Dr. David R. Hawkins often used the term ‘letting go’, although surely other people have used it as well. It’s generally taken to mean ‘letting go of an issue.’ That issue might be an emotion, a thought, a situation (and all that entails) or a block to your spiritual development. Even to ‘let go’ of the ego!
As a recap, what is the ego? It is your psychological sense of a separated self, divided off by a body, from all others. It is the sense of who you are as a person. It’s made up of emotions and beliefs, which are made up of conclusions. Something happens, and the mind decides that it must mean something – such as X must mean Y. Example: she didn’t seem too friendly (X); so I must not be attractive enough (Y) or a good enough conversationalist (another form of Y), or she doesn’t like me (yet another form of Y). The mind can also form as many conclusions as it wants: X can mean Y, A, B, C, D and more.
Then the mind starts piling conclusions on top of conclusions. For example: I must not be attractive enough must mean I will never find a spouse, therefore that must mean that I will be alone and lonely my whole life, and that must mean I will be terribly unhappy, and that must mean it would be OK to use Tindr just to find someone to have sex with, as I will never be able to form a relationship as I am just not attractive. Then those conclusions can build up into (for example) I can only bother with less attractive people, as no one really good looking or accomplished would want to know me, as I am just not very attractive.
All because one person didn’t appear to be friendly, whatever appearing friendly means. But now the ego has a number of conclusions to let go!
The ego requires belief in separation; of a physical world separated into bits. It has a body to protect. The ego builds itself up with emotions, especially negative emotions, as these add to the idea of a separated, limited body that is under threat at all times, emotionally or physically. As Hawkins would say, the ego feeds on negative emotions.
People experiencing positive emotions tend to be expansive, open and willing to accommodate themselves to others and situations. Positive emotions support a lessening of the ego, while negative emotions feed into the drama of separation and feed the ego.
Sounds complicated! How does one let go of an ego?
If you can find the underlying beliefs that started the whole process of conclusion, you can let go of those. However, they may well have formed while unconscious of them or been formed pre-verbally (without words). In both cases, there may not be words or an easily found conclusion that leads to all others – even when the conclusions themselves are visible. It’s difficult to undo an ego when you can’t find the underlying structure. It’s frustrating – especially if you don’t have a strong process for letting go in the first place.
Letting go is easier when you understand the process better. To do this, look first at the levels that make up this experience of ourselves as well as the ego.
Most people appear to be living their experience from inside their head (inside the ego). They may not even be aware of bodily sensations, so thoroughly are they encapsulated in their heads. This is where most people are working at, when they say that they are ‘letting go.’
This is the level of the Sedona Method, meditation, A Course in Miracles, etc. Using the mind to let go, when the mind created the issue, may not work well if at all. The issue here is that using the same level that created the issue just doesn’t work well. To paraphrase Einstein, you can’t solve a problem at the same level that it was created on. You have to go to a higher level to resolve it.
So what are these other levels?
Skipping over the emotional/mental level, as this is also the level of the ego, we can look at the body itself, the energy systems of the body, or the raw experience of consciousness.
You can let go from the body itself. The concept of yoga (the issue is in the tissue) stems from this. The body stores emotional blocks and these can be let go when the body is able to relax around the issue. Any form of yoga, especially Yoga Nidra, can help with letting go via the body. Other body-based methods may also work to release stored issues, such as massage or polarity therapy. Exercise is great for releasing the stored up stress chemistry of the body. (For more on this, read Candace Pert’s books.)
You can let go from the body’s energy systems, such as using EFT (Emotional Freedom technique). This would mean working with the chakras, meridians, and power centers of the body, such as thehara. These tend to be more effective than using strictly body-based methods such as massage or yoga. (Everyone is different, so there are no hard and fast rules about what is best.)
There is also the raw experience of consciousness – a higher, more spiritual level than the body or energy; and far higher than trying to use the ego to let go of itself.
What do the instructions of Ram Dass (Be Here Now); Echkart Tolle (be in the moment of now); Michael Singer (mindfulness); and Adyashanti (being in the moment, not in thoughts) have in common? What is enlightenment but an experience of consciousness without being separated by the body and by time? All are suggesting that we be directly in and experiencing our consciousness right now, without all the beliefs that make up the ego. You attempt to do that by experiencing the egoic consciousness, or you can go into the raw sensory data that make up the moment of now (until parsed by the brain/ego into something else.) To be in the moment of now, or the present moment, you cannot be experiencing the ego – you have to be in the actual experience of being conscious, right now, or exactly what is going on in your consciousness right now, without the ego as a filter.
Until God takes the final step to help you into full enlightenment, that raw consciousness of sensations might be the closest we can come to enlightenment. (Although other methods such as a life spent in meditation may work just as well, but in a different way.)
For the deepest experience of letting go, this is the most effective level. When you can directly experience your consciousnessof an issue, it becomes much easier to let go of it. Instead of experiencing all the built up beliefs and conclusions of the ego, you can go directly to the issue itself – your experience of it in consciousness.
Letting go is experiencing a sensation without resistance. To do this, you feel – are conscious of – the raw sensations of the body experience. You focus totally on these, without resisting the sensations in any way. You are there with those sensations, putting your full attention on them and welcoming those feelings even though they may be deeply uncomfortable. It’s my understanding that this is what Hawkins means, when he says to “live on the crest of the current moment.” (From: “I: Reality and Subjectivity” (2003), Chapter 5: Spiritual Reality, p. 93–94)
The back of the wave is the past; the front of the wave is the future – both the back of the wave and the front are just the ego talking to itself ABOUT the experience, not the actual raw sensations of living on the crest of the wave. What Hawkins calls the “stop-frame’ of the present moment is just as applicable to letting go. You let the memory or emotion rise up within your consciousness, then live on the crest of the emotion via being with the raw sensations of the emotions.
This is the one-pointedness that Hawkins talks about – being in those raw sensations at the crest of the wave and nothing more. This is where the ego naturally falls silent, as there is no past or future here at the crest – the knife’s edge of raw sensation.
By experiencing those issues, emotions or blocks here, and just experiencing them as raw sensations (consciousness of the issue, block or emotion – without ego) you let them go. Granted, repeating them (bringing them back into consciousness) as a way to let go also brings up the raw sensations of all the conclusions the ego came to, but this also works to let go of all that as well.
To live in the raw sensations; to fully live them until they wash through and over you, leaves the ego nothing to grab hold of – nothing to convert into more ego.