Music and Yoga: Letting Go

stones and waterThe idea of “letting go” can be a scary concept for some of us.  In our society, letting go of something might imply that we are giving up control, and we don’t like to give up control over moments and things in our lives.  But yoga teaches us that it’s okay to let go; to give over to the practice of connecting breath and movement and allowing the body, mind, and spirit to meet where we give over this control.  In my yoga classes this week I’m asking the students to explore what letting go means to them on their mat.  This might mean letting go of tension they are holding (physically and mentally) and giving over to just being present on the mat and letting their practice guide them in exactly what they need.  In this practice on the mat, I hope they can find a way to let go off of their mat as well.

There’s a very big parallel in the composition world to letting go.  Once I write a piece of music and put it out into the world, there’s a level of letting go of the end result that must come along with being a composer.  I work hard to write the music, working with the musicians to make the piece meet their expectations, and spending hours crafting a piece that I can be proud of.  But the end result – will the audience like it, will other performers want to perform it, will it be received well – is all out of my hands.  I put it out there to the universe and must let go of the end result because I cannot control these outside factors.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t worry about these things – being a composer is about tying your life (and livelihood) to this end result.  Once I feel that I’ve done the best job possible; that I’ve written a piece that is my best work and is true to my voice, I must let it all go and place myself in the present moment and just breath. I’ll continue to work hard to write music, make connections, and be the best composer that I can be.  I just don’t tie my worth to this uncontrollable end result.

On our mats it is much the same way.  We come to our mats, day after day, year after year, seeking clarity and practicing just being present.  And we as yogis know that it’s a journey; we’re all on our own unique path with its ups and downs, mountains and valleys, highs and lows.  But if we can let go of the end result and allow ourselves to be present, to be exactly what and where we’re supposed to be in the moment, then the end result is not what is important, but the journey that we had along the way.

So I remind myself each day to be present – to enjoy this path that I’m walking, let go and to just breath.  What can you let go of today?