Just the words ‘letting go’ bring a sense of relief and joy, similar to the letting out of a long-held breath. When we free ourselves from the desires and cares and distress about the past and the future, when we stop clinging to situations and people that have served their time, and accept inevitable events beyond our control, we ‘let go and let God!’
In the world of the yogi it is called Vairagya, this beautiful balance between material existence and the spiritual plain of detachment and disentanglement from the negative dialogue that often engages our minds.
Looking at my once-precious limited-edition branded handbags and couture gowns ruefully, I am conscious of how little they matter to me in the present, when our outlook on life has been turned on its head.
Nothing has shown us more starkly than the ongoing pandemic and the changes it has brought in its wake how important it is to let go of attachments to objects like handbags and clothes, as well as to superficial relationships and angst about past wrongs, and to live in the moment sans stress and anguish.
Seeing people in their prime, without any comorbidities, lose their lives to the Novel Coronavirus has been a wake-up call for me, and I presume to many others around the world — it has brought us face to face with our own mortality, and the unpredictability of life.
I was holding onto a past that was not particularly pleasant. But to let go was not easy. Past wrongs I suffered still intrude into my life. But I’m aware that if I don’t make a conscious effort to accept, and consciously forget the hurtful experiences rather than relive them, the past cannot be fixed, and I will be unable to have a life not defined by a distasteful past.
An attitude of gratitude works magic in this process of letting go of the unpleasant past. It allows you to appreciate your present and understand that you have a lot to be joyous about; it allows you to begin to trust in the flow of life and appreciate the fact that each day is a new beginning.
Letting go is also about trusting just a little bit in the larger scheme of things, and not being too attached to future outcomes — revelling in the process and the journey rather than obsessing about the destination.
People seldom measure up to our expectations. If we go into relationships and even work equations hoping for the best, but not planning the lay of the land to suit our expectations, we may not be disappointed. It becomes necessary for us to train ourselves to lower our hopes. We need to be able to enjoy the going while its good, but not cling to people when something is over. People and outcomes cannot change to fit into our belief systems of what should or shouldn’t be.
Hindu philosophy teaches us that even relationships are governed by horoscopes and we must not believe in a ‘forever after’.
A belief in oneself, in one’s own ability to manifest one’s future, the power to accept disappointments and go back to the drawing board with new dreams, and the capacity to believe in miracles — it is these skills that can help one let go and start on the journey toward Vairagya.