“So I meet so many people around the world who are trying to let go of or release thoughts and feelings, they’re trying so hard to be free from thoughts and feelings. Of course that’s the mind’s version of freedom, that’s always the mind’s conversation with present experiences. ‘How can I be free from you? How can I be free from you, fear? Hey anger, how can I be free from you? Hey doubt, how can I free myself from you?’
So that’s how the mind conceives of freedom, it’s some kind of destination, some kind of goal.
So I’d like to shift the paradigm. What if freedom is not a goal? It’s not a destination? It’s not something that’s coming in the future, but freedom is actually your nature. So it’s no longer about, ‘How can I be free from thoughts and feelings? How can I free myself from judgmental thoughts or negative thoughts? How can I free myself from fear or sadness or shame?’
What if the true freedom actually lies in this allowing, allowing thoughts to be here, allowing feelings to be here. So you’re not trying to free yourself from thoughts and feelings but you are the freedom, you are by nature, it’s your nature, freedom. You are the freedom in which thoughts are allowed to come and go, feelings are allowed to come and go. The freedom in which fear is allowed to arise and fall, in which anger is allowed to appear and disappear. As if you were this great ocean of presence and every thought, every feeling was like a wave coming and going in your vast embrace and your ever present embrace.
If you conceive of a thought or a feeling as a child standing in the doorway, the doorway of presence, the doorway of the present moment. And that child could be a thought, a feeling, it could be sadness, it could be fear. So what we normally do, is slam the door in the face of that child and say ‘I don’t want you here, you shouldn’t be here in the present moment, there’s no room for you, you don’t belong’.
And that’s when we end up trying to let go of, or release. We try to release or let go of these thoughts and feelings. Which basically means, we don’t want them, we don’t want them, they don’t belong.
So the moment you’re trying to release or let go of a thought or feeling, basically you’re in deep resistance to that thought or feeling, you don’t want it within you.
So this is an invitation to let go of the very idea of letting go, to release the very idea of release. Because that’s not what these thoughts and feelings are asking for, these children at the door. Sadness doesn’t come with that message. Sadness is not asking to be released. Sadness is not asking to be let go of. Sadness is not asking to be transcended. Sadness is not asking to be healed actually.
These thoughts, these feelings, all they’re asking is that ‘Is there room for me? Can I be here? Can I be here? Can I come in? Can I exist? Am I allowed to exist?’ And in so many ways our answer is ‘No’.
But I think that’s what waking up is really all about. It’s like ending the war with thoughts and feelings, because you come to remember your nature.
And I love this metaphor; you are the sky, and thoughts and feelings are part of the ever-changing weather. And thoughts and feelings can be pleasurable, the joy, the bliss, ecstasy, excitement, contentment or the weather can be negative, we use this word negative, you know, there can be a storm, there can be rain, there can be sleet, there can be fog, there can be anger and sadness and doubt and shame. But as the sky, there’s so much room, there is so much room in what you are, in presence, there’s so much room.
So from the perspective of presence, which is what you are, there is no question of releasing or letting go of thoughts or feelings. The sky is not trying to release or let go of or be free from the rain, the sleet, the fog, the snow. That’s not a question for presence, how to be free from thoughts or feelings because presence itself is freedom.
So from that perspective you can say to thoughts or feelings ‘Hey of course, of course you can be here, come in. Stay for as long as you need to stay’.
You’re not, you’re no longer trying to let go of or release thoughts and feelings, you’re being the permission, this permission. You say to sadness ‘Hey, like, you can stay, stay for a minute, stay for an hour, stay for a day. You can come, you can stay, you can leave, you can come back.’ That’s a much more honest and loving conversation.
So in a way you’re not, you’re no longer trying to let go of sadness, you’re not trying to let sadness go, you’re letting sadness be. It’s a lot easier because it’s your nature.
You’re letting sadness stay, you’re letting sadness go, of course, if sadness wants to go. You’re letting sadness come back, if sadness wants to come back, because you are not the sadness, you are the space for the sadness, the sky, the presence. You’re letting fear come, yes, you’re letting fear go, yes. You’re letting fear come back, if it needs to, if it wants to.
You’re not trying, you see, it’s very very different from trying to let go of fear because then you’re at war and it goes against your nature. As the sky of presence, there’s no question of trying to release or trying to let go.
And then ironically, that is the letting go, that is the release, that is the relief of just being the space in which every thought, however strange, however fantastical, however seemingly negative or every feeling, however intense, however unexpected, however uncomfortable has a home.” – Jeff Foster, The myth of ‘letting go’
transcript by Evelyne Beyer