Because the mind holds on with an endless set of expectations, beliefs, and images, you could practice letting go every moment of your life. This is not feasible, yet strong signals will tell you when letting go is appropriate. Knowing when to let go is obvious, once you have awareness.
The crucial times to let go are when you feel the strongest urge not to. We all hold on tightest when our fear, anger, pride, and distrust take over. Yet these forces have no spiritual validity. At those moments when you are most afraid, angry, stubborn, or mistrustful, you are in the grip of unreality. Your ego is forcing you to react from the past, blinding you to new possibilities here and now.
A mind that is desperately holding on says things like: I hate this. It has to end; I can’t stand it anymore. If this keeps up I’ll die; I can’t go on. There’s nothing left; I have no choice. It has to be my way or else; You’re all wrong; None of you understands me; You always treat me this way; Why do you always have to do this?
There are infinite variations on these statements, but the underlying feelings are remarkably similar. You feel you can’t cope anymore. You feel boxed in. You feel you won’t survive. You feel that something bad always happens to you. These feelings give rise to the rigid, contracted state of resistance, disallowing the reality that good things can happen at any time.
Spirit has a good outcome for any situation, if you can open yourself to it.
A key word to holding on is always. As soon as your mind tells you that something always happens, you are in the grip of a false belief. “Always” is never true; reality isn’t a vast, fixed scheme trapping you without a choice. At any moment you have the choice to break out of what is really trapping you – your automatic reactions dredged up from the past.
Adapted from The Path to Love, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1997).