Fundamentals of Mindfulness: Letting Go

September 22, 2021

Whether it’s your performance at work, your strong beliefs, or your presence on social media, there are many things to stick to. You may feel very attached to those things that you think represent who you are and are part of your identity. But the problem with having these strong links is that when they change, many feel inadequate or empty. Letting go, or not attaching is one of the foundations of full consciousness. Here’s what it looks like in practice, why it’s beneficial and tips to help you loosen your grip.

Bonus: Watch The Foundations of Mindfulness: Letting Go, with Muse meditation teacher Lisa Wimberger. Lisa is the Founder of Neurosculpting® and author of the book New Beliefs, New Brain. Find her meditations on the Muse app in the Calm, Self-Car & Relationships collections.

To learn more about Neurosculpting®, follow @neurosculpting on Instagram or @neurosculptinginstitute on Facebook. You can also visit the website at or listen to their meditations at

What exactly does “drop” mean?

In Buddhism, non-attachment means commitment to flexibility and no fixation on achieving specified results (1). Essentially, capture your relationship with the experience where you can let go of what you like and move away from what you don’t like..

Everyone has attachments. Sometimes they can be things outside the self (external) as well as things inside the self (internal). Externally, you may be tied to your job, your appearance, your partner. Interns tend to be more subtle and less noticeable and may include thoughts, beliefs, feelings, or desires.

Negative feelings

For example, you might feel that you don’t like it if you express yourself in a genuine way. One wish you might be attached to is the desire of a certain type of partner or to get the new job you applied for. Behaviors that you might be associated with may be spending hours playing video games, scrolling through your social channel before going to bed, or shopping on Amazon in the afternoon. And another internal link could be a feeling. Maybe it’s a long-standing grudge against someone or a constant fear you have.

The practice of letting go is crucial conscience—Awareness of the present moment without judgment. When you start paying attention to your thoughts and feelings through conscious practice, you are sure to notice things that you enjoy. You are also bound to notice others not. This is where it can be easy to attach. We like to cling to the good thoughts and feelings as you move away from the uncomfortable.

Let go

Detachment vs. release

The downside is not that you don’t have to have anything, but that you don’t have to own anything. – Ali ibn Abi Talib

In accordance with author and psychotherapist Dr. Mark Epstein, our affection or fixation — whether good or bad—it can lead us to be unhappy. Epstein explains that what we add to is part of our environment and experience, which is always changing.

Think of it this way; if you cling to the idea that you never make a mistake at work and your partner points out that you have in fact made a mistake and missed something obvious, you may fall into a negative head space. You can defend yourself, attack others, or take other actions to help you feel better. Cognitive dissonance arises due to the mismatch between your ideal self and the reality of what is happening.

Have you experienced anything like this? What thoughts or beliefs do you hold dear?

Benefits of Letting Go

Suffering and affection are part of life. The four noble truths of Buddhism, the essence of the Buddha’s teachings, offer us a way of coping with suffering. The second noble truth says that the root of suffering is desire or affection. So it makes sense that when we can reduce the desire or affection for things, we will suffer less.

“The root of suffering is affection”– The Buddha

Learning to let go of things, especially the insignificant ones, can help you feel more comfortable during the day. Here are two other research-supported benefits of non-attachment practice.

Learn more.

Studies have found that non-attachment could help facilitate prospects that contribute to academic success. Perspectives such as decreased avoidance behaviors and rumination (2). This same study found that non-attachment can reduce the emphasis placed on notes. This means that students can be encouraged to take courses (and challenges) in order to learn and grow.

Learn more

Increase your well-being.

Research suggests that higher levels of non-attachment are associated with greater well-being (comfort, health, happiness, etc.) and lower levels of negative mental states such as rumination, depression, anxiety, and anxiety. stress (1). Holding on and avoiding behaviors can slow down your mental and physical energy, as well as prevent you from being present in the moment.

Tips for learning to let go

So, are you looking to let go of long-standing beliefs that don’t serve you, a relationship that doesn’t support you, or just the irritation of your neighbor’s barking dog? Read our three tips below to help you practice non-attachment.

Get some perspective.

The psychologist Dr. Rick Hanson suggests taking a step back from whatever you are linked to and trying to see it from a broader perspective (3). He suggests taking a few deep breaths and wondering what the adjunct tells you about what you need and see if it’s realistic. It also suggests releasing a physical object (such as a stone) to make the release process feel more concrete. You can also write on this attachment on a piece of paper, then tear it apart and let the pieces fall off.

Practice meditation.

Regardless of the style of meditation, practicing will essentially help you enter the present moment and let go of worries about the past or the future. One of the many benefits of meditation is helping you slow down so that you can begin to become aware of your own thoughts and feelings, and of their fleeting nature. It also helps us to simply observe our experience without adding “good” or “bad.” Guided meditations such as “Attitude of Letting Go” by Roger Nolan within the Attitudes of Mindfulness collection in the Muse app can be a useful place to start.

Play 5-4-3-2-1.

Psychologist Ellen Hendriksen recommends this simple mindfulness practice to get your brain out of the past or future and into the present (4). How it works? Say five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can touch, two things you can smell, and one that you can taste. (If you mix the order of meaning, it’s not a big deal). This technique works in two ways. First, it provides you with a cognitive distraction (counting) that helps you stop your rotating mind, and second, it gets you into your senses and out of your head.

Dropping is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. And it doesn’t mean being passive, not caring or giving up. Simply acknowledge the reality of the situation and choose to live in a wiser relationship with yourself and others. It’s human to feel some level of affection, but these practices and perspectives may help you feel less in control of them so that you can make room for something more fruitful, like the present moment.

Listen to Ashley Turner on Untangle. Ashley Turner is a psychotherapist, yoga and meditation teacher. He talks about the gifts and challenges we face as we venture into the often complicated realm of relationships. He talks about dropping judgment, seeing our partner with new eyes, finding a safe place for vulnerability, and sometimes learning to forgive and let go.


  1. Letting go of yourself: creating the scale of not attaching to yourself here.
  2. Dropping and flourishing in the study: an investigation of the indirect relationship between non-attachment and grades through psychological well-being here.
  3. Only one thing: let it go by Rick Hanson here.
  4. How to let go and move on by Ellen Hendriksen here.

#Fundamentals #Mindfulness #Letting

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