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Don't Let Go? Please Do! Your Choice.


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Don't Let Go? Please Do! Your Choice.

john graham

Over the last couple of years I’ve had the pleasure of speaking at various festivals.   Music festivals, wellbeing festivals, quirky festivals or a combination of all of those things festivals…I love being involved in them.

First Night Meeting for Crab Claws & BBQ lamb

First Night Meeting for Crab Claws & BBQ lamb

Last week I was so lucky to be part of Turkfest.  It was up there with being one of my favorite festival experiences.  Turkfest is held on the Island of Inishturk just off the west coast of Ireland (you can find out more about this wonderful island here).  Around 150 souls, including the locals, joined in with events such as sea fishing, treasure hunts, ring making, road bowling, mindfulness session, quiz nights, GAA football, silent discos & amazing food.

I haven’t even got around to the wonderful music but you can listen to the spotify playlist across to give you a taster.  Check out the classic first song ‘Don’t Let Go’ by En Vogue.  It's the song that was still spinning round my head days after the event (I even included it in the title of this article).

What really stood out for me, without trying to sound too cheesy, were the people.   From the first meet up at the ferry to the more weary goodbyes on the ferry back, it was an absolute joy to be part of their group.  So many qualities were displayed:

  • The friendliness of everyone, with strangers and friends alike.  Everyone seemed genuinely happy to be in such a great setting & meeting new people
  • Giving things a go.  Whether it was one of the activities I’ve mentioned above or something as simple as jumping in the sea after my mindfulness sessions.  They just went for it!
  • Connections being made.  All around seeing people chat & others really listening to them….REALLY LISTENING!
  • No one taking themselves too seriously (which when its done en masse is pretty refreshing & invigorating to be part of)
  • The appreciation of their surroundings (and what amazing surroundings they were)

I could go on…But in the nature of trying to keep this article really short, we had: happiness, confidence, compassion, love, calm, creativity, connection and some other things beside, very cool.  

These are all states we drop into effortlessly when we aren’t engaged in thinking.

Island Mindfulness with some of the 'Turkfesters'

Island Mindfulness with some of the 'Turkfesters'

Now I’m not going to say I know what was going on in the heads of each Turkfester. Exactly what they did to put them into that state to do & be all these things.  I really don’t know.  What I do know though is that each one of them had stuff going on in their lives.  Whether it was work stuff, relationship stuff, money stuff, health stuff…You know just general life stuff.  We all do, no one doesn’t.

For that couple of days though whether it was consciously or unconsciously they chose to have the best time possible.  They chose happiness, confidence, compassion, love, calm, creativity, connection and some other things beside, very cool (again).  They chose not to get caught up in thinking about things.  They chose to let go of thought & connect with self, each other & their environment.

The wonderful thing is we can all do that.  I’m sure even when times have been hard you might have decided to go out to a meal, or for a drink or to an event & make the vow “I’m just going to let go and have a great time”.  You put your attention on enjoying yourself & let go of whatever thoughts were bringing you down.  

Even if it was just for a couple of hours you have shown it was possible. 

I’m not talking about ignoring all that stuff.  We may have changes we need to make at work, conversations we have to have with others, plans we need to make with money, steps we need to make to improve or maintain health.   I’m talking about all the time wasted thinking about thoughts of thoughts of thoughts.  We hold on to our thoughts because as we think stuff we start to feel stuff.  When we think & feel it, it seems real, but at the end of the day it’s just a thought with no more value than the attention you give it.

So many people feel they have to be thinking about things. As they feel they should be thinking, they find it hard to let go.  Perhaps thinking if they aren't spending countless seconds minutes hours or days overthinking things, they aren't taking life seriously enough?  I don't know.

We all drift in and out of awareness all day long.  Drifting from a daydream states, lost in thought to being present and aware of the moment.  When we are unaware there's not much we can do.  When we are aware we have a choice.  We can hold on to the thoughts that cause us discomfort or we can let go and get back to connecting with the best of us…..Your choice.