Let Go of the Rope!
“Let go or be dragged,” Kristin Tone sweetly said to the room full of yoga students lying on their mats.
As I inhaled deeply, hoping my breath would help my tight muscles release, my mind momentarily left the studio and traveled back to my childhood, more specifically summer days spent water skiing at Porters Lake. While I’m unsure of the exact year, I’m confident it was an August afternoon in the mid or early seventies.
Each summer, my mom and I would spend the entire month of August at our family’s home in the Poconos. My dad and grandparents would come for the weekends, but from Monday through Thursday, it was just my mom and me. Sometimes we were the only people at Porters Lake, except for the family that cooked the meals and took care of the property.
Life in the Poconos was quiet, relaxing, and stress free. Of course, this was before we had a phone in our boathouse. There was an old TV, but it only worked when the rabbit ears were perfectly positioned. We spent our days outdoors and our evening playing games or reading. Time at Porters Lake was pretty simple, yet it was kinda perfect too.
Being that I have no siblings, I’d often invite friends to visit. My girlfriends and I would build forts in the woods, fish off the dock, and swim in the lake. At night, we were even allowed to skinny dip … but with life vests and a spotlight on … just in case. However, most afternoons were spent waterskiing. My mom would teach my friends how to get up on these small yellow Cypress Garden skies that had ties on the top and bottom to help prevent your legs from splaying open when our speedboat attempted to pull you out of the water.
Of course, this was no easy feat for my friends, who at the time were only around ten years old. It usually took multiple attempts until they were able to finally get up on skis. And in the process, they usually drank a lot of lake water while clinging to the rope’s handle as the boat pulled them belly down. That’s when we’d yell, “LET GO OF THE ROPE!!!”
Now, I must admit that while instructing them on how to get up on water skis, we would say, “Hang on a bit longer than you think you can, because that is usually when you’re able to stand up on the skis.” Still, most of my friends clung onto the handlebar way too long while attempting to stand up on skis. Instead of pushing their heels against the force of the water, they’d use their arms to pull themselves up, only to fall face down—still holding onto the rope. In no time, they’d transform into human submarines. And if I remember correctly, not only did this happen to my friends, but it occurred when many adults tried to water ski for the first time. I guess it’s human nature to not want to let go.
Only now, as I lie on my yoga mat almost fifty years later, am I able to connect the dots between these memories and the wise words my yoga teacher shared.
So often in life when faced with difficult situations, we find ourselves dragged because we just won’t let go. Instead of surrendering to what is, we cling, perhaps hoping that by holding on a bit longer we will rise and achieve what we seek.
Yet, gripping tightly is never the answer. While we innately know this, we just can’t help ourselves.
But what if we were to loosen our grip, allowing ourselves to rise to the surface and regroup before attempting our next move? Maybe we were bending our knees too much—or too little; perhaps are arms were too straight—or not straight enough; and there is the possibility that we were resisting the boat by leaning back—or were a bit too anxious as we pushed our body forward. The reasons for needing to let go can be numerous and will vary depending on the individual. However, the message is the same … if we choose not to let go of the rope, we will be dragged under the water. And we all know refusing to release our grip never ends well.
So how do we convince our minds—or perhaps our egos—to surrender our tight grasp? Where do we begin?
Most likely, the answer is different for each person. But here are some tools that seem to help whenever I’m afraid to let go:
1. Breathe —Let your breath calm your mind.
2. Pause —Allow ample time to respond instead of immediately reacting. If you permit yourself to take a moment to pause, it’s amazing the insight you might gain.
3. Trust — Believe all will be well if you let go. If you possess the faith that something bigger than you has your back (God/the Universe), it’s easier to release our need to control ourselves and everything around us.
4. Allow — Stop fighting what is. Recognize how little we can control situations or others. In fact, the only thing we have power over is how we respond to a situation.
5. Be Grateful — Realize there is a lesson to be learned and thank God/the Universe for showing you an area that needs your attention. If we can look at every challenge as an opportunity, suddenly things shift, and we are able to see promise, potential, and hope.
6. Believe — Understanding a higher purpose exists and we all play a piece in this Divine plan helps us to release our need to cling.
When I take a moment to reflect upon areas of my life, it’s crystal clear I’ve been dragged way too many times because I refused to let go of an idea, belief, or desire. It makes me wonder, how would things have turned out if I had surrendered my tight grip? Might things have transpired differently? And if so, how would those outcomes have affected me, my thoughts, and my attitude?
There are two choices … let go or be dragged. Although it often requires a great deal of courage and faith, when we release that which we hold so tightly, a freedom emerges, often in ways and areas we never imagined. Softening into the moment allows what is to flow through us without resistance, opening beautiful surprises which beckon our higher selves to enjoy fabulous unexpected moments.
Trust, let go, believe … the best is yet to come. And let go of that damn rope!