A month ago I began my journey with letting go. I give it that timeframe because that is the first moment where I became clearly cognizant of just how tightly I hang on. To everything.
It was a month ago that I started talk therapy, for maybe the sixth time in my life, but with a new openness this time. During one session I mentioned casually how I remember large amounts of insignificant information and I am continuously gathering more throughout the day. She challenged me to consciously not do this. To look at the very thing I used to tell myself “remember that for later” and say instead “I am choosing not to remember you.” The first time I did this, I cried.
And then it came to me in a flood, I was grieving. This unfamiliar feeling of releasing felt the same as loss. And loss felt very familiar and awful.
My older sister died abruptly and tragically when I was 12. That year I picked up some OCD behaviors, sleep disturbances and a chronic daily migraine that is still with me twenty years later. Pain lead to stress and more pain and more stress and then I lost my vision and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 3 months later. My whole life has been powering through in a Type-A kind-of way, damning the world for all it’s many misfortunes and mishaps. I was angry and hurt with a huge wall built up.
And that continued until I found yoga and meditation three years ago. Well, honestly I was pretty angry for a ways into that journey too. Somewhere during my Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training I realized that I had been operating out of my negative mind for years. And I prepared myself for the long road out of it. I shared this with my Teacher Trainer and his response was “Or not. It could happen quickly and easily too.”
And here I am, having revelations about my nature with letting go every day. I am holding onto pain, habits that no longer serve me, compulsive mind patterns, resentment, bitterness, anything and everything that I can grab onto and not have to let go. My need to obsessively plan? That’s about not wanting to let go. My drive to control all situations in life, including the behaviors and even plans of others? Also about not wanting to let go. All roads seem to lead back to this. And I know that means all roads lead back to the deep grief that I feel and never allowed myself to fully express.
I am sad that I did not get to be adult friends with my sister. I am sad that my physical health is such that I cannot enjoy the same things that I once loved. I am sad that bad things happen and I cannot do anything to control their outcome. But I am so happy that I can say all of that. I can honor my deeply felt emotions, nurture them, ask them what they are seeking to tell me and soothe them by acknowledging “I am here for you grief, I am here for you sadness.”
Last week I attended a yoga class. When we got to deep relaxation at the end, the instructor guided us to “Let go.” She said this several times. The first time I felt my body grip and I recognized “fear, fear, this is fear.” The second time I felt the tears coming but I scrunched up my face and held my breath because I also felt another feeling coming- it was grief! The third time I let the tears go, and when I let the tears go, my body relaxed. I think she may have said it a fourth time, but I don’t know, I had already given in to a state of surrender I have never felt before.
I am ready to let go of this pain, of this illness, and of the hold they both have on me. But I know that is the end of my journey. My journey begins with letting go of the illusion that I can control anything. It begins with stepping into the grace of serving my highest self just because. Nurturing because it feels good. Letting go of feelings that brew and fuel bad moods and a sick body. Approaching myself and all living beings with gentleness and understanding. Radical self acceptance, radical love, a new radical way of embracing life to live fully.
“If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace. If you let go completely, you will know complete peace and freedom. Your struggles with the world will have come to an end.” -Ajahn Chah
Emily teachers Kundalini and Yin Yoga at Kundalini Yoga Boston where she goes by her spiritual name Preet Kaur. She will be leading an upcoming workshop at KYB entitled “Let Go & Live Fully.” The workshop is geared towards those with chronic illness and pain and their caregivers. More information and registration can be found here: