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Letting go. It’s a gentle, soft sounding idiom that floats frequently from the lips of yoga teachers, weaves itself through the texts of ancient yogis, and has no doubt made an appearance or two on your social media feed. But what does it really mean? Let go of what, exactly? And how do we learn to let go?…

Letting go

Learning to let go means embracing our potential to flow with the natural course and rhythms of life, which we humans so adeptly tend to resist!

You may have heard the phrase, “the only constant is change.” This is undoubtedly and unavoidably true. Yet, a great dichotomy of our existence, is that our natural instinct as humans is to resist change (while the nature of our environment and experiences is to do nothing but!).

The idea of letting go is really about the process of surrendering constantly to that which meets us, therefore creating for ourselves the possibility of enjoying peacefulness, as well as the least amount of suffering.

“If we realise all things change, there is nothing we will try and hold onto.” – Lao Tzu

Letting go is not necessarily about cutting out material comforts. Nor is it about ending all of our less-than-perfect relationships, or quitting our job to sit atop a mountain meditating for the rest of our lives. It’s simply about releasing what is already on its way out. Going ‘with the flow,’ if you will, rather than getting dragged along kicking and screaming.

Nature

The rhythms and cycles of nature as always, provide excellent guidance.

Autumn is particularly good at letting go; reflecting that there is no need to hold onto old, dead leaves. Even if it means being left completely bare and looking nothing like we did before. In Autumn, a tree simply drops its leaves – standing steady and exposed, while attending to the inner work of nourishing the roots and trunk.

Humans mirror nature’s cycles; therefore autumn is the ideal time for us to practice letting go.

We too are meant to shed, release and drop old leaves. It’s important that we spend time feeling bare, empty and without what we know, as we embark on new paths. Like the tree, we’ll also benefit from directing energy internally, nourishing our insides and strengthening our roots for when it is time to bloom again.

Our retreat offerings are the perfect setting for to get away; to let go and reground and reset. Being surrounded by the beauty of nature, as well as the beauty of those who understand this, will truly encourage a gentle and personal unfolding.

 

What should I let go of?

What we need to let go of can be obvious. Think: places, relationships, jobs, clutter in our homes and lives. What’s harder to notice are the conditions within us, that create these circumstances in the first place. What is it within me that chose this place, relationship, or job – and what’s still within me that doesn’t want to let go? Often it takes shifting the outside, to reveal what is operating inside. Yet, until we turn our gaze to our hearts and minds and compassionately hold, question and release what’s happening there – we’ll often continue to choose the same set of unchanging circumstances, and call them our life.

The gifts of letting go

Apart from feeling lighter, more aligned and in alignment with our true nature – the gifts of letting go are the gifts of making space. This means everything that’s able to arrive only when we weed and fertilise the soil of our minds. When we release our attachment to things we don’t truly desire, we free up space for what sparks joy in our hearts. The gift of letting go can be anything and everything you desire. Often times, that can mean something completely and wonderfully intangible. Creative inspiration for example, is something that many people find readily available to them once they’ve let go of old ideas.

Whenever we are holding on to something, we are contracting on some level. In letting go, we release this tension, and allow our true essence to flow unrestricted. Holding on  can act as a hard outer-casing around our being, often and keeping us trapped in sameness and stagnation. When we’re open to life as it organically unfolds (rather than how we think it should), we can taste its sweet nectar, as well as our own.

“Depression is not deep sadness, it’s the Universal consistencies of tension, pressure, stress, and friction in search of the Universal efficiencies of ease, joy, knowing, and liberation.” – Guru Singh

In letting go, we realise a greater possibility for ourselves. We can suddenly imagine a life that’s more enjoyable, and in line with our highest good and purpose. Cleaning up shop inside, allows us to be free of the fetters that keep us believing we don’t deserve the things we desire. We can, we do, and we are. This is the magic of letting go.

Practising letting go

The question is not how we let go, but rather how we release resistance to what is already falling away. Yoga and meditation practices are incredibly powerful vehicles for acceptance of change. When feel a connection to our true nature and the stillness that always exists within, the movement and reshuffling of our external world feels far less disconcerting. When hear the quiet voice inside, the loud shouting of our mind is easier to tune out. We can rest more comfortably in the knowing that all is unfolding as it should.

Spending time in nature is another wonderful way to be reminded of our own inner worlds. As we gaze upon a tree we see that its growth is messy, organic, full in some places and sparse in others. Yet it lives, breathes and is beautiful. We too are chaotic, yet perfect in the way we drop leaves and bloom again.

Our lives change from the point we let go of the belief that happiness is somewhere other than here. Rather than spending time checking off to-do lists and attempting to minimise discomfort, we can let go of the things that don’t bring us delight. Here, we create space and idle time for connection, inspiration, new ideas and interests, deepened friendships and joy.

Instead of living in perpetual busyness, we’ll wake up excited to enjoy what life wants to offer. This is the greatest gift of letting go; being present enough to know what we truly desire, even and especially if that means doing nothing at all. In the end, time enjoyed is never wasted.

 

This article was originally written in 2019, but we’ve updated it. It’s as relevant as ever.