Stop Letting Go

by Ryan Glidden | January 18, 2018 11:19 pm

Teaching yoga, I hear this one statement over and over.  Until recently, I said it in class all the time.  “Let it go.”  Think about it the next time you’re in class.

For example, when a teacher has you trying a new and challenging pose.  What might they say after everyone has tried?  It’s ok if you didn’t get it, “let it go, and try again next time.”  Or, at the beginning of class in the first child’s pose, you might hear, “let go of your day, and come to the present moment.”
I’ve decided to stop letting go, and here’s why.

All of the experiences in our lives are important.  Why?  Because every experience is an opportunity for us to grow and develop as human beings.  In Desikachar’s book, The Heart of Yoga he says, “The world exists to set us free.”

This is a profound concept if you stop and think about it.  First, Desikachar is implying that we are in some way being held captive or enslaved.  If we weren’t, there would be no need to be set free.  Second, he’s saying that the experiences of lives are the key to that freedom.

In yoga philosophy, we are slaves to our senses and being held captive by our egos.  Our senses feed our mind and contribute to our fears, wants, desires and rejections.  Our ego is the construct of self that is created by the sense mind and is completely oblivious to our true soul self.  It is only through the liberation from the ego that one can experience real peace.  These are the foundational principles upon which yoga is created.  Yoga is a precise discipline for liberating one from their ignorance to their true nature.

Since we are spiritual beings having physical experiences, those experiences are important.

With this being true, if you just, “let go” of your experiences you aren’t giving them the credit they deserve.  This is especially important during the difficult times in our lives.  It is during the difficult times that we should be paying the closest attention.    Challenging experiences register in the mind as bad, but to the soul, they are opportunities for awakening.

Instead of letting go, we should learn to integrate our experiences in a meaningful way.  When we do this, we experience greater ease.  The experience of ease feels like letting it go, but it is quite different.  Why, because we’ve learned something.  And that something is going to help us in the future when the same or similar experience presents itself again.

How then do we integrate experiences in a meaningful way?  The Sanskrit word svadyaya means, self-introspection.  Self-introspection is an opportunity to look beneath the surface at the underlying beliefs and paradigms that are shaping our experiences of the moment.  Through careful work, we discover how life events have shaped our current state experience. This type of reflection may uncover common themes which when addressed lead to more peace ease.

Letting go is meant not for the experiences themselves but our attachments to their outcomes.  The next time you find yourself on your mat, and you hear your teacher cue you to let go, think to yourself, “What can I integrate  into this experience in a meaningful way?  How can I grow? How do I use this moment to explore my will to be free?”

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