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Let Go - Let Be

"If you can sit quietly after difficult news; if in financial downturns you remain perfectly calm; if you can see your neighbors travel to fantastic places without a twinge of jealousy; if you can happily eat whatever is put on your plate; you can fall asleep after a day of running around without a drink or a pill; if you can always find contentment just where you are: you are probably a dog." ~ Jack Kornfield

This quote is one of my all-time favorites.

How wonderful it would have been if we could live life this way?

However, the truth is that most of us cannot embody this ideal way of living. Life has a way of impacting us, and we often find ourselves carrying unnecessary weight for longer periods and distances than necessary.


There is a famous story that I've heard, however I'm unsure of its exact origin.

The story goes like this: Two monks were traveling to a temple—a journey that was an essential part of their spiritual path and journey. At one point, they arrived at a riverbank where a young lady stood. She seemed desperate to cross but was unable to do so, as she was scared of the current and did not know how to swim. The older monk noticed her distress and offered to carry her on his back to the other side. After bidding her farewell, they continued their journey. After a few hours, the younger monk appeared troubled. When asked about it by the older monk, he expressed his concern about the older monk carrying the woman, as they were not meant to engage with women. The older monk smiled and replied, "I left that woman behind on the other side of the riverbank. But it seems you are still carrying her."


This story is a metaphor for the unnecessary baggage we often carry. Once we become aware of this, we can set an intention to let go and release what no longer serves us. It's not a guarantee that these burdens will vanish immediately, but we can take a deep exhale, smile, and repeatedly let go of the unnecessary weight. Again and again, until its power over us decreases and perhaps it eventually disappears.


Some visitors may take longer, but recognizing their presence and if and when possible, finding humor in it, can reduce their power over us.


Some guests will not vanish, and this is the practice of "Let Be". Learning to be with what is. Comfortable and uncomfortable, happy and sad, joy and grief. While our tendency is to try and make the uncomfortable feelings disappear, there will be times when we will simply need to let them be, sit with them for as long as they need to be there for us to hear more deeply what underlies them, and hopefully learn something about ourselves and life so that their power over us will diminish. I had a period where for a long time I resisted an experience and the feelings it brought up. Until one day, I realized what I was doing. I took a deep exhale and allowed all these unwanted visitors to stay. For months I would sit and cry every day in my meditation and practice. Allowing the tears to flow through me, no longer resisting them, helped me move closer to the essence of it all, and eventually, to sit and meditate without tears. The grief took longer, so did the shame, but eventually they too had little power over me.

“Most of us have spent our lives caught up in plans, expectations, ambitions for the future; in regrets, guilt, or shame about the past. To come into the present is to stop the war.” ~ Jack Kornfield


Earlier today I shared on social media that while practicing Viparita Karani (Legs up the Wall), one of my favorite poses, an unexpected visitor came to me. It was a memory from 12 years ago that instantly transported me back in time, filling me with rage, anger, and frustration. I found it intriguing and frustrating that this memory had such a profound impact on me physically, mentally, and emotionally without any warning.


How many of these memories reside within our bodies? Often, we are triggered by others or by life events because of these hidden memories. We may not even be aware of the triggers, instead blaming others or ourselves for our reactions. In order to experience what lies beneath the anger, shame, anxiety, and frustration, we need an ongoing practice that allows these visitors to surface. With practice, we can meet these visitors with curiosity, allowing them to be, even if the experience is uncomfortable, learning to be with the discomfort and explore it with kindness and curiosity. Through curiosity, we can delve deeper and release what is no longer needed. Some experiences may require more time for exploration, while others may not.

“Being on a spiritual path does not prevent you from facing times of darkness. But it teaches you how to use the darkness as a tool to grow.” ~ Jack Kornfield


Meditation, asana, restorative yoga, and yin yoga each have their own lessons to teach us. Personally, I have found restorative yoga to be a healing practice. Holding poses for extended periods with the support of props, feeling held and nurtured, enables me to drop into deeper states of reflection and better handle any discomfort that may arise. I am constantly surprised by the visitors that appear in these practices.


It is an ongoing journey of self-discovery and release, allowing us to lighten our load and experience life with greater freedom and ease.



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