Teacher Training Student Diary
Week 3 : Letting Go
This week’s theme is a tough one for many of us. For much of our lives we’re fed the narrative that there are “good emotions” and “bad emotions”. At a very young age we’re taught that feeling the “bad emotions” is something to be afraid of, something that’s shameful and must be kept secret from others. Rather than being taught the art of processing and letting go we are taught to push “bad emotions” away, to ignore them, to hide from them and to avoid them at all costs.
How would we handle our traumas if we were taught to process the emotions that come with them as they arose and then let them go? This process was always something I struggled with and often still do. I spent most of my life believing that people would only love me if I always appeared happy and carefree. Feeling anything else was a sentence of being shunned by the rest of the population. In the last few years I’ve been working on breaking this belief. And in the past three weeks’ MAJOR breakthroughs have occurred in this realm, particularly in the past seven days during group dynamics class.
Monday’s group dynamics ignited the spark that was to become this weeks healing fire. We were working with our mind body. This is where our self esteem, values, belief’s and sense of purpose (among other things) comes from. Our exercise for the day was to list three beliefs we have about several different topics such as intimate relationships and ourselves. Then we went through each belief and decided if it was empowering or disempowering. I was pleased to find that when I had finished my list 99% of it was empowering beliefs. This is a huge shift in mindset for me. I’m usually a worrier, someone who constantly frets about the past and the future. But there I was, being in the present. It was such a freeing feeling!
The next part of the exercise was to pick three disempowering beliefs we had written then narrow those three down to the one that we felt was the most detrimental to us. It took me a few minutes to think of my three disempowering beliefs but the ones that came up were particularly strong. The belief that I picked to focus on has been a work in progress for years.
“My feelings / happiness isn’t as important as others.”
We already did a lot of work in this particular area last week through practicing respecting our boundaries. And while my attachment to this belief has become significantly weaker during my time here at Vikasa parts of it were still lingering within me. It had been a struggle to get to the point I was at in letting go of this belief. The third part of our exercise helped to make the struggle much less intense. We each replaced the wording of the disempowering belief with words that make it an empowering belief. I was surprised by how easily I was able to do this. I crossed out the previous sentence and rewrote it.
“My feelings / happiness isn’t as important as others.”
“My feelings are valid and worthy of honoring”
In just a few seconds my disempowering belief became empowering. And the best part was that it wasn’t just me going through the motions of participating in the exercise. I actually BELIEVED the new, empowering words. I felt that it was true and that I deserved to have this belief. I felt like it was not only ok to let go of the disempowering version but that it was stepping into my power of self love to do so.
The next day’s exercise was working with the heart chakra. We participated in a meditation practice known as ‘Metta’ or loving-kindness meditation. During the meditation you visualize yourself, someone you love, each one of your parents and someone you have a difficult relationship with, one at a time, and say the following to each:
“May I / You be happy
May I / You be healthy
May I / You be loved
May I / You be free”
This mediation proved to be incredibly powerful. The amount of love I felt pouring out of me for myself and for each person I visualized was so intense and so great that I was sobbing by the end of the practice. The last person I visualized was incredibly hard to send love to but once I let go and allowed myself to do so I felt a large chunk of the sadness and anger surrounding this person fall away. Even though I was crying I felt an immense amount of love and gratitude for the healing that had taken place.
Wednesday was a practice in letting go in terms of not hiding ourselves from others. We each chose a partner and participated in a couple different exercises. The first was to sit back to back and see if you could feel the other person through breath and connecting the heart. My partner and I ended up synchronizing our breathing and it was such a connecting way to be present with someone. The next part of the exercise was to do ten minutes of ‘eye gazing’. This practice works just how it sounds, you sit silently and make direct eye contact the entire time. The idea is to let your defenses go and allow yourself to be vulnerable with the person you’re eye gazing with. This practice is INCREDIBLY difficult. The eyes are the window to the soul and in this particular form of connecting you can’t hide the parts you don’t want seen. It’s a very deep practice in letting your guard down and just being you. And even though my partner is someone I consider a close friend, I still struggled to keep direct eye contact for the first few minutes. It felt awkward and uncomfortable staring at someone without speaking. But once those initial feelings wore off I started to notice other things. Like the actual color of my partner’s eyes or how nicely they sparkle when the light hits them or how happy her eyes looked that day. It created a very deep connection and I honestly think this is quite a beautiful practice.
The last practice that we did for the week was to participate in a fire ceremony. The fire ceremony consisted of writing two letters. One of all the things we wanted and needed to let go of and the other to our future self of all the things we want to be and do in our lives. Then we would burn the letter of things we wanted to let go and send the letter to our future self to our home addresses. We gathered at the beach and all found quiet spots to write. I was already feeling very down that day and had been struggling to ‘keep it together’ as we often say. As I wrote the letters all the feelings that were left over from the traumas and experiences I had been working with during my time here came to the surface. As soon as I lit the letter of letting go on fire, these feelings flooded out of my system. It was the hardest I had cried in a long time. A few of my fellow students and my teacher all offered amazing support as I totally let go and just released everything. After a few minutes, the tears stopped. I was exhausted but felt incredibly light. The best way I can describe it is it felt like a huge black cloud had finally moved out of the way of the sun and I could now bask in its warm glow. It was the final release that I needed and I am incredibly happy to have finally let it go.
I’ve also come to notice that the more I let go of expectations surrounding my practice and the way I conduct it the more in touch with myself and the benefits of practice I become. The less time I spend thinking “I should be better at this pose” or “I should be stronger than this”, the more time I spend focusing on the breath and doing the inner work that helps me learn and grow. And with this focus on the breath comes the strength within my practice. The more I let go the deeper my friendships here become. The deeper I fall into love with myself and everyone else. And the happier my life becomes. Choosing to let go and be here in the present during this YTT has been one of the most beautiful gifts I could have given myself and I’m looking forward to being fully in the now for my last week here and well after I head home.
About the Author:
Brooke Kathleen - Also known as the Unicorn Yogi, Brooke began practicing yoga in 2009. She moved to New York City for work in 2013 and her practice faded out due to the inconsistent hours. In 2017 she re-discovered her practice during a very intense and difficult series of events. After devoting herself to practice for another year she realized that she wanted to learn how to share the tools that yoga had given her to heal and grow with others. She found Vikasa online while researching and fell in love with the curriculum and location. The rest is history!
New York, USA