Making Space Versus “Letting Go”

Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.
— Pema Chödrön

Creating space is different from “letting things go.” I once believed I needed to let go of certain things, because I thought the stuff I was holding on to must be “bad” parts of me. That perspective reinforced the idea that I had to get rid of something or I wouldn’t be okay. It felt like a little war was going on inside me.

I am no longer fond of the concept of letting things go because it implies that we need to eliminate something from our life, and that idea can create more tension. The truth is, we are all a walking summary of our life experiences—everything we’ve taken in, good and bad.

So instead of trying to “let things go,” I invite students to “let things be.” This is the attitude from which we can make space. Rather than pushing parts of us away, we are instead creating an environment that allows us to simply loosen our grip. We don’t have to fix anything. All we’re doing is bringing tender, nonjudgmental attention to our body and making room for whatever is living there. This is how the process of sustainable change begins.

Try This Practice for Making Space

Take a moment to gather yourself here.
Let your body land on the ground.
Let your breath arrive in your body.
Let your mind rest on your breath in your body.

Here, now.

Welcome the breath with a receptive belly.
Your breath will gently unravel the tension it meets.
Your breath will tenderly expand you inside.
Allow your breath to unwind you,
unfurl you.

Let yourself be opened by your breath.
Allow your breath to rise and fall.
Let it flow in and out of you,
on its own, softening everything in its path.

Expanding you.

You’re bigger than you think you are.

Adapted from my book, Deep Listening.