Letting Go – Aparagraha – A Practice for Autumn.
Often, I find myself carrying constriction/tightness/tension in my body for no apparent reason.
It could be the mid to high level of anxiety that is normalized in our culture.
It could be (perceived) unmet needs around belonging, connection, and feeling unsafe in a world increasingly polarized and violent.
It could be my endless task list.
It doesn’t always need analyzed or “Fixed.”
Historically, I am also an over-responder. Growing up in our household everything had high drama/urgency and as you can perhaps imagine, these interactions provoked large super reactive responses. So, basically along with the regular survival response we all have built in that tends towards the negative-to see the snake in the road rather than the actual stick (that barely resembles a snake), my nervous system is wired to over respond. To see not just a snake on the road but a flesh eating dragon that has been hungrily awaiting my appearance and will swallow me whole.
Rewiring my nervous system, creating new neural networks, orienting myself to the practice of pausing when I am activated unless there is an actual flesh eating dragon pouncing and I need to have reactivity saving my ass, is spacious. It is a place, a pause, where I can see that the story I am telling myself about what is happening is not actually what is happening.
But the actual release and letting go involves not intellectual reasoning and rationality. It involves physically deepening and altering my breath, maybe audibly sighing, sometimes wailing, crying, rolling around on the floor, shaking, wiggling and moving is what releases the tightness that creeps up my shoulders to land around my neck, that acts like a vice grip in my throat and chest. This also frees the marauding beasts that trample around in my belly, twisting my gut (no people, not butterflies-marauding beasts!) into pastures of plenty, rather than the confines of my abdominal region.
Yoga and yoga philosophy gives me (us) the tools to navigate
Yoga Philosophy integrates psychology, physiology, and spirituality together seamlessly. Eastern practices that integrate these components are validated increasingly by the constantly emerging field of neuroscience.
Letting Go-Aparagraha- Non-attachment. This is one of the five ethical precepts that make up the Yamas- the first of eight limbs of Yoga.
This is about recognizing our fears and letting them go. We often hold on to harmful beliefs because it is what we know. As expected, this causes great suffering. This is the definition of unhealthy attachment. This is entrenched in many of our relationships.
I recognized when my (now adult) kids were coming of age, that I had my own ideas of what they should (notice when this word creeps in…clear sign of unhealthy attachment) be doing with their lives. Basically, I had a script written for their daily lives as well as their long term plans and goals. Not only were they not on the same page as me, they weren’t even following the basic flow and direction of the script! Shocker! Not having had examples of healthy boundaries, or healthy attachment, I believed this was my job as a mother. However, I did notice my attachment to my script caused suffering for myself AND my children.
What if I let go of my ideas for their lives and loved and supported them and their dreams ?
This type of letting go is not for the faint of heart.
It requires trust and it also requires me to regularly submit my resignation as General Manager of the Universe.
And here in is another reason that Yoga is a practice of liberation. Letting go is freedom. It is falling in love with process as much as the outcome -also why I am a knitter! It is the humble realization that I don’t have to write scripts for everyone-including myself. Letting go is participating in the flow of life and certainly involves goals and plans while being fully engaged in the moment.
So, go ahead and exhale and let go. Watch the trees.
leaves lets go and drifts,
no breeze to bear it.
unwinds it’s growing
season in a dancing
downward spiral, lands
in silence, making of
itself a perfect offering
to the altar of the earth.”