At first glance, the injunction to bless and release sounds just beautiful, and so evolved. On reflection, it is missing a crucial component: learning from the experience before you let it go. Jumping right to bless and release without first opening to the lesson is like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg. You may think you did something helpful, but it’s a superficial solution.
If it were that easy to just bless and release, people would forgive far more readily, and generally move through relationship roadblocks and inner conflicts with ease. As you know, nothing could be further from the truth.
If you take stock of a situation, ask yourself what you could glean from it, and then consciously open your heart, you will be more able to truly bless the people involved and let it go. The psychic lightness you experience as a result comes from true detachment.
In Buddhism, the concept of detachment is often misunderstood. It does not mean detaching your love and caring from someone; rather, it is detachment from outcome. This requires an understanding of your expectations, even when they are not readily accessible. It’s just another good reason to take time to meditate, as it allows previously buried thoughts and feelings to emerge from your unconscious to your conscious mind.
Once you are aware of your expectations, i.e., your attachment to certain outcomes, you can work to release them. The first step in letting go is acknowledging the hold they have on you. Is there a pattern of thinking, judging, reacting, or expecting that has dogged you in the past? If so, please resist the temptation to blame yourself. Trust that you were doing the best you could, and refuse to enter the cycle of self-criticism, as it will only impede your progress.
Accepting other people’s different ways of being and behaving is a wonderful goal. Like all major cognitive and heart-opening shifts, it does not happen overnight. A good way to start is by being aware of your thought patterns, behaviors, and physical responses to certain people and situations. If you sense a tightness in your chest or abdomen, ask yourself what you might be thinking about someone’s behavior. Are you judging it? Are you being critical of his or her way of handling something? Are you comparing how you would do things differently? Breathe into whatever tightness you feel. Give yourself a cosmic permission slip to have those initial reactions without resorting to self-condemnation. Then ask yourself: “How would I rather think and feel about this person?”Imagine reacting that way. Use all five senses to really feel the difference. Now, notice any changes in your body.
If you like how you think and feel after that exercise, you may be ready to bless. Following the teaching of the Buddha on metta, or loving-kindness meditation, bless yourself first. To Western minds, this may appear selfish, but it sets the stage for opening your heart to others. Once you feel that positive intention toward yourself, you can bless the other person. A classic invocation is: “May you be peaceful, may you be happy, may you be free from suffering.”
If that felt good, let it all go. This is easier said than done, as humans can’t erase memories at will; however, you can let go of any residual negative feelings, such as anger, resentment, or jealousy, especially if you feel yourself joyfully moving forward.
Letting go is powerful psychological medicine when it is done with a truly forgiving heart. Be patient with yourself as you traverse this new territory, and practice self-forgiveness as it paves the way to being more loving and understanding of others.
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