in mindfulness as “Rope Burn”. The grasping for what we want and aversion to what we don’t want- both create depleting energy around them. Mindfulness practices look to cultivate an attitude of letting go underlined by the recognition of impermanence of all things as taught in Buddhism.  Jon Kabat Zinn uses the analogy of a “Monkey Trap” in India where a banana is left inside a coconut with a small hole in it. Once a money puts its paw in and gets a hold of the banana, the fist gets stuck as it is too big to take it out of the hole. The monkey stays stuck there for days just because it cannot let go of the banana and gets captured. The monkey can be free if it could let go of what it wants- the banana. Recognising the attachments to our unhelpful desires is the first step to freedom. The practice of letting go is not just done once but moment by moment and is an ongoing practice. Kabat Zinn explains this point with the example of our continuous act of breathing- each breath we take, we have to let it go, otherwise there would be no room for the next one, no room for what is new and life-sustaining. That is the natural way of life. To receive and release with grace and ease is what helps us relieve life’s sufferings which are otherwise sustained by grasping and clinging.


Mindfulness helps us recognise when it is healthy to let go. Let go or be dragged- the act of letting go is one that frees us, because by holding onto things that no longer serve us, we stay stuck in unhealthy situations and states of mind. The act of letting go can take us from illbeing to wellbeing. We all need to learn for ourselves what to let go of, when and why. This is lifelong journey and the tool that helps us make this journey is mindfulness.


"Life is a balance of holding on and letting go"


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