The practice of letting go


Just let it go. Let it be. Definitely easier said than done, right?


In yogic philosophy, there are 5 negative mental states (kleshas in sanskrit) that we as humans tend to fall for. If we didn't experience these kleshas, it is said that we would not suffer. But, since suffering is part of the human condition, what we can do is figure out a way to tame these mental states so that they don't overcome our sense of self. Today I'd like to focus on the third and fourth kleshas: Attachment (Raga) and Aversion (Dvesa).


Attachment and aversion tend to come hand in hand - we get angry, frustrated or sad if we don't get what we want, or if we get something we don't want.


Sometimes, these attachments and aversions are with us since our childhood. We either inherited them from our family or something happened to us that affected our subconscious and caused an attachment or aversion pattern.


I personally think that the current situation we're experiencing now is creating some serious subconscious patterns in our mind. For instance, in my case, I fell in love with the comfort of social distancing and being alone so much (attachment), that I now find masses of people nerve wrecking. If I see a group of more than 10 people, I get anxious (aversion). But let's not only talk about my evolving social anxiety disorder - the truth is that we all experience attachment and aversion most of the time.


Perhaps you recently had a baby and think that you should be feeling super happy about it, but instead you feel overwhelmed, confused and sad. Or you had planned an amazing holiday and now you have to cancel and are angry at the world about it. Or you were supposed to get married and now you cannot because of the current restrictions. Or you were together with someone thinking that this was "it" and instead she broke your heart, so now you feel like you don't ever want to fall in love again. All of these ideas, plans and perceptions of how things should be, if we hold on to them and in the end they change, well, there's some negative emotions that you will have to deal with. In the same manner, if we avoid an experience because of fear of getting hurt, we might miss out on something special.


I'm not saying that the goal is not to experience these negative emotions, but rather to learn to be the one in control of such emotions, to not let those emotions control you and take you into a spiral of anger, sadness, anxiety, etc.


So how can you learn to let go of attachment and aversion?


Well, as humans, we will always be attached to someone or something, it's part of who we are as species and it's a beautiful thing (connection). We also need to experience aversion to certain things in order to stay alive (survival and protection).


Practicing yoga can help us find a balance and see things with more clarity. It can help us stay curious and present, allowing ourselves to open up while staying observant of our patterns and behaviors. With practice, we can learn to catch those thoughts or emotions on the spot and assess whether they are indeed useful or not.


The following exercise can help you explore your attachments and aversions and assess whether they're actually helpful or not. It shouldn't take you longer than 10 minutes.


Find a quiet space where you can sit comfortably.

Get a piece of paper and a pen.

Take 10 deep breaths all the way down to your belly (count to four on each inhale and exhale). Use your right hand to feel your abdomen rising and lowering with every inhale and exhale.

Without overthinking, write the answers on the questions below on the piece of paper.


Are you currently angry, frustrated or sad about something that didn't go the way you expected it to?


Do you find yourself trying to control certain outcomes or situations in your life or someone else's?


Can you try to pinpoint what it is that you fear will happen if you let go of the idea or expectation?


Is there something you're trying to avoid at all costs (a person, a situation, a thing)? If so, think about why? What is it that makes you want to feel this aversion?


What would happen if you stopped avoiding that something? Can you think of 3 positive outcomes as as result of letting go of the aversion?


Once you've answered those questions, let those thoughts go and bring your attention back to the room around you.


I hope this exercise helps :)



Sending you love,

Melissa

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