Bear Heart, a Muskogee medicine man, wrote a book in collaboration with Molly Larkin called The Wind is My Mother. I have fallen in love with this book, so it might show up in more than a couple of these tidbits. One of the many things they wrote about that spoke to my heart is the difference between releasing and relinquishing.
If we give something to someone, we let go of it in order to give it. But if we have an attachment to what they do with it after we give it to them, then we have not truly relinquished our hold on it. Perhaps you have been on the other end of this and have had the experience of someone giving you money and then wanting to supervise how you spent it. Or perhaps you have given a loved one a gift and been disappointed when they did not wear it? In these situations we have released or let go the object in question, but we have not really relinquished our attachment to it. And by holding on we set ourselves up for disappointment, rejection or doubt, conversations in our mind that Depak Chopra called "soul-shrinking" because they tend to create limiting beliefs in attempt to protect ourselves from future hurt.
If we give someone our love, is there an expectation as to what the other does with it? Are we attached to love being returned in a certain way? Frequently in therapy sessions I heard one of a couple saying, "If you loved me you would have known that! (done that, not done that, said that, not said that.....)" Can we love without attachment to a specific outcome or behavior? Can we just love? In her book A Return To Love, Marianne Williamson wrote, "In the holy relationship, we don't seek to change someone, but rather to see how beautiful they already are. Our prayer becomes "Dear God, take the scales from in front of my eyes. Help me to see my brother's beauty." It is our failure to accept people as they are that gives us pain in relationship, it is our failure to relinquish our expectations that prevents us from knowing who they are.
When I studied hypnosis I learned that many people who suffer from asthma do not fully exhale, do not fully relinquish the exhausted air in their lungs before they try to inhale. And therefore there is not room for the new breath, and they struggle to breathe. If we fully exhaled, if we fully relinquished our expectations what might we discover in our relationships? Breath is the most important thing we do in this life. It is also a metaphor for everything else: take in, let go. Receive, relinquish. Breathe.