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A Contemplation Note: Letting go vs. Giving up

Always let go. Never Give Up. This is one of my favorite mottos in life. Letting go of attachments, expectations and control, not too much grasping or clinging, relaxing in the moment and working on ‘detachment skills’ were-and sometimes still are-a major challenge in my life. I thought all of this was weakness and meant giving up. But then, I learned that letting go can actually give me freedom and create space for something better.

As Thich Nhat Hanh says, ''Letting go gives us freedom and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything-anger, anxiety or possessions-we cannot be free.'' It takes a lot of courage to let go of something, than it does to hang on to it, trying to make it better. But letting go doesn’t mean ignoring the situation. Letting go means accepting what is, exactly as it is, without fear, resistance or struggle for control.

A quote from Danielle Koeple explains difference between letting go and giving up quite well: ‘'Giving up means selling yourself short. It means allowing fear and struggle to limit your opportunities and keep you stuck. Letting go means freeing yourself from something that is no longer serving you. Giving up reduces life. Letting go expands it. Giving up is imprisoning. Letting go is liberation. Giving up is self-defeat. Letting go is self-care.’'

It is said that ''Its our mind, and that alone, that chains us or sets us free.'' Through my yoga and meditation journey, one of the things I learned is how we can train our minds for letting go and giving ourselves permission to completely surrender-especially in the situations that we have no control over. In order to reach this mind set, one must involve in a lot of self-study, deep soul work and self-reflection. And self-reflection is a practice on its own! Through meditation and contemplation, it is possible to learn to be a quiet witness, an observer, which gives us clarity to realise and acknowledge that our thoughts and emotions are just visitors. We are not our thoughts. We are not our faults. We are not our emotions. We are not our jobs. We are not our 'roles' in life. We are not our appearance or our physical body. We are more than all that and the acceptance of this and letting go of our identity, egos, attachments will lead us to our pure selves and true liberation.

Our lives are 'works in progress'. So, why not take a few steps at a time and then step back, wait, just watch and enjoy the process? Then, let go of what no longer serves you or anything that does not make you feel good anymore. Here's a beautiful quote from Ellen Goodman, about ‘graceful exit’: ''There’s a trick to the ‘graceful exit’. It begins with the vision to recognise a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over –and let it go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance to our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving up, rather than out.''

Learning, experimenting, discovering, growing, evolving are all part of meaningful, purposeful holistic living. To learn and implement these teachings in all aspects of our lives might take a lifetime, but I believe it is worth working towards that.

Affirmations about letting go:

I let go of what no longer serves me or make me feel good.

I surrender to what is.

I let go of what was.

I have faith in what will be.

*This contemplation note is taken from my Recovery Yoga Contemplative Meditation session.

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