I found a great article on Raptitude about the difference between making it go and letting it go:
All experiences do go, guaranteed, but you don’t make them go, you let them go.
This is what I actually have a problem with! I don’t let things go, I want to make them go away when I meditate.
I’m trying to understand the difference between letting things vs making things go. Making something go is when I explicitly try to force something to happen (I’m forcing it to disappear). Letting go means that I give up control and then watch what happens.
That watching part is what’s fucking hard. Control is so deeply integrated into my ego (and others’ ego), that it could cause a frustration when I meditate. Letting go is such a great power to have. When it happens, it’s really freeing, but there are no shortcuts to this power. I have to learn by doing it.
More about this:
Letting things go is a skill we can learn, but it’s easily confused with making things go, which is usually impossible.
I like the way John Yates, a meditation teacher and neuroscientist, makes it part of a longer phrase:
Let it come, let it be, let it go.
This phrase reflects a realistic understanding of how life actually happens. All experiences arise and fade, and that can be observed in real time. There’s no such thing as a permanent experience. Each one comes, is, and goes.
We need to stop and observe our experience carefully to really see that happening. This is the basic aim of mindfulness meditation.
If we develop sharp enough attention, we can see specifically what feelings and experiences we tend to cling to, or push away. Then we can consciously, gently refrain from pushing or pulling, and let the experience go. We can become free of the stress around a given experience, even while that experience is still happening.
Last year I had sleeping problems which caused by stress. I wanted to sleep, so I tried all kinds of tips which should have made me sleepy. I took a nice hot bath, I drank some kind of weird tea and so on. None of them worked because I wanted to make it happen, not let it happen.
After a couple of days (maybe weeks) trying to get a good night sleep, I gave up: if I’m gonna get some sleep, then fine, if not, well… then whatever. I had this freeing feeling when a thought risen in my mind: I don’t have to deal with it, it’ll go away and I can sleep when my mind wants it too. Basically, I gave up control and went into some kind of “fuck that” state. Things just came and went, which was life-changing.
I haven’t really found out how exactly I did gave up control, but I learned that doing it goes way deeper than simply saying I’m giving it up. If I’m still expecting something to happen, then I’m not giving up control (or letting it go), I’m just looking at it in my mind from the opposite side, but on the same level. I have to throw out the whole thing by leaving it there, not circling around it.