What does it mean to let go?

Letting go is something we talk about often in yoga. But its so much easier said than done.  Recently, one of my friends and fellow yoga teachers mentioned that it bothers her when yoga teachers say “just let go.” Something I am admittedly guilty of suggesting time and again. It led me to ask myself the question, What does it really mean to let go? Furthermore, how do we go about doing it so it doesn’t just sound like some hippie dippy cliche term that only people with perceivably legitimate first world problems can say? Just let it go. Drop your fears, your stresses, your doubts, your limitations, your trauma, your anger, your pain. Easier said than done, I know.

We all have our own set of issues we dwell on. Work stress, money problems, relationship and family challenges. Child hood trauma, which we may or may not be aware of on a fully waking conscious mind kind of level. Emotional and mental stress, cellular memory, all of these factors contribute to tension that builds in our mental and physical body. When we come to the yoga mat, we are given a sanctuary in which we can begin to release, and let go, so to speak, of all of the tension society and life inevitably creates. The fact is, many people tend to suppress these stress inducing realities that we all face at some point or another. Some people simply are at a loss as of how to deal with these realities. Society has conditioned us to disconnect with our underlying truths.

By having at least the intention to let go, we can begin to address what exactly it is we are holding onto that makes us feel weighed down and lacking the tools to relieve ourselves of it. When we allow ourselves to be aware of the tension creating entities, we can begin to learn how to let go through movement and meditation.

We hold onto ideas and feelings created by our mental and emotional states of being, based on incidents and experiences throughout our lives. Some of the experiences seemingly tattoo our hearts and memory, henceforth affect us on much deeper, long lasting levels than we could imagine. If its trauma, sometimes that can create great stress and in turn even affect our health and our physical body.

So when we say “let go”, we have a lot of work ahead of us. It starts with being willing to even go there, to those sometimes dark and tangled places within us. To start the journey of unraveling the mess so we can see some light come through, and begin to understand what it means to let go. That letting go is maybe more of a state of mind, a philosophy, a practice in itself, a tool to help you wake up and free you from what is keeping you from feeling more consistently at ease.

In company with the many joys life graces you with, life will inevitably continue to through a profusion of challenges your way. If we can learn how to manage the philosophy of what it means to let go, we create space for ourselves to not only process our experiences, but to create space for the new ones, with an open mind and a healthy heart. When we can get a grip on letting go of the major things that weigh us down, the little things start to matter less, and life suddenly becomes a lot better.

Start with right now. Embrace the theory of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Don’t be afraid to be in vulnerable places within yourself. As lovely and relaxing as yoga can be, this practice isn’t a bed of roses. Practice and all is coming.

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