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A Valuable Practice:  Letting Go

Dr. Aihan Kuhn

I have been on the Daoist path for over 30 years. Not only does it helps me to minimize stress, but it also helps me to avoid complications in life. One of the Daoist stories I sometimes use to remind patients when they hold onto things and can not let go.

Village farmers had a problem with monkeys stealing rice from the rice yard. When the grain is harvested, they lay grains in the yard to let it dry before storing them. But monkeys come to steal rice every day. Farmers came up with the idea of putting rice in big bottles with small necks, only big enough for one hand. One day the monkeys came; they put their fingers (hand) in the bottle, grabbed a handful of rice, and then tried to get their hand out of it. Since the bottle’s neck is small, the monkeys cannot get their hand out. The monkeys tried hard but could not move their hand out of the bottle. Some monkeys finally had to give up and let go of the rice, but some monkeys continued to hold the rice, trying to get their hands out. The farmer quickly came out and caught the monkeys still holding onto handfuls of rice. 

Letting go is a Daoist practice. If we let go, we can move forward, move on, and continue our journey to good health and creativity, improve ourselves, improve our skills, and maintain happiness. If we hold onto things and cannot let go, we cannot move forward, move on, or improve ourselves, and we may lose our health. Letting go is a daily and mindful practice, and we often must remind ourselves. 

Here is how we can practice letting go:

  1. Simplify our life and our possessions. From simplicity, we have more time to enjoy what we want to do. Time is valuable, and we need to use it wisely.

  2. Focus on the present. We can focus on and complete today’s work, things, and current projects. Once you complete this work, you can relax, breathe, or have leisure time in nature.

  3. Use your free time to enjoy your hobbies. These are serotonin boost activities that have no stress.

  4. Do things outdoors. When you are outside, you focus on fresh air, plants, clouds, mountains, rivers, streams, trees, flowers, etc. These positive visuals stimulate your brain’s emotional center, making you feel peace and harmony. You always feel good.

  5. Create a good meal. Your taste buds are connected to your brain, so you are happy when you have a delicious meal. Learning to create a tasty meal can be very rewarding. You feel like you are an award-winning chef.

All these practices help you let go easier. The more we practice letting go, the less confusion we have, and the less violence we have, the less toxic words we speak, and we can bring more joy to our lives.

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