Thursday, January 31, 2013

Let Go and Feel It #365yoga

Scenes from Albany (New York) International Ai...
Scenes from Albany (New York) International Airport (Photo credit: cseeman)
It's 5:00 a.m. and I'm sitting on an uncomfortable bench in Albany International Airport. My teenage daughter is on the other side of the security checkpoint, waiting at a gate to board a plane headed to Costa Rica. Her trip started with a somewhat hairy 3:00 a.m. ride to the airport on ice-covered roads, but we made it. Now she's leaving for a week of surf camp, traveling by herself to a foreign country.

Five months ago, after another early morning departure, we moved her into her college dorm room. If things had gone according to plan, she would be back there now instead of boarding a plane. But life rarely goes according to plan, no matter how carefully I work out the details. I've found that the unexpected happens more often then not.

Maybe that's why my to-do list never gets finished.

My life coach, Annie Gregson, keeps asking me how I want to feel. Whenever I tell her I want to do something, she gets me to pick at it until I uncover the feeling that I'm seeking. Then we look for ways to have those feelings every day, or I realize that my latest goal is more about what I want other people to think than about how I want to feel, and it gets taken off the list.

Yoga teaches us that attachment leads to suffering. The great gurus of old must have been standing next to a mother watching the most beautiful thing she ever created pass through airline security when they came up with that piece of wisdom. Letting go is hard. When I stop clinging desperately to the plan and let things go, what am I left with?


I agree with Annie that uncovering the feelings is important. That is, after all, what we do on our yoga mats when we stop trying and let go into an asana. With the physical letting go there is an emotional letting go that brings us deeper into ourselves. When the emotions are freed, we have no choice but to feel them.

It is nice to choose a feeling to seek, but to open up to how I want to feel means opening up to all the other feelings along the way. Unlike goals, plans and to-do lists, feelings are raw and tend to do their own thing, despite what the to-do list says. When fear, sadness and anger come knocking, I have to let them in to stand alongside joy, pride and awe. Willingness to feel everything that comes up is part of having the courage to live the life I chose.

Honestly, I have to dig deep for that courage.

And in order to live according to how I want to feel, I also have to be willing to let go and allow others to live according to how they want to feel. Maybe that means I'll be sitting on an uncomfortable bench in Albany International Airport at 5:00 a.m. with tears streaming down my cheeks while I watch the departure board bump my daughter's flight closer to the top.
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