“Letting go” is a phrase much used in the teaching and support of practices like yoga, meditation and mindfulness. In the experience of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, there is also support for letting go, however, there is no teaching offered that will instruct you in how to do that. The reason being that only you, the individual “you,” can tap into what it is that keeps you from letting go. No one else can know, but how would it be to accept a practitioner’s invitation to explore?
In order to let go, there must be some understanding of your own unique process of holding on. You must first develop awareness of where in your body you feel the sensation of holding. Whether the holding applies to a thought, an emotion, a memory or a story about yourself, it is stored in the cells of your body and held there. It is easy to believe that this holding is the way you are supposed to be – the real you. And if the story, emotion, thought or memory is significant – in other words, if it carries a lot of weight or energy for you – then the effort of holding on will also contain much weight or energy. It will seem that there is no foreseeable way of letting go.
We don’t as a rule hold on to something of little import or value to us, however, that doesn’t mean that we always know what the attachment really is. Sometimes the holding comes out of a desire that our life situations or relationships be different than they are. At those times, the energy may be more about holding back than holding on. And still, the intention of letting go begins with asking where in your body is the locus of this holding.
You might stop where you are right now and pay attention to what’s happening with your breath. If you notice holding, it’s not likely to be the kind of “holding your breath til you turn blue” – we know what that looks like. For sure it will be much more subtle than that. It could be that you take in less than a full breath, or you grasp at the breath and pull it out of the air as opposed to receiving it in a gentler way. Suppose your awareness simply tells you that your breath could perhaps be different than it is.
How would it be to check in with the rest of your physical body to notice where and how holding might be happening? Remember that it can show up in many different ways – as a tightness in a muscle, an ache that may be felt deep inside a part of you, a felt sense of some part not functioning the way it should, a heaviness, a weariness in your body. You see, holding can be present in so many ways. The discovery can happen in the naming of it. Bringing awareness to it can then be the next step in the process of understanding whether this holding serves you anymore and then appreciating that you have a choice.
I imagine the next question you might have is how you can be certain that what you notice is “holding.” The answer is that sometimes, in fact, you don’t know you’re holding on until you have the experience of letting go…