This afternoon, I've been reading Jon Kabat-Zinn's Wherever You Go, There You Are, and there was a great paragraph on letting go which reminded me of a letting go progressive muscle relaxation exercise I like to do at the end of yoga classes right before savasana. So, for those of you who teach yoga, I've written out an example of the wording I use. Feel free to borrow! :) For those of you who aren't teachers, try it on your own. It feels SO YUMMY! Enjoy!
Here's the quote from the book:
"Letting go means just what it says. It's an invitation to cease clinging to anything--whether it be an idea, a thing, an event, a particular time, or view, or desire. It is a conscious decision to release with full acceptance into the stream of present moments as they are unfolding. To let go means to give up coercing, resisting, or struggling, in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome which comes out of allowing things to be as they are without getting caught up in your attraction to or rejection of them, in the intrinsic stickiness of wanting, of liking and disliking. It's akin to letting your palm open to unhand something you have been holding on to." --Jon Kabat-Zinn
Here's the exercise in letting go (imagine calm, relaxing music, and my soothing voice):
"Now lying on our backs with our arms straight out to the sides and our legs a little wider than mat distance apart, just allow yourself to settle into this star position. Close your eyes, and let me lead you through this progressive muscle relaxation exercise. For some people relaxing can be incredibly difficult, so this can help. We will actually be contracting muscles in order to more fully relax them. I will cue you, connecting the breath to the movements, and we will hold our breaths just a moment before relaxing fully.
Let's get started with our right leg. Let all your awareness move down to your right leg. Actually begin to contract and tighten all the muscles in the right leg. Squeeze your muscles, pointing your toes on the right foot. Squeeze tightly up into your glutes and maybe even lift your right leg a few inches off the floor. Now let's take a big, deep, full breath in through the nose. Hold the breath a moment, and then completely and totally relax and release the leg heavy toward the floor as your exhale fully.
(Repeat this on the left leg).
Notice how your lower body feels compared to your upper body....Now let's bring your awareness up into your right arm. And, just as sometimes we need to work to consciously relax the body, the same is true for the mind. So, if you'd like, imagine placing anything your need to let go of mentally-anger, fear, anxiety, negativity, anything-into your right hand. Now close your right fist and squeeze tightly. Begin squeezing all the way up the right arm into the shoulder. Take a deep, full breath in. Hold the breath a moment. Now, as you exhale open your fist, release and just...let...go.
(Repeat this on the left arm. I usually say if they weren't able to totally let go, they can put the same thought in the left hand, or they can choose something else they are tired of holding on to.)"
After this exercise, we bring our legs closer together, move the arms inward, and relax deeply into savasana.
Hope you enjoy this exercise in letting go.