“To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the times comes to let it go, to let it go.” – Mary Oliver
The phrase “letting go” has roots in Old English. Over time, the word “letting” or “let,” has held two opposite and related meanings: “to slacken or loosen” or “to hinder.” And the word “go” has meant “to advance, or move forward.” When combined, the words “letting” + “go” mean making room for -or- hindering our ability to move forward. In this way, we can understand how moving forward relies on our ability to release or loosen our grip on things.
This is a nice reminder because the art of letting go is an important part of thriving in the living world. Year after year, we see mother nature’s resilience in letting go as the leaves burst with color then make their way to the forest floor, decomposing back into the earth. We humans (and all living beings) do this too.
The ancients say that through fire we can burn away the things that no longer serve us, and that from the ashes new growth emerges – leaving you burnished and pure and clean. Sometimes letting go is equated with sadness or loss, but letting go can really be a powerful force for growing, enriching.
So, what are some of the things that we can let go of to help us move on, to advance in life? Possessions, stories, expectations, thoughts, memories, ideas… And what are some of the ways we can let go of the things that deplete us?
Take this moment to reflect with curiosity…
What <story, possessions, expectations, thoughts> about yourself could you left go of in order to truly thrive?
What would help you let go?
Do these stories honor your ancestors or your next generation?
For their sake, would you let them go?
When you have identified that which you would like to loosen, or release, designing a way to formally honor this decision can also help anchor change. Many cultures have designed ceremonies or small acts to honor releasing. Here are just a two rituals that may serve:
Burning Bowl: Write the thing you wish to release on a piece of paper. Fold it up and think of the people who will benefit from your decision to let go. Then, light the piece of paper over a bowl of water and watch as it fades away, your intention rising through smoke into the air.
Burden Rocks: The Native American people believe that rocks possess great strength. They have the power to carry and take in things which are too heavy for us to carry alone. Release a burden that no longer serves by walking outside and finding a rock. Hold that rock in your hand for some time, allowing that burden to melt away from your body into the dense earth. When you are ready, walk out and place your rock back on solid ground. Thank it, then walk away lighter and free.
Wishing you the lightness of letting go in the late days of Fall and the space it brings to grow come Spring…
“The wind and I could come by and carry
you the last part of your journey,
if you become light enough,
by just letting go of a few more things
you are clinging to…that still
believe in gravity.”