I had a discovery today.
It came while reading an excerpt by Thich Nhat Hanh in the most recent “Shambhala Sun” magazine.
“One day a friend coaxes you into getting away for a couple days. At first you may say, “I can’t. I have too much work. I might miss an important call.” But finally he convinces you to leave, and an hour or two later, you find yourself in the countryside. You see open space. You see the sky, and you feel the breeze on your cheeks. Happiness is born from the fact that you could experience that kind of joy? You needed to let go.”
Letting go. I have been thinking of letting go as an act that you do and the next moment you feel lighter, relief, happy...and it lasts forever. My discovery was it’s actually a process, not a onetime act of “if you do A, then B will occur.” In fact, if you do A, it opens up all the emotions and thoughts underneath the surface. It’s facing those and going through those that then (I think) will lead to another opportunity to let go and open up more of what needs to be faced.
I’ve been going through this process since I let go of this assumption: I could not make room to take five weeks and go to India to be with my teacher in order to have more training in yoga and self-development because I would be told, "no." The thing is I really wanted to go and felt in my heart it was what I needed to do. The letting go began when I asked myself, “who said I can’t go?” Of course the answer was, “Myself.” So, I began asking the people I thought would say, "no," and lo and behold my assumption was false. I've had so much support from my co-workers, family, friends and even my clients. When I decided I was going, I felt immense joy and then guilt began to creep in. Yep, there it is, the real reason behind my assumption. Guilt.
Guilt for not being responsible. Guilt for leaving people hanging and having to cover for me. Guilt that I don’t deserve this. Guilt for my partner to go through his own suffering. Guilt upon guilt. At first my thought was, “Hey, I let go and you don’t belong here guilt! I’m supposed to feel awesome!”
In the past, I would let this guilt consume me as I would stop doing things for self-care and self-nurturing, eventually ending up inviting depression to join the party. But I’ve been doing it differently this time. I’ve noticed guilt, tried to take time to listen and sort out a little more why guilt came up. I’ve talked to people about it and gotten support. I’ve told guilt, “I hear you and I know you are here for a reason, but I’ve still got things to do so you’ll just have to come along.” It comes in little waves, wanting attention, so I give it some and it fades again, though still present.
When I read this passage, it hit me…I expected letting go would make the guilt disappear. I had to laugh because this step in letting go is just that, a step. It allowed the possibility for me to face what was (and is) really limiting me and be with it, acknowledge and accept it so that I could respond differently. It’s like each action of letting go is a new beginning. I’m very grateful for this new beginning because despite the guilt and it’s messages, I am going to India because I do deserve to take the time to develop myself and continue to grow. My hope is guilt will eventually open an opportunity to let go of it when I’m ready. Until then I will work on embracing it, going through the PROCESS of letting go, and enjoying those moments when I do let go…knowing the more I allow myself to do that, the more of those joyous moments will happen.