Saturday, December 26, 2009

Letting go

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.
Havelock Ellis

Letting go gives us freedom. It invites new opportunities into our lives. When we let go there is a feeling of lightness and uplift.

Sometimes we cling to people or things out of the illusion that we cannot live without them. But we never know what lies ahead. We really only have the present moment. Even the present moment is fleeting.

Letting go does not mean that we abandon everything. There are many people and things that we build important relationships with. These people enhance our lives. At the same time we can practice an attitude of gentleness and a sense of detachment to the things we love the most.

We become blinded when our desperate need to hang onto something is actually causing difficulty and suffering in our lives. Fear can keep us holding on. In stillness, with an open heart, we can often find the strength to let go.

If we hang onto an idea of who we are or how the world is, we may miss learning something new or becoming something that is truer to our inner nature. If we are not open to new possibilities and new discoveries, we are cutting ourselves off from the richness and diversity of life. For example if you refuse to let go of the idea that you are unloved, you may not even notice the people who do love you.

Yoga helps to teach us the fine art of letting go and setting a strong foundation. Each breath teaches us the balance of filling up and releasing. We can let go of the idea that we cannot touch our toes or do a handstand. At the same time if we never touch our toes or do a handstand, that is OK. Yoga teaches us the union of opposites. They are both necessary for each other. Without creating muscular energy we cannot balance. Too much muscular energy causes tension. The fullness of the pose is found on the exhalation when we let go of the breath and create a softening of the muscular firmness.

As the new year approaches, think of some things you can let go of. Think of something that you feel you must have to be happy, How would it feel to let go of the attachment to that idea? Think of some idea you have or emotion that for some reason, maybe unintentionally, you are holding onto. We can let go because we know what we want to replace something with. For example we sell a house to buy a new one. Or we can let go simply for the freedom that comes from being fully present in each moment and open to all of life with its challenges and rewards.

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