Letting Go of What Doesn’t Serve You (And Embracing What Does)

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????At a yoga class I attended during the last week of 2014, my fellow students and I were asked to focus on something that no longer served us – something that we wanted to let go of as we move into the new year. Suspecting that this theme would come up for the new year, I already had some ideas in mind when I got to class that morning.

Letting Go

There are many things in my life that don’t serve me. I hold on to most of them because I’m not sure what the alternatives are and because most of them don’t really harm me either. In fact, I think the inability to move forward does more disservice than simply holding on to the old and familiar things in our lives. It would be easy to let go of the old if we knew where we wanted to go and how to get there.

That said, there are certainly things I need to release. The first one that came to mind was regret. Regret serves absolutely no purpose; it’s not even filling space until I figure out what to do next with my life. It just makes me miserable. I can’t change the experiences I’ve had or the choices of made in the past. So I need to let go of regret and accept that what’s done (or not done) is history.

After regret, I want to let go of apologizing for who I am. I’ve had some great practice at this in recent weeks, having said no more than once without feeling (too) guilty about it – something that isn’t easy for me to do. But I was overwhelmed by the many ways in which I was being pulled, and I had to step away from some of them so I’d have the energy to be fully present when I did say yes. As hard as it sometimes is to be myself without apology, I know that I need to continue to do this as well, and I reflected on that as we opened the class by setting an intention to release something and leave it behind in 2014.

Message from the Angels

At the end of class, we were offered a deck of angel cards – an activity that always gets me thinking – and often writing as a result. I wondered if I’d pick the word “regret” or “guilt.” That would be awesome – a clear sign from the universe that I’m on the right track.

Instead, my word was “support.”

I stared at the card for a few moments because it didn’t seem right at all. Was this card suggesting that I need to be more supportive? I quickly eliminated that idea. It seems (to me anyway) that one thing I do a lot of is listen to and support others. In fact, I’d been in support mode full swing these last few weeks following an event that prompted a swell of somewhat complicated emotional turmoil for the people in my life who were affected by it. I found myself listening – a lot – and I was told more than once that it was good talking to me. So why was I holding this card? It wasn’t telling me that I should let go of my role of being supportive, was it? That didn’t seem right either.

Then it dawned on me that support was the right word for me after all. It’s not that I need to be more or less supportive, but that I need to stop denying that I also need support. I’ve been cast in the role of listener for so long that I’ve learned to act as though I don’t need anyone to be there for me. But what is that really about?

Now what?

For me, acknowledging that I also need support presents a problem because of how good I’ve gotten at not seeking it. It’s probably the same for you, whether you’re holding on to the same issue or something completely different. Once you acknowledge what you need to release and what you want to embrace, the real work begins.

Maybe the best thing I can do right now is put the intention out to the universe. Rather than asking specific people to support me, I can ask the universe to do it. The universe is much more likely to come through – though I’m sure that when it does it will send me specific people who can help me find my way. My job, of course, is be open to that.

Lifting each other up

In case I had any doubts that I gotten the message I was meant to receive in class that morning, the song that was playing during savasana drove it home for me in that awesome way that things have of coming together when you’re open to the possibilities. It’s a song I’ve heard before, though I’m not sure what it’s called. The chorus goes like this:

We shall lift each other up.

Higher and higher,

We shall lift each other up.

Lifting each other up is a great way to think about support. It doesn’t have to be one-sided. I suspect, though I haven’t really tested this theory, that at least some of the people who turn to us for help and support would welcome the opportunity to return the favor if we’d just let our defenses down and admit that we need it. And just think how high we all could climb if we helped each other along the way! And so I ask the universe for support in letting go of regret and learning to be myself without apology.

What Will You Let Go Of?

As you move into the new year, what will you release? And once you release it, how will you move forward, and what will you embrace? You may not know exactly what you need or how you’ll get it, but now is the time to take a first step. Set an intention and let the universe support you.

A very Happy New Year to all!

Giving Up Control and Letting Life Happen

storm cloudsThis morning, I went to an early yoga class. I thought about skipping the class since I didn’t sleep well, but I managed to get myself up and ready anyway. At 7:40 am, tired not only from lack of sleep but because of lingering sadness over the issue that had kept me awake, I pushed myself out the door.

The issue that stole my slumber is one that I’ve been struggling with for a while now. I don’t give up on things easily, but in this case, I’ve begun to feel like it really is time to stop trying. Some things are too draining and too difficult, and it serves us better to just let them go. At least that’s what my “yoga brain” was telling me as I headed to class feeling resigned to the fact that it was time to stop trying to solve the particular problem that was on my mind.

Giving up Control

Yoga has a way of calling us to the mat for very specific reasons. Of course, this doesn’t happen every time, but it’s up to us to notice when it does. Today was one of those days. The teacher began, as she usually does, by sharing a reading. This one was about letting go of control. “So often we feel like we need to be in control of everything in our lives,” she began.

I smiled, because this was right in line with the conversation I’d had with myself earlier. I’d set (again) my intention to stop trying to make something happen – because I knew there was no hope. I was just going sit (really, hide) and let whatever was going to happen (or not happen) unfold.

“Can you relate to this?” the teacher asked me. She’d noticed my smile.

“I just had this conversation with myself this morning,” I replied.

At least I’d thought I did.

She continued to read a passage about the things that challenge us in life and how we often want to put ourselves right into them and take control and direct the outcome. We just want to say, “Enough! I don’t like the way this is going.”

In my case, the “control” I thought about taking was going to look more like giving up. I would stop struggling with something that wasn’t going the way I needed it to go.

“But sometimes things are hard because they are meant to teach us something,” was the message my teacher was reading this morning. It surprised me, because I thought the “control issue” reading would be more about walking away from things that are too hard instead of trying to control them. When I heard those words – the ones about how things are supposed to be hard sometimes – I was really annoyed! This wasn’t the message I wanted. I didn’t want to be told to keep enduring something that was really feeling way too difficult – impossible, really – to deal with.

So I did what any good yogi would do. I bit my proverbial tongue (the one that wanted to speak in rebuttal to this crazy thing I was hearing) and listened to the rest of the passage. If there’s any truth to the idea that things come to us when we need to hear them, this was one example.

Staying in the Storm

It’s tough to think that there are some things in our lives that may always be difficult and that the difficulty is meant to be there because without those challenges, we will not be able to grow in important ways. I don’t know if I’ll eventually come back to my conviction that it’s time to give up, but thanks to this yoga class, I’m going to try again – maybe just this one time more, and maybe many more times – because I was reminded this morning that accepting difficult things without trying to control them can be a powerful way to awaken. It’s another opportunity to flex a spiritual muscle – and we need all of those muscles to be strong if we truly want to travel the path to enlightenment.

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