Let me start by saying...I'm a bit of a control freak. I like to think of myself as a recovering control freak, actually, since my yoga practice usually does a really good job at keeping me grounded and in the present moment. The past few weeks, however, have been a bit uncertain. Changes in my teaching schedule, fluctuations to my income, and an increasing feeling or need to control not only my life but the lives of those around me have led to stress and frustration. That need to feel validated for your efforts and putting expectations on how and when others will react only makes it worse. This is the EGO hard at work and fortunately rather than just let it run wild and ruin my day (or week or month...), I knew it was time to return to my yoga roots and read up on the art of surrender, also known as Aparigraha. Aparigraha is the 5th of the Yamas, or living principles of yoga, and translates literally as non-possessiveness. It can also be translated as nonattachment, noncoveting, or simply as "letting go". In the book I turned to this week, "The Yamas & Niyamas:Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice" by Deborah Adele, the author explains, "Aparigraha invites us to let go and to pack lightly for our journey through life, all the while caring deeply and enjoying life". It does not mean giving everything up and living like a monk (that might be easier!). It does mean realizing that nothing is permanent, that our expectations can hold us captive and often disgruntled, and that anything we cling to can and will keep us from being able to move forward. Adele uses the example of a trapeze artist. In order to successfully fly from one bar to the next, the trapeze artist must LET GO. If they cling too long to one bar, or reach too far for the next, they will fall. Only by letting go and trusting the timing of the swing will they be successful. Scary? Heck yeah! But honestly, I think the alternative is more frightening for sure. When we allow fear and ego to rule our lives, we remain stuck in the past desperately clinging to the familiar, even if that familiar thing is no longer what serves us. Or we worry and stress in our efforts to completely control that next step, rather than allowing things to unfold as they are meant to and in their own time. Aparigraha does not mean doing nothing to avoid being disappointed. Rather it means to do what you are doing now because you love it, to make plans and put the pieces in place to continue moving forward, and then LETTING GO of the outcome.
I used the example in my classes this past week of growing a garden (funny coming from the girl with anything but a green thumb...I can barely keep a cactus alive!), but from a metaphorical standpoint I really love this analogy. We are all gardeners - we are constantly planting seeds that may or may not grow into the elements that make up our lives. If we choose the right seeds, water and nurture them, in their own time they will grow. And that is the key - IN THEIR OWN TIME. We cannot rush the process. Nor can we expect every single seed we plant to grow. Sometimes, too much of a good thing - water, sun, pruning - can be harmful to an otherwise perfectly good seed. If we hover too much, that plant will not flourish nor can we will it to grow any faster than it is meant to. What can we do? Have faith - faith that we have planted the right seeds, that we have provided the proper amount of water and sunlight, and then LET GO of the outcome.
The lesson learned is this - when we put our trust in the Universe and our thoughts and actions are in line with our deepest desires that is when the magic happens! We are no longer bound by the past or by our negative and unreasonable fears. Instead we are propelled forward, lifted up by the Universe as if we have wings. We can enjoy the process and let go of the outcome knowing that we are on the right path. Time and time again I have proven this to be true. When I consciously make the decision to just let go, to breathe deeply and be in the moment, that is when I create that direct link with Universal Energy. Magically the stress, worry, & fear are replaced with contentment and peace. What a concept, right? It takes a little practice, but you will soon find that practicing the "art of letting go" brings so much more balance and joy into your life!
A Mantra for Letting Go:
I let go
In love, peace, & gratitude -
Mary Baker - ERYT-500 yoga teacher, adventure lover, fitness junkie, doughnut snob, whiskey & wine sipper