Life is a never-ending lesson of letting go. In yoga, we refer to this as non-attachment, and on the surface I have this lesson mastered. I have very little attachment to material things. So much so, that it makes my husband crazy when I am constantly purging out the closet of anything that has collected dust for more than 6 months. To me, these things are easily replaceable. It is the non-replaceable things, my kids, that I struggle the most with letting go.
One of my yoga teachers once said that he would meditate on what it would feel like to lose his daughter until he would cry with grief. This seemed a little extreme to me, but mostly out of fear that I could never get myself back from such an abyss. I know people who have lost their children, and I am always impressed by their courage and strength to go on. Shamefully, I live in a constant low-grade fear that such a thing could happen to me. As I write this, my anxiety level is rising, I feel horribly exposed and vulnerable that I am putting my biggest fear out to the universe, and scared it might manifest itself.
You may ask why I am writing about this now. I just hugged my 17-year-old daughter good bye as she headed out on her first road trip with friends to attend Halloween Horror nights in Orlando, a 4-hour drive away. Of course my daughter thought I was over protective that I wanted to speak with the mother of the boy who was driving. If she would have let me, I would have hired a driver to take them all the way to Orlando, just so I could have false peace of mind that they were safe. And yet I understand that I need to let go, allow her to have these rights of passage, and understand there are things beyond my control.
While I was in middle school several children and teens close to my age died unexpectedly. They were victims of violent crime, illness, and yes- car crashes. So when I image my teenage daughter in a car for 4 hours, with a teen driver, I can’t help but imagine the worst-case scenario. Knowing that the worst is actually possible has me wanting to wrap my children in bubble wrap and keep them close to home forever. But this is not an empowered place to parent from, and certainly not fair for my children to be limited by my past experiences.
Attachments are self-made prisons that limit us. Non-attachment means getting on a deep level that there is no way to control life. Even Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back coached Luke, “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” This practice is a necessary stop on the path to personal freedom. Look within and be truthful about where your attachments hold you back. Attachments can be to people, things, thoughts and beliefs, and our past. Just the simple acknowledgement of our attachments will begin to loosen their grip and open us up to a whole new realm of possibility and freedom.