letting go

Yoga training typically culminates on a late Sunday afternoon with the Sutras. We’ve hit chapter two, which is the meat of the mental practice – because yoga is all about reaching the interior whether it be the muscles and organs or the thoughts and emotions.

We spent a great deal of time on teaching beginners, so Patanjali got shorted. Thirty-five minutes is inadequate to the task of fleshing tapas.


Tapas is all about the pain and the letting it go. Emphasis on “letting it go”.

Patanjali insists that we are only anchored to the physical world through the pesky inconvenience of having bodies. Bodies that are not us.  The true “me” of me is not my body at all. Therefore, all experience happens to the body and what “I” should be doing is experiencing, acknowledging and then letting it go.

Everything. Good, bad, meh and bloody awful. Feel it. Know it. Wave goodbye.

“Nothing is permanent,” Cat, our instructor, pointed out.

True. It’s our attachment to the idea that good things should have no end and bad things are unfair (I’m overly simplifying) that leads us into the mud and mires us there.

I just listened.

Not because I have no thoughts or concrete experiences to share, but because I know that this is one of those deceptively simple ideas that become nightmarishly difficult when reality envelopes a person.

“Our reactions are choices,” another woman chimed in.

Essentially, we can shape our lives through letting go or just acknowledging that all experiences are finite.

And here the conversation veered into the anecdotal experiences that, I think, aren’t helpful.

A fellow student was in a serious accident and was told by her doctors that she would never regain the use of her arm. She told us that had she listened to the doctors, she would indeed have no function, but she chose to ignore them and rehabbed herself to the point where she is now able to use her arm – not 100% – but no one could tell by simply looking at her that she has difficulties.

I hate these analogies. They are exceptions and they lead others to believe that we are all destined to be exceptions when we aren’t.

We are the rule. Sometimes reality is what it is. No exceptions.

This doesn’t preclude trying to be an exception but it does mean that more often than not, one will have to accept that they are the rule and then – let it go.

“We can change our reality,” Cat said.

But we can’t. Reality is. Sometimes all we can choose is our reactions and how to live within the reality. There are some realities that can’t be let go. They can only be managed.

Managed isn’t the best term, I’ll admit, but there are experiences that stick even though we have let them go.

Will is dead. I have a dead first husband. Not much I can do with that. Very little to work with. Certainly can’t change it.

But I can acknowledge it and let it go, knowing that its effect on me is permanent and that “letting go” might have to be revisited periodically throughout my life.

Same holds true for my classmate. If she had not been able to regain the use of her arm, she would still have had to let the experience go and live within the parameters of her altered reality.

I don’t know if Patanjali addresses this later on, but letting go is a process and it can take years or a lifetime. The choice – I believe – is the attempt to let go in the first place or to cling and not bother.

Dream House Country Inn (1852)

Image by origamidon via Flickr

Selling the house is proving to be more traumatic than I would have ever guessed. In so many ways the house has been my prison these last 3 years. There are very few happy memories and the majority of those are recent ones, but I have been feeling more and more down as prospective buyers traipse through. In part, I think, because of the silent (or in the case of one snotty woman not so very) judging that goes on.


Mick remarked to me in an email early on in the listing process that she found the whole process of showing houses to buyers weird. That it would feel as though they were checking her out too. In a way she is right. The walls need paint. The flooring is outdated and worn. The bathrooms need a bit of updating as well. Nothing monumental but if you didn’t know my story, you would wonder what kind of lazy home-owner I have been.


In an even odder way, it makes me feel more like a failure than I already do when I reassess my care-taking and early widowed days. Leave it to me to seek perfectionism in roles that I never wanted in the first place.


This house was supposed to be our future. We had spent endless hours speculating and planning. Thinking about it now, our dreams were so cliche. A suburban life. The kind that everyone else lives. At the time I wanted to be like everyone else. I guess if I am being honest I sometimes still do want that. To be like everyone else. I am not sure though that I am like everyone else or ever was. The root of my discontent perhaps is that I have spent a large part of my life trying to not be myself.


When I go into the basement, I see the pool table that Will wanted. The patio out the sliders to the backyard should be a deck. Dee’s room upstairs should be occupied with the baby brother she has always wanted, and the spare bedroom should be green with Disney princesses on the wall. The kitchen should look like someone actually cooks, and the living room should actually have furniture in it that we shopped for on a Sunday afternoon while the kids climbed on the displays as though they were at the playground down the street. His white truck should be sitting in the drive and the creepy guy who lives next door shouldn’t have ever felt free to watch me like he still sometimes does.


It’s silly to let all these endings drag me down when I have so much love and life surrounding me and so many happy events and happier days and nights to look forward too. But the past must be bid a proper farewell and tucked in to rest for awhile. I want to meet the future with my heart and mind fully present and that means letting certain memories and regrets have their moment when they come knocking. Acknowledge the past that could have been while remembering that you never were meant to live there.


Tricky business, like letting go. I didn’t realize until recently that I had let a certain part of myself go back there from time to time. I had always thought that I was moving forward at all times. Surprise, eh?


My favorite couple to come through so far looked to be first timers. I could hear her gushing about the color of the upstairs bath which I had loved myself when I first saw it though the realtor and Will thought it was awful. She was animated and excited and bursting with enthusiasm. The house deserves someone like her after what it has gone through. It should have laughter and life to look forward to again.