“Letting go does not mean losing anything. Instead, it means gaining space for something better.” -LLC
Chandra Namaskara, Sanskrit for “moon salutation” or “honoring the moon,” is my very favorite yoga practice, both to do and to teach. It makes sense, I guess, since I’ve had a deep connection to and love of the moon for as long as I can remember. Also, though, I actually feel the moon’s movement from phase to phase during Chandra Namaskara, the powerful new beginning in the darkness of the new phase, and the release that is achieved with the open enormity of the full moon.
During my most recent full moon practice, it happened to be for the November 30 Beaver Full Moon, I delved a little deeper into “letting go,” and just why it’s so important for us, especially as we head into winter, finishing out a challenging year, and looking forward to a new one with both hope and trepidation. I often end each Chandra Namaskara practice with a release ritual. After savasana, I (and any others present) write down something I feel I need to let go of; something holding me back or getting in the way of my growth. Sometimes, it’s a toxic relationship or maybe negative self-talk or a grudge I’m holding. I spend a bit of time with it, picturing what it will look like to really let it go, and then, ceremonially, I do just that. I place it in a bowl (sometimes with some herbs, just for aromatics), light it up, and watch it burn away until it’s gone. It FEELS wonderful, and the symbolism does actually help with the actual release.
Unfortunately, and as I’m sure you’d expect, it’s not always this easy to really, fully release something. I have found myself re-releasing the same thing several times, each time feeling better, but each time also wondering how many times it’s going to take before I’m done. Really, really done. When this happens, it’s important that we take a closer look at this thing that’s holding us back. Is it a person? Is it a habit? Is it a toxic trait, behavior, addiction, etc.? Is it a grudge? Whatever the case, are you able to identify why it’s staying “stuck” to you? For instance, maybe you need to let go of a toxic relationship, and you keep ceremonially doing that, but in real life, you still cling to the relationship and just can’t quite release the attachment. Is it because you get something from that relationship that you need (even if it’s not necessarily good for you)? And if so, from what other source could that need be met? Or, are you afraid of hurting the person’s feelings (even though you know that severing the relationship would mean you’d never really know, anyway)? That’s a tough thing about letting go – peoples’ feeling very well may get hurt. YOUR feelings may get hurt. But as Joseph Campbell said, “we must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that’s waiting for us.” The very best growth we experience is usually through the very hardest, most emotional challenges, NOT through smooth sailing.
Obviously, as I’ve briefly touched on, there are many things that we may feel the need to release at different times in our lives, but I think we often think of toxic people or toxic relationships, first, because we are relational beings. It’s easier to think, “I’ll release my obsessive thoughts about <insert tv show>” than it is to think, “I’ll release my attachment to <insert name>.” Maybe, just maybe, that’s because we place so much of our own personal worth on the approval and/or attention of others. After all, the bare bones reason a relationship even IS toxic is because we give it the power to be. We have given our own power away to another and have decided that how that person feels about us or treats us is the truth of who we are. We have decided that without that person/relationship, we are somehow not enough. In reality, the truth of who we are is entirely and beautifully our own, resting comfortably in our own hands, our own minds. So, maybe releasing the “toxic relationship” or attachment is not the problem at all, but releasing our need for anyone else’s approval or opinion to identify our own self-worth is more at issue. Do you see what I mean about it being important to get to the meat of what really needs releasing, and why it’s important to figure out why something may keep coming back around again and again, even when you’ve tried so hard (or so you thought) to let it go?
One of the strangest and most freeing things in this world is to realize that you really do not NEED anyone’s approval or praise. Once you can feel valuable and worthy entirely on your own, even if your boss doesn’t like you or you lose a years-long friendship, you’ve let go, for real, and guess what happens, then? With each necessary and complete release, room is made for something new and better. To move forward, to grow, to manifest, you must let go of what no longer serves you and your mission, knowing that the hole it leaves will be filled with something beautiful and life-giving.
Take some time to sit with something that you truly feel is holding you back, something that you need to release, so that you can move forward toward something more beautiful for your life. If it’s an attachment of any sort, evaluate what the attachment does for you? Why is it important to you, even if, overall, it’s not necessarily healthy? If it’s a habit or act of some sort, again, evaluate how it serves you. What are you actually getting from it, and what REALLY needs to be released? It’s not always the label you’ve been giving it, like in the example of a toxic relationship given above. Once you have something in mind, let. it. go. Release it from your life. Take away its power over you, and feel the promise of the space it leaves behind.