Whether it is my relationship with my family, my friends, my job or my future; letting go is hard. Letting go is a major tenet in my program of recovery and I think I know why. Holding on is as painful as it is useless. The idea that I can control others and outcomes, like the idea I can control my substance use, “must be smashed”. Somehow, I find myself time and again investing myself in the idea that “it I did [this], then [that] would happen”. I can do my part but I need to let go of the rest; of the outcome, of others.
In Yoga we have a similar tenet. It is one of the yamas, or restraints. The Sanskrit term is aparigraha. It is often translated as non-possessiveness or non attachment. In traditional discussion this is applied to material “things” but it can also be applied to “people and places” . When we become less attached to “people, places and things”, even a static sense of self, our awareness expands and the pain of grasping decreases. We can view the world with a more generous perspective. This yama suggests that we start from an attitude of non-attachment, of being free. Aparigraha approaches the issue from a different perspective, with a similar outcome. Rather than letting go once I have become stuck, I approach life with an open hand – not grasping or holding to begin with.
Between my practice of yoga and my practice of the principles I have two ways of approaching the problem of grasping. I can avoid the attachment, and, if I have not been able to do this: I can let go.