You’ll often hear a teacher in yoga class say, “Let go of that which you cannot control.” Or “detach from the outcome.” Or even, “Practice non-attachment.”
One of the Yamas in the 8-limb tradition, Aparigraha, non-attachment.
Let’s get real though. It’s really crazy hard to let go. How do you let go? What does that really mean?
I think we all can understand the concept; to release our hold on something.
The dictionary defines it as, “to allow someone or something to escape or go free, to relinquish ones grip on something or someone”
Applying this teaching is a totally different situation.
As I started examining my own tendencies to hold on to things, I first looked at what I do have control over because let’s be honest, the real root-issue here is feeling out of control of the person or situation.
So, what can we control?
1. Our breath
2. Our thoughts
3. Our emotions
4. Our actions
That’s it. 4 things that are within our control.
One of my healers who now speaks to me from the other side once said to me, “Kate, is this within your control?” At which point I do a mental checklist of those 4 things.
Then he would say, “If not, let it go. If yes, then what are you willing to do about it?”
Key word being “willing”. It is our willingness to change that determines whether the outcome will be different.
I realized that so much of the areas of my life that cause(d) me stress, anxiety, fear, were because I was trying, hoping, wishing to control something, someone, or an outcome in which I had/have no control over.
Instead, I had to learn to take control over that which I can, and to let go (of the thought) that I had any control to begin with in the first place.
In comes the practice of, Sraddha. Deep Faith and Trust.
I’ve learned that in order to let go, I must have faith and trust that everything is exactly as it is supposed to be in each moment.
I have to know that there is a greater purpose to unwelcome situations.
I have to trust that when people choose to leave my life, it’s for my highest good.
I have to have faith that when my one-year-old puppy has seizures that God has a plan. (Yes, I took him to the vet. Yes, we are getting some answers. No, it doesn’t make it any less scary. Yes, I am taking control of what I can, and trust that all is as it needs to be.)
Here’s the thing: you can’t say you have deep faith and trust and only believe that when it serves you, when you understand, when things go how you want them to. That’s not Sraddha; that’s a self-serving limiting belief that only pisses you off when things don’t go your way.
Sraddha is the kind of faith and trust that surpasses all understanding.
It is the foundation upon which grace is felt.
It is the underlying structure of safety that allows someone to move mountains and beat cancer.
It is the heart-pounding, gut-wrenching perseverance that keeps some on the path to healing when storms keep rolling in.
Letting go is an act of faith.
It is saying, I am willing to trust.
I am willing to trust so much so that I am surrendering my felt-sense of control over to something higher that lives within me.
Letting go is not easy. It is incredibly hard. It is painfully hard at times. It requires strength, patience, determination, and the willingness to choose something new.
Letting go is an act of grace and humility.
It is showing up for yourself and acknowledging that perhaps you don’t know, you can’t do it alone, maybe it’s not what you thought, perhaps that friendship/relationship is over, maybe it has been for a while.
Letting go is an understanding that you don’t know everything, that expectations create obstacles, and that life can be downright shitty at times- and that you’ll somehow be okay.
Letting go creates space for forgiveness, for compassion, for resurrection, for new life.
In a forward fold, when we let go of our mind, and surrender our heads into our hearts, we begin to tune inward and hear the still, small(BIG) voice patiently waiting to guide us. Our head may scream, how much longer do I have to hold this? Why isn’t she/he (the teacher) moving us out of this sooner? Why the hell am I still in this position? Our heart knows it’s all okay just as it is in that moment.
In life, if we go inward, surrender our minds to our hearts, and listen to that same voice, we will be guided to take the right action at the right time. Our head may scream, how much longer do I have to hold this? Why isn’t she/he (the teacher of life) moving us out of this sooner? Why the hell am I still in this position? Our heart knows it’s all okay just as it is in that moment.
The yoga of letting go is not to say, stop trying and let life happen to you.
The yoga of letting go is saying, I am willing to surrender that which I cannot control, AND I am willing to give space for grace, to have faith that through the Divine, radiant light that dwells within my heart, I will take the right action at the right time, and trust that all will be as it is for the highest good of all.
The greatest gift I have received from practicing the yoga of letting go is returning to the true source of peace that dwells inside my heart. It is a constant and never-ending source of joy that no one or no thing can take away.
By a continual practice of surrendering control, of taking control of what I can, of having deep faith and trust in knowing all will be okay, through self-compassion and love, my life is realigning to one of grace & ease, even in the really hard moments.
I invite you to consider a practice of surrender, of letting go, of Sraddha- a deep faith & trust that you are guided, connected, and deeply loved. That life is happening for you.
That even in the storm, there is always a rainbow if you are willing to see it.