LETTING GO OR DROPPING AWAY?
The Autumn is the perfect season in which to contemplate and practise letting go... we only have to look at the deciduous trees in a temperate climate to appreciate this.
The word deciduous is defined thus, ‘the dropping of a part that is no longer needed’. As daylight hours decrease, photosynthesis declines, the leaves start to change colour and eventually drop off in a complex process known as abscission. This process can take quite a long time... but possibly not as long as it takes us as humans to let go of the things which we no longer need!
What can also often happen in the autumn is that we sometimes experience severe weather conditions, strong winds, gales, storms and frosts. The trees that have been hanging on to their leaves in order to retain and recycle their nutrients to themselves suddenly find that they are blown away, that they drop away before the tree is ready to release them. And as with trees, so with humans…
Sometimes it takes an extreme life circumstance for us to realise what is really important in our lives and what actually doesn’t matter. Many of us will have experienced some such circumstance... redundancy, a physical accident, serious illness, the sudden death of a loved one or an acquaintance taken prematurely, a betrayal, the break up of a relationship and so on. All of these things can create shock, leave us stunned and cause a momentary shift in our perception of reality. How we then respond to that change in perception may enable us to truly release some of those things which we honestly do not need... Or we may choose to ignore the opportunity and just keep holding on to them.
My recent experiences with my health have provided me with just such an opportunity, a ‘mortality check’ which has definitely shifted my perspective. Those things which I have been clinging on to for years, such as high expectations of how life ‘should’ be and what I ‘must’ do to live a useful life have simply melted away... I am beginning to let go of the identity which I had constructed for myself, and this is a very significant step for me on my yogic path. Let me explain.
In order to achieve permanent freedom we have to release EGO.
What is ‘ego’? The Cambridge Dictionary defines it thus, ‘your idea or opinion of yourself, especially your feeling of your own importance and ability‘. We often use the term in a derogatory way…'he or she has an ego the size of a planet!' obviously implying that they have a hugely overinflated sense of their own importance (we can probably think of a few public figures to whom this applies!).
However in yogic philosophy we must turn to that remarkable text, the Bhagavad Gita, for a rather different understanding of ‘ego’. The Bhagavad Gita is part of a much longer story called the Mahabharata. In the Bhagavad Gita, the warrior Arjuna has a long conversation with his charioteer, Krishna. They are on the battlefield of Kurukshetra where Arjuna is being asked to enter into battle against members of his own family and friends. What a dilemma! Yet it turns out that this is an allegory for the battlefield of our own lives where we have to surrender our ego in order to attain freedom. The ego we are battling is indeed to do with how we identify ourselves, how we construct ourselves, our abilities and roles that we play out. Yet the person we truly are is not actually that one, for essentially we are a soul, ‘Atman’ in Sanskrit. The ego has separated us from our soul and our union with the Divine/ the Universe/the Supreme Being/God.
Therefore when we start to let go of those parts of ourselves which have created our ego, we are on the path to true liberation or 'Moksha' in Sanskrit.
The question is, how free do you want to be?
If this all sounds too deep for you that’s fine, as we are all on our own path, but I expect we can all benefit from some of the simpler yogic practices of releasing physical tension with movements and releasing mental stress with the breath... and let’s not forget the important practice of deep relaxation. Send me a message if you’d like a recording of a deep relaxation (in my former voice!).