The ability to leave things alone

As we mature, we learn to be happy with things as they are. Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Part of mindfulness is the ability to leave things alone.  We are born into a world of things, and our bodily organism thrives on its ability to relate to objects – things, plants, people.  We engage, and we learn.  We build up a picture of the world.  We influence others. And then we die.

During the intense development of childhood, it is only right that we barge against things.  We test them out, find out where their boundaries are.  We moan at our parents for leaving us alone, then for invading our privacy.  All this is part of the negotiation process of becoming part of life.

As we mature, we learn, more and more, that there are times to leave things alone.  In fact, we learn that, most of the time, we should be leaving things alone.  Many mental illnesses are made worse by an impatience, an inability to be happy with things as they are, without interfering with them.


Just for today, try to watch yourself reacting to the world around you.  Notice how easy it is for your body and mind to cling, to grab, to sigh, to swear, to punch, to withdraw.

It is not so easy just to be.  But try to do this.  Try to notice all the clinging and grabbing going on in the world, and just sit with it.  If you feel someone is ignoring you, let them ignore you.  If you feel someone is winding you up, then let them try, and treat it as meditation practice.  If you feel someone is attracted to you and relying on you too much, then notice that, but don’t let that panic or rush you into unwise action.


As young animals, in childhood we rushed to engage with the world.  It was right, then, that we could not leave things alone.  We were learning.

As adults, we can get ill if we keep reacting to, and seeking, stimulation.  Instead, we can become healthy by learning the balancing skill of ‘just watching’.  That way, others can ignore us, try to wind us up, or try to rope us into their needs, but we will not feel panicked or rushed.

We can just be.