Letting Go

The key ingredient to experiencing bliss

Sweta Vikram

If you are a practitioner of yoga and Ayurveda, you probably know that we are more than our physical body. Each of us, we are a unique expression of our mind, body, and spirit. This energetic or pranic body of ours consists of koshas. The word kosha means “sheath.” Koshas make up one way that yoga and Ayurveda students approach psycho-spiritual development. When we experience physical, mental, or emotional distress, we can look to the koshas to find the root cause of what is ailing us.

In Vedantic philosophy the most subtle of the five levels of embodied self is known as Anandamaya Kosha. It is the last of the five koshas (innermost) and also known as the bliss sheath. True to its name, it encompasses the experience of bliss. Bliss can be thought of not as an ecstatic happiness or even joy, but a steady state of being, no matter what the circumstance.

Let’s apply Vedic philosophy to life in 2021. We were supposed to meet our bubble/safety pod and watch the Super Bowl together on Sunday, February 7. But with the winter storm advisory and roads considered dangerous for driving, plans changed. I felt so frustrated. I normally don’t let what I can’t control impact my mood. But this was different. If you are an extrovert like me who cherishes intimate get-togethers, you know what these changes in plans represent. With winter and remote working during the pandemic, most of us are seeing fewer people anyway. Plus, I have school a few weekends a month. You wait for the ‘free’ weekend to get some human connection and interact with a few people even if it’s socially distant.

How do you deal with frustrations and attain a steady state of being no matter what circumstance arises?

Every time that I fall off the wagon and find myself attached to desires and disappointments—I know something is off with my koshas. Did I resist at first? Of course! I wanted to wallow in self-pity about missing Super Bowl food, shimmying during half-time, and discussing commercials. There are days I am tired of being mature. But baby steps towards the awareness of what sustains me are always healing.

I practiced “letting go.” Letting go of any expectations for the evening, for the week, for the month. That doesn’t mean I am apathetic and don’t care that we won’t get to see the faces that have kept us sane during the pandemic. Trust me, I am a hugger. I recharge around other humans. It just means that I won’t be attached to the outcome of anything that I can’t control. It makes life easier and anything that doesn’t work in our favor feels less personal. It also gets you out of the victim-mindset. It also reminds me about the power of moving forward, opening new doors, and staying curious about what the future might bring.

This was one example of letting go of a habit and finding harmony. Overall, how can we experience bliss in a world that romanticizes (sometimes even subconsciously/unintentionally) relying on external validation, materialism, alpha behavior, being constantly on the go, holding on to grudges, and then some? People stay in unhealthy relationships and careers because they are afraid to let go! How do we protect ourselves from these unhealthy attachments and addictive habits that are detrimental to our overall sense of being?

Kalpana Vasu
Kalpana Patel

“To allow anything new to come into our lives, it’s very important to let go of the old, anything that’s not working for us anymore, anything that’s not serving our highest best,” says Kalpana Patel, health coach. “These habits are the ones that hold us back in life, keep us stuck and feeling unfulfilled on a chronic basis. These habits are also part of our subconscious programs, the parts of us that remain uncovered from our conscious mind. We often find these old habits hard to let go of despite the best of our intentions. And that’s because they match the beliefs we have about ourselves. Our behavior is largely determined by our subconscious mind. Our bad habits are a window into our subconscious mind, which is more powerful than our conscious mind. Now that we have this information, we can use this to our advantage. Think of the one thing that you would like to create or attract in your life. Then think of your current habits that correspond to that desire of yours. For instance, if someone wants to release excess weight, it would be a good idea to take inventory of your current habits that are keeping you overweight.”

Letting go isn’t just about walking away from bad food habits and addictions. People stick around in unfulfilled relationships and jobs that bludgeon their will to blossom.

Jay Polaki
Jay Polaki

I spoke about this with Jay Polaki, who is on the Forbes Human Resources Council.

“Usually, people stay around if they don’t think they can do better – akin to staying in abusive personal relationships,” said Polaki, the founder CEO of HR Geckos. “Both income and status play a large part in the decision-making process when it comes to quitting a bad job situation. Also, people strongly believe that the workplace can’t do without them – a sort of corporate equivalent of the Stockholm syndrome. Lastly, they love to wallow in the shared misery of their toxic workplace. It’s like a security blanket – weeping with co-workers and perpetuating the misery begets a sense of camaraderie that in turn offers solace, which in turn perpetuates the misery.

“If you are in a bad place and have to leave because it is too toxic then just leave (depending on your financial circumstances, of course). I know quitting takes courage, but ask yourself, ‘Is it worth my sanity and health?’ As Marie Forleo says, ‘Everything is figureoutable!’ Exercising self-care and letting go of toxic environments not only helps you keep your sanity but also boosts your self-esteem, which is essential to leading a peaceful and successful career and life. Toxic work environments take a toll on our health and self-esteem and letting go will help us replenish what has been taken so forcibly.”

What is holding you back in 2021? What expectations, grudges, habits, addictions, relationships, people, jobs, situations, and thoughts are you willing to let go off to lead a balanced life, to experience bliss, and not feel stuck in the past? Remember that letting go of what doesn’t serve us is a gentle reminder that there is an unexplored and exciting future that awaits us.

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” ~ Tao Te Ching