holding on and letting go


Many of us hold onto things. We keep clothes that no longer fit, belongings we have outgrown, we retain relationships we have moved on from and we retain thoughts and beliefs that no longer serve us. We keep things for all kinds of reasons: for when we lose weight, for that rainy day, we are worried what may happen if we lose touch or don’t do something. I’m sure you get the gist. We could perhaps say that we hold onto things for “fear” of what will happen if we let them go.

One of my “excuses” for holding onto things is that I currently have the storage space. I am organised and tidy, but I do hang onto things and will, for illustrative purposes, admit to holding onto shoes and books. (Any further admissions will be held for another day!)

Not long after I first met my husband, Jon wanted to know what I kept in all those shoe boxes: quite simply, it was shoes. Now many years later, the shoes (some the same and many different) are still in the boxes.  I occasionally operate a “one in, one out” policy and have become more discerning as to what I “need” to keep.   Shoes are a “woman thing”, so any men reading this will just have to take this on trust. What would happen if I let go of some more pairs of shoes? Would the world stop? No, but I guess I’d be rather bothered that I won’t have the “right” pair of shoes for whatever activity is likely to be around the corner that I haven’t yet thought about! For now, it is easy and convenient to maintain the current “collection” and I will leave it your imagination to determine what that constitutes!

I have also admitted to holding onto books. The criteria here is somewhat different as I find it immensely difficult, if nigh on impossible, to part with books. Moving house required me to make choices which included the re-homing of various volumes, and, since then, the process of letting books go is always tricky for me. I suspect the value I have endowed in them is probably of greater value to me than the physical book I think I wish to keep!

I have used shoes and books as examples of material things that we can hold onto in life. I’m sure you have your own examples. Indeed, some of us may come to a point when we start to look at all this “stuff” we have accumulated and wonder whether we need to hold onto it or whether we can let any of it go. Yes, I really did say that! I’m not advocating throwing everything away, but a judicious sorting can help clear physical space and provide mental and emotional clarify from a de-cluttering process.

You may be wondering what this has to do with yoga.

If you do go to a yoga class, you’ll probably hear the teacher talking about using the breath to help let go of tension in your physical body. This helps us to relax. This is an antidote to the crazy way most of us live our lives. This is good for our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

If we get this far, we may also find that it starts to work on our thoughts (which brings me back to the shoes and books), our beliefs and values. Yoga can help us consider our relationships, our work, indeed our whole life. If you thought yoga was just a few exercises and breathing practices, now’s the time to think again. Yoga can help us throughout our life. It starts to bring us back to who we really are, that essence of ourselves buried deep inside.

Just last week, I was teaching a class focusing on the second chakra, Svadhistana. For those of you who don’t know, it’s essentially about the second energy centre up from the base of spine and is related to our creative centre and our ability to ebb and flow with life. As I was talking about something I’ve read a lot about and taught about before, I had one of those lightbulb moments, when I suddenly realised something deeply significant for, and about, me. (And, no, it wasn’t anything to do with shoes and books!). However, it has moved on my thinking about something important in my life right now. Now, having written this, I now offer it out and let go.


© Sarah Swan (September 2016)

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