Sometimes it’s hard to know how to connect without grasping. There’s no formula to follow, and no easy way to support and let go, to create a life that balances stability and freedom.
The tall Cypress tree outside my parents’ living room window in Tel Aviv is moving in the gentle breeze. It’s August, and the breeze is welcomed pleasantly in this hot, humid weather. The tree is full of life. Branches moving like limbs, trunk swinging side to side, strong green needle like foliage dancing in many directions at once.
I’ve seen this tree through big storms of heavy rain and intense winds. How powerful the movement makes it. The roots have anchored it into relationships beneath the ground; deep, wide, and supported. And its mobility above the earth has made it more stable.
Being around my parents reminds me of how supported I was in my childhood, and how free I was too, how held and loved, and how much space to be wild I had as well. As a mama, I can really appreciate it now.
From The Yoga Sutras to Anna & Elsa, we get the message to “Let it go!” There’s emphasis on letting go in spiritual teachings and pop culture alike. It is definitely necessary for our health to know how to release things that are holding us back, how to trim that which weighs us down, and how to surrender to the flow of life.
And yet there’s value to holding on too. Being supported is crucial, being held is necessary for our health, being there for others is not less important, and let’s face it, without commitment it is hard (possibly impossible) to create meaning.
Aparigraha in Sanskrit means; Non-Grasping. The prefix A is most commonly read as Non or No, But as I learned from professor Douglas Brooks, it can also be read as Never Without. We are never without grasping, because if we are to survive, there is going to be a good amount of trying to hold on to life. We don’t want to cling, but love requires not only the generosity of release, it needs a tight embrace too.
Relationship requires spaciousness and anchor, flexibility and security, an element of fixity woven into a tapestry of change.
Motherhood is constantly asking me to integrate the needed dichotomy of holding on and letting go. I need to make sure the kids are safe. And I must not be a helicopter mom. I want them to trust themselves, to know that they are capable, and so I must keep my distance, let them fall, let them make mistakes, let them learn on their own. And I want them to know that I’ve got them, that the earth is here beneath their feet, that when they hurt they don’t need to hurt alone, that they are a part of a family and a community. The line between suffocation and neglect feels thin sometimes.
How much should we focus on stability and security in this world that is more dangerous than safe? And how much should we let go of our attempt to secure ourselves, our futures, our relationships, our children?
When you let go of something, where does it go?
Over the years I’ve listened to many spiritual teachers, and heard many friends on the spiritual path, talk about letting go of our limitations and arriving at a state of freedom, or bliss, or oneness, or peace, or whatever other state of spiritual attainment you can think of. And while I think those states are beautiful and important, I don’t know if anchoring ourselves in one state is necessary, or even healthy.
How inspiring it is to remember that trees need the wind to move them in order to get stronger.
Our muscles strengthen from movement too. Staying in one place for too long generates atrophy. Fascia is most healthy when it moves in many different ways. Rigid fascia becomes fascism.
Our mind becomes more powerful not by locking ourselves in one state, or in one perspective, but by being able to let it move through different paths, twist with winding stories, cross many rivers of information and thought, traverse countries of experience, and weave diversity into wholeness, while breaking open.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t form opinions and firm a vision, focus on what matters, solidify connections, and know how to center ourselves.
But there’s a cyclical nature to life. Who could we become if we turn to the moving parts constantly and continuously reconfiguring the shape of who we are, and the formulation of the greater whole of which we are a part.
I feel that our freedom is not found in a state that we arrive at and preserve, but rather in the ways that we find ourselves moving with the waves. There is wisdom to receive through underworld journeys that shake us to the bone, only so that we can re-emerge to grow new connective tissue that restructures our beingness, our relationships, our environment.
Even the pressure that we feel to be present all the time can become oppressive. Does that mean that being present isn’t important? Oh hell no! Being present is a most meaningful way to offer ourselves, to show up in the world, and to create a grounded and fluid reality. But expecting ourselves or someone else to be present all the time can be just as unhealthy as expecting anything to be something all the time. We need to space out. We need to lose touch. We need to disconnect. Contrast is how we learn, how we grow roots in confidence, how we get shaken by humility, and through it we grow.
And you know what, we might also need to loosen up the grip around growth sometimes too. As a capitalistic society we have learned that growth is the only direction. But we forget that we need periods of stagnation, of loss, of decay. No matter how “far along” we think we are in a process of “spiritual evolution,” if we don’t let ourselves die every now and then, we become rigid. If we’re too focused on the light we cannot see our shadow. If we don’t make room for our shadow, how much are we growing, really?
We don’t always know exactly how to support and let go, how to ground and be free, how stabilize our roots and dance with the wind. We get to lean into one and waver with the other. We get to be a living, breathing paradox.
Integrating – that which we are letting go of, and that which we want to turn away from, that which we’ve told ourselves and others we no longer are, that which we have released – integrating allows us to stabilize and liberate, to weave a wholeness that keeps on breaking. We won’t avoid rigidity this way, because rigidity too, is a part of the wholeness that we must make room for and integrate. But the tyranny that comes with certainty can be kept in check within this cyclical journey through our own entirety, and in relationship to something more than ourselves – to family, to community, to society, to other creatures, to the plant world, to the environment, to the solar system, the galaxy, the cosmos…
We’re dancing our way from Summer’s peak toward Fall, and this might initiate a process of shedding.
Let yourself breathe, my friend. Let yourself be human, animal, creature. Let yourself change, transmute, burn, shine, and darken. Let yourself live a little. Let yourself die. Let yourself be reborn, to relearn, to redirect your attention and intention, to become who you are meant to be. And then let yourself mess up, be broken down again, find treasures in the humility of decay. Change who you told yourself you are meant to be if needed. Let go. And find out where those pieces that you’re letting go of are going. How can they nourish your soul? How can they help to make healthy soil?
If you want to play with the sacredness of the last few weeks of Summer, register for the Lughnasadh Somatic Ceremony, and weave together ritual, practice, and a mythopoetic exploration of this phase in the season.
Where do you need more grounding in your life, and where do you feel the urge to be more wild? How are you creating a healthy process of support and letting go? Comment below and let us know so that we can hold space for each other.