“It’s good to leave each day behind,
like flowing water, free of sadness.
Yesterday is gone and its tale told.
Today, new seeds are growing.”
This month’s “work” has been releasing and letting go, illustrated so beautifully by the above quatrain from Rumi, our favorite genius. Well, my favorite anyway.
As mentioned before, I’m currently undergoing a yoga teacher training program. Those of you who are familiar with yoga know that it is a lot more than just stretching and being all bendy-bendy.
We’ve been working on “non-hoarding” or aparigraha. No, it’s not about how not to become an unintended reality TV star. Yes, literal hoarding would certainly apply but there are many ways to interpret aparigraha: letting go, non-greed, non-grasping, non-attachment, simplicity, taking only what you need, and so on. For our purposes here today, we’ll start simple with your basic not-quite-diagnosable hoarding. This is an important distinction. For my ego. 🙂
I noticed all the ridiculous things that I keep around “just in case.” I have a large box devoted to Halloween costumes. My friends know to come to me if they need a costume. (crap. I have a reputation!) Feather boa? I got you covered. Cowgirl hat? Yup. Fairy wings, platform heels, black capes, crushed velvet dresses in case Stevie Nicks drops by for a spell. (get it…? if you’re not from the South, you actually might not get it.)
Too. Much. Stuff. What on earth for?! Worst case scenario, I have to buy these things again if I really need them. (not terribly likely)
That part of letting go was not so hard. The next phase cut a little deeper.
I’ve lost a lot of loved ones, some too soon. Most of the adults from my childhood are gone, including my mother. In the absence of these people I assigned deeper and deeper importance to their belongings or things they had given to me. All normal, but where the loss of my mother was concerned I took it too far. I built an unintentional shrine to the past. I developed an emotional attachment to everything that was hers or that she had given me or that she looked at once on a Tuesday in 1989. Out of control.
Furthermore, it was a deep dishonoring of this woman. She could not stand to keep things around that were no longer of any use. She got rid of things. Doesn’t fit? Get rid of it. Doesn’t work? Get rid of it. Doesn’t speak to your soul? Get rid of it! I have mostly been the opposite. I remember being 5 years old when my mother disposed of a worn out pair of my socks. I was despondent. Tears, pulling of hair, wringing of clothes, wailing. There was a look of utter confusion (or was it disgust?) on her face as though she was beholding me for the first time. “Whose child is this and what is this all about?”
Clearly, our souls were well matched. Retain and release.
I have long retained. But I never saw myself as a hoarder. Until now. So many ways to hoard…so little space…
These people I love are not in belongings. They’re not in things at all or even places. They exist where they can never be taken from me: my heart, my soul. I hear them when I speak, when I laugh, when I pray, when I meditate, when I dream.
I can now honor my mother in a way that she could get behind. Each time I throw something away or put it in the donate pile I can almost feel her glee. It even becomes my glee. I delight in finding something else to banish from my kingdom!
It also enabled me to appreciate more the items that really do have meaning. Every day I wear the simple, elegant necklace that my mom often wore. I remember playing with it as a child while she held me in her arms. I was wearing it as I held her in mine the moment she left this world. Her spirit is in this item. But so is mine. I will never willingly part with this.
Then came the third (final?…?) phase: relinquishing something I still love but it no longer fits my life. The last cut is the deepest. Apologies to Rod Stewart, but you were wrong. I am really dating myself with these 70s rockstar references.
I love my dog, Romeo. I’ve had him for six years. He’s a very sweet dog. He needs a lot more from life than I can give him at this time.
It is not a lack of love. We are just not a good or natural fit. We really never were. It is completely my fault for not having admitted it sooner. So…I finally sent it out into the cosmos (and onto Facebook) that I was ready to give him a better life, with someone else. There were many tears and much guilt and lots of doubt. All me. Romeo remained his usual aloof self.
The Universe responded quickly with a resounding “Yes! We’ve been waiting for this!” Shortly thereafter I had two great options for him. The family I went with are good friends who frequently go hiking, camping, snowshoeing, you name it. Romeo loves snow! They already love my dog and he loves them, especially their son. He will be so much happier and I’ll still get to see him. Proof that when we’re real, things have a way of working out for the best. The Universe supports our authentic choices.
Not the least of all, I can now be free of the guilt for not being who he needs me to be, who he deserves.
Letting go is not for the faint of heart. It hurts. However, once you get through the tough part, the breath comes easier. I’m certainly not “cured” but I can already feel new energy surging into my life. Every day my home feels less like a museum. I am more free, physically and spiritually.
Through release we can expand in all the right ways. Expand our breath. Expand our love. Expand our freedom. Expand our soul.
Yesterday is gone. Its tale has been told. I have created the space for new seeds to grow.
Love and light,
Three Trees Yoga Teacher Training Program
Further reading on Aparigraha from Centered Yoga
Hi sweet Southern Girl! So happy I saw your post to that led me to your blog? Yours is the third blog I subscribe to, The Coal Miners Bride, The Minimalist and now you! You write so well, I’m so proud of you. You know the rainbow is now know as the Janebow. She would be so proud of you! Love you bunches
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Ah, sweet Vicki, thank you so much! That brings a tear to my eye. I often wonder what she would think but you’re right. There is no question. I wish she could see me now. Who knows? Maybe she can. 🙂 I love that bit about the Janebow. And she would love it too. Thank you. I feel your love all the way over here! Love you too!
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