Let It Go!
I wrote this blog a few years ago after the movie Frozen came out, but was reminded today of its relevance. I hope you all enjoy. Please share with me in the comments below.
The theme of letting go has been re-occurring in my life lately. I have found it in my yoga practice and in the lyrics of the songs my daughters are singing. Suddenly, it seems everywhere. I’m one that when I sense a certain theme repeating in my life, I listen. I tend to think it means something. You can agree or not. It’s okay. For the sake of this blog, it doesn’t really matter. The point here is that we all need to let go sometimes. I think our (American) culture (the only one I can really speak to) still has a very much, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps mentality.” Now, I’m not saying that there isn’t a time and place for that, but I have personally and professionally witnessed myself and others try to force and pound their way through a situation only to make matters worse. I believe that true change comes from self-love and forgiveness, not beating ourselves into submission.
It’s like my yoga practice. I tend to be extremely flexible from my years of ballet as a child and adolescent and my adult years as a yogi. Recently, I had foot surgery and could not do any yoga or much activity for about 8 weeks. When I went back to my practice, I was stiff, and I didn’t like it. I found myself in a seated forward fold over one outstretched leg pushing myself and I found my muscles tightening. It suddenly dawned on me to let go, to not force it, to ease up and respect where my body was at in that moment. I took a deep breath and relaxed. And my body, not my mind, not my will or force went deeper into the pose. My muscles relaxed and released. The irony was that by trying less, I got more.
It reminded me how years ago, I was struggling with disordered eating patterns. I spent all my time and energy focused on trying to solve this problem that felt so large to me and consumed my thoughts. I just wanted to fix it and the harder I tried the worse it got. Today, I don’t struggle with these issues and my body is a natural, healthy, easy to maintain body weight. I eat healthfully, not perfectly, but mindfully, and happily. How did this transition happen? It happened when I stopped focusing on it. When I let go of the outcomes and got back in touch with my body’s natural signals. It unfolded naturally, on its own when I stepped out of the way and stopped trying to control all of it. One day, my partner commented on my transition and I sort of woke up. I had not even noticed; it happened so naturally and easily. The constant struggle was over because I stopped struggling.
It seems so counter-intuitive and against everything most of us were raised with: work hard, stick to it, and it pays off. Well, that is only partly true. There is a point of diminishing returns. I love the Buddhist principle of “right effort.” That one really speaks to me when it comes to working hard and letting go. It is a dance. You put in the right amount of effort and then you relax into it. Like any good yoga pose; it requires your attention, your effort, for you to engage your muscles, check your alignment…..and then your relax in the posture to sink deeper into it and get that last release, that last bit of excellence.
Next time you find yourself banging your head against a wall, running in circles, or working harder at something without result, ask yourself, “Is it time to let go, ease up, and relax into it?” Experiment with it. Give it a try. Find out where your point of “right effort” is and then tell me all about it. I want to hear from my readers!