Monday, September 16, 2019

Becoming what I might be

by Karen Steinbrecher

Reflecting on this month’s theme of letting go, I am reminded of a quote by Lao Tzu who said, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” Bill Douglas, Co-Founder of World TaiChi and QiGong day, recently shared his observation that when some students discover the reality that they are “a flawed wandering human being on this earthly plane,” they think TaiChi and QiGong don’t work and wonder, “Why bother?” He remarked that being a teacher of QiGong can be difficult because students often form idealized versions of their teachers. And, as with all idealized versions of anything, disappointment inevitably follows. Students learn that the teacher is a human being walking on the same Earth with the same journey of life as they are. We are all working through life lessons. In one setting, I am the teacher. In another, you are. Much of the time, our teaching and learning happen simultaneously. As Ram Dass says, “We’re all just walking each other home.”

TaiChi and QiGong and meditation ultimately require “letting go” to be done well, fully present in the moment. Look at the great Masters doing QiGong and TaiChi; they appear to be “unhinged and liquid”, says Douglas. This is not a technical skill as much as a whole soul surrender on the deepest level mentally, emotionally, and physically. In QiGong, we call this level of deep surrender “the sinking.” 

Douglas defines the sinking as “this exquisite, all encompassing love that the world and universe are made of, this energy that is the quantum field from which ALL emerges”. This beautiful, radiant energy is what awaits when we let go of our grip on things. As Douglas writes, surrender “asserts itself in subtle silken ways.” The impulse to “hold on” - to the known, the familiar, the comfortable, the idealized teacher, the old ideas of who we are and how the world should be - is so strong. But the rewards of letting go are profound. The “sinking” has a richness to it that is worth the discomfort of loosening our grip. The practice of QiGong and TaiChi may appear physical in nature, but the positive ripple is pervasive throughout all aspects of our lives. Learning to let go through QiGong helps us move - in every facet of our lives - with greater freedom and peace. 


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Letting Go

by Trudy Gregson, MS, LPC

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” - Tao Te Ching

Who hasn't struggled with letting go at one time or another? Cleaning out a closet and letting go of old favorites that don’t fit or aren’t your style anymore. Letting go of expectations - yours or someone else’s - to be the parent, partner, friend, daughter or son you’re “supposed” to be. Or letting go of a wish that something outside of your control can be different.  Maybe you’ve noticed it as feeling “stuck”, or perhaps it’s a little voice in the back of your head, or a good friend advising, “Let it go.” We know we should, so why is it so hard?
There are as many reasons why it’s hard as there are reasons for letting go: fear of judgment or regret, fear of failure, fear of the unknown, to name a few. Holding on can feel safe and familiar, while the notion of letting go may be fraught with fear or anxiety. It can feel like a tug-of-war as we weigh our options, ask for advice, ruminate.
So there we are, stuck in this tug-of-war, neither side letting go. How do we get “unstuck”? Perhaps it seems counterintuitive, but letting go requires us to move towards the fear or anxiety. It’s your fear, unique to you, and your fear can’t actually hurt you. So rather than “letting go” of fear, I invite you to welcome it by tuning in to what you’re noticing as you think about letting go. Maybe it’s a feeling in your stomach, or your chest, or your head, or more of an “all over” sensation. Maybe an image comes to mind, or a memory. Instead of labeling it as unpleasant and pushing it away or trying to shut it down, take a few deep breaths and see if you can be present with it, accepting that it’s here, and noticing what it needs you to know.
Your feelings about letting go are simply trying to get your attention, like the monster that lurks under a child’s bed when it’s time to surrender to sleep. How can a child sleep with a monster under the bed? So the parent dutifully checks under the bed, in the closet, in the corners and says, “There’s no monster.” The parent uses monster spray, just to be sure. When the parent is finished attending to the monster, does the child really believe there’s definitely no monster in the room? Probably not, but the child’s fears feel heard. The parent knows about the monster now, too. The child isn’t experiencing it alone. Maybe there is a monster, but the parent is there with the child, just down the hall.
We can be with the monsters that get in the way of letting go without them overpowering us. We don’t need to persuade them, just to listen. Once they feel our presence and feel heard, they tend to loosen their grip. You don’t let go of feelings, they let go of you. Then you can let go of old beliefs or behaviors, creating space for new possibilities, new opportunities, and new beliefs that fit who you really are. 

Trudy Gregson is a Licensed Professional Counselor who works with adults experiencing depression and anxiety, relationship issues, life transitions, grief and loss. Trudy brings mindfulness practice to her work with her clients to help them cultivate compassion for themselves and create the space for change. Trudy offers a free 30-minute phone consultation and can be reached at or 267-652-1732.


by Elizabeth Campbell, MS, LPC, RPT-S

“Ahooooooooo!”  I had no idea what this phrase means, but it seemed like everyone around me was feeling great as they said it very loudly.  Almost a decade ago, I went on a yoga retreat called the Art of Letting Go in Mexico with Maura Manzo, yoga teacher extraordinaire and cofounder of Yoga Home in Conshohocken.  It was a combination of yoga, meditation, and local shamanic rituals.  One of those rituals was a Temezcal, or a sweat lodge.  It sounds worse than it is.  It basically was a long meditation in a hot little hut with aromatherapy.  You go through several stages of releasing, ending in a metaphorical rebirth.  One of those stages is making noise.  People all around me were screaming and yelling, “Aho” as I sat in the back of the hut, frozen and silent.  I left. 

In that moment, nothing felt scarier than expressing what I needed to release.  There is so much vulnerability in seeing and expressing our feelings, even if it is in a nonverbal catharsis. I needed way more safety than what was present in my system in that moment. I didn’t know all of the people in the group well; I was sitting in the back of the hut between two especially expressive and vocal yogis, and my senses and emotions were overwhelmed.  We need strategies to cope with the overwhelming impact of freeing our emotions, and we have to feel safe in order to let go.  This can be particularly hard if open communication wasn’t the norm in our early lives or if prior attempts to express ourselves were met with confusion, disdain, apathy, or anger. If it was unsafe to communicate feelings in the past, it can be all the more challenging to express them now.

Releasing long held emotional baggage can also connect us with deep feelings of grief and loss.  What do we have if we let go of the things that take up so much of us?  It is important to honor this loss and the feelings that come along with it.  Even if we do not particularly like what we are holding onto, our pain is part of us and may feel like it makes us who we are.  Letting go may feel like losing our roots, our very foundation. So it is vital that we find ways to ground ourselves – in our bodies and to the solidness of the earth.

Of course, none of this was going through my head during my sweat lodge experience.  I was in complete nervous system activation – and flight let me protect myself.  The following year I returned to the same retreat and the same dreaded sweat lodge.  The retreat really was lovely and I was determined to face my fears and release everything I was holding onto.  I spent the year connecting and building my yogi community, including those on the trip and the leaders.  I consciously chose to sit near the exit in case I felt claustrophobic or overwhelmed.  I continuously focused on feeling the ground beneath me and the wall supporting my back.  The safety and grounding that I established were enough to give way to the vulnerability of release and the wonderful freedom that it brought.  And I screamed my head off.  Aho!!

Elizabeth Campbell is a Licensed Profession Counselor who provides empowerment and strength-based support to individuals in personal growth and change.  She specializes in play therapy with children, family therapy, creative counseling for adolescents, and trauma-informed treatment for all ages using an integrative, mindful approach to address the whole individual and promote healing. If you would like to connect with Elizabeth, reach out at or 610-757-8163 or learn more at