Elul: Practicing Letting Go

Elul: Practicing Letting Go

Rabbi Jonathan Slater

We have much to gain from practicing release. We discover inter-dependence, the capacity to share; to recognize that – in our culture – we have “enough”, we are truly blessed by abundance. We experience an opening to what is right now, as opposed to what we wanted or expected. Indeed, we may discover that being with what is, as it is, there is delight. In practicing release we become more resilient, flexible and curious, nurturing creativity, compassion and constancy.

May this year of Release be a time of blessing and renewal for you, a time of discovery and joy.

A Meditation for Release

How shall we learn to release in all of these ways? We must practice. It is not enough for this to be a good idea, something we wish for but don’t do. We must do, and then do again, training heart, mind and body to turn to the soul, and let go. This is the nature of practice. Understanding flows from experience; insight arises from observation.

Sit comfortably, feet on the floor, back upright, hands landing easily in your lap. Feel the sensations of your body: the sensation of your feet against the earth; the pressure of the chair against your thighs and back; tingling or vibration; the gradient of temperature across your body.

As you relax into the sensations of your body, notice the rising and falling of the breath. Turn your attention to the sensation of the breath. Notice where you feel it most prominently – at the nostrils, in the belly, in the lungs – and allow your attention to rest there. Connect to the feeling of the breath as it rises and falls.

With each inhalation, experience the fullness of your body, its vitality, the energy that comes from breath. At the top of the breath, pause and say to yourself “Release” and allow the breath to go. You need not push it out or do anything other than let go. Release. Over and over we inhale and feel full, and then release.

It is likely that as you practice your attention will wander from the direct awareness of the sensation of your breath. Thoughts, ideas, memories, plans may all draw your attention away from the sensation of the breath. When you realize that you are caught up in thought, pause: acknowledge your distraction and reconnect with your intention to root in the breath, then simply say “release” and return to the breath.

Have no expectation of one or another experience. Here we simply wish to come into awareness of our bodies and minds, and to practice letting go, allowing all to release.