…Or tales of “Letting Go”
In yoga culture, we focus A LOT on Letting Go. This amorphous act of release that will solve all of our troubles. If only I could let go of the pain of my break-up, the shame of rejection, the guilt of my “misbehavior,” my childhood traumas, the ways in which I was never loved enough, this feeling of worthlessness – if only I could release all of these things, I would be happy.
I could find bliss.
This goal, this intention of letting go of the ways we perceive ourselves damaged or lacking or inadequate or powerless – a worthy intent. A tool for creating space for happiness and joy and gratitude and pleasure. Each moment we choose these feelings of wellness, we thrive from the inside out. Our hearts sing songs of love to the hearts all around, our eyes shine with mirth and pleasure, our cheeks flush pink with delight and our voices speak words of kindness and compassion. We radiate health. Energetically, through our hearts, physically through our bodies and in the patterns of thought that cycle through our minds.
And yet, this “Letting Go” which we idolize in practice – in class, is a process of allowing. Allowing ourselves first to feel. One of my teachers is always reminding us, “you have to feel, to heal.” And generally the feelings that must move out of our cellular memory (the issues in our tissues) are primarily unpleasant.
Emotions Unallowed. Cordoned Off. No Access Zone. Do Not Enter.
Rather than feel them and allow them to pass through in a moment of anger or tears, we squish them down, in the trash compactor of our cells, rather than ushering them through with breath and we keep on packing them in. Because, well, there seems an infinite amount of space in the trash compactor of our bodies, because energy packs pretty densely and we have many hidden nooks and crannies for storage. Almost a lifetime’s worth of space.
Until we decide we’re ready to heal. And suddenly, we want instant release. I want instant release from this misery. From these debilitating thoughts and programmed behaviors that trap me in a general state of dissatisfaction. Immobility. No where to go. I am cordoned off. I am trapped inside the caution tape. With no escape.
And right on the other side…lives happiness, satisfaction, and joy.
And so, with impatience and the “goal” of Letting Go, I find myself pushing, pulling, tugging, jostling, and generally forcing myself to release. Obsessed with Letting Go. Feeling Inadequate because I can’t. Well, what’s wrong with me??!!!! My teacher says I can just breath into it and choose to release it. And I want to! I want to feel good!!!! I want these sickening thoughts, these thoughts creating disease and illness in my body – I want them gone! Right now! I want this tightness in my hip flexor causing my discomfort and pain on a daily basis and keeping me from a perfect pigeon pose, I want that gone too!
Forcing ourselves into letting go of a situation that we feel is no longer serving us, can be just as injurious as forcing our bodies into a pose like King Pigeon before they’re prepared for such a deep opening.
And yet, these two processes, this process of physical release and mental release, are symbiotic and synchronized. As we benefit one, we benefit the other, as we injure one, we injure the other.
So I hold the intent. Stay in my practice of intent in the same way I stay in my physical practice – working my way towards King Pigeon, working my way into opening. Into Letting Go. Into Release. Knowing that staying inside intention, that those things binding me, keeping me cordoned off, imprisoned, will dissolve away, with each breath of intent, more freedom. With ease, just as I slide my hands away from the blocks, bend my back leg, clutching my foot into my elbow and rising my gaze skyward to meet my light.
In Trailblazing Truth,
Christy McKinnon teaches Yin Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga at Hustle and Flow in Portland, Maine. To learn more or take one of her classes, please check the our class schedule.