Lessons on Letting Go from a Frog Trapped in a Sewer.

Free Yourself to Be Yourself

U2 Iris


Ahimsa means non -violence.

In relationship terms, it’s comparable to self compassion, but it’s actually an eastern term signifying more.

In Vedic and Buddhist philosophies, there’s a belief in the equality of all sentient beings. The practice of ahimsa which can also be thought of as compassion and self compassion, extends towards all of them all.

One summer, there was a frog that appeared to be trapped in a sewer on the street where I reside.  Night after night, for the entire month, I would hear it croak loudly from my home office window. As I would walk my dogs by it, the frog seemed to croak even louder, almost as if were pleading for help to escape.  I spoke to several neighbors to get their thoughts on the frog and they too worried that it might be stuck in their with no viable way out. I found myself wondering if there was anything I could do to set it free and it pained me to know that there wasn’t.

As a psychotherapist, I work with many people who, possibly like the frog, feel utterly trapped in their current life circumstances.  

They see no immediate way out and often begin to feel resigned to being stuck in their own personal sewer. Being stuck feels lousy. Getting unstuck feels scary, sometimes even terrifying.  More often than not, many prefer feeling the dysthymic sense of stuckness over the terrifying possibility of becoming free. They then  waffle between the two polarities, sometimes for a very long time. This waffling however, is a necessary part of the process should one truly desire the risk, reward and responsibility of becoming a free and individuated self.

One night, after a month of listening to the frog and my own agonizing feelings that I was projecting onto it (who knows, it may have been enjoying its’ time down there) I walked over to the sewer where it lived.  I spent some time sending compassionate energy towards it and waited until its’ croaks and my angst quieted. Then I walked back into the house, knowing there was nothing more I could do.

I let go.

The next night, I didn’t hear the frog.  I walked the dogs a couple of times by the sewer to check on it.  I feared it may have died.  Then, as I walked the dogs back home and entered my garage, I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.  Lo and behold it was a frog hopping it’s way through an obstacle course of randomly stored and  over stacked stuff.

Seeing it gave me such joy as I imagined the frog found the courage to free itself so that it could be itself.

Six weeks after I “terminated therapy with the frog” (kidding) but what a case study it was, I was struck by the power of possibility when we practice and surrender to ahimsa, compassion and self compassion with ourselves and others.

I was struck by what can happen when we just let go.

It also made me wonder to myself what would happen if we all dare ask the question: what if I just let this burden go?  


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