We are officially in the Fall season and headed towards Winter. This time of year marks a point where the darkness progressively dominates the light. This is the sun signalling to us that it’s time to let go of what we no longer need in our lives. It is time to truly begin the process of emptying our vessel of anything lingering that will get in the way of living genuinely from our truest nature.
There is a term referred to in Yoga and other Indian philosophies called “duhkha” which refers to pain or suffering. Literally, duhkha is translated as “tightness or constriction in the chest or heart area”. It is a state of mind that creates a feeling of being restricted (not necessarily a physical feeling). This is not the suffering we feel when our feelings are hurt, or when we scrape a knee. Duhkha refers to deeper suffering that imprisons us from experiencing ease and contentment. The process of letting go is about shedding the layers that draw us into duhkha.
In the Spring and Summer time, we are very active and playful and tend to experience more. All experiences bring with them positive and negative influences. It is during the dark cycles, in the fall and winter, when we are asked to remove the lingering negative effects so that when the light returns we have more space in our heart to shine brightly!
ENERGY AWARENESS AND MANAGEMENT
I’ve noticed that personal energy dynamics are becoming more relevant. I don’t know if it’s because I’m at a point in my life where I’ve seen a thing or two, or if the vibrational frequency of human interaction is changing. It’s likely a little of both. Everything we think and feel feeds our personal energy. We know that communication is not limited to only words. There is a subtle language that we all speak with our energy. We can see it when we interact with others. Words in a conversation become somewhat irrelevant and it becomes more about the “vibe” of the interaction. Small talk becomes a tool to test out the energetic space/exchange between people.
Our personal "energetic vibe" has a lot to do with our mental/emotional state, or the thoughts/feelings that dominant our internal landscape.
If someone or a situation is hurting us, we have a choice to continue to feed into that pain, or pull back and energetically walk away. That is an act of kindness to yourself. You can pull your energy away without being mean or playing dirty or projecting any of your own issues onto the people involved. Remember that what you feel is largely about your perception or expectations - it can be a choice. It’s about reclaiming your personal power and coming to terms with the fact that feeding your time and energy into the situation is causing harm or holding you back.
A large part of yoga is about becoming more and more conscious or mindful of where we invest our thoughts. Investing in things/people/concepts/beliefs/etc is like investing in the stock market. We want to invest our money into something that will create more wealth! If you find yourself investing in something that continues to drain you and cause you pain and suffering, why would you continue to pour energy into it? Letting go of investments that don’t serve you can be complicated and tied up in a whole range of attachment patterns. To truly let go is to pull your investment entirely. This doesn’t mean avoiding the person or situation, it means that you no longer have a detrimental emotional/mental investment in it.
It likely will not happen all at once, but with perseverance and focus, it can be done - bit by bit overtime. Once you start feeling the free space in your mind, you’ll wonder why you delayed the process.
RECOGNIZE WHERE YOU ARE SUFFERING
Too often we get trapped in an unhealthy loop of suffering because we ignore the fact that we’re investing in the wrong stock. Some of us are more passionate than others, and will empty the emotional/mental bank towards something we are really attached to, and continue to fall deeper into suffering without realizing it. Excuses often come up to justify why we are suffering, especially if we’ve become accustomed to relationships that are painful (pain=love). And some of us have a higher “pain tolerance” than others depending on how much pain/abuse/suffering we’ve experienced in our lives.
Be kind and compassionate towards others, but also don’t get caught in the trap of sacrificing your own kindness towards yourself. It's common for many of us to be kind/loyal to others in a way that is harmful to ourselves. When we are used to suffering, it becomes normal. We are not yet able to see that there could be another way - a way out - a way to happiness, energy and healthy love. Being kind to yourself does not have intentions of hurting someone. If we do have motives to hurt someone who hurt us, that means you are still investing in that stock, and feeding energy into it.
We can also fall prey to the belief that we are ‘growing as a person’ by processing all of the pain that comes with that dynamic - especially if you're a person who likes to work hard. So, we continue to try even though we end up feeling empty. The stronger (or more stubborn) we are, the more we want to ‘stand behind’ our convictions, which spirals us deeper into deficit. We must recognize that we are hurting ourselves and that we need to let go. We all come to this realization at a different pace.
MAKE IT ABOUT YOU, NOT THEM
It is important to know that you can stop investing in the wrong people/situations/memories, and you can do it in a way that is not mean. Afterall, it was your choice to put yourself into that position energetically, so it’s also your choice to remove your energy from it. The cool thing is that this process involves only one person - you! It has nothing to do with anyone else. It is all about your internal management system. Even if someone or a situation broke your heart, it’s not about them. Even if someone did you wrong, it’s still not about them. It’s about you and what you choose to do with your emotions, thoughts, motives, and interactions.
So don’t make it about them, focus on what you need in each moment to feel like you’re truly taking care of yourself from a place of acceptance and compassion. When we can tap into that mindset, it becomes more clear as to when we are feeding into thoughts and situations that are not good for our health. When we become aware of those times, we can actually choose to not feed energy into it.
I want to be clear that this is not the process of ignoring your problems. It’s actually quite the opposite. It’s about being very aware about what is causing you to suffer and making a conscious choice to remove the hold it has on you.
Let’s take the example of heartbreak, or when someone has betrayed our trust. How long are we going to hang on to that? Sadness, hurt, anger, loneliness and more come to surface and we train our brain to focus on that person, situation or dream. Hope towards a particular outcome, can also be detrimental. It can keep you holding on to an ideal for a very long time. Expectation toward an ideal outcome can cause a lot of pain because we cannot control the actions/thoughts/feelings others. If we keep feeding energy into an ideal outcome, hoping they “wake up” and act on the truth of what could be - we will spiral into deeper suffering.
We need to realize that our investment is not creating the returns we need. How do you feel when you think of the person or situation? Does it make you sad, angry, lonely? Do those feelings serve you? Do those feelings replenish your account? There is truth in the saying, “holding on doesn’t hurt them, it only hurts you”.
When we first realize that we need to let go, it can be very emotional. It could be the realization of surrendering ego, the death of a dream, or the fear of loneliness - and this comes with a grieving process that has no timeline.
ACTUALLY DOING IT - CUT THE CORDS OF ATTACHMENT
Realizing what you need to do, and actually doing it, are two different stages of the process. We can realize something long before we’re actually ready to change or genuinely do something about it. There are often layers of obstacles in the way, especially with matters of the heart and family members. It’s important to remember that pulling your energy away, does not mean that you don’t care. You are not a mean person, you’ve just chosen to be kind to yourself. And it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about it - you need to do this for yourself, to reclaim the energy that can then be invested into people and areas that replenish your account.
Once I can get past the ego identification with how I have been “wronged” and accept the situation for the truth of what it is, and realize that I'm only hurting myself - only then can I start the process of letting go. Strong emotional, mental, physical and sometimes spiritual attachments will present themselves. Sometimes the attachments are so powerful that we feel like we will die without them. It feels like a threat to our survival and we feel like we need to hang on as hard as we can - as if our life depended on it. This can blind us from the reality of what is actually happening. When we refuse to see things as they are, we can forget why the situation is a detrimental investment.
To truly let go, we need to get raw and honest with ourselves. It means genuinely observing and reflecting on your thoughts, motives, actions, and words. This process is 100% you. Only you will truly know if you are doing the work, and when you are on the path to letting go. It means getting quiet with yourself and not always going to your friends to talk it out. And it means doing whatever it is that you need to do to rewire your mind. Pavlov’s dog that shit! When you notice yourself brooding too long and causing yourself to feel dark and unhappy, then redirect your mind to something else. It could be as simple as looking at a lamp and describing the shape, color and texture details of the lamp, or just tuning into deeply to the quality of your breath, or simply reminding yourself what day it is and where you are standing. Before you know it, your mind (and energy) has been redirected to the present moment. In the present moment, all we have is the truth - our attachments and expectations live in the past and future. It’ll likely take some time and persistent practice, so have patience with yourself.
KEEP AT IT!
The process is not a one-time shot, it's more like peeling layers. Sometimes when you think you’re done there’s still more to let go of, or you hit a roadblock and feel frozen in the process. Remember that it’s a practice - like anything else that contributes to your growth. You will have weak moments and you will fail at times. You will make mistakes and fall back into detrimental patterns, but keep at it and remember to enjoy the moments that produce feelings of lightness, ease and positivity - because that is your validation that it's all worth it. And when you fall off the wagon, and it hurts - pay attention to that too. It’s a reminder of why you chose to let go in the first place.
When emotional pain starts to leave and you feel lighter, it can be scary because it’s outside of the norm. And sometimes we actually believe that we don’t deserve to be happy or desired or cared for or respected. If that is the case, we end up feeling comfortable in situations that match our sense of self-worth. Anything else would be too scary. Get yourself involved in activities that boost your confidence and remind you that you are worth joy, peace and love.
Attachments can be like a drug addiction. It’s tough to pull away. It can be all consuming. When someone says to you, “just let it go” it almost always feels like an insult, like it’s as easy as throwing trash in the garbage and walking away. That is not often the case. Keep at it, you’re worth it. You will grow more from the practice of letting go through acceptance and self-love, than you will from investing in something that causes you pain and suffering.
Let’s embrace the fall season and begin the process and practice of letting go. We’ve got time. It doesn’t have to be done today - we have 6 months, so if you haven’t yet identified what to focus your practice on - take some time and dial in. And when the next equinox of spring arrives, our vessel will be more clear and open to receive new light!