"To let go does not mean to get rid of. To let go means to let be. When we let be with compassion, things come and go on their own." - Jack Kornfield
Letting go of things we cherish, or feelings that are deeply anchored within us, is not an easy task. Letting go doesn't happen from one day to another, and it goes on for a period of time; it isn't something that happens just once and then, VOILA! that feeling or thought is gone. That is why I like starting just with the possibility of letting go: staying open to this idea that we don't have to hold on too tight to what is familiar; that slowly we can loosen our grip, breathe deeply, and give it space to be. Remembering that we can't control what happens outside of ourselves, we cannot control other people and situations, but that we are responsible for our own reactions to everything that happens.
So, what do you do? How do you stay open to this posibility? First, notice how you are feeling, and yes, place a label on the feeling! I am feeling "frustrated", I am feeling "angry", I am feeling "sad." We start to feel these heavy emotions when we stop flowing, when we start resisting what is happening; something we want is not here, someone didn't do what we wanted or what we expected, or we are simply afraid of losing what we have or afraid we'll never get what we want (there are many more reasons, these are just a few.) So, identify the feeling and then let go of your mind.
Now you know what you are feeling, so ask: where do I feel it? It could feel like tension on the belly, tightness on the chest, headache, shallow breathing. And finally, once you have located where in your body you feel this emotion, just breathe! Take a moment, and breathe. Deep, full inhales, soft, long exhales. Do this for a minute or two, repeating the affirmation: I am open to letting go. I am open to letting go. Let your whole body relax.
And that's it. You don't have to let go of anything, finding resistance to the idea of letting go is also normal. Be with the resistance, be with the feeling, do not push anything away. Let it be there without the thoughts in your mind! What this means is that without your thoughts you are actually staying grounded in the present moment - let the present moment be your guide. Ask again: what do I need right now? how can I nourish myself? And go from there.
A few exercises that can be helpful:
- Make a list of things you don't want/don't need anymore, and a list of things you would like to nourish or get more of in your life (these could be habits, emotions, physical things)
- Out of this list, see which of these "things" you could let go of right now (Spring cleaning, anyone?) and then stay open to the possibility of letting go of all the other things in your list.
- Journal every night before going to bed. Journaling is a great way to release the heavy energy. Just let the pen write, whether what you write makes sense or not; do not try to make it look pretty or less painful, let it be raw, authentic. Then breathe, repeat your affirmation; do not judge what you wrote (or yourself!) At the end, write a couple of things to give you some loving energy, something like: I still love and accept myself just as I am; I am worthy of love and success; or any other phrase that resonates with you. Maybe a quote from someone that inspires you.
(By the way, journaling also lets you realize how cyclical things are. Notice the patterns: when do you feel lighter? when do you feel heavier?)
- Whenever you feel heavy this week, repeat your affirmation and remember: You are perfect the way you are; with emotions, with faults - you are still perfect and whole.