Those of you who come to my yoga classes will know I always begin a session with a short meditation that focuses on letting go. In fact “Letting Go” is often the intention I set for the entire yoga class. One can never tire of this practice, I certainly don’t. We always need to let go physically, emotionally, mentally, of past situations, present challenges and future fears and expectations.
Letting go is another term for non-attachment. This practice is pretty much the essence of Patanjali’s Yoga Suttra’s, which is considered the most important yoga text. It took me quite a while to get my head around the significance of non-attachment. It’s only in the past while that I have had some realisation and understanding of it. That said, it is constant practice and at the moment not much more than an awareness. I am far from dissolving my own mind that constantly churns up attachments, which bind me to my ego. However this recent insight has had a positive effect and I already notice a shift within myself.
For years not only did the practice of non-attachment seem impossible, I fought its significance and doubted the ancient text that continues to emphasise the importance of non-attachment. I often argued how can one have compassion and be detached? How can we care for others, have ambition and be detached? How can we have children, lovers, motivation, careers and homes yet be detached? It all becomes exceptionally mind-boggling not to mention frustrating.
My first real understanding of detachment happened through the practice of Vipassana (insight meditation). If you have read my blogs on Vipassana you will know I describe this meditation as experiencing how everything is constantly changing therefore trying to hold on to any one thing is pointless effort. This was my first point of realisation of non-attachment: If everything is in a constant flux of change one can’t attach to anything at all. Easy to remember when sitting in silence on a meditation retreat, with no other distractions only your own mind. But what happens when you come back out to the real world and are again faced with life’s challenges, fears, wants and needs? It’s very easy to be drawn into reacting when the whole point of this practice is to not react.
So how do we achieve this state and stay with it? I have realised it’s all about Letting Go! When I set yoga practices on Letting Go, I offer people to set intentions in their heart to let go of a specific situation or a general sense of letting go, reminding them the physical yoga practice is a creative expression that will support their intention. While this is a really lovely practice in recent weeks Letting Go has become something else.
I now realise that Letting Go is a constant daily practice, moment to moment. Letting go is not only releasing specific situations or the stress of our daily lives at the beginning of a yoga session. It’s letting go of everything all the time. Letting go of every thought that comes into the mind. Letting go of every single reaction to those thoughts. Letting go of expectations, letting go everything and anything that momentarily irritates you. Letting go of wanting to control or being controlled, letting go of wanting to be right, letting go of blame, letting go of judgements of oneself and others, letting go of wants and needs, letting go of the idea of a perfect life whatever that may be. Even when you blindly do react even let go of the fact that you have done so. Let it all go!
When we Let Go it creates a very fulfilling sense of space in your entire being, full of contentment, full of an inner knowingness that this is good stuff :-). You can feel freedom, even if it’s only for that split second before the next attachment arises. It’s those moments of liberation that gives you the motivation to persist with this practice in patience. You can still dream, visualise, love, create, achieve, manifest whatever you choose, it’s the Letting Go of the outcome where the practice of non-attachment lies.
Try it now. Let go of something in your mind. Recognise the thought, don’t react, simply let it go. How does it feel?
“Your ego has to terrify you all the time, so that you can investigate and come home to yourself in the body. This is what we’re all here to live. When we aren’t attached to our thinking, when all the why’s, when’s, and where’s let go of us, then what really is becomes visible.” – Byron Katie.
Just Let Go!