Ask Parvati 10: The Power of Letting Go

THE POWER OF LETTING GO

May 1, 2011

Dear Parvati,
I am a bit type A, tending to take charge of situations. I feel good about how much I can get done even under pressure, but I find that afterwards I feel exhausted, headachey, stressed and grumpy. People suggest to me that I need to learn to let go, but I have a hard time relating to that. I think that if I let go, everything would fall apart and I wouldn’t know where to start again. Yet, for some reason, I keep hearing their words in my mind, to let go. How can I begin to let go of some of the stress and not freak out about not being in control?

LEARNING TO LET GO
Thank you for your question. It is spring and the force of nature is churning. As the trees sprout leaves and flowers burst into life, we can feel an impulse to get active in an attempt to shed physical and psychological winter weight from our lives. Whether you are a type A personality or not, we can overdo these times of seasonal transition and end up with colds, allergies and other physical symptoms, ways our bodies let us know that we had best slow down and learn to let go.
Because the mind tends to only know two ways of thinking, to move towards something we like or to move away something we don’t, we try to push away things we no longer want. Trying to push or pull at life is like trying to move mountains. Sooner or later we end up exhausted and come to realize that there is a force in life that is much greater than our limited ego or will. Whether we end up flat on our backs with a broken heart, a massive cold, a lost job or just plain wrung out from too much effortful living, the wise words “let go” or “surrender” start to come to mind.
OPENING TO POSSIBILITIES
For most of us, the notion of surrendering can be quite bewildering, conjuring images of “throwing in the towel”, giving in or even becoming roadkill to someone else’s overpowering will. From the point of view of the ego, surrendering may seem like we are giving up and somehow taking a loss. But when we look deeper, we see that nothing could be further from the truth.
The ancient text called the Hatha Yoga Pradipika speaks of sukha-sthira, finding a balanced yogic state that is neither just relaxed nor just alert, but a union of the two. Artists, dancers, athletes and business people have expressed finding that balanced flow when they experience peak performances. In that flow, the individual has tapped into a much greater whole. There is no defensive holding on to the ego. One has surrendered to ride within a force that is much greater than the limited sense of self.
When we are stressed, our field of perception narrows. This is a remnant of our past need to run for our lives when chased by a lion in the jungle. This focus serves our need to survive. But when habitually used as a day-to-day stress response, the narrow sight means we often tend to miss a lot. By allowing ourselves to let go of the fear of the proverbial jungle lion (be it our boss, our partner, our parents or whatever we fear), our field of vision expands and we see more fully. In so doing, we tap into a greater field of possibility and flow within a greater whole. In this way, we have access to more options, more choice, more power. As we learn to let go, we may find that the phone call we had anxiously been waiting for suddenly happens or cash for an outstanding bill arrives at our door. We may see the broken step on the stairs and avoid a painful tumble. As we let go, we get out of our own way and learn to receive the support that inherently exists within nature. 
NATURAL SUPPORT
Let us look at nature. The chrysalis that transforms into a butterfly, does it doubt, angst and stress over the process it undergoes? Or is the cocooned creature in a surrendered state held perfectly within an intelligent whole? Really think about it. When the flower springs from the soil, is it thinking “gotta get it right” or “gotta work harder”? Or is it simply being, expressing a flow within the whole?
The same for the budding leaves on the tree branches, the thawing ice, the animals awakening. Can you imagine the hibernating bear coming out in a rush from its cave with the thought, “Man! I gotta hurry. I am going to be late again”? Yet how many of us wake up everyday, supposedly refreshed, already feeling stressed and having somehow failed? That is the baggage we carry. That is the story we place over our lives. That is not our fullest, most natural self, but what we have become habituated to be, usually as an expression of the ego to feel greater than or less than another as a distorted cry for love we perceive is not there. We tend to hold on to stress, fearing the jungle lion even when the lion exists only in our imagination. This fear exists because deep down we don’t feel love or loved.
But is there no love? Do we need to rely on that story of rush, push and pull to make us feel better? Ultimately, does not our push/pull make us suffer? Remember the chrysalis perfectly cocooned. Would nature take such perfect care of that caterpillar and abandon us? Or have we somehow, somewhere along our life path let go of our connection to nature instead? We believe our own distorted perceptions and go running because a coiled rope looks like a cobra to our dulled eyes. Nature is not doing that “to” us. We do that to ourselves. We place the disconnected story on each perfect moment. Ah! Beautiful butterfly that it does not have the busy mind we do, that surrenders to its magnificent transformation and flies free!
For nature, life just is. Resting into this “isness” is surrender. Surrender is gentle, quiet, powerful, active, alive, vital…because it relies on a state of feeling connected, interconnected, a part of it all. We are constantly held within the whole, cradled in a perfect life-force cocoon, completely loved, fully supported and totally cared for. Our minds may be attached to distortions that tell us otherwise, but that does not change the fact that the loving support is here, if we are willing to let go and receive.
FLOW WITHIN THE WHOLE
Part of our human journey is the return to that One state, that flow, that sense of being rooted, vital and expansive within an intelligent whole. We tend to see ourselves as separate, either by expressing wanting through “craving this” or “repulsed by that”, or by altogether feeling fundamentally disconnected and alienated from all that is. It seems these extremes are deeply buried in our psyche, part of the human condition. As we move through life, we learn to meet the moment as an opportunity to purify our perceptions and eventually transcend the trickiness of our ego so that we may rest in the fullness of who we are. And who are we anyway, if not ultimately one with all that is, a playful expression of the Divine?
Next time you feel the impulse to rush to your next meeting, or feel that feisty urge that wants to make you right and others wrong, or you want to push through to the next to-do item on your agenda without really meeting the task at hand, remember that tiny cocoon and know that you are one and the same. In every moment, you are cradled by an immense love that fully supports you through whatever life process you are experiencing. That love is always available, 24/7, unconditionally. It is our human birthright.
If we could be a bit more like the trees, rivers, butterflies and flowers, we might find ourselves a lot healthier, happier and wise. And what better time to feel inspired to surrender to and be part of such immensity than during the bursting power of life now upon us this spring. Do yourself a favor and go say hello to the budding trees. Notice how they do not struggle to be, but are in a rapturous state of deep surrender. Rooted in the rich Earth, trunks strong, growing up to meet the sky, the tree’s leaves dance in the flowing wind. Watch carefully. That tree is flowing within the whole, just as you. Through nature we can see our true nature and learn the power of letting go.
     

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I had to read this twice to get it fully. Surrender for me sometimes is like giving my power over to the Universe or God which is then followed by apathy and feeling uninspired. It really hit home for me when you wrote: “Surrender is gentle, quiet, powerful, active, alive, vital…because it relies on a state of feeling connected, interconnected, a part of it all. We are constantly held within the whole, cradled in a perfect life-force cocoon, completely loved, fully supported and totally cared for.” It is only when we find the God within, that we can surrender to the God without. Only then can surrender come from a place of power and equality, rather than separation and all the other labels we put on ourselves which make us “less then” who we really are.

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WHY YOGA IN THE NIGHTCLUB

I am often asked what inspired me to bring yogic expression into the club scene. I answer easily. Yoga In the Nightclub is a natural expression of who I am as a musical artist and dedicated yogini. Yoga is not a physical practice but a way of life. It is about learning to be present in all one does, to see the divine here, now, in this moment. As such, yoga is everywhere. It is about feeling connected to something much greater than our limited ego or will. It is about being in service to life, feeling interconnected to that very life force. Yoga In The Nightclub is a celebration of life and a reminder that we can find awakened presence everywhere.

Yoga in the West is mostly known as a series of bendy physical exercises. Yet there is much more to it than fitness. Yoga’s systematic breath and body exercises, designed to clear the subtle channels in our energy system, prepare us for meditation, through which we may experience a life inspired by our interconnected, multidimensional true nature. Our body, that once was seen as “mine”, is no longer our identity, but a gift on loan from the divine. We care for it, but we are not attached to it. The practice of yoga offers us the opportunity to experience the transmutation of matter into pure light, embody the multidimensional and rest in the eternal.

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WE ARE ALL CONNECTED

Hatha yoga, the physical practice of yoga, is just one of many aspects of yoga, which range from selfless service to astrology and prayer. The Sanskrit word “yoga” most simply translates to “union”, implying that the practice of any yoga will bring together our perceived sense of separateness. As a whole, yoga is an ancient science of life. It is a practical method of shedding excess and bringing us back from the self-delusion of separation from the divine so that we may realize our inherent interconnection to and ultimate oneness with it.

As we begin to understand that yoga is everywhere, we come to see how we are all connected in vast ways far beyond the limitations of our personal will and ego. What I do affects you, and vice versa. We are one earth family. At the heart of it all, we share the same heartbeat. Breathe to be. We are one.

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AWAKENED LIVING

When we are open, life blossoms, just as a flower opens to welcome the morning sun.  We see that the sun, though it is millions of light years away, has a tender yet powerful relationship with the flower, as do the rain and the clouds. From this perspective we see that we are part of the whole. Life is a symphonic masterpiece with which, when we are open, we are completely resonant.

As we come to understand our oneness, we can revel in it with wonder and joy. We can consider in awe how immense it all is. We can let go of the idea that an illusory, isolated sense of self could possibly be in control, and open to an exquisite unfolding of life in absolute perfection. Our actions become not about “me” but about the whole. Each moment is integrated within the whole. No one decision is separate.

When we begin to see that each decision we make affects not just ourselves but everyone and everything on the planet, we act with more compassion. When we have more compassion, we realize the impact of our actions and we naturally want less and practice more kindness. As stewards of the Earth, we each are called to learn to live in harmony with ourselves, each other and our planet. We all breathe the same air and live on the same living organism, our planet. Varied in race and creed, we are all one family, children of the same mother, the planet Earth.

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THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GRACE

In each moment, there is infinite grace. By becoming more conscious as we practice yoga on the mat, at work, at play or in the nightclub, we let go of the unnecessary and develop greater internal spaciousness which blooms throughout our lives. In this space new life and possibilities arise.

As we rest our awareness on the simple purity and grace of the breath, we realize - we are alive! We let go of wanting things from the future and the past and open to what is here and now. We feel as vast as the sky and rooted in the richness of this moment.

When we “breathe to be”, we understand our interconnection. We see that we are not the doers but a part of the whole, the same energy that is in the flowers and in the stars. We know that our essence is divine - from which we have come, to which we return.

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I am light!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gone, gone beyond. Oh what awakening!
Gone, gone beyond. Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
I am the light, liquid gold light
I am in delight! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

I am the light (gate gate), liquid gold light (paragate)
I am in delight (gate gate) transforming the night (paragate)

Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Oh what awakening! (paragate) (I am)
Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight
I am light, dancing through the night
I am light, in delight
I am light, dancing through the night

I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (gate gate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (paragate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light

I am light!

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