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  • Writer's pictureDessislava Mladenova

Why I Will Never Ask You To “Let Go”

Updated: Apr 24


Illustration of a person sitting at the far end of a tree branch, using a saw to cut through the branch near the trunk.
'... so when we numb those we numb Joy, we numb Gratitude, we numb Happiness and then we are miserable and we are looking for purpose and meaning.' — Brené Brown. Image credit: DessiYoga

 

Warning: This blog post may be distressing for some individuals. Please be aware that I am not a qualified psychologist or a health professional, and the information provided here is purely my opinion and should not be considered professional advice.


Until recently, one of my favourite affirmations and a mantra I used to share with my students was "Let Go of everything that no longer serves you."


 

I loved the sound of it, the simplicity of the intention, and the feeling of utter relief as you exhale with a vocal sigh and visualise all those emotions, thoughts, and even muscular tension that no longer serve you seeping from your body into the ground in gooey black streams.


As beautiful and simple as the intention of letting go is, the truth is that it just doesn't persist much longer after the class.

At least not for me. The emotional pain, shame, grief, sorrow, sense of injustice, whatever that is for you, persists in as palpable a way as the physical reality of your body.


How can I stand in front of the class and ask you, my student, to simply let go?



The first clue that it is not helpful to ask you to let go of difficult emotions came after I heard a speech by Brené Brown. Brené Brown, a research professor, author, and public speaker who has risen to fame for her groundbreaking work on vulnerability, teaches us that we cannot selectively numb emotion.


She says, "Here is the bad stuff, here's vulnerability, here's grief, here's shame, here's fear, here's disappointment. I don't want to feel these... you can't numb those hard feelings without numbing the other effects or emotions... so when we numb those we numb Joy, we numb Gratitude, we numb Happiness and then we are miserable and we are looking for purpose and meaning."



If we cannot numb these, if we cannot release them, then what can we do so that we feel less broken, so that we put ourselves together again?



The answer came recently from a sermon at the church I attend. The deaconess spoke beautifully about the power of forgiveness, and what struck me right in the heart was when she spoke about the power of forgiveness to remove fear and allow us to live a life to our fullest potential.


Indeed, Jesus compels us to forgive for our prayers to be effective.


Eckhart Tolle echoes the words of the Lord. He teaches us to feel the uncomfortable emotions fully with keen attention. It means to hold the emotion in the light of our full presence and attention, to acknowledge the difficult emotion is present, to accept it as it is without judgment or resistance, to observe it, and, what is really difficult for me, to fully feel it. "Attention," Tolle says, is the "key to transformation—and full attention also implies acceptance. Attention is like a beam of light—the focused power of your consciousness that transmutes everything into itself."

Tolle continues teaching us that holding onto any grievance pattern in the mind as a result of the emotion such as blame, self-pity, or resentment, only "feeds" the emotion.




So how do we truly let go according to Tolle, according to Jesus, and other spiritual masters?


 

FORGIVE.


One word. Forgive.


Forgive first and foremost yourself. Forgive the past for its sins, the present, and forgive the future.


The formula is deceptively simple, yet it takes strength, courage, and practice to apply:


  • 1. Bring the undesirable emotion to the light of your full awareness.

  • 2. Forgive.


The good news is that you don't need to use your mind for this process, as the mind is not always cooperative in matters like these. The body is a beautiful tool we can use to flush stuck emotions out of the system and even recycle them into something positive.


It sounds like magic that performing a series of postures in a mindful manner where breath and movement are synchronized triggers profound, long-lasting, and positive changes in the mind, all without thinking about it or without even knowing what it is that we need to transform in our mind. The body has its own wisdom, and this kind of wisdom is not accessible through the mind.


That means that once we accept and acknowledge the difficult emotion is there, once we bring it to the light of our awareness, the body can take care of the rest and start reshaping and remoulding the emotion just like a potter plays with clay.


Sometimes, in my experience, emotions move through your body and are released into the ground without you even being aware they were there in the first place. All you're aware of is the sense of lightness and weightlessness afterward.


The forgiveness step takes time and conscious work. I write as I am struggling with my own need to forgive myself, people around me, and even life's cruel unpredictability and arbitrariness.



In true forgiveness, we are free to move forward with a profound sense of peace and freedom, rising above unhelpful emotions.


Forgiveness is about showing the ultimate strength and ultimate love.


 

Jesus sacrificed himself for us to forgive our sins because of his love for every individual of us and because he ultimately believed in the good in us.


So, my dear friends, Yogis and Yoginis, I want to leave you with what I find a powerful passage from the Second Letter to the Corinthians 4:8-11:


"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies."



 

Resources:


  • Let's Achieve Success. (2022). Brene Brown Leaves the Audience SPEECHLESS | One Of the Best Speech EVER [Online video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tI7dAgNhCZo

  • Tolle, E. (1997). The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. New World Library.

  • The Corinthians, also known as First and Second Corinthians, are two letters written by the Apostle Paul to the Christian community in Corinth, a city in ancient Greece, written approximately 20-25 years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, around AD 54-56.





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