Ending things doesn’t mean what we think it does.
We always think an ending means a contraction of sorts, or that something less will be in our lives after what was here is gone. However, in my experience, saying goodbye does not result in this—it actually results with us gaining something more.
There are always things we must release. As we grow as individuals, we become more authentic with expressing what our true requirements of life are—and with this, our letting go of others (and things) will only increase.
This is because we have become more clear on what we truly need. Anything not necessary for us to thrive starts to become less desirable for us to cling to.
In the ancient text, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali—written in 400 CE by an Indian sage—196 sutras (aphorisms) are complied, which are meant to be doctrines for us to live and transform through.
One of these sutras focuses on the Sanskrit word Abhinivesah, which means “clinging to life” and the “fear of the death” of something that is not serving us any more. Abhinivesah is classified as one of the five Kleshas, which are seen in yogic philosophy as the negative states of mind that propagate suffering.
Ancient yogis knew that the choice to hold onto things can cause us more prolonged pain than the sweet, but temporary, sadness of letting them go.
In yoga, we recognize the experience in this moment as our teacher—not the final goal that many of us Westerners have of keeping things the same way forever.
By choosing to have new experiences and people in our lives, we expand. This is what allowing things to change gifts us. The hidden blessing found in each farewell is the opportunity for greater growth.
As we say goodbye, we are making the brave choice to learn something fresh. We are formulating the courage to continually create a life that is in line with our authentic, present reality—a reality that, in its wisdom, continually requires us to alter our well-made plans.
Yoga speaks of Abhinivesah as the misbelief that we cannot (and should not) allow the natural flow of things to occur. This is so wrong. Leaning into the ever-changing fluidity of our experience is precisely where we begin to understand our grandest selves. We can handle more greatness. Surely, we can.
Five years ago, I had to let go of a lot of things. I said goodbye to a home I had lived in for nine years. I sold most of my material possessions. I let go of the business I had been running, my schooling, and the man I had seen as my life partner too. I pretty much released everything I knew to be “me.”
It was painful. My heart ached regularly, and I grieved over these goodbyes. I felt I had lost my life. What I didn’t realize is how the process of this deep letting go was actually preparing me to receive more. It was teaching that I could survive in the moment, just as it was.
I didn’t need those things anymore, even though my clinging wanted to tell me otherwise. I had outgrown them, and they were actually weighing me down, making me sick and incredibly tired.
Learning to release can be painful at first. It is the expression of a new kind of being—one that results in things not staying the same for very long. However, goodbyes are the reality of us becoming more honest with each other—and ourselves. They are the result of beginning to wake up.
This honesty with life is a newness to be proud of. However, it is one we often shy away from. Perhaps, when we begin practicing it, others might even scold us for being too clear. People get used to us hanging on also.
What do we gain, though, by simply going through the motions of maintaining a life that others think looks how it ought to—even though it doesn’t feel how it ought to for us anymore?
Authenticity is the center we become more accustomed to moving from—one that eliminates Abhinivesah, and one we connect to regularly as we get comfortable with farewells. Our authentic selves are based on the feelings in our body, our gut, and also the brave whispering of our heart.
The body is the place in yoga where we arrive back at when we practice. It is the spot where we claim our whole selves.
Goodbyes don’t have to mean a contraction or loss. They can be understood as a natural and necessary part of the process of an honest, human life. Letting go is a gift—one that increases the vastness of our own evolution. Endings allow us to go further and deeper than we could have before.
Author: Sarah Norrad
Image: Flickr/Hernán Piñera
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina