“Let go of everything which no longer serves you”
During my first Reiki session over the winter, the practitioner quietly spoke these words aloud while he worked. This was not the first time I’ve heard this mantra. In fact, over the last year, many of the yoga classes I’ve attended have focused on the process of letting go. Almost as if the universe has been sending me a message that I needed to hear.
In my yoga practice, this mantra has served as a reminder to let go of the tension I carry in my physical body that can hinder progress. It forces me to think about the expectations I have for my practice, and my ability or inability to master certain poses, and to let go of preconceived notions. It makes me acutely aware of the negative thoughts that creep in during shavasana, and to make an effort to clear my mind and focus on my breath.
More importantly, I’ve taken these words and applied them to life off the yoga mat. There are many things I’ve carried through my lifetime, that no longer serve me. Past wounds, emotions, situations, and people. Things that for whatever reason, I couldn’t let go. Maybe because they were familiar or I didn’t know how. Over time, I’ve developed the belief that every experience in our lives, good and bad, can benefit us. It’s only when we get caught in the trap of holding on to emotions, long after they’ve served their purpose, do they negatively affect us.
It’s been my experience that the emotions that I define as negative, namely fear, regret, and anger, have served as my greatest teachers. These three emotions are closely tied to one another, yet very different. Fear serves a vital purpose. It’s our survival instinct. Fear keeps us safe and helps us realize potential threats. It’s how the human race has survived.
If you’re human, at some point in your life you’ve made a mistake. If you have a conscience, you’ve experienced regret. Mistakes are how we learn and grow. Regret should be temporary, not something we carry with us through our lifetime. Although painful, they serve as a lesson for us to make better decisions in the future and learn the kind of person we want to become.
Anger is a tricky one, for it almost always stems from fear. There was a time I carried anger toward people from my past, that had hurt me or someone I love. I’m no longer angry, but that anger served me for a time. It taught me how to form boundaries, build healthier relationships, and extract people from my life that didn’t belong. Now, I find these individuals rarely cross my mind. If and when they do, I’ve no ill will toward them, I simply have no use for them.
As I continue to delve deeper into the spirituality of yoga, I’m amazed at the way it’s changed my way of thinking. When you can find purpose in every experience, however painful, then you can make peace with it, and eventually let it go. This is how we heal. I have found that compassion, understanding and kindness have replaced fear, regret and anger. This has also allowed me to see others differently. When I encounter difficult people, I see their inner pain masking as these emotions. Instead of being upset or frustrated by their words or actions, I feel sorry for them and hope they can learn to let go of whatever they are carrying that is holding them back.
Learning to let go of everything that no longer serves you is a process. Allow yourself to experience fear, regret and anger, but don’t allow yourself to live there.