Let the Monkey Off the Chain
The final pose of a yoga class is called Savasana or corpse pose. It’s the place where you release everything. You stop controlling your breath and holding your body in poses that may be challenging. You are finally invited to completely let go.
It is there that I learned letting go is the hardest pose of all, and not just on the yoga mat.
We work so hard to:
- make everyone happy
- stay up to date on everything
- be everywhere
- appear like we have it all figured out
- do it all (with a smile)
Even when we are doing things we love, we sometimes push too much or hold too tight. It’s as if we think with sheer will, we can bend the universe and magically design a desirable outcome.
Do a quick check right now. Is your jaw clenched? Are your toes curled? Are you holding your breath? Those are the tiny physical signs of the bigger mental and emotional attempt to control the world, or at least your world.
What if you redirected that world-controlling energy to:
- good work
If you experiment with this, you will notice that the world will keep spinning and things might even improve, especially your attitude and overall health.
Your outward actions are directly connected with your internal reactions.
If you knew that by simply exhaling you could engage in conversation without thinking about what you were going to say next, would you?
If you knew that by unclenching your teeth you could be ok with starting something before you knew how it was going to turn out, would you?
If you knew that by relaxing your shoulders and uncurling your toes you could begin to grow a business the way it’s supposed to grow, would you?
If you knew that by stretching your fingers and letting go of your tight grip, you could say things like, “I’m sorry.” and “I love you.” more easily, would you?
If you knew that by softening your gaze you could release worry and fear and sleep peacefully, would you?
The truth is, over time you can do all of those things. You won’t let go of everything forever or immediately, but just experiencing the feeling for a few minutes will be enough to encourage more surrender. When you realize that things often go better than you expected when you take your thumb off them, you will trust that things will be ok, even without your universe bending attempts.
There will be times when you think that you are there. You’ll think you’ve completely let go, only to discover a tight grip on your grocery cart when you see the price of spinach or long line at the registers. One day, in my final yoga pose of class, seemingly completely relaxed and unattached, my yoga teacher said, “Come on people, let the monkey off the chain.” and I did. I let go of intensity and control and focus. I melted into the mat … and smiled.
When it comes to letting go, there isn’t an elaborate how to list or instruction manual. Just release your jaw, soften your gaze, breathe … and smile. When you are pulling,prodding, forcing, resisting and holding on for dear life, let the monkey off the chain.
Everything will be ok. Better even.
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