The Water’s On Fire.

Via Hilary Lindsay
on Jul 19, 2010
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Don’t just let it go

Someone recently asked if I still taught “Core on the Floor”, a piece I did for a yoga magazine. It was an hour and a half of power moves.  I told him I was more into water than fire these days.

I’m leaving a class I just taught on spilling and unwinding.  The theme was water.  We are talking on the staircase and someone comments that someone else should just “let it go”. I say, “Forget that. No one lets anything go. Pretending you do just makes you passive aggressive. I say just confront it. Not confronting it is just a form of self-loathing.”  I hear a snicker behind me.

I turn to see a smiling face.  He says, “I’m listening to your conversation and I just had this conversation with my friend on the phone where I’m going off and he’s saying, ‘Man just let it go!  Be like the water and just flow’”.

“Yeah, No way”, I laugh.  “There’s no flow.  You get dammed up in the muck that hasn’t been cleared.  Now you’re drowning in the backwash.”

I think of the water that surged through our town in the flood.  It took rocks that a human couldn’t lift down the streets.  It smashed things.  It moved any obstacle in its path. It moved cars and houses.

And I’m reconsidering that tired lesson and thinking of the “flow” as an action that takes down obstacles like Ganesh’s trunk rather than submission to tyranny. I reflect on a situation where I can test this thought.  Years after letting go and ‘forgetting’ someone, I had the opportunity to confront him but it wasn’t satisfying because he didn’t really get it.  That ignorance was what let him act wrongly in the first place. He didn’t have the consciousness to understand his actions nor the kindness to consider them.

So what good did it do to confront him?  Was letting go the final answer?

The flow I had been going with was a flow into a lack of self worth because someone I gave too much credit to did not think me worthy of consideration.   Turning the other cheek might have seemed peaceful but that cheek was red with shame and it was shame on me for allowing that to happen. Obviously nothing had ‘gone’ because I confronted him when I had the chance. His surprise told me he was horrified to think he’d hurt me but after that I saw he was so self-involved I didn’t even exist. That, it seemed, allowed me to let go. But why do I remember it now?  Did I think there were no samskaras (seeds of memories) when I sent my anger into a balloon and let it go?

I called on water to help me wash seeds of discontent away like the flood took the seeds in my garden.  I won’t go with the flow. I am the flow, the torrent, the surging, roiling, tremendous flood waters. I am sweeping away this disappointment. I am sweeping away self doubt. I am clearing, shoving, throwing, smashing, rolling and flowing.  I am a forward pressing force of nature. No prisoners. Intruders to my well being are being banished to dissolve.  I am pulling my obstacles down with the undertow of my passion and I am being released above into the sunlit sparkles of gentle ripples of self- love and light.

Action not passivity is what is called for and my test results are strong. It seems the seeds of discontent are exiled by my awareness. They are drowned beyond germination. I feel truth of the perpetrator. I see the truth of the previous reaction. I see the reality of the dethroned antagonist.  There is no letting. There is no other to do it for you. There is no truth in pretending. There is no use in ignoring. Time does not heal. We heal. We do the work. We find the way. No one gets hurt and though the situation or person still exists, the reaction to them is over so they really don’t exist. The waters are calm.

When it comes to a physical yoga practice I may be more into water than fire but it takes a little fire to get the water moving on the mat and in life. Freezing out thoughts preserves them in the basement freezer.  You can’t just ‘let it go’. We may be mostly made of water but we are human and too complicated to dismiss with empty phrases. Being the water for us requires the use of the hydro-electric damn. Water in its purest form is natural and will do its thing without distraction. We are not water. We need to think to stay the course.

To my friend on the staircase I change my advice.  Go ahead and be the water, but make sure that water is full of fire or it may just be a stagnant pond.


About Hilary Lindsay

Hilary Lindsay created the first comprehensive yoga program in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans, choreographed videos for athletes, introduced yoga and meditation to the Nashville public school system and continues to work one on one with private clients including the Nashville Predators. She has been covered by popular magazines and television shows and has worked for a variety of publications as a yoga expert. She authored a chapter in Yoga In America, a book published at the forefront of the discussion among yoga teachers about contemporary yoga in America. Additional writing can be found at as well as the Journal pages of her yoga site. Hilary teaches classes and workshops in consciousness through movement. Her medium is yoga. Her method is exploring the language of the body in light of the eight limbs. Find her at


12 Responses to “The Water’s On Fire.”

  1. I love this article. I completely agree with your eloquently written point–peace in Yoga comes not from avoiding unpleasantness, but from seeing things just as they are.

    Great writing, great Yoga. I'm so glad you've started writing for Elephant, Hilary. I look forward to all you future blogs.

    Bob Weisenberg

    (Hilary wrote a wonderful chapter for Yoga in America–In the Words of Some of Yoga's Most Ardent Teachers)

  2. Yoginiklea says:

    Asana means “relaxed seat” but much of the time our yoga and our life are anything but peaceful or comfortable. Therefore we practice, practice, practice. “Atha Yoganushasanam (1-1)” And now begins the practice, and now, and now, and now. Each moment we have the opportunity to be fully present without being afraid of discomfort or change or dying for that matter. Thank you Hilary – you are one of the most courageous people I know!

  3. mletag says:

    Beautiful, powerful, and inspiring. Thank you for sharing this!

  4. RemyC. says:

    "I say just confront it. Not confronting it is just a form of self-loathing."
    Thank you!

  5. toni 1 says:

    YOU ARE THE FLOW ! !!! ! !!

  6. […] I am incredibly inspired today after reading an article by Hilary Lindsay called The Water’s On Fire. […]

  7. dharma_singh says:

    Is it better to confront something you are angry about rather than letting it go? Will letting it go always lead to self-loathing? During the course of my day I am always letting things go to preserve peace at home, at work, and on the road. I find the things i say when i am angry never go away, people do not forget the things you say. Remember the saying "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all"?. If I am an aspiring yoga, shouldn't me practice be learning how to truly let it go? If i practice getting it off my chest or expressing myself am I not just dumping it on someone else?

  8. Hilary Lindsay says:

    I appreciate your thoughts on this as I thought someone might not quite get what I was talking about. I also let things go all day to preserve peace. The spaced out driver veering into my lane, my sons leaving doors open, lights on and clothes all over the floor, unanswered phone messages, a flat tire, an hour in a waiting room. I'm not referring to everyday distractions or the annoyances of strangers or even the frustrations with loved ones. This piece refers to big hurts and unresolved relationships. Years ago a healer in California asked me to make a list of all my unresolved relationships. Then she began working on my spine and pressed a place and the room filled with the smell of cigarettes. She was in her spacious home office, alone. There was no one about anywhere. She asked me who number something or other was and it was a man I'd lived with who had a problem with alchohol and smoked incessantly. I had absorbed plenty of that smoke and joined him sometimes. Anyway, I tell you that because unresolved things stay in the body.

    I was kind and direct when I confronted my old friend. I told him how I felt. I did not call him names or hurt him. No one got hurt. No one got dumped on. Letting it go doesn't lead to self loathing. Pushing it under the skin does.

  9. dharma_singh says:

    thank you so much for your reply Hilary. This makes much more sense now. I agree some things need do be addressed and if It is in a kind and direct manner it can be beneficial for everyone. Staying kind while being direct can be challenging.

  10. Kiwi Yogi says:

    I love the photo!

  11. <continuation of above Reply>
    Buddhist mindfulness releases the "thatness" of these judgments, psychological therapy would endeavor to unlock their "whatness" or why they occur with such intensity; bodywork could release the "how-ness," or how the attitude of judgment affects the person's whole mind-body-emotional continuum. I would say that ideally, a person should be sufficiently psychologically able to make such a choice "freely," i.e. without feeling they are acting contrary to their true intention or will. For each person to "get free" to choose, is both the starting point and the successful end of any therapy or psychological atttitude, I would say. It may also be part of the karma of why each of us is here, on this planet, in our particular life, at this time.

  12. […] that ignoring people who are vibrating you to death won’t save you but make your death passive. Ignoring antagonism works when the issue is not personal but otherwise it causes passive aggression which will make you […]