Letting Go of Things That No Longer Serve You

“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.

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 hope they can 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.

Ten Things I’ve Learned about Colorado

Colorado has been good to this southern girl.  I’m thrilled that I have the opportunity to live in such an amazing place, but in spite of my love for this gorgeous state, there have been times I’ve felt as if I was living in a strange land.  Colorado is radically different than anywhere else I’ve lived.  I was born and raised in Virginia and spent the first thirty years of my life there, yet in ways I don’t fully understand, moving here has felt like coming home.

Here are ten things I’ve learned about Colorado…

1. Beauty

When I first visited Colorado, I was awestruck by the beauty of this state.  From the snow-covered Rockies, river canyons, colorful sunsets, and the stunning wildlife, there is no shortage of natural wonders .  I’ve lived here nearly two years and the first look at the Rocky Mountains each morning, still takes my breath away.

2. Weather

It’s common for Coloradans to experience all four seasons in a single day.  The snow season can start as early as September and last through May.  And just as quickly as the snow appears, it melts.  Humidity is almost non-existent in the Centennial State.  Did you hear that?  Humidity. Is. Non-existent. With such a dry climate and an average of 300 days of sunshine every year, the colder temperatures can be downright pleasant.

3. Pot

It’s legal here, guys.  Colorado was the first state to legalize Marijuana.  And there are dispensaries EVERYWHERE.  Personally, I have always been pro-legalization of marijuana.  Tax it.  Regulate it.  Then use the revenue to fund education and programs for our homeless.  It’s a no-brainer, but it still feels strange living in a state where pot is legal.

4. WildFires

Colorado is on fire…literally.  During the summer months, when everything is dry and rainfall is scarce, be prepared for the threat of wildfires.  Most of the time, officials are able to control these fires before they get out of hand, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. This is my second summer in Colorado and I dread reading the news and seeing the words “there is zero percent containment and the fire is raging out of control, stay tuned for mandatory evacuations” with strong winds, zero rainfall and high temperatures for the next few weeks.  Scary stuff.

5. Beer

Colorado is for beer lovers.  Only Oregon and Vermont rank ahead of Colorado in breweries per capita.  When gold was discovered in the Rockies in 1858, many brewers were making small batches and selling it to the miners.  A couple of years later, our first brewery was established.  Colorado and beer just go together.

6. Colo-RAD-o

If you’re a native, you pronounce the world ‘Colorado’ as “Colo-RAD-o”.  Enough said.

7. Altitude

When low-landers visit or move to Colorado, they can feel very sick.  Elevation sickness is no joke.  Symptoms include fatigue, nausea, headaches, vomiting, insomnia, water retention, and high blood pressure.  Denver, the state’s capital, stands at an elevation of 5,280 feet high. Breckenridge stands at 9,600 ft high.  The good news: Your body eventually will adapt.  Until then, make sure you have chapstick and sunscreen and stay hydrated.

8. 14ers

Colorado is home to the 14ers.  What the hell is a 14er?  That was my question when I first moved here.  Well, Colorado has 58 mountain peaks exceeding 14,000 feet (known as “fourteeners” or “14ers” locally) — the most of any state.  Hiking as many as the 14ers as possible is a goal for local hiking enthusiasts.

9. Bike-Friendly

Biking is big, here.  Whether its mountain biking, road cycling, or training at the U.S. Olympic Complex, cyclists come from all over to pedal our mountains and byways.  Hundreds of biking events are held here, each year for cyclists.  (Here’s a link for some great Bike Maps in Colorado.)

10. Colorado is for Everyone

If you’re a beer lover, a mountaineer, a ski bum, an outdoor adventurer, history nerd… you get the point… there is something for you in Colorado.  And if you’re not amazed by everything Colorado has to offer, you may not have a soul.