We all have to endure it, and it’s usually one of the most difficult times in our lives. Although we like to hold onto things–a thought or a place, good memories and sometimes even the bad– there’s nothing more painful than having to let go of the people you love.
Like the unparalleled love a parent has for their children, letting go is an experience that runs consistent among the human condition, regardless of who you are, where you live, what you do, or in what culture you were raised. It is one of those common threads that bind us all. And ironically, it seems to rear its thorny head when you think life just couldn’t get much harder. But through this process of letting go, we often discover yet a new life lesson, and hopefully in the end, with a sense of gratitude and renewed strength as the result.
Often referred to as detachment or non-attachment, in yoga it’s known as vairagya. Closely linked with aparigraha, non-clinging or non-grasping, this philosophical approach of separating or detaching your emotions from whatever situation you’re facing is a helpful one when struggling through any life challenge. The idea behind this concept is that by loosening your grip on whatever it is you’re holding onto, you will create the space you need to move forward and minimize your suffering in the process.
Whether it’s sadness over losing someone you love, anger over someone you felt has wronged you or a memory that’s glued to your brain, mentally releasing what weighs you down can ease its hold over you. When we identify ourselves in relation to someone or something, when it’s gone, we suddenly find ourselves feeling lost and alone. In reality, everything that we believe is ours – people, things, thoughts, ideas– is really only held in our minds. When we realize and accept that we have very little control over anything that’s outside of ourselves, it makes letting go just a little easier.
Each time we find ourselves in these inevitable situations of life, it provides an opportunity to study our own tendencies and emotional reactions. And while it’s healthy and vital to acknowledge, feel and express our emotions, it also offers us a time to learn about ourselves. When enduring a painful loss or challenging situation in life, fear is usually the root of our resistance. Oftentimes our first reaction surfaces as anger, since it’s one of the most acceptable emotions in our culture to express openly. As a result, it’s our “go-to” emotion. From there, it often morphs into frustration, sadness or depression. But with awareness and some effort, it can eventually evolve into acceptance.
As we can learn and grow from our experiences, if we pay attention, we can learn to appreciate and savor the exact moment we’re in right now. While the always changing nature of life and the uncontrollable external world blurs around us, through our yoga practice we can recognize the beauty and perfection of the unchanging spirit that lies within us.
So next time you think you may have nothing left in you, dig deep. Connect with the place inside you that can provide you with a constant source of strength and courage, and the power to carry on.
Peace and love,