Learning to Let Go

Yoga Philosophy teaches that suffering stems from five root causes or Kleshas: Avidya (ignorance), Asmita (sense of ego), Raga (aversion), Dvesha (attachment), and Abhinivesha (clinging to life). But the most visibly dominant of these Kleshas are Raga (aversion) and Dvesha (attachment). We go through our everyday life constantly being pushed and pulled by them both, being drawn off of the middle path that yoga teaches you to walk.

Working to let go of one’s attachments and aversions is vital to finding peace and equanimity in this world. Depending on the strength of our attachments or aversions, letting go can be simple and easy, or require conscious work over a long period of time. At times, you are convinced by the mind that you have let go, only to find yourself deeply mired in the same attachment or aversion mere moments later.

Raga and Dvesha can work their way deeply into our psyche and may be planted very much like a fibrous root within — with tendrils reaching out in varying directions, all feeding back into the attachment and/or aversion. When this is the case, letting go must be done in layers. Each of the tendrils must been released, or like an invasive weed, any root left within, can eventually spring the entire plant back into full life again.

Do not be disheartened by this however. The process of letting go need not be an overly arduous journey. There are simple, very Yogic ways of approaching the process of letting go that will allow the experience to nurture rather than undermine your sense of well-being.

Firstly, know that you, with all of your attachments and aversions, are exactly as you need to be in this moment. Accept yourself as you currently are. Secondly, give yourself permission to feel the push and pull of your attachments and aversions. They are not things to be dreaded and despised, they are simply things to be understood and worked with. Thirdly, understand that letting go is a process and usually works in stages. There is no standard ‘marking system’ by which one need judge one’s progress. It will take as long as it needs to. And sometimes, it takes almost no time at all. Lastly, remember that guilt is actually attachment to aversion and is therefore the ultimate form of holding on. An unproductive emotion, guilt is a sign of the mind’s desire to maintain a vice-grip on feelings of aversion. Letting go of guilt is essential to moving forward from both your attachments and aversions.


Kavita Maharaj is the owner of Red Door Yoga® and the director of The Red Door Yoga School® in Lantzville. She can be reached at 250-390-9367 or through www.reddooryoga.ca for questions.

Posted in February 2015, The Yogic Way®

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