We are all familiar with the feeling we get when the mind is fixated on a particular past event or future concern. No matter how trivial the issue, the mind can obsess over it seemingly to no end. If we complain about it long enough to our friends and family, it won’t be long before they start saying, “just let it go.” What’s frustrating about this response is that it comes with no instructions on how to achieve the desired result.

Thankfully, there is a method that is extremely well tested that leads to a total release from suffering. That method begins with a very important step which is commonly overlooked: we have to give up on the idea that we can resolve the problem by thinking about it or by talking about it. Those approaches don’t work because we’re not dealing with an intellectual problem. Our problem is spiritual so we need a spiritual solution.

Once we accept that the solution to our habit of attachment is going to be some kind of habit training rather than an intellectual exercise, then we’ve started to let go of it and we can make progress. If you were learning to swim, how much of your training time would you spend in the library or in discussions with your coach versus time in the pool actually swimming? Which of these activities is the most likely to impact your swimming ability?

Sure, we need a bit of instruction to begin and continue any training, I agree. But that instruction or study is not an end in itself. It’s purpose is to get you actually practicing the skill you’re trying to master. Your decision to let go of attachment means a decision to start doing something that’s going to be effective. Like any goal, when we set out to achieve it by taking the right actions, success is only a matter of time.

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