Letting Go

Letting Go

I have been asking myself what it means to let go. To “let it go” is a phrase used so much in spiritual practice and popular culture that I found myself wondering if it means anything at all. And, if it does mean something, how do people come to understand what it is to let go, and how to let it, and how to relate with where it goes?

This questioning of what it means to let go is rooted in my own reflection of what I have been holding on to that is distracting growth. Whether ideas or roles, visions or plans, people or timelines, I have been aiming to identify what needs to drop in order for me and people and things around me to evolve. Thinking about what to let go wasn’t helping, because everything on my list seemed important and I didn’t want to see them go entirely. I was experiencing anxiety in thinking about letting go because I felt responsible for keeping things going. And, just because I am ready to grow, that doesn’t mean ideas, roles, visions, plans, people, and timelines need to go anywhere. They can still exist around me and I can still champion their existence. What if, instead, I am the one who shifts? What if I let myself go from what I have known in order to go where I am meant to be?
I meditated and practiced yoga in the soft, restorative ways I do. I scanned my mind and body and asked myself where I was hardening. Tight shoulders told me I was doing too much computer work. Tight hips told me I needed to take more walks. A knot in my stomach told me to tune into my creative self. Anxiety told me to shift attention from that which sparks doubt to that which brings ease. A re-emerging thought pattern told me to write more because, for me, writing brings clarity. In every case, I softened the edges of everything I thought I needed to do, should do, was expected to do. I stopped thinking about what to let go and started exploring where to stop holding on. Gently, sweetly, a lot released. I saw other people emerge and graciously, joyously pick up the ideas, roles, visions, plans, people, and timelines I was releasing and carry them to new heights. I was then free to fly out of my skin, say yes to different things, evolve my being, and make new contributions to community. And, the people who picked up what I was releasing were able to fly out of their skins, say yes to different things, evolve their beings, and make new contributions to community.
I realized that letting go is the opposite of grasping. It is the opening of the hands and heart and letting things drop into new hands and hearts.
To let go asks us to deeply explore areas of grasping and trust that it is okay to soften, smile, and step calmly to the side. To let go asks us to allow others to step in and build upon our work while we go on to forge new paths. To let go is to let others in, and to support and celebrate those who do. 

To do the opposite of grasping is to welcome new experiences, new people, and new growth. This is your invitation release your grasp, and let go.

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The picture, below, is from my first journey to India in 2010 to study with AnandMehrotra, my Guru and founder of Sattva Yoga. It was taken during the Ganga Aarti, a ceremony during which people receive blessings from the fire and send blessings into the river. To me, it is what letting go can look like. Soft, tender, and from the heart.

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