I’ve been thinking about this phrase that I often use in yoga class, “release or let go of what no longer serves you.” It’s a short phrase that is hard to wrap my head around. Sometimes I say it and think but what am I really intending to say with that sentence? It also seems to be a very common phrase that gets tossed around without much explanation. I think the intention is to allow each student to apply the idea to their own life situations but I think it’s helpful to actually explain a little more. Of course this could be interpreted in many ways but this is what it means to me.
Every person has a story of their life, how it’s going, how it will go, how it went, and these stories shape how we show up in our life, our identities or how we think of ourselves. Sometimes, we get stuck in a story that labels us as being a certain way and we tell the people around us that we are that way. This leads the people around us to treat us as if we are that way. For example, if I tell a friend I am don’t like raspberries, even though I’ve never tried raspberries, she will not offer me raspberries, right? I could go my whole life never trying raspberries because I’ve told the people around me that they are not for me. This is limiting me. While raspberries might not make much of a difference apply that to something of more importance in our lives and we could end up really stunting our growth. It could apply to not going for a job because we believe we aren’t ready, capable, good enough for it. It could apply to our relationship to other people if we pretend we don’t need something that we actually do, or we pretend we don’t care when we actually do. It is any time that we spend identifying ourselves as something that we known in our core we are not. Sometimes these stories are old and they haven’t caught up with the current version of ourselves and sometimes they are just stories that we think might be true but in actuality aren’t.
So this process of letting go of what is no longer serving us is really about sitting with ourselves and figuring out who we are right now, what we need, what we value, and then living true to that instead of our past selves or future selves. It is choosing to let go of the words and actions that do not actually align with our best selves. Or the actions and words that lead us down paths that do not bring out our best selves. This is a long process and it does not happen quickly but it’s fun to really be curious about what life is teaching us about ourselves because often conflicts can make it very apparent who we are, what we need and what we value.
I like to use breath to visualize this release. On the inhale, oxygen enters our bodies and spreads nutrients to all our cells so that our bodies function. On our exhale, C02 is released because the body does not need it anymore. C02 is a waste product of cellular respiration and is harmful if it is not expelled from our bodies. Just like our breath we must let go of the things that were created as a bi product of keeping us alive, healthy and happy.