Touch and go/Let it go

Argentine_Navy_Dassault_Super_Etendard_jet_on_USS_Ronald_ReaganJanuary can be a tough month. Many of us are dealing with debt or emotional overload from the holiday season; where I live it is cloudy and dull – usually snowy and cold, but this January gray and rainy; and we are in the midst of a transition of leadership. Whatever your politics, this has been a difficult and polarizing election and inauguration season in which it seems difficult for civility and clarity to be the rule.

Often when we are troubled, we hang on to things, or we ruminate about the same thing over and over, or we seem to get all tangled and confused in a variety of thoughts and feelings. I’ve had several messages in the last two days about “letting go.” These messages struck me as brilliant sanity in the midst of the cloudiness of January. So here they are:

Message #1: Touch and Go – I’d had a difficult session with a client the other day, and I was struggling with feelings of self doubt, shame and anger. I remembered reading something several years ago in a great book for helpers by Karen Kissel Wegela, “How to Be a Help Instead of a Nuisance: Practical Approaches to Giving Support, Service & Encouragement to Others”. When I got home that night, I looked through the book and found a number of helpful ideas, but especially “touch and go”. She explains it much better than I can, so I highly recommend you checking out Karen Kissel Wegela’s Web page for more information. But here’s the short version: When a feeling or sensation arises within us, we can touch it completely – feel it, fully experience it, move toward it – and then, let it go. This allows us to learn what we are really feeling or experiencing without getting fixated on it or it having hold of us. She mentions the distinction of “touch and go” from both “go and go” (trying to ignore the feeling) and “touch and grab” (getting stuck in the feeling). I have been practicing touch and go the last two days. When the feelings about this session come back up, I touch them (for example, I “touched” long enough to do some journaling and to talk with a trusted colleague about my feelings and experiences in the session and had some good personal insights about what was going on with me in the session) and then let them go. If they come back, I touch them briefly again and then let them go. “Letting go” for me generally means literally visualizing the feelings floating away or draining out of my body and focusing on what is happening in the present moment, or being mindful. Yesterday, this practice helped me have enough self compassion that I also experienced a strong sensation of compassion for my client and that client’s own experiences. I also shared “touch and go” with another client in a session, and together we came up with the visual image of a “touch and go” landing sometimes used in pilot training, where the pilot touches down briefly and then immediately goes back up in the air. This seemed useful to both of us in remembering the concept.

Message #2: A poem by e.e. cummings that appeared in my email inbox this morning:

let it go – the

smashed word broken

open vow or

the oath cracked length

wise – let it go it

was sworn to



let them go – the

truthful liars and

the false fair friends

and the both and

neithers – you must let them go they

were born

to go


let all go – the

big small middling

tall bigger really

the biggest and all

things – let all go



so comes love


And then it struck me that perhaps love is the space where we let it all go and then all things become possible. May it be so this gray January Thursday! Be well.


*Update on my “New Year’s Revolutions” Blog: More days than not I have held to eating between the hours of 9 am – 7 pm. I have had a couple late night eating episodes, but perfection is not required here. Also, all but 2 days so far in January, I have done 10 minutes of sitting meditation. I am finding recently that the time goes very fast, and that I feel I’m FINALLY really meditating and focusing on my breath (rather than a bunch of thoughts) right before the timer goes off – a bit frustrating but where it is right now. And I have said “ouch” a few times, and have taught several clients about this strategy as well. So – a good start to my revolution.


2 thoughts on “Touch and go/Let it go

  1. Do we let go
    To the point of uncertainty? Of an emptiness that distracts our innercore? To the point of disorientation? Do we let them go go to the point of seeing an unfabricated unvalidated black hole? And is love within the blackhole? Perhaps it is why I pull in, like a turtle.

    1. Thanks for your response. You seem to be asking some deep and challenging questions. I think our views of what is most important to hold fast to (maybe a personal inner core – the Self, as Jung might call it) and what is important to let go (maybe expectations, hurts, busyness, overthinking) are quite individual. Some might say emptiness is also “pregnant” or full with possibilities. Turtle is a powerful image of both protection and groundedness in both earth and water. If you are experiencing an emptiness that is painful or troubling, reaching out to support people or perhaps a therapist can also be helpful.

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