The Art of Letting Go and How to Begin

how do I learn to let goSometimes you have to let go to make space for new experiences, relationships, new life lessons and most importantly – for joy!

Something has to die to make room for something fresh to grow. This is the painful reality of being human.

This process of letting go is SO CHALLENGING.

It hurts.

It stings.

It’s full of knots, tension, fear, sadness and grief

It’s often ugly at first and unimaginably messy.

It’s full of uncertainty.

We humans don’t like uncertainty one bit! We crave control.

The body holds what the heart and mind struggle to release.

As humans, we also often struggle with managing intense feelings (even when they are the “feel-good” kind). We want to control those too, oftentimes by trying to ignore them like a bad song on the radio that’s playing the background. Unfortunately, what you resist persists.

So, what to do about holding onto things and people that no longer serve your heart or your higher good?

Try this Mind-Body Exercise ~

1. Acknowledge it.

Close your eyes and take a few breaths. Then notice what it feels like in your body when you think about this thing or this person that you know you need to release. Notice what shifts or tenses inside you. Check in specifically with your jaw, your tongue, around your eyes, your stomach, your shoulders and your hands.*

*These are often the most common places where we “hold” physically about things that are emotional. However, don’t limit yourself to these. For the last year, I’ve noticed that I “holding on” in my left hip and quad (in addition to some other more common places).

2. Target it.

Instead of trying to immediately release the body tension that you notice, first identify where it’s the most intense. Notice how you know this, what signals your body is giving you to let you know and how your body conveys this to you.

3. Exaggerate it.

Instead of resisting or aiming to release the sensation, find ways to exaggerate the sensation. Amplifying the sensation allows you to explore it more deeply and more readily. Move that body part or intensify the sensation until you get to a sensation that feels like a challenge in your body, but not so challenging that it’s unbearable.

4. Get Curious about it.

While staying with the sensation at this higher vibration, use the creativity and to explore the nuances of the sensation. What’s it like? What’s it like to be with it instead of moving away from it? What are its qualities? If this part of you were to speak, what would it want to say? What other parts of you are tensing or responding?

5. Continue to Explore it.

Take some time to breath, still maintaining a challenging place with the physical sensation. Notice how, if at all, the sensation changes. Is it still as intense as when you first moved into the challenge? Is the sensation escalating or decreasing? Are its qualities changing? What other parts of your body are responding or resisting? What happens to the focal point of where you’re holding on as you shift your awareness to other body parts?

6. Release it.

Now, take 3 conscious deep breaths.  Then release the exaggeration of the body part slowly, with awareness. Once it’s fully released, take 3 more conscious breaths. Be still and quiet, remaining in your curiosity, and notice what arises now. Be receptive to what shows up…What’s it like to release the holding? What thoughts arise? What emotions? What’s happening in your body now?

7. Integrate it.

What’s your main takeaway or awareness from this exercise? How does this takeaway or awareness connect to the thing or person that you are holding onto (from the beginning of the exercise)? Take in your learning.

To close out, take a final breath. Notice where gratitude resides in your body for being dedicated to yourself and your life in a most courageous way.

With each breath and every moment, we have a new opportunity for transformation.

Rachel Shanken mindfulness therapy NYC

P.S. If you haven’t yet, be sure to take the free 10-question MindBody IQ Quiz to get more clarity on your mind-body connection as well as specific next steps to enhance it!

P.P.S. To continue this conversation and others like it, join other like-spirited people just like you in the private, free Facebook group: the MindBodyWise Living Room.