Archive for January, 2016

On the art of letting go.

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‘How do I let go of stuff’.  This is a question I have been asked time and time again over the last few weeks.  I have been asked by students after class, by friends and even by people I hardly know.  All of these people weighty with emotional baggage that we as humans tend to carry around.  Heavy loads of history.  Perhaps it is the new year that makes us want to shed these carry on cases.  Maybe we want to step into this new year without all the stuff we carried with us last year and all the years before.  We talk a lot in yoga class of letting go.  Of opening up our bodies, minds and hearts.  We work hard at making space in our bodies.  We work hard at opening up our joints and in doing so we work hard at releasing all the tension and stuff stored there.

Most of the time we are hardly aware that we have stored this garbage away in our emotional piggy bank.  We don’t open the doors there much.  We don’t really like to look into that dark and dusty cupboard overflowing with souvenirs from past relationships.  We save trashy emotional memento’s from events not worthy of remembering and allow them to settle somewhere within us.  We invite them in and let them stay.  We make room for them.  They take up space within us.  Space that could be open and inviting for new and beautiful things.  Yet here we are, storing old things and carrying them around trying desperately not to look at them or even to remember that they are there.

We store them all over our bodies.  Our hips and solar plexus are the usual willing victims.  Our hips get tight and our lower backs suffer under the weight of all the gritty garbage.  There are other places though.  We are ever so adept at making space for all this stuff.  Our whole bodies can be used for storage.  No part of us can escape this dusty trail.

So how do we let it all go?  How do we brave the opening of those dusty doors?  How do we pull out those unwanted emotional trophies one by one and toss them away forever?  After all its going to hurt isn’t it?  There is only one way to let it out and that is through the heart.  Thats the way it came in and that’s the way to let it out.

Here is how you do it.  You open one door at a time.  You find that memento.  Take a look at it.  You are carrying it around with you, all day, every day.  Its heavy and dirty. You don’t want it and you know that if you toss it aside you will have space. Beautiful fresh open space.  For some reason this is the point where we get fearful.  We are nervous of that space.  We are used to the weight of it and there is a comfort in that.  It’s what we know.  It’s who we are.  It hurts to look at it.  Our chest tightens and our heart starts to close.  Don’t let it.  Right at this point take a deep breath and open the heart and let it go.  Get behind the pain and throw that thing away.  Release it with one big beautiful breath.

Yes it will hurt for a moment but then that moment is over and it is gone.  Surely that is far better than carrying it around for another few years.  That is all you have to do. Open your heart and let it go.  It will hurt for just a few moments and then it will be gone.  Surely that is far better than the pain of carrying it around forever.  So why don’t we do this.  Why do we insist on holding on to this detritus.  Why to we litter our bodies with the leftovers of our own personal history.  For one reason only and that it is because it is what we know and what we know feels safe.  It keeps us in our comfort zone and we are spectacularly bad at moving out of that.

So go ahead and drag that stuff out of those dark and dismal corners.  Let it go and move on.  You will be richly rewarded in ways you can only begin to imagine.  Just breathe and let it go.



Courage is not the absence of fear


A new year lies before us. A vast empty space of days yet to be occupied.  Emotions yet to be felt.  Adventures yet to be approached. Decisions yet to be made. Somewhere in all of this we will all no doubt, be called upon to confront something that requires us to dig deep and look for courage.

There is a tendency to think that people who posses great courage posses no fear. This is never the case.  Courage does not represent the absence of fear but rather the ability to feel that fear and move through it.  It is the ability to recognise that feeling of fear within us.  To accept it and sit with it a while before deciding that you are more than the fear.  That you will not allow that fear to decide your future and fate.

Fear is, after all, just a self created feeling based on a belief that you don’t have the capacity to overcome a perceived experience.  Fear bases itself on you believing that an experience will occur in the way that your mind imagines.  Yet we have no proof of this.  We have no grounds for assuming an experience will happen in a certain way. Then we further assume that we don’t have the ability to cope with the experience happening in the way we assume.  Two assumptions and neither of them true.  One stacked on top of the other making a mountain out of nothing.  Fear is an inability to see things as they really are.

We fear broken hearts and broken bones but both will mend.  Imagine if we lived in a world where we all feared broken hearts so much we never loved.  Some people do. They close down after the first heartbreak and never live again.  The shut themselves off from the experience and yet to not love is to not live.  Fear does not attach itself only to life momentous events.  Fear creeps in to the mundane.  The invitation to a dinner where you only know the host.  A class at gym you have never before attended.  Driving to places yet undiscovered by you and your wheels.  Filling in your tax return.  Taking a flight.  We say ‘I can’t do that’ to ourselves constantly because of fear…..but what if we try…..and what if we can.

Courage is the ability to recognise that fear is an illusion and having the grace to move past that illusion.  It is realising that the beauty of being human is that we can choose how we react to life.  Courage is not denying that we feel the fear.  It is transforming the way we allow it to wound us.  It is a fight with the enemy within ourselves.  If we let fear win we might as well say no to life.  We miss experiencing all the exquisite joy that is to be found on the other side of our perception.

It takes great courage to accept life fully.  To say yes to everything that it might offer. To let it unfold in the way that it wants and to surrender to that experience. Courage is an openness that allows all of life’s wonder in.  An openness that makes space for all of what makes being human so breathtaking beautiful.

I have made a steely promise to myself that all of this year will be faced with courage and grace.  That I will not allow my mind to make assumptions on how things will be. That I will surrender to what comes my way.  That I will not say no to an experience. That I will approach it all with an open heart and mind.  That I will not let an illusion decide my fate.

I do not imagine this will be easy.  I all to easily feel the rumblings of fear and allow my effervescent mind to take me to places I do not want to travel.  It will take courage to sit with those thoughts until they dim their piercing light but I am going to try.

I am going to try because courage brings joy and fear takes it away.


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