letting go of our stories


It is getting late but I wanted to post tonight as I am so inspired. Today was day one of the third part of my 100 hour yoga immersion. It was great to see all of the returning yogis and meet a couple of new ones just joining our group. Having spent nearly 70 hours with most of them I feel we have a bond that is very special. Going through this intensive kind of experience with others is incredible and I am grateful to share these moments with each of them.

I was a bit anxious heading to the studio today because my back has been bothering me. We took a few minutes in the beginning to write out our intentions and what we wanted to gain from this last part of the immersion. When it came time for me to speak I said that I wanted to bring as much lightness and joy to my asana practice as possible. I tend to be very serious with the practice and can feel defeated by my limitations. After I spoke I started thinking about the stories we have about ourselves and how if told often then can in a way make or break us.

This story is true: I injured myself last year and have a degenerative disc in my lumbar spine that will never heal. The disc has lost fluid and that cannot be fixed. What happens to me when I have back pain is I tell myself this story: my back will hurt forever. Or if not forever then I will continue to have back pain on and off for the rest of my life. This is where I get messed up. Instead of looking at the facts, I have a faulty disc and moving on, I focus on the pain and let that story turn into a belief that I will always have pain.

Once this belief sets in forget about it. I am on a train that tells me all kinds of stuff, you will never be able to do advanced back bends, your pain will be so great in the future that you will not be able to be active at all, you cannot be a yoga teacher with a back issue, you should just quit now, you are less than everyone else, and so on and so on. You can see how easy it is too spin out into self-pity by continuing to affirm the story and in a way make the pain who I am.

Throughout the day I came back to these thoughts and started to imagine what my life might look like if I decided to stop identifying with the pain in the same way, stop telling the story of my pain. It is my experience that what I focus on persists, what I put my energy towards manifests, what I think becomes true. In the case with my back pain it can only stand to reason that the same is true here, the more I think about it, focus on it, and believe the story about it the longer it will linger and the less I am available and open for something different.

I do not believe that ignoring the pain will make it go away or that I should be careless with my asana practice and other forms of physical activity. I do believe that the less personal I make it the more I will be able to be grateful for what isn’t in pain. From there I can move towards more lightness and joy and create a new set of beliefs that are on a more positive note.

My intention for the rest of this immersion is to honor where my body is at any given moment and let go of the stories I have surrounding my back pain. I want to focus my attention on my assets and skills instead of dwelling on one area that isn’t working as well as I’d like it to. I also want to practice daily gratitude for the abilities I do have and recognize that I am blessed to inhabit this body.

I encourage you to examine the stories you tell yourself and the beliefs that they set in place. Are any of these keeping you from experiencing more lightness and joy in your life? Can you imagine what it might look like to begin the process of letting go? Consider these questions and join me this week in releasing the stories that no longer serve us.


image// lisa congdon 


  • Mark Menke

    Awesome – love it – and so true!

  • Jackie

    Thank you so very much, Ashley. Your newsletters seem to always speak directly to me. You are a true inspiration.

    • ashley

      Thanks Jackie! Your kind words totally made my day. Had a bit of a rough one and this was so nice to come home to. Wishing you well!

Leave a Comment