The Power of Letting Go


In the end what matters most

is how well did you love

how well did you live

how well did you learn to let go

That is the banner that hangs in the front corner of my yoga studio - and I find myself repeating this over and over through out most classes. Initially doing this was a mind clearer for me - a reset button. Now it’s become something I’m trying to workin into my everyday life - letting go of the things I have no control over.

The tendency I have - when things are challenging, when something isn’t going my way is to grip tighter, push further, try harder. I had someone ask me recently - what happens when you try harder to fall asleep at night? You climb into bed, and sleep avoids you, and you push harder, flip and flop and try to fall asleep... what happens? For me, sleep moves further and further away from me. The more I try, the harder it gets. Exactly the point, this person said, the answer to everything is not to work harder, sometimes the answer is to surrender and let go.

Terrifying! Completely terrifying I thought. I’m sure in response I mumbled something about that being deep and I’d have to think more on that. But truthfully - my impulsive reaction was so strong because this goes against everything in my worldview. If it doesn’t work try harder - but this doesn’t always serve me. Sometimes the answer is to let go. Let go and be still.

There is a sense of peace that wraps around me after I repeat the mantra that begun this post. I can’t change it, so why fight it? Let it go. Sometimes the thoughts and feelings we carry around are so heavy - what would it be like to put them down? Try to think of it this way - you’re stuck in traffic and late. There’s no exit ramp, there’s no way to move around the traffic - you’re stuck. Why let frustration take over that moment? Either way you’re in traffic.

Take a Deep Breath and Begin

I love practicing skills that begin with deep breathing with my clients. This post was actually prompted by an exercise done with my supervises recently - after processing through one of my counselors feelings of frustration with a client's lack of progress. (obvious this was discussed further focusing on a more person centered model of individualized successes - but that's not what this post is about)  It can happen so quickly, getting swept up in another person's chaos and not realizing now you're just along for the ride.  My encouragement - just breathe. 


Mindful breathing practice


Breathe and Observe. When we observe, we're sensing an experience as just an experience. You’re just noticing – noticing a thought, noticing a feeling, noticing sounds and other sensations. Noticing urges; urges to act, move, speak etc. Observe and do what? Nothing. You’re just noticing. Like you’re observing sail boats moving by you, skimming on top of the water. You’re not pushing feelings or thoughts away, or trying to change them  - You’re not attaching yourself to what your observing. You’re just observing. you’re just sitting and being with your observation. No judgement (this sucks, this is uncomfortable, this is unfair, this is cold, this is sticky - these are judgments)


Let’s try an exercise in observing.


Place your feet on the floor – observe your feet on the floor.

Observe your bottom in the chair (or observe how you are sitting or laying)

Observe the first 3 thoughts that go through your mind

Observe the sounds in the room

Observe your breath, in and out