In yoga and in therapy, I often find myself using the phrase “let go”. I gently remind and encourage my clients and my students to “let go” of whatever it is that is not serving them in their lives or their practice, in that moment or at that time in their lives.
…And when I use this phrase, and say this to them, I do so with sensitivity, empathy, compassion, and encouragement. I mean it when I say it, and I say it because I know that it can be done. Yet, despite my sincerity and positive intentions, I have to admit that sometimes this phrase rolls off my tongue with such ease that I forget to say more about “letting go”. I forget that “letting go” is often easier said than done.
That is, I forget this until one of my clients or yoga students asks me to elaborate on what it is that I mean. “What do you mean by, ‘letting go’?” they ask. Or “How exactly do I let go? What does that even mean? And, how do I know when I have let go of something?” It is then that I am reminded that, no matter how significant, profound, or life-changing “letting go” might be, it is no simple thing. Rather, it is quite the contrary. For, when we hang on to something, we do so for a reason. And that reason is because whatever it is that we are hanging on to is important to us. So quite naturally, letting go of these things can be difficult. It can be scary. And it is most definitely not easy.
So, then, what is “letting go”?
To define this term, consider the following adaption of a popular anonymous description:
“To let go is not to forget or ignore. To let go does not leave feelings of anger, jealousy, or regret. Letting go is not about winning or losing, nor is it about pride, appearances, or dwelling on the past. Letting go is not suppressing memories, nor hanging on to negative thoughts.Parajumpers Light Long Bear
Letting go does not leave behind emptiness nor sadness, and it is not giving up or giving in. To let go is not about loss, nor does it mean to be defeated. Rather, to let go is to cherish memories. To overcome and to move long and have confidence in the future. It is an opening of the mind and an acceptance of what is. Letting go is learning. It is experiencing. It is growth. It is to have gratitude for all that we have enjoyed, experienced, and endured. To let go is to embrace all that we have. All that we have had. And all that we will gain. It is to know that letting things go also means letting them come. It is having the courage to accept change, to acknowledge the temporary, and the faith and strength to keep moving. Finally, to let go is to look forward, to open a door, to clear a path, and set yourself free from that which does not serve you.