Two monks return to their monastery after the rains. They reach an inflated river and in front of them is a beautiful woman in a delicate silk kimono, distressed because she is unable to cross the river by herself. The older monk scoops her up, carries her safely to the other side, and the two monks continue on their way in silence.Later, as the monks reach their destination, the younger monk, having fumed for the last 5 hours, finally bursts out, “How could you do it? We’re not allowed to touch a woman!” Surprised, the older monk replies, “I put her down 5 hours ago, but you are still carrying her with you.”
As with the younger monk in the story, the things we hold onto (e.g. anger, hurt, guilt) cloud our minds and prevent us from fully enjoying life. The irony is that whatever you are holding onto is probably bothering you much more than anyone else.
Letting go usually involves some form of forgiveness or acceptance – whether it’s for yourself, someone else, or a situation.
It doesn’t mean we condone an incident or behavior; it’s about lightening OUR load. When we let go of whatever is bothering us, we set ourselves free and get to reclaim that energy for ourselves. You don’t need to know how to let go, you just need to be willing. While you can’t change the past, you can learn from it and change how you feel going forward.
If you need to let go of something YOU’VE done, ask yourself, “what do I need to do that will allow me to let this go?” Perhaps you need to make notes in your journal of what you’ve learned. Maybe you need to make amends, apologize, or find a meaningful way to make it up to yourself or someone else.
Remember – whatever you find hardest to let go of is probably what you need to let go of the most.