Letting go is never easy, I’m not gonna lie to you.
In yoga, it’s one of those capacities that we can invite, but cannot force. We can work through the processes, work through the breath, but it will only happen when it happens. We cannot force it.
In addition, what we want to / need to let go of comes in so many various issues, and that’s not including our own background, triggers and issues (i.e. baggage).
Different people letting go of different things.
‘Letting go’ is such a wide area and there is no one “right way” or “correct method” to do it. For example, we may need to let go of someone or something we have lost in our life, whether through separation or through their passing. Even moving to a new place or town requires letting go. In this sense, we are dealing with grief.
To be honest, one of the hardest things I had to let go of was my mother’s self after she had experienced a stroke and began her journey with dementia. When it first happened, the whole family still had this idea that she had a ‘setback’ and she would be back to her old self.
Not true! So I had to first recognise that she would never be the same, that the old mother had ‘died’ and I needed to grieve that loss, let her go. Then was the actual process of letting her go, and learning to learn who this ‘new mother’ was and learning to love her.
It’s not an easy process, especially if you’re right in there and you cannot recognise what the issues are. But this is just an example, and if you’re reading this, I think you may have your own situations you seek to let go – it could range from sadness to anger to resentment to injustice or even all of them!
Here are few processes you could practice to help you invite in the capacity to let go.
Through the breath and the body.
Our body holds emotions, and how we handle our body and our breath has a direct correlation to how happy or sad we are; how stressed or relaxed; how upset or at peace.
Through our body and our breath, we may be able to invite the capacity to let go by attenuating or softening the gripping our struggles or issues have on us:
- For the body, we use yoga forward folds or forward bends, and also yoga twists to help release us. Like the capacity to let go, these physical movements are intricate and require good grounding before we can begin to let go and release.
- For the breath, we will specifically work on the exhales, and the type of pranayama / yoga breath work that invites us to let go and release.
Below is a basic letting go / release session for both body (forward folds / bends) and breath (focusing on exhales) you can find after the talk.
Journaling is probably one of the best things you could do for transformation. Here are a few reasons why.
- Journaling helps you connect with your values and emotions. After a period of journaling, you will begin to see patterns emerging in your life. You may even begin to see what you draw into your life and what you repel. Over time, you will slowly see that perhaps what you always thought you valued wasn’t as precious as other things in your life. You may also see what is holding you back, what you need to let go. And, trust me, identifying what you need to let go is one of the biggest hurdles in letting go.
- Journaling helps to clear mental clutter. When you transfer your thoughts, problems, struggles, wins and success from your mind to the page, it helps to empty the mind and, sometimes, you end up viewing the whole scenario as a third person even – giving you the distance you need to find solutions to any challenges you are experiencing. In this sense, you also have the opportunity to prioritise problems, fears and concerns.
- Because you gain mental clarity, you gain insight and understanding of yourself. This is key to Svadhyaya – or self-reflection.
Aparigraha / Non-possession.
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, under the first limb, we have the Yamas. Aparigraha is a Yama, and it may mean “non-attachment”, “non-clinging”, “non-grasping”, “non-coveting”, and “non-hoarding” – you get the idea.
While most take to mean physical possession, it also means non-attachment to feelings, behaviours, thought or emotional patterns and people. It is the practice of letting go of physical and non-physical facets of our lives that do not serve us any longer.
Think of all the things you have an attachment to and consider if you could let them go. Maybe make a list in your journal. This is just an exercise, but it helps us to have strength when the time comes to actually let go. Could you let go of your spouse? Your child or parent? Your pet? Your job? Again, this is just an exercise for you as you journal.
Tell me in the comments or contact me if you have questions on this exercise.
Naming the emotion.
When we are gripped with an emotion, if we take a step back, feel or ‘taste’ the emotion, and name it. This gives us distance from that gripping and may help us with clarity.
In yoga, there are nine tastes or emotions, called the Rasas. The practice is to identify the Rasa, watch her dance, and allow her to leave the stage.
So we taste in the sense of bring awareness to the emotion, but we do not immerse in it. We do not become the Rasa or emotion.
The Rasas are:
- Sringara (Love / Sensuality / Enchantment)
- Karuna (Compassion)
- Virya (Courage)
- Hasya (Joy / Humour)
- Adbhuta (Wonder)
- Raudra (Anger)
- Vibhasta (Disgust)
- Bhayanaka (Fear)
- Shanta (Peace)
The video below is a talk and a yoga practice focusing on the Rasas.
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In addition, the Rasas play a role in our endocrine system. For example, adrenaline when Bhayanaka or Raudra dances, or melatonin when Shanta visits.
Understanding our moods and emotions goes a great deal towards understanding our behaviour, which is why the Rasas are important for letting go.
Remember that Rasas – your emotions, moods and struggles – don’t define you. You can invite them to go.
Time doesn’t heal emotional pain, you need to learn how to let go.Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
Just let things be.
Remember that letting go, or releasing, is a capacity we can only invite. In this sense, we do want to practise Aparigraha (non-clinging / non-attachment) on the outcome of our practice. When the time comes,