The Spiritual Practice of Letting Go

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The Spiritual Practice of Letting Go

Post  AustenFan on Thu Jun 04, 2009 10:06 am

Recently I lead a evening on this topic at our church. My sense is that many problems in the spiritual life and in life in general-or in mine anyway- have had to do with holding onto things too tightly. We say to ourselves, "If only... I would be o.k." not realizing that our ultimate sense of worth comes from being assured of God's love and being in connection with God. We long for power, control, belonging, security, affection and esteem which are not bad things, but when they become an end in themselves and replace God we have problems. Lots of things we need to let go are things we cannot fix. These things we cannot let go keep us from peace and from union with God.

I have been using this prayer discipline several times a day. It is a way or returning to God, much like a baby needs to return to its mother for nourishment every several hours. I thought I would present it to people here in case someone might find it helpful. It is based in initially being silent and being aware as you take some deep breaths in of the love of God which is in us and surrounds us. Then you become aware of your body and your interior state. How are you feeling physically, and how are you feeling emotionally? After than you say the following, to yourself or out loud:

I welcome everything that comes to me in this moment because I know that it is for my healing. I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, situations and conditions. (Note- This is not to say that everyone that happens to us or makes us feel good. It is just an acknowledgment that this is where we are and not fighting aganist. It is a way of recognizing that God can work even in the midst of whatver we go through.)

At this point, one says the following prayer, spending time on each section and offering ourselves to God:

I let go of my desire for power.
I let go of my desire for control.
I let go of my desire for belonging/security.
I let go of my desire for esteem/affection.


I open myself to the love and presence of God and the healing action and grace within.

My sense is that if used regularly for small things it may be helpful when bigger issues come along. I have also found that when I don't fight physical pain but just accept that it is there, ithe pain sometimes actually disappears.

In connection with this I have found it helpful to read "Abandonment to Divine Providence" by Jean Pierre de Cassaude. He was a 17th century French Jesuit much influenced by Salesian spirituality. He has a very developed sense of God's being involved with all circumstances in llife which might not be a comfortable theology for people. However, he does repeatedly stress "letting go all things to God."


Grace and peace be with you.
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AustenFan

Post  BelievHUman on Thu Jun 04, 2009 10:31 am

I like that post and appreciate your offering it to the forum.

I have long held the belief that for Spiritual Advancement one must learn to put complete faith
in God and accept that life has up's and down's but all is part of our learning experience.
My experience is that if open to what is happening around you, God will provide a path to exit from
and learn from every experience, so to hold onto attachment, fear, anger do nothing but impede progress.


Your prayer for contemplation is excellent and again, appreciated.
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Thanks, BelieveUhuman

Post  AustenFan on Thu Jun 04, 2009 10:34 am

I agree with your comments and am glad that you enjoyed the post. Smile
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I appreciate this post a lot Austenfan

Post  HumbleHank on Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:40 pm

I have been thinking about it all week and had my wife pick up the Jean Pierre de Cassaude book from the Spiritual Renewal Center when she was there yesterday. I read the introduction and am really looking forward to reading it.

I have had a hard time letting my youth go over the past few years. Before anyone who knows my age (38) starts throwing fruit at the monitor, just let me explain. Over the past few years I have had a few minor health situations that have gotten me down. One was a back injury that took what seemed to be an eternity to heal from. In reality it will never be as strong as it was before the injury. I felt robbed of the ability to work 8 hours and then come home and work on odds and ends around the house without even thinking about it for another 6 hours, or robbed of some of the more youthful sporting activities that I used to enjoy. I have since regained the ability to do some of those things but not in the same capacity as before the injury, and that has taken a toll on me. I also started experiencing migraine headaches which, having never experienced them before had me quite concerned until test after test ruled everything else out. I started worrying that every little ache or pain was the onset of a terminal illness.

It all took a toll on me mentally and I found myself with an underlying level of anxiety that compelled me to seek help from a psychologist that I knew. Until talking to him, I had heard of the expression “mid-life crisis” but I really didn’t know what it meant until I was experiencing it.

What reminded me of all this in your post was the phrase “I welcome everything that comes to me in this moment because I know that it is for my healing. I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, situations and conditions.”

It reminded me of one of the exercises that the psychologist gave me, to frequently take an inventory of my feelings, physical and emotional, and ultimately accept them as part of me. In doing that, or the exercise you suggest, it forced me to let go of the feeling, emotions, situations and conditions of the past and accept those of the present.

Another thing your post has done is help me recognize the spirituality in that exercise and my own healing. In some ways I felt as if I was failing in my spiritual life by not giving my faith the chance to get me through the issues I was facing by turning to a psychologist. I have since felt as if the healing that the psychologist promoted has helped me to more fully resume my spiritual journey, and your post has helped me see God in the healing process as well.

Thanks again for sharing the exercise and peace to you as well.
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Thanks everyone for such valuable insights

Post  VicarJoe on Sat Jun 13, 2009 9:01 am

I especially loved this line from the first post: "I let go of my desire for belonging."

Kinda related to Hank's point about letting go of one's youth, it seems like for years and years, all I cared about was belonging. And with our youth-obsessed media culture, even as adults there's a peer pressure to go along with the "common sense" view of life expressed by SNL and David Letterman and Oprah. Putting oneself outside the mainstream is hard, but required. Embracing the one form of living that will NOT be tolerated in our O so tolerant society... scary. I still struggle with that.
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Dear Hank

Post  AustenFan on Sat Jun 13, 2009 3:34 pm

Thanks for your transparent comments. I am sorry that you have been having back problems as well as the migraines. Asd soon as i get off of the internet I will lift up prayers for and will put you on my prayer list.

I have a chronic illness (which I don't care to share abou what is right now because of lurking trolls). It's other than the occasional depression which I had already mentioned on syracuse.com. Sometimes it means that I can just get exhausted without any warning, or I may feel fine in the morning and awful by night. This can sometimes be very frustrating, so even though I am not as young 38 I can relate to what you are saying about things not being as they were and not being able to do the things I formerly could. That's why I apreciated the prayer of surrender exercise when I got it at retreat I went on. The nun who lead the session was dealing with cancer, and she said sometimes her physical pain would disappear when she regularly practiced this prayer practice, and I have also found this to be the case.

It sounds like you have had a very fine pychologist. I believe God works through all kinds of healing arts.

I will be interested with what you share about de Cassuade. I believe BisMorgen who has recently been posting here enjoys "ATDP" very much. As I said, de Cassuade has a very strong view of God's sovereinity, which may not be to everybody's taste, but he seemed like a person of such serene faith that I really got a lot out of the book, and could probably read it again and again.

Another book you might enjoy is "Praying Our Goodbyes" which is by Joyce Rupp. She is a nun of some sort. It contains rituals-prayer practices-of dealing with various changes in life using scripture, prayers and physical objects to "accept where we are and let go as needed-still in God's love".


Grace and peace to you and your family, my dear brother in Christ
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I can relate to Hank's post as well.

Post  cradlerc on Sat Jun 13, 2009 4:18 pm

I used to think I didn't care about getting older, but then I starting finding more grey hairs. This depressed me. It also depressed me to realize how shallow I actually am, since this is hardly a chronic illness or something terrible. And it's not like there's not hair dye if you need it. So like I said--shallow, petty=me.

I finally realized that on some level, I really have thought of myself as possessing eternal youth. So disappointing to realize, viscerally, I'm just human. And to realize that I'm just one of the common horde, worried about grey hair (not wrinkles, grey hair specifically, no idea why). And yes, I really really realize how small this makes me. Really. There are some childhood issues lurking here that I won't go into. I'm still shallow.

Of course, it's not really about the grey hair--or at least, I don't think it is. It's about getting older, and mortality. Watching children who will never be babies again and realiszing I've probably had my last one, and that half the things I thought I'd do by this age I'll probably never do. The limitations of mortality, coupled with the inevitable insufficiency of all that we can attain in this mortal life.

Bummer.
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About four months

Post  AustenFan on Sat Jun 13, 2009 6:21 pm

ago I just decided to stop coloring my hair. It was a combination of the fact-that if you get it done in a salon it's quite expensive (and my husband is about to lose in job at the end of July) and the idea that "Heck; I'm fifty; Why am I trying to look like I am younger than I am? Who am I trying to impress, and what does this say about what women are valued for, or should be valued for, concepts which I am buying into-literally and figuratively. I don't attribute this to any great depth on ny part. It may be partially fatigue (of the process) too. I also know the decision has to do with turning off the darn T.V. for the past few months. A lot less brainwashing of what the media thinks is important in life. I really think T.V. is a tool of the devil pirat . Wel,. not really, but it is a source of false idols
and propoganda and is basically a load of I do have one gulity pleasure lately, though. I did watch several episodes of "Wipeout" where contestant run an weird obstacle course and I enjoyed the program. bounce
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Re: The Spiritual Practice of Letting Go

Post  SursumCorda on Sun Jun 14, 2009 11:08 am

AustenFan wrote:In connection with this I have found it helpful to read "Abandonment to Divine Providence" by Jean Pierre de Cassaude. He was a 17th century French Jesuit much influenced by Salesian spirituality. He has a very developed sense of God's being involved with all circumstances in llife which might not be a comfortable theology for people. However, he does repeatedly stress "letting go all things to God."

That is one of my all-time favorite books, AustenFan. I know it as "Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence," and it has two French authors listed and is an excerpted version. I have given away several copies to friends who have been going through tough times, and I even carry it with me when I'm particularly stressed so that I can open it and read a paragraph or two. I find it tremendously comforting, esp. because I am kind of a control freak who has a difficult time "letting go."

As a matter of fact, I believe I have given away my last copy. Time to order more. study
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I'm trying to buy fewer books

Post  VicarJoe on Sun Jun 14, 2009 11:10 am

and you guys are not helping.
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Old farts club...

Post  stihl on Mon Jun 15, 2009 9:34 am

Well, I am debating whether or not to join in with my lists physical ailments that have popped up over the last 3 years. Safe to say, I am grazing in the same pasture as the rest of you.

The good news is, the condition we call middle age gives a perspective that I would not trade for anything. It has brought me closer to God. This is not to say that good health is not a blessing. I wish the best health for all of you.
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And to you as well, stihl!

Post  cradlerc on Mon Jun 15, 2009 12:24 pm

You make an excellent point about middle age--I wouldn't trade what I know now for my younger self. Most days, at least Very Happy
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