improve mind and body connection

The power of letting go

Most of us have an idea about how we want our lives to go but when things are not going to plan, finding acceptance can be difficult. If we are making new plans, it can be like stepping out onto a precipice. Moving out of our comfort zone is bound to bring up some fears and uncertainty. 


We all need a feeling of security, familiarity and safety in our lives. But could a time come where familiarity and security become a habit so firmly entrenched that it becomes difficult to move somewhere different in our lives and we start to feel stuck?


It’s not easy to see how much we try to control our lives and the people around us. Most of us feel more comfortable when outer circumstances fit our view of the world. There certainly are behaviors that will increase the likelihood of our lives going to plan such as eating well, caring for others, being driven and organised in carving out your life. Still how many times have we seen our lives and others lives, descending into chaos due to unexpected illness or loss of loved ones, or a job.


Letting go is something we are strongly encouraged to practise because of world-wide events. The world around us is certainly changing. Technology is advancing at a pace in which many people and our environment cannot keep up with. Our world-altering health pandemics have irreversibly changed our way of life. It is a harsh truth that we don't know what turn our lives are going to take. We can increase the probability of a good life and security but it's no guarantee.  From my own experience grieving is like a slow process of letting go of a loved one that has passed away. So we may be forced to let go through a process of grieving or we can practise letting go, giving up control and creating space a little each day. 


Letting go of our expectations of how things should be can make the changes in our lives easier to cope with. We can fearfully cling to the past, security or fixed ideas or we can be open to new possibilities. I love the idea of learning to step back, create space for others, as some people might say getting out of our own way. Stephen Nachmanovitch is an improviser who wrote the book ‘The art of is: improvising as a way of life’. He describes the process of ‘stepping-back and creating space’ in movement and musical improvisation as analogous to how we teach ourselves as individuals and as partners in relationships to be human beings. He observes that wonderful things happen in the creative space when he as a teacher nurtures rather than leads or controls.


Beta brain waves range from 13-40 HZ and are associated with everyday activity. Beta brain wave frequencies in the highest range are associated with the stress that is endemic in our world.  Wanting to be in control is more likely to create stress and many believe control of the outside world is impossible anyway.


In contrast, mindfulness meditation has been linked to lower-frequency alpha waves in a study by Cahn and Polich in 2006. Alpha brain waves range from 8-12 HZ are dominant during quietly flowing thoughts, rest, calmness, mind/body integration and learning (Brainwaves Neurotherapy). Methods such as `Awareness through movement’ in Feldenkrais produce similar alpha states which help improve the mind and body connection and learning. 


Isla Klasing was a CEO of KFC in Germany in 2016 who struggled significantly after a horse-riding accident.  During her long recovery she had no choice but to give up some control in her life, and not without difficulty. She describes how rather than suffering, her team blossomed, which increased KFCs’ marketplace success significantly. Klasing said learning the power of letting go also made her happier in her personal life.

According to Klasing, the power of letting go has three parts. First, trusting that benefits can come from letting go, secondly, switching off our phone/digital-detox gives us the freedom to let go of the outside world and third, adopting breathing / mindfulness techniques) to quieten your busy mind.


We have all had the experience of having change forced upon us and the discomfort it can bring. Twelve years ago I was separating from my first husband. It was December and some girlfriends and I were camping on the North-East Coast of Tasmania. One morning I woke up early and decided to have a short meditation in the bush. As I sat there I was looking up at a tree nearby. I noticed this tree had a branch that was falling away. It was a difficult time emotionally, so I could see myself in the broken, messed-up branch. I can still remember the image of that branch. 


Then I noticed the tree as a whole and could see its potential and beauty. I could see my life journey as being like the trees’ journey. Even though it was a time of upheaval I would keep growing, and have new branches. The scar of that broken branch could heal over. It was the beginning of my ability to let go of my marriage and know that my identity and value extended beyond the life I knew at the time. My ex-husband and I are amicable to this day.


So letting go is tied to renewal, knowing we can move beyond our perceptions about the life and our identity we are holding now.  Plus we might be surprised by the future.


Self-compassion essentials: finding self-worth that lasts

How to bring more self-compassion into your life

We have all got an inner critic. Sometimes it grabs the wheel and won’t let go.  But you can become the driver by learning how to attend to your mind, calm down your body’s stress responses and live according to your values. How? There are a range of ways. Here are some that I have found work well.


Meeting your inner critic

We are so conditioned to be critical of ourselves. Particularly women. And there is trillions of dollars riding on this. La Prarie of Switzerland sells an anti-aging face treatment – called Haute-Rejuvenatation Protocol. It’s $2,915 for 24mls. Apart from the price tag, the bad news is that research has shown that when you criticise yourself you are triggering the fight/flight or sympathetic response in your nervous system which sends the stress hormone cortisol into your blood (Kristina Neff). 

Chogyam Trungpa, a Tibetan monk that went to America in the 1970’s said a lot of chaos happens in the world simply because people don’t appreciate themselves. We have a myth in society that we must be hard on ourselves to get things done. But rather than motivating us, self-criticism can shut us down, depress us and even cause us to self-sabotage and not reach for our goals. I remember one morning recently I was planning on heading to the gym. I weighed myself and the scales went in the wrong direction. Instead of a logical response, which would include a usual gym session, the reactive thought was I’m not going now. My inner critic almost dragged me down that day, encouraging me to give up. 

Self worth vs Self compassion

If we are  in a position to successfully navigate mainstream norms we can gain self-worth,  a highly valued quality in society. Self-worth is often associated with self-confidence, competition and comparison. It’s  measured by being hard-working, successful at work, attractive and wealthy.  But there is a risky element to measuring ourselves against these external expectations.  Life is impermanent and it is possible you  will lose sporting prowess, your job, your wealth, your motivation, your looks. Research has also shown that comparison to others whom you perceive are doing better can lower your self-esteem. One study showed  some individuals who struggle with identity are more prone to comparison on social media platforms, and construct a false-self which increases emotional difficulties (Bergargna and Tartaglia). There are ways we can create a more long-lasting or meaningful  happiness.


Many of us would agree that having comfort, pleasure, security and good health brings some happiness. But values are more personal. How important are  things like personal freedom, helping others or personal fitness to you? Our values profile helps us understand exactly what makes us unique and gives you a clearer pathway to follow in your life. Values come from within the individual rather than socially acceptable ideas of what we should aspire to. There are online tests to help us understand exactly what our core values are. Acceptance Commitment Therapy is a form of psychology which says values are at the heart of finding happiness. 



When we are moving towards our values we are being more self-compassionate or understanding of ourselves and needs.  If your core value is family and you are lashing out at your loved ones on a regular basis you are moving away from your values and everyone is unhappy.  If your core value is personal development and you are doing 20 hours overtime a week in a stressful job without a moment for yourself.  You would not be honouring your values and needs and therefore not being self-compassionate.


Could you carve out a free hour a day?  Because once you know your values, you know which direction you need to head in. Nate Terrel in his book `Achieving self-compassion: giving yourself the gifts of happiness and inner peace’ suggests that the happiest people have honed the skill of prioritising their  activities so they can spend maximum time doing fulfilling activities. So once you know what you want to do, you can choose to spend time moving towards those values that make you feel fulfilled and happy. Self-awareness gives you the choice to act in different ways.  Just being aware is the first liberating step.


The observer and the critic

Developing the ability to be the observer of one’s own thoughts is called metacognition. Terms like mindfulness and awareness have been used to death in recent years but this doesn’t make them any less significant. To really notice what is happening in our mind and body can assist us enormously. If we are not observing what’s happening in our mind, how can we meet the critic and catch those harsh words we might be receiving? How can we recognise when we are acting in alignment with our values and goals or not? If we are not mindful how can we practise a more gentle approach to ourselves? Most importantly we miss the sensations and potential of each moment where the only true happiness can lie.


Basic goodness

There are many Mindbody techniques such as yoga,  meditation, martial arts and Feldenkrais.  These methods ease your body into a physiological state different to the cortisol-fueled fight/flight state. They allow the self-observer to take the driver’s seat. This is an act of self-compassion. By relaxing into your parasympathetic rest/digest state you decrease your stress responses and are more likely to witness the basic goodness in yourself.  Philosophies such as Buddhism understand that  everyone has basic goodness.  If being fundamentally okay within ourselves was more common would fewer people strive for status or wealth  to prove self-worth? Perhaps it is the dissatisfied self-critic that causes the high-levels of stress and mental health issues  in our society.  Taking the drivers’ seat and having the self-awareness to live according to our values can  keep our self critic in-check. The knowledge and growth  that comes from calmness,  self-compassion and self-observation is not something that can be stripped away from us. It is dependable and will help to make your life happier which will filter out to loved ones and maybe further than you think.

What are some ways that you have been self-compassionate to yourself? How has this impacted on your life? It would be great to hear from you in the comments below.



Bergagna, E., & Tartaglia, S. (2018). Self-Esteem, Social Comparison, and Facebook Use. Europe’s journal of psychology, 14(4), 831–845.


Russ Harris: ACT Made Simple An Easy-To-Read Primer on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy


 Kristin Neff: The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook: A Proven Way to Accept Yourself, Build Inner Strength, and Thrive 2018


Kristin Neff:  Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive Hardcover coming in 28 September 2021

Chogyam Trungpa- Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior 1984


Do the `Pyschology Today Value Profile’ Test – 50 minutes