Something which has constantly shown up in my own yoga practice is my capacity for letting go. It’s something which I was always made aware of from previous yoga teachers or when I trained to become a teacher myself. I think it’s a concept I never truly grasped until quite recently. It’s one thing to let go of sensations in the body and try to breathe through them to allow opening to occur. But what about in other areas of life? It’s a pretty heavy concept to get your head around. I found it so difficult to let go for years-and the thing is, I actually didn't realise what I was holding on to.
In yoga, we observe 8 limbs-these relate to various practices in which we can cultivate calmness in the mind and limberness and strength in the body to achieve a comfortable seat in meditation. I’ll be sure to do a separate post on the 8 limbs of yoga and what they all consist of, but for now, I want to focus on this idea of letting go-the practice of Aparigraha or non-grasping. Not grasping onto something which is doing you no favours-which so many of us do on a daily basis. So I suppose the first question you could ask yourself is: what am I grasping on to and why?
As I’ve said, it’s a hell of a deep question and may take a good while of soul searching and delving inward to find your answers. Answers which only you know, answers which are most definitely within you, however may be buried under what you want yourself to be perceived as by everyone around you. For this reason, many of us end up striving to be accepted in society-which isn’t really living truthfully, it’s living to achieve. I don’t think instinctively that humans were built for striving, I think this is a learned behaviour which we have all latched on to and now are focusing all of our efforts on out-doing one another and on gaining of material wealth-the root of all first world problems.
I was always caught up in this. I wanted success, I wanted to be accepted, I wanted what everyone else around me seemed to have. I spent years focusing on all of these ideals which I didn’t have. This grasping and holding on to ideals was the thing which was keeping me from living my own truth. I was holding on to so much that wasn’t meant for me, and which doesn’t serve me and the path I’m on. It’s still becoming apparent to me on a daily basis what my path actually is. But after digging deep (and doing a-LOT of yoga), the art of letting go is becoming easier, and I mean non grasping in every capacity. Not holding on to my physical body or appearance, not holding onto how I want the world to perceive me, not holding on to what I ‘should’ be doing (quick example-I’m absolutely shattered today and have not yet done my daily practice and that’s ok with me, if it won’t serve me, I’ll let go of it as something I’m needlessly striving for), not holding on to who I was yesterday, but instead focusing on who I am in this moment-because this moment is all that exists in reality.
The question why is a really interesting one. Try to ascertain the one thing in your life which you feel you may be holding onto. For example-your job/your body/your clothing/your car etc. Does it define you? Do you want it to define you? Why are you grasping on to it? If it was taken away from you, would you still be you? Trying to get to the root of why you’re holding onto something will no doubt teach you a lot about yourself. It will face you with the question of who you really are. Who are you at your essence? Strip everything away-everything material which society wants you to strive for and ask yourself who you are without all of the excess. This is yoga-the journey to the essence of your soul. We enter and exit this world with nothing other than the vessel we are in-the body itself does not define us, neither does what we do for a living, the way we dress, where we live, how we live or how other people perceive us. Focusing on your truth and your divine essence rather than the outer additions to your personality will teach you the wonderful art of letting go and being totally ok with whatever is meant for you, as well as whatever passes you by.