The Freedom of Letting Go
Letting go is the ultimate release. It means not judging yourself, not beating yourself up, and not blaming yourself should something not go exactly the way you want it to. It is recognition of not being able to control everything, no matter how much we may want to, and coming to realize our Sthira Sukha—we put forth the effort that we can, we do our best, and then we leave the rest up to the ethers; to fate.
In letting go we open ourselves up to new possibilities, experiences and relationships; we invite freedom. People often stay mired in the muck of their past, deciding it was that way then, it will be that way now. But believe it or not, that is not the truth; how can it be when you are different, the situation is different?
We can let go of:
Replaying conversations in our head
Analyzing someone to the point we drive ourselves crazy (because there is never a way into someone’s head unless they invite you there)
Old hurts that influence our present
People who bring us sorrow and containment instead of joy and growth
Low Self Esteem
Well that’s wonderful you may say, but how? Being unwilling to let go, or unable, is a manifestation of fear. When we let go we are showing faith in the unknown and most importantly faith in ourselves.
One of the most important aspects of yoga is understanding that because you feel a certain way one moment, does not mean you will feel that way for the rest of your life, or even in the next moment. It is about finding presence and acknowledging where you are at any given time; not being one place and thinking of another, another time another person another situation or circumstance. Just existing in the moment you’re in, without judgment or anxiety. It is an experience. From your first asana practice (and all that follow) to learning about love, relationships, career and life it is all an experience, to be observed and learned from.
Of course letting go when a loved one has passed away, after a painful divorce, or the loss of a dream job can be seemingly impossible. But what is important to remember is this process does not have to happen overnight, nor will it. It is all a practice, both on and off the mat. Depending on what you may be going through it may take a year or more, but it is always important to remember that there is a difference between mourning a situation and wallowing in it. Allowing the emotions to pass through, be acknowledged and welcomed will allow them to ultimately be purged, as long as you come from a place of self love and the desire for joy.
After a painful breakup, instead of going out with anyone and everyone, over eating , staying home all day or drinking into a stupor why not take it as an opportunity to come back to yourself, discover new things, and practice feeling pain and breathing through it?
Of course my advice will always be to meditate and get to the mat, but if you haven’t tried yoga yet, then just do something for yourself out of love, kindness and compassion. If you want to go drinking with your friends FOR YOU, then by all means do it, but again it’s all about balance.
After my first painful breakup I found myself on the mat for the first time, and lately I find myself thanking that man, because he was my catalyst. Although I didn’t want to let him go, I eventually did, and am so grateful for it. If I hadn’t I’d still be in a very unhealthy relationship, still overweight, and struggling to find him and myself. Instead, I am vibrant, changed, happy, and appreciative of the experience he gave me, what we went through together. I let go, and I was able to see.
After my second painful breakup I found myself again taking my own advice, but to a much greater degree since I’d been practicing yoga for about 4 years; instead of going out all night I went to yoga—I re-centered, discovered more of myself, grew stronger.. changed, moved on, and now see with clarity why I had to let him go. Not only am I better, but I have made space mentally and physically for something new to come in. If a garage is full of junk, there’s no room for a Ferrari.
I have been struggling with letting go, especially relationships, for some time. I am only now learning how to be open, breathe it out, and see what happens. We often can’t let go because we think that worrying about the outcome of a situation or trying to analyze it will bring us the outcome we seek. But rather it will only impede the positive energy that flows in and out of the situation, or one that may be just around the corner. When we act from a place of analysis and worry instead of freedom and the strength to let go, we make decisions through avidya (veil of perception) instead of with clarity, ultimately bringing us exactly what we hoped to avoid.
Letting go of anger, unkindness toward yourself, self judgment or cruelty allows you to make space for joy, happiness, health, and well being! I often talk of prana, and how important actual asana (physical practice) is to burn away impurities and make way for the brilliant life force that surrounds us all, but if you haven’t decided it’s time to step on the mat, allow the exercise of letting go to be a beginning of making room; room to flourish, room to enjoy. When you feel that stuck emotion (regardless of its cause-great or small), sadness, or pain breathe it out—find your breath, take a short inhale and a nice long exhale and imagine those feelings dissipating into the air like incense smoke. Find the freedom. Let it go.
This practice can begin with not beating yourself up over something “stupid” you may have said, or a situation you wish you could change. Remember, take baby steps, they will lead you great places.
Letting go does not have to be a sad moment or experience although if it is then honor that. If you can, however, try to see letting go as making room for something else, for something more, something better. We become so attached to things and people, from habit or otherwise, that we hold ourselves back.
Always move forward, always practice, always experience, and experiment with breathing it out, and letting it go. Allow yourself to be free.
blessed be + om shanti, beauty one!