The Jenga of Surrender
Just. Let. It. Go.
These words have become synonymous in both our lexicon of self-improvement and in our daily lives. Not so long ago the concept of letting go of things that no longer served us or “surrendering ourselves to something greater” were concepts left to Buddhists and people in recovery. When I was growing up, I don’t recall any one of the three generations of my family sitting around the Shabbat dinner table on a Friday night saying, “You know, you should really just let it go… now, pass the chopped liver.” In fact, some would argue that a very large part of being Jewish is about not letting things go.
As a stubborn Scorpio, my subconscious elephantine memory wants to hold tight to every slight pit against me. The more spiritual work I did, the harder I was on myself when I couldn’t let go of something.
I had been meditating, yoga-ing, cleansing and releasing for years and still one of the greatest sources of my suffering was beating myself up for not being able to let go of what I knew I wanted to let go of.
It was in the middle of my eight-month long training to become certified in Kundalini that the ball dropped. My teacher had been lecturing for months about how our subconscious mind forms while arranging itself in such a way to interfere with our moving forward. Hour upon hour I sat and listened without really understanding, and then, one day, the clouds in my mind parted and I understood the thing that would become my main teaching passion: If the things that block us assemble over time, then they will also require time to disassemble. (Basically, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was I.)
You can’t take down an enemy by attacking their biggest and strongest parts. Like playing a game of jenga, you have to start by removing the loose wiggly bits and then the top layers move closer and closer to the bottom where they become accessible. The suffering and pressure I kept putting on myself came from attempting to remove the top layer of something without chipping away at the foundation that got me there.
Believe it or not, this was one of the most liberating “a-ha” moments of my life! All of a sudden the ‘bad habit I couldn’t let go of’ became the ‘bad habit I would let go of when I was ready to.’ There is a pecking order to surrendering and it is so much less daunting to tackle the things that may seem small and less significant. By removing those smaller things we create more space to really examine the bigger ones that were on top.
I know it seems easier said than done, but think about it… we had to learn to crawl before we walked, right? So get back on your hands and knees and look for the thing closest to the proverbial ground that you think you can manage to take down. Write about it, sing about it, chant and yoga about it, meditate on it until it gets so boring and makes so little sense that one day it just won’t be a thing anymore.
Additionally, there are practices and therapies that can certainly help in accelerating the process. Personally, I am a big fan of kundalini and the wealth of techniques available to take on specific things. But I’m also a fan of allowing myself to let go and fully feel whatever is bothering me. Sometimes it’s writing the story of whatever I’ve been holding on to — by the end of the page I usually realize that, by no longer holding the story inside of me, I’ve wiggled it loose and let it go.
In a way, we are prisoners to these subconscious (and sometimes quite conscious) habits, patterns and addictions… but we are also the warden to that prison, with the key to open the cell and set ourselves free.
It won’t happen overnight and it may take an entire lifetime of crawling and standing and crawling and standing. But the beautiful thing about temporality is knowing that the next thing will always come and no matter how you get there it will never be the same way. The easier we are on ourselves the easier it becomes to stand up.
Now pass me the chopped liver and tell me about your ex-boyfriend again…