Lighter: Let Go of the Past, Connect with the Present, and Expand the Futureby Yung Pueblo
Ever feel like your mind and heart are just overwhelmed with the burden of past trauma, worries about the future, and incessant thinking that just leaves you feeling weighed down? Lighter reveals the path to lightening that load through a commitment to healing. Seeking healing for yourself, and giving yourself the kindness you need to do so, will allow you to experience freedom from this weight. In healing ourselves, we likewise walk the path to healing the world.
“I discovered that the appreciation you seek from others will not hold the same rejuvenating power as the appreciation, attention, and kindness you can give to yourself.”
Pleasure is an enticing way to help us avoid dealing with our issues. It’s easy to distract ourselves with pleasure rather than diving deep within and facing the baggage we carry. However, if you want something more meaningful, you need to seek healing. This journey begins with self-love.
Instead of seeking approval, appreciation, and love from others, you need to provide it for yourself. This is the foundation for your healing. It means giving yourself compassion and unconditional acceptance. And that means every part of you. It allows you to be honest about who you are and grow and heal in that space of total acceptance. Self-love is active. It will let you do what you need to do so you can truly know and heal yourself.
Self-love is built upon three pillars: radical honesty, healthy habits, and unconditional self-acceptance. Radical honesty is the total commitment to self-awareness. You don’t ignore parts of yourself and don’t believe all the stories you tell yourself. Instead, you examine your thoughts and emotions, why they arise, and where they come from. Be curious and explore yourself inwardly, but do so gently and with compassion.
Positive habit-building is also essential to self-love because you cannot continue with habits that are destructive to your well-being. Instead, you start habits that give you life. Don’t try to overhaul your entire life all at once; introduce change gently and gradually.
Self-acceptance, the third pillar of self-love, means not fighting what you find inside but simply acknowledging it, accepting it, and taking action to initiate healing where relevant.
Actions to take
“If there is one thing to focus on for improving your life, your healing should be it.”
All of us carry tension inside, to one degree or another. For some, this internal tension can be debilitating. Healing is the commitment to decrease this tension in the heart and mind. This is different from our auto-pilot setting.
Our minds have been programmed from our past to operate a certain way, and we rarely step back to observe why. Our family, our schooling, our relationships, and all of our collective experiences have conditioned us to act in specific ways. We also cling to various attachments and are constantly in survival mode trying to keep everything just the way we like it.
Healing, on the other hand, commits to another way. It commits to observing and accepting your feelings as they come and go, instead of becoming them. It includes watching your mind to see how it operates when triggered by difficult situations. The key to unlocking healing is self-awareness.
Self-awareness is seeing how the stories you tell yourself are pulling your strings behind the scenes. Self-awareness exists in the pause—the pause you take immediately after a certain feeling or emotion arises so you can observe what is actually happening. We typically just react, but pausing allows us to act with intention, not from our auto-pilot setting.
Self-awareness will allow you to understand the workings of your ego. The ego always seeks to blame others when things aren’t exactly how we want them. When the ego is triggered by anger, it will generate more thoughts to fuel that fire of anger. The same is true with sadness or other heavy emotions. Learning these dynamics will help you to step back and not get sucked into your ego’s stories.
Progress is being made when the intensity of that impulse to react is decreasing. The impulse will come as a feeling, such as a twinge of tension in the chest. From that impulse, our minds will go to work generating thoughts to continue to feed that feeling. If you notice the impulse, you can observe it for what it is and avoid falling down the rabbit hole of your conditioned reaction.
Actions to take
“The purpose of letting go is not to erase emotions, but to acknowledge their presence and transform your relationship to them.”
Letting go is giving up your desire to control the way things are and instead maintaining an attitude of acceptance of the present moment. The opposite of letting go is holding on. We have a survival tactic where we cling to the things in life we label “good.” The problem is that change is a fundamental reality of life. And the “good” that we cling to will always be met with change. This change may bring experiences we label “bad, ”causing us to react with rejection. This leaves us in a constant state of stress because the cycle of clinging and rejecting will never bring peace and lasting satisfaction.
The totality of our past experience has conditioned the mind to react in certain ways as different situations trigger our instinct to cling or reject. The result is a continuous cycle of emotions and thought patterns based on fear, anxiety, and greed. Letting go breaks this cycle and allows you to accept the present as it is.
Practicing letting go will free you from the power of your attachments and cravings, allowing you to enjoy life and its ever-changing flow. To do this, you need to recognize when you have reactions based on clinging or rejecting. When you observe these reactions, you have the opportunity to halt the reactive thought processes and the subsequent snowballing of negative emotions. Your reactive thought processes tell you a particular story about your current experience that may be interpreted as “bad.” However, these stories you tell yourself are not always based on truth.
Once you’ve honed your ability to notice your reactive tendencies, you can choose to meet those clinging or rejecting impulses with acceptance. Usually, we meet these impulses of tension with additional tension through the stories we tell ourselves. The best thing to do instead is to relax and reconnect with the present moment.
Give these experiences of tension unconditional acceptance, and they will be able to pass naturally. Make this your daily commitment, and the energy once consumed by incessant inner turmoil will be released. Your reactions to external stimuli will become less and less intense. Your mind will be noticeably lighter.
Actions to take
Finding Your Practice
“Perhaps if more people take their healing seriously and find liberation within themselves, then we can also heal and bring more peace to the world.”
Yung Pueblo began his healing journey by practicing Vipassana (mindfulness) meditation. He began attending multi-day retreats, which developed into a daily practice that allowed him to experience inner healing. Like Yung, you can find your own healing practice as well.
There are many types of healing practices out there, as a simple Google search can demonstrate. While meditation is a tried and true method of finding freedom and healing, the right practice for you may be something else. Consider what you might be interested in trying, whether therapy, yoga, meditation, or something else. Do a little research to see what’s out there.
Allow your intuition to guide you in choosing a practice. It should be challenging enough so that you will find growth, but it should not overwhelm you or burn you out. Don’t fall for something that promises fast and easy results; commit to a journey instead. Get trained help if you are able to in whatever method you choose. Make sure to give your practice enough time to be able to see it bear fruit. Don’t quit on it prematurely.
Know that your journey will have its ups and downs. You will have good days and bad. As you progress in your healing, you may encounter some deeper parts of yourself that are profoundly hurt. These may take longer to process, and you may feel that you have regressed. However, you need to stay committed to your practice. Soon enough, you’ll be able to let go of these deeper hurts.
It is best to have a circle of friends who can support you in your journey, especially if they are on their own journey as well. Don’t burn yourself out or discourage yourself with too lofty of expectations. Be gentle with yourself, and stay the course. Your healing is worth it.
Actions to take
The Real You
“Our real human nature is what shines brightly underneath all the patterns, old pain, and confusion that stops us from being the best version of ourselves.”
Human nature is commonly regarded as selfish and greedy. This is hard to deny, especially when you observe the condition of the world we live in today. Everybody seems to be out for themselves. But what if you have a nature that is centered in love, compassion, and peace deep within you?
Various healing traditions have discovered that as you free yourself from your ego, there is a wellspring of love and peace within. This is the real you. But first, you need to break free from your conditioning to cling, reject, and tell yourself stories that protect your ego. The path to discovering your true nature is letting go and staying connected to the present moment. Behind the ego is a life filled with love, joy, peace, creativity, wisdom, and beautiful energy.
Even a small amount of progress in your healing journey will allow you to begin experiencing this part of yourself. You will begin to mature emotionally as you continue to grow. Your self-awareness will increase. You’ll be more in touch with what is going on inside of you without getting caught up in it. You’ll identify the stories you’re telling yourself and stop being confined by them. You will begin experiencing more compassion, wisdom, and peace. You will have more authentic connections with others.
Emotional maturity will increase the power of your commitment to your own healing. Your energy will become increasingly precious to you, and you will start saying no to the things in your life that drain it. Your interactions with others will become less ego-driven, and in this way, you will begin attracting more positive emotions into your life and relationships.
As you continue to grow, you will be changing. While your ego might try to cling to your previous identity, you will instead be more flexible in how you view yourself. The process of transformation will be more fulfilling than remaining as the old you. Ultimately, you will be handling life's challenges much more effectively, and you will use them to experience further growth.
Actions to take
Your Relationships and Beyond
“The greatest gift partners can give each other is a continuous commitment to their own personal healing.”
Your healing journey will have a transformative effect on how you show up in relationships. When you stop operating primarily from your ego, you will be able to love from a place of purity. Practicing letting go will allow you to stop being controlled by attachments.
When you are attached to your idea of how things should be, you will seek to control others to fit this idea. Functioning in this way, your love towards others will be self-centered. Breaking free of attachment will allow you to love others for who they are. You will be able to stop using your relationships to fill some emotional needs because you will have already found peace within yourself.
Self-awareness will help you to identify all the stories you tell yourself as you interpret the actions and words of your partner. You’ll see that these stories are just to protect your ego and that a significant portion of your relational troubles is coming from these stories. You’ll see how your ego has been creating stories to put the blame for your own inner tension onto others. Once you are able to see how these dynamics have been affecting you, you will be able to have much healthier relationships.
We often avoid communicating with each other in our relationships. Being more self-aware will help you communicate more effectively with your partner. You will be able to have conversations where the motive is to understand and support one another rather than to protect your ego.
The changes you are experiencing within yourself will ripple outward into your relationships and beyond. We live in a day and age when healing practices are available on a global scale like never before. As more and more individuals throughout the world commit to healing practices, we can begin experiencing collective healing. New political and economical solutions to our greatest problems will emerge. Compassion will replace competition. As more people find healing, we will begin accepting higher levels of responsibility to heal our world.
The world right now is a reflection of our collective level of maturity. If we are predominantly functioning from the ego, we will see others as competitors. There will be in-groups and out-groups. There will be hierarchies, inequality, and injustice. Healing allows us to see our shared human nature and leads us to work together in harmony for the greater good.
The way to solve our global issues and extreme inequalities are through collective healing. This will allow us to incorporate compassion at the structural level of society. We will also be willing to make the changes necessary to stop destroying our planet.
As we each commit to our own healing journey, we unlock the potential to heal our world.