One of our yoga teachers here at Bend, Ruth, asked a fantastic question that a lot of people struggle with. “How do you let go?” I love this question. I have asked this question. Let’s explore it together. Grab a pen.
Why are we constantly asking ourselves to let something go? Seriously… why? Chances are you have told someone that you are struggling with an issue and they have told you to just get over it. Or, maybe it’s been months since something has happened… a breakup… a situation at work… something your mother said (not you Mom, this is hypothetical I promise)… and maybe you feel that you are holding on to it. Whatever “it” is, you feel held back from enjoying your life because it is still a part of you: You are getting ready in the morning and you can’t stop thinking about “it”; you are walking your dog and again “it” comes up; and even later as you are making supper your mind takes you to “it”. How do we make it stop? How do we just let it go?
I have no textbook answers for you. I do, however, have over 20 years of yoga practice to look back on and offer you some advice for how to bring “it” to your practice… this is how I let go:
First we acknowledge what we need to get over. Name “it”. “I am not over blank“. Then, take a breath. Name it again. Breathe again. Notice what your breath feels like as you acknowledge what you are struggling with. Note: most people want to be done here. This is where the cycle starts:
I’m uncomfortable, this doesn’t feel good. I should be over this already. Oh my God, what am I doing? I’m better than this! I deserve better than this. I can be better than this. What can I do to make this feeling go away?
Does this sound familiar? What happens when we get into this space? Some people get a drink, some people eat, some people go out and find a substitute for the person who broke up with them, and the list goes on. In short, we tend to try and find something to numb our pain. The thing with numbing the pain, is that we just cover it up. We don’t let it go and we certainly don’t get over it. When you are ready, go back to your practice and acknowledge what you are feeling.
Welcome!! You made it past the numbing stage. Woohoo!! You have recognized a complex array of uncomfortable feelings and have accepted that they are a part of you. You are feeling a mix of emotions and physical sensations. What are they? Can you make a list? Here are some things to help you along:
- I feel numb
- I feel sad
- I feel empty
- I feel that my life is going no where
- I feel alone
- I am afraid that I will always be alone
- Insert your own feeling… I am just giving examples to start you off
Breathe again. Feel the sensations. Feel the emotions. Be aware of what your breath feels like as you explore what the feelings are. Why do you feel this way? Was there an expectation? Was there a miscommunication and you wish you could fix it? Is there a process of forgiveness that can happen here? As you answer these questions be very aware of what you is happening physically and how your breath feels. This process is awareness.
Now we have to “just be” with all of this. We are sad, or we are hurt, or we are angry, or we are ashamed, or we are some combination of them all. It’s ok to not be ok. This is an uncomfortable space to be in. Our minds tell us that we don’t want to feel that way, but we do feel that way. By not allowing yourself to truly experience what is going on around you, to you, within you… you start the cycle of not getting over it and essentially being more sad, hurt, angry or ashamed. You bury the feelings. By diving in and getting cozy with those emotions, you actually have a better chance of getting over them. To get to the other side of something, you must first actually go THROUGH it. In this space, as you breathe, repeat these words as you feel the sensations: trust, accept, allow.