After reading all the books on mindfulness, the secret behind staying in the present is letting go of the past. I searched for practical tips on letting go and found this book.
Hawkins gives you a different perspective towards how to approach life and explains each of them with examples on how it changed lives and quotes the research material wherever available.
In retrospection, this is not a book to read as a nighttime story and get done with.I haven’t learnt letting go by the time I was done with it. There is no step by step instruction or everyday exercises which I can follow to make it a practice. That was a disappointment for me. Otherwise, the various other information about emotions and energy levels was quite useful for me as I have been searching for books on that topic since a very long time. According to my understanding, you are majorly stuck at one level, but we can fluctuate between various levels throughout the day.
You can benefit from the book, if you read it for the first time to understand the content and pick it up again to read one concept at a time and absorb it deeply and make it a part of your identity before you move to the next one.
Chapter 1 – Introduction
The foreword and preface were boring enough to question my choice of picking up the book. But when I read the plethora of options people choose to deal with life from psychotherapy to meditation and everything in between but nothing seems to work for them, that is when I fell in love with the book. I thought Hawkins was going to introduce me to something which I haven’t tried before. But after that he again bores you with high promises being made on how he is going to make your life better without coming to the point.
Chapter 2 – The Mechanism of Letting go
This chapter was mind opening for me. I wonder why no one taught how to handle emotions back at school. Hawkins says that there are three ways to handle emotions : suppression, expression and escape. If you ever wondered how Netflix sustains itself, it lives off on your need to escape from emotions. All the heart attacks at a young age are from the repressed and suppressed feelings. You are mistaken like me if you thought expressing is the best way to deal with feelings. When you express, you are giving the feeling greater energy to take over your life and also the remnants of expression are going to be suppressed.
“Letting go involves being aware of a feeling, letting it come up, staying with it, and letting it run its course without wanting to make it different or do anything about it.”
Now this sounds so simple. But how to do it in real is why I picked this book. How do I know when I am resisting the feeling or letting it run its course?
“To be surrendered means to have no strong emotion about a thing: “It’s okay if it happens, and it’s okay if it doesn’t.”
Now this is the crux of Bhagavad Gita too, do your work and don’t expect the results.
Chapter 3 – The Anatomy of Emotions
Here is where it gets interesting. I only knew before that there are negative, neutral and positive emotions. But Hawkins introduces you to a scale of emotions with an energy tag for each of them. Lowest on the scale is Shame and highest is Peace. In this chapter, he only gives a brief description of each. Anything which is below the level of courage is negative. At the level of courage, you repairing one area of your life helps in other areas of life too.
Chapter 4 – Apathy and depression
Starting with this chapter, he gives a detailed description to give yourself a reality check on where you stand in the energy scale and what you can do to embrace the let go technique.
1.I can’t vs I won’t
“Most “I can’ts” are really “I won’ts.” Behind the “I can’ts” or the “I won’ts” is frequently a fear. Then, when we look at the truth of what is behind the feeling, we have already moved up the scale from apathy to fear.”
2.Blame – Playing the victim card
“One of the laws of consciousness is: We are only subject to a negative thought or belief if we consciously say that it applies to us. We are free to choose not to buy into a negative belief system.”
“when we let go of blame, we experience forgiveness.”
3.Getting the positive energy
“choose to be with other persons who have resolved the problem with which we struggle”
Chapter 5 – Grief
“ Acceptance is different from resignation. Resignation says, “I don’t like it, but I have to put up with it.”
“God, Grant me the
Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the
Courage to change the things I can, and the
Wisdom to know the difference.”
“Where am I looking to get love rather than to give it?”
“Internal joy comes from pleasure of giving and loving then we are really invulnerable to loss”
Chapter 6 – Fear
“What one holds in mind tends to manifest. What this means is that any thought which we consistently hold in mind and consistently give energy to will tend to come into our life according to the very form in which our mind has held it.”
“The more fear we hold, the more fearful situations we attract to our life”
Chapter 7 – Desire
“the essential point of freedom is whether we have chosen consciously to fulfil a certain want, or whether we are just being blindly run by unconscious programs and belief systems.”
“Desire, especially strong desire (e.g., cravingness), frequently blocks our getting what we want.”
“identify the goals and then let go of wanting them”
“the unconscious will allow us to have only what we think we deserve”
Chapter 8 – Anger
“The way to offset this anger is to acknowledge and relinquish the pride, surrender our desire for the pleasure of self-pity and, instead, view our efforts on behalf of others as gifts. We can experience the joy of being generous with others as its own reward.”
Chapter 9 – Pride
“The attempt to suppress pride out of guilt simply does not work.”
“Pride is sometimes seen as a motivator of achievement, what would be its higher level substitute? One answer would be joy. What is wrong with joy as the reward for successful achievement, rather than pride?”
Chapter 10 – Courage
This chapter doesn’t have any suggestions. It only talks about how great a state courage is to be in.
“On the level of courage, we really start becoming conscious. It dawns on us that we have the freedom and the capacity to choose.”
Chapter 11 – Acceptance
“I’m okay,” “You’re okay,” and “It’s okay.”
Chapter 12 – Love
“Forgiveness is an aspect of love that allows us to see life events from the viewpoint of grace.”
“Out of humility, all opinions about others are surrendered”
Chapter 13 – Peace
It is a state achieved by people like Buddha. Just good to know about it but might be impractical to reach it.
From here on, it is loads of theory backed by research and examples. You can feel free to skip these chapters unless you are not convinced that letting go works.
Happy letting go!