Spring renewal begins with letting go
It always feels like I just sat down to write my weekly newsletter. I typically write these on Sunday after a full week of holding space, leading, learning and running a business.
Tonight it happened. I had writer’s block. I am usually inspired by something that is said to me or a question that is asked. Tonight…my mind was swirling with thoughts.
I had to let go. I had to sit in contemplation and let the message become clear to me. So I sat on the floor with Lily the Maltese. I closed my eyes and listened.
This is the season of renewal. The Spring Equinox is the beginning of the astrological year. It is a time to sow seeds to begin something new.
First, we have to let go of preconceived notions, old habits and those pesky fears and doubts.
Can you imagine if the trees in winter didn’t shed their leaves? The leaves and branches would get all moldy and hang there. Then, come spring, there would be no room for growth.
When I teach asana, I ask my students to let go of fear as they balance and to let go of comparison and judgment. We talk about creating space. It is here that we can renew and let “spring” in.
WHY IS IT SO HARD?
It sounds so simple: stop, do nothing, let go. But if it is so simple – why is it so hard? Why is it a struggle to not do something, to just let things be? Why is it so hard to not think about that drama occurring in our lives?
Probably because letting go is not valued in our culture, and what is not valued is not practiced. It does take practice to learn how to let go and let things be. Letting go is a very yin-like quality.
Consider your own breath: it is easy to exhale, to let go of the breath. It is the yang-portion of the breath, the inhalation, that requires effort, but exhaling is simply relaxing the muscles of inspiration. We let go of the breath and it leaves us. We don’t have to try to exhale: we allow it to happen.
There is a wonderful story about a Monk. He would hold up a cup and ask his monk friends, “how heavy is this cup?” Before they could answer, he would continue, “at first it is very light, but after ten minutes of holding it up it begins to be heavier. Imagine how it would feel after one hour of holding?” The obvious answer is – quite heavy.
Now, what is the wise thing to do if something is getting very heavy, too heavy to continue to hold up? The wise thing is to set it down for a little while. Then, after a short rest, you can pick it up again, and it is once more quite light and easy to bear. So simple; so obvious.
And yet, how many burdens are you carrying at this time? When the stress of life, obligations and responsibilities become really heavy, are you wise enough to set them down for a little while and take a rest? Or do you believe that you must keep struggling and keep your arm up forever? Stress takes a heavy toll in our lives: it creates illness and exacerbates disease. It poisons relationships and ages us prematurely. There is a simple solution: set down your burden! Not forever; not even for a long time. Even a short rest from your responsibilities, a brief letting go, may help you pick them up again and bear them more appropriately.
THE “ALL” TECHNIQUE
There is a simple letting go exercise that we can do while practicing yoga: this is ALL you need to know.
ALLOW means to allow whatever is to be: allow your thoughts to come into your mind. Allow the sensation of the postures to be.
LABEL the thought or sensation. This is not a judgment; the sensation or thought is not good or bad – simply note what it is. After noticing it, then..
LET IT GO Like an exhale, don’t hang on – release. Now repeat. This is a meditation: meditation is the key skill for learning to let go.
This is A.L.L. you need to practice. Allow – Label – Let go. You have so many opportunities every day to let go. The more you practice letting go, the easier it will become. The easier it becomes, the more you will do it. Use the time in your yoga practice to help establish this valuable skill. Learn to let go and see how much you gain.