The art of letting go is a daily practice. You need to let go. Every day. Because the world is moving at such a fast pace, you have two lives to attend to: the life of living in real time showing up for loved ones and friends, and the life of digitally posting advice, events, photos, and preferences. This takes place on hundreds of online platforms.
This multi-level reality demands you develop blazing clarity about who you are and what you need to do. Clarity asks you to let go of things that are irrelevant or undermining. In the body, superfluous, damaged, or unproductive cells have to be recognized and dropped. Unsupportive thoughts need to be weeded out and replaced on a daily basis. Life is a cycle. What allows us to be here is more than even letting go, it’s actual death.
It might seem morbid but in the medical world this process is known as cell death. Periodic cell death is good; random cell death is harder to manage. Apoptosis is programmed (your bones, muscle and organs renew on a regular basis); while necrosis is random (an injury, infection, bacteria, or inflammation). Both types of cell death are normal physiological processes. Some things die and other things are born.
Yet we don’t appear to be very good at it. We don’t let bad experiences go. We don’t die happily. We don’t relax. Cancer is an accumulation, viruses are attachments, bladder infections are repetitive patterns. Cancerous cells refuse to die off and be replaced – DNA-damaged, superfluous and unwanted elements go untouched. The cells just keep growing. Within and without, how can we let go of what no longer supports us?
In yoga, one of the tools for transformation is known as sauca (this is one of the niyamas, or restraints, described in the eight limbs of yoga). Sauca is a boundless enthusiasm for cleaning – cleaning your skin, your thoughts, your orifices. Cleaning your kitchen and bathroom. Cleaning up your diet, cleaning up your relationships, cleaning out your closets. Out with yesterday, in with today.
If throwing away old food from your fridge sounds dreary, imagine an internal world full of residual viruses, antibiotics, supplements, anesthetics, and chemicals. If you want to heal, you have to create space for your healing, to allow a process and give yourself permission to feel everything. Feel, dissolve, breathe, flow. How can you release without inflammation? How can you grieve without tears?
A variety of practices can support the process of letting go effectively. In my own work, I focus on the use of meditation, mantra, and sound to help people improve self-connection and communication. Here are five practices that support the cultivation of the ability to let go.
5 Steps to Letting Go
Practice a breathing exercise, reflect, meditate, go for a walk. Change your pace periodically. If you don’t slow down voluntarily then sometimes an injury, illness, or surgery can help you slow down and find time to sort things out, reprioritize, and reorganize.
Take the time to consciously breathe for 5-10 minutes or longer. Singing or reciting mantra is a good way to slow down the breath cycle. Try practicing aerobic exercise such as swimming, jogging, or walking with intentional breathing.
Trust is a feeling. It is an internal nurturing energy fueled by serenity and feel-good hormones. You feel that you belong, that you matter, that you make a difference in this world. Trust is something you feel innately and it must be summoned forth in order for you to let go of unwanted habits and beliefs. Trust needs to be developed and cultivated, both with yourself and your loved ones.
We practice and cultivate trust in relationships but the feeling itself is an internal cue. When I work with people, if the trust isn’t there it can be a barrier to letting go; without trust it can be challenging to relax. When trust is established within you, you can create it with others. You must develop trust with your doctor, your practitioner, nutritionist, partner, lover, God. Trust whoever you are in relationship with and believe that the process will be helpful and renewing for you. You can’t move forward without it.
You must know that you will be the same person once you let go of whatever it is. You’ll be the same person without that tumor. You’ll still be you without the new glasses or yoga outfit. Without the new car. You were you before you got your certifications. You will still be you after you lose your cellphone, and you’ll still be the same you after you lose your addictions and abusive relationships.
Don’t look back or reconsider. Let go of the old, as you exhale with a sigh, laughter, an internal message, or intention. Start whatever is new enthusiastically. Do it right away, replacing with new activities. Give away what you don’t need, repurpose and welcome your new. And want it. If you think it’s not worth it, it won’t be. If you believe it will be successful, it will be. Exhale and allow the new stream of life to begin. Start now. Exhale.
If you get stuck, it just means you need to go back to the previous step. If you can’t develop trust, take a step back: slow down. If you can’t connect to who you are, take time to develop trust in yourself. Can’t let go? Go back and know for sure, you’ll be fine without it.
Wah! has been making music for the yoga world for 25 years and published books on yoga and healing. Wah! teaches women’s leadership training, sound healing workshops, yoga teacher training, and performs Healing Concerts in planetariums and theaters across the country.