Letting Go

When you are at rest do you ever notice how much tension you are holding? I noticed this daily when I worked as a massage therapist. Clients had their eyes closed as they laid on a warm massage table. They looked relaxed. They thought they were relaxed, but they weren’t. It wasn’t until I urged them to relax that they did. 

“Let your head be heavy.” 

In that one small statement I could feel their entire body let go. Yesterday I had that experience on a different level because I finally let go. 

I remember the moment I learned to let go. 

Letting go is a concept I didn’t absorb until I went to a spiritual retreat. I got a note telling me to let go at exactly the right moment. I finally got the message. I cried deeply, mostly out of relief when I let the words sink in. It was as if I was reading them for the first time.

I didn’t know I was holding on so tight. My single-mindedness about responsibilities kept the rope tight. I was exhausted and I didn’t know it. 

How is that possible?

How come I didn’t know I was exhausted? Lacking awareness can happen for many reasons, but can be simplified by one statement: The squeaky wheel gets the oil.

The squeaky wheel gets the oil.

The thing that is most bothersome gets attention. Going back to the massage table this concept also played out regularly. Clients said things like, I didn’t know my back hurt until my neck relaxed. One problem was bigger than the other. It’s what got noticed. 

The rope I’ve been holding tight for nearly thirty years got some slack yesterday. It centers around my stubbornness to accept help. I let that go, not all the way. That would be crazy. An iceberg doesn’t melt in one day, but I let go enough to notice a physical shift. My body softened, and I relaxed because in essence I allowed someone to look after me. I stepped back from being in charge. I let go of being the helper.

The situation keeps repeating itself until the lesson is learned.

I’m really not a fan of that, but it’s true. Passing tests is required to graduate, and I had a small graduation yesterday. It was an ordinary day with ordinary circumstances. I was simply pushing a shopping cart. I wasn’t consciously thinking about letting go, but it happened. It happened because I finally allowed myself to trust, to lean on someone else. That was my test. The physical finally caught up with the thought process behind it, and my entire being relaxed. 

Trusting was my test. It may not be yours. The thing that holds true regardless of the lesson is what we are willing to let go of. That can get deep. Maybe you are holding onto anger. Maybe it taught a lesson. Perhaps it was justified. It acted as protection. It motivated positive change, but weeks, months or years later it has become an anchor. It is depleting and exhausting. It no longer serves a purpose. Luckily life has a way of presenting options. Sometimes we don’t notice the opportunity to change, but sometimes we do. A door opens and we can choose to let go and move on. Thankfully letting go is within our control and one of the most valuable gifts we can give ourselves.