Last week at a yoga book club dinner the topic of ‘letting go’ came up. It often does in circles such as ours. It’s a pat answer for pretty much everything. And as such, has become almost cliche.
It’s meant to help in situations of transition, in the mire of the past that bogs us down and in the obstacles that block our path when wanting to move forward.
I am in a time of great transition in my life right now. Things are changing at a rate and pace that I have no control over. So fast that if I hold on my limbs will be ripped from my body and I will be rendered useless.
I know, because the last time my world was in this state, that is what I did. Held on. To what was. To what I thought I had. To what I always imagined my life would be and how I thought I would grow old within the safe confines of my parameters. The holding on broke me.
Today when I called into work to ask for the day off, it was the word I used. Broken. It was what I felt happening as I wrote the last entry into my son’s journal before he moves.
The keening, wailing sound coming from me was the sound of the frayed ties I had put myself back together with breaking. The sound of my life changing. I actually saw the crackling veneer covering my heart breaking apart as my heart opened – like a chick breaking through its shell. This time though, it’s not me breaking, it’s me breaking free of the crust of corrosion that’s grown over my atrophied heart and paralyzed fist that’s been holding onto the the dangling strings of ties that have long been severed.
I see now that it is not enough to cut the ties that bind. Besides, life does that for us. My husband left. My daughter left. Loved ones have died. Moved. Moved on. My son is leaving. Although they are still in my life, they are not my life. We will always orbit each other in the dance of the gravitational pull of our hearts. And even though I know we are not bound to each other, I could see clearly that if I don’t break through the veneer covering the parts of me still holding on to the ties binding me to illusion, I will remain paralyzed. The only way the release of ‘letting go’ can happen is to open up. My fist, my heart, my throat and my mind so that the ever moving expansion and contraction of my breath can break through the crust I’ve built up around myself. Only then, in the Open, can the strings, the ties, the junk that I’ve been holding onto naturally drop away.
All of this being said, as agonizing and freeing and full of grace this experience was, it happened because, like the chick, I had grown enough within my protective shell to have the strength to instinctively know when and how to break free. To know that what once protected me was now preventing me from reaching my full potential.
“Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes,
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
You would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding.”
From Rumi’s BirdWings
May the softness of my breath contracting and expanding lead me to my deepest presence. Because being in the Open isn’t just about ‘letting go’. It’s also about being able to receive.