It’s the end of May and the topic of conversation here in Switzerland reminds me of every day conversation back home in Ireland. Everyone is complaining about the weather! It’s not what we expected and hoped for in Spring but its what we are being given. So how about taking the weather as an opportunity to practice letting go?
I like to compare it to any situation or circumstance in life that is uncomfortable, not what you expected and hoped for, or downright annoying. How do you react to such circumstances in life? Perhaps observing how you are experiencing this ‘extended winter’ can give you some clues.
Attachment to expectations
Our attachment to expectations of what Spring should be like are a big contributing factor to how we cope with this unexpected weather. In the same way, our attachment to expectations of the way other people should act, how we ourselves should be or how our experience of life should be, are key reasons for suffering.
Yoga teaches us that we cannot control the changing circumstances in life nor the actions of other people. We do, however, have a choice in every moment about how we act and react to these circumstances and other people.
I know that in situations in which I am not comfortable I have a tendency to tense up my muscles in resistance. I close in on myself, closing the front of my body in a form of protection and taking more ‘weight’ on my back and shoulders. No wonder then that my body starts to feel tired, tight and achy. As I physically close, I start to see the impact on my mood. Life seems more difficult. I feel more reclusive, less trusting and less open to others. I get more negative, anxious and depressed thoughts, and I might start to blame someone else for all of this. How unfair? Why me? Or more likely, I might blame myself. What’s wrong with me?
Any of that sound familiar to you? Any of this creeping in to your body and mind these days with the rainy, cold weather?
Letting go of control
Underneath the surface is a strong desire to control the circumstances unfolding rather than focus on your experience of them. The great thing is that when we choose to become conscious we have an opportunity to step out of the drama for a moment and observe the story we are creating. At this point then, with a higher view point and greater awareness, we can choose the way in which the rest of the script might evolve! Do I choose to close up, to fight or flea the situation and to adhere to fear-based thinking? Or do I choose to let-go of my fear and my desire to control the situation, to surrender to a universal force that is greater than me and open up to what I might learn from the experience? When we are fully present we will also know what to do or say in order to be true to ourselves.
4 steps toward your Joy
- Be willing to witness and acknowledge what is going on for you.
- Be willing to let go of what doesn’t feel good, to surrender (even into the unknown). The surrender may not come instantly, but be willing, have the intention to let go.
- Consider what you want to feel instead and create a clear vision of this. Close your eyes and feel it.
- Consider what you can do in this moment to embody this desired feeling further and take one (maybe tiny) step toward what you want to feel….toward your heart’s joy.
When in challenging circumstances the most important principle I believe is self-love. So that step toward your joy might be simply taking a few deep breaths to centre yourself, or lying down and doing nothing for 10 minutes. It might be going for a walk in nature. It might be turning off all computers and phones and spending quality time with a loved one, or taking a candle lit bath in silence. It might be gathering up all your courage and speaking out your truth or expressing it through art or movement. It might be going out dancing with your friends. You will know when you pause to check-in on what you need.
Lie back and relax
Here is a restorative yoga pose that I find really helpful at the moment, allowing me to practice letting go and opening up as I let my body relax. It feels great! If you don’t have bolsters and blocks, just use firm cushions or stacked blankets. You need to make sure that every part of your body feels supported, especially all the joints like the knees and ankles, lower back, elbows, wrists and neck. Get comfortable, make sure you are warm so cover yourself with a blanket, take a few deep breaths and then just let go and enjoy the journey. I like to practice this pose for at least 15 minutes.