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A homemade Buddhist ritual for Letting Go
Ritual in Buddhism is seen as an activity to build skillful means, or upaya (as translated in Sanskrit). We partake in this when we need supportive refuge or to come back to our true intention.
Rituals are a meditation in action to invoke love, peace, harmony and health, and also something we can use to say goodbye. Holding on to anger or resentment is often just our ego’s way of still wanting to be right. In the skillful means of letting go, we try to not make things right or wrong, but rather see things just as they are clearly. In fact, one of the most popular styles of Buddhist mediation is called Vipassana, which literally translates in Sanskrit to “clear seeing.” When we are able to let go of things, we can then approach our situation again with a steady view.
Here are the steps for my own Buddhist ritual for letting go:
(If you are new to rituals, set a timer for five minutes. If you are experienced, do this for as long as you wish!)
In Buddhism, we structure rituals with a beginning, a middle and an end.
Open this ritual by doing something to delineate it from the rest of our lives; for example, lighting a candle, sitting crossed legged, ringing a bell or lighting incense.
Then we set an intention. It can sound like, “May I release the anger I feel about this (person, place, situation), and may I—in its place—feel love.”
Repeat this as many times as feels right.
Now for the middle portion, we sit still in silence and observe the breath. This allows letting go to occur. We may keep our eyes open and look at the candle or floor, or close them and focus solely on our breath.
If other words come to us like: “I release this anger now” or “May I be free,” we can voice this too.
Traditionally in Buddhism, to close, we dedicate the merit, which means we wish the outcome of this practice to benefit all beings.
So to end, choose a phrase like: “May all beings find peace.”
It is important to do a final act of blowing out the candle, ringing the bell, smudging the incense or bowing to signify the finality of this release.
When we hold onto something that no longer serves us, we suffer—and we miss out on new opportunities offered in this moment. By releasing it, we free ourselves up for liberation. Freedom is found in the skill to see things for how they are now, not how they were.
I’m now ready to be a friend once more.
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