The Art of Letting Go: A Worthwhile Endeavor

by Sheila Fazio, Holistic Therapist

Letting go can be the hardest challenge that many of us face.  Throughout our lives we are called to let go of attachments, some we wish to keep and others that are not good for us.  We may be trying to let go of a relationship that is making us ill or unhappy, perhaps our dearly-loved child is growing up and no longer needs us in such an intense way.  Even more painful,  a beloved friend, parent or pet that passes away leaving us with emotions of love, despair, guilt, bliss and remorse.  In certain times, we are even called to let go of our own controlling, blaming or self doubting patterns that deeply impact our happiness.

The perceived threat of change can keep us stuck for years disconnected from our most basic life force, which is one of PEACE and LOVE.  When we acknowledge our fears of abandonment, failure, being alone, unworthiness…it is at that moment our reality can begin to change.  Instead of hanging on tightly, even to something we have outgrown, we begin to loosen the reigns and to contemplate the hidden blessings that come from letting go and facing the unknown.

The hidden gem I recently experienced is a false belief that we have to stay angry to set limits and boundaries.  Although anger is an important impetuous and an appropriate response at times, it becomes toxic and a barrier for healing if left to fester over time.  Remember we all have the capacity to let go of our fear and anger while maintaining healthy boundaries and sometimes distance from others.  Anger is short-term power, long term demise.

As a therapist, body worker and yoga teacher, I realize there are many ways to promote letting go, alanon support groups, counseling, body work, but one of my favorites is through yoga.  There are two practices that really stand out, the Maha Mritunjaya Mantra and simple 1:2 breathing practices. In yoga a mantra is used to give the mind something to focus upon and to grow the meaning of the mantra inside of you. Literally helping us to go beyond the limitations of the mind and connect to Love.

Mantra is often repeated out loud or silently during a meditation practice.  The translation of the mantra, as I understand it, came from my teacher Yoga Master Rod Stryker. “May I be open to Source (God), to see clearly,  enjoy my life and smell the roses as I walk by, to see the entanglements that make me heavy  and to be able and willing to pluck myself free before I rot, and lastly to overcome the root fear of all fears, the fear of death itself.”  You can find versions of this chant online or ask a yoga teacher to teach you.

As for something you can start right away, regulate your breathe.  You may notice that the breath becomes shallow and bumpy with strong emotions. Acknowledge the emotion you are feeling, give it a name (worry, fear of being alone, shame) and know that it is not who you are, even if it is frequent.  Instead of distracting yourself with the radio, tv or house cleaning for the 5th time this week, give yourself a couple minutes to breath into the emotion. What we push down comes back with doubling force. Begin to breathe in  to the belly then heart, breath out with an opened mouth sigh.  After 5 rounds, begin to lengthen the exhale to twice the length of the inhale.  Breathe in for 4-6 counts and out for 8-12 counts.  The long exhale signals the body to let go, release emotions that are bottled up. Instead of repressing and stressing our immune system, we release, free ourselves gradually overtime. After several minutes, stop the practice.  Put your hand on your heart, repeat with meaning, I love and accept myself, I am safe in this moment, I acknowledge my fears/loss, I move forward today with strength and courage.  Repeat as much as necessary.

Namaste, Sheila Fazio

If you are interested in yoga instruction, holistic mental health counseling or bodywork please contact Sheila at 314-276-2886.