The Subtle Art of Letting Go
Hello Dear Readers! I can’t believe we are officially into the winter season! It has been a long year, and there are a lot of things that we needed to leave behind as we navigate the “new normal” of the pandemic and move into 2021. I thought in light of that; I’d give you a few tips about the art of letting go to help you ring in the New Year with a fresh perspective.
Letting go is not something that humans generally do easily. We tend to want to hang on to things that are going well, and we have a difficult time releasing things that we feel are “unfinished,” whether good or bad. 2020 was the year of all years to learn the art of letting go, whether it was easy or not. Sometimes life throws a curveball, and all you can do is dodge and keep trying to get to first base.
In my role as a life coach, I work with people who are dealing with significant life changes in the family, career, and other life transitions. Every individual is unique, but there are life circumstances that happen more often than others, and sometimes there are universally helpful tools that can be beneficial across the board. Let’s look at a few simple ways that you can make letting go a little more fun!
Letting go, with flair!
GET CREATIVE: Every year, I have a tradition of creating a decorative box or jar in which to deposit all of the things that I want to leave in the previous year. I make little slips of paper and write out the thoughts, feelings, experiences, doubts, disappointments, and wrongs that I would like to relinquish to the past. I leave them in the jar for a few months, and then, around Valentine’s Day, I practice a little self-love and re-read them and then ceremoniously throw them away, cut them up and flush them, or burn them. This exercise works on two levels. First, it makes me think about what I might be holding on to that’s been lurking in the back of my mind. It’s a meditation. Second, it gives me a physical reminder and experience of my intention to let those things go. Once the jar or box is empty, I reuse it as a place to put my intentions for the year ahead.
VISUALIZE: As anyone who’s been reading my column for the last two years knows, I am into Mindfulness. One of the benefits of that practice is that we can more easily bring attention to the present moment and get unstuck from the past. One great way to do this is by playing in your imagination. For this exercise, find a quiet and comfy place where you can dedicate a few moments to the following visualization (after reading through the directions, of course): First, in your mind’s eye, picture a place in nature that makes you feel at ease. Perhaps it is a lake or a stream in the forest; maybe it is a mountaintop or a green grassy hill in summer. Anywhere you feel comforted and soothed will work. It could even be a castle in the clouds! After you’ve imagined your paradise, bring to mind some things that you would like to let go of or release from your mind and heart. Imagine dropping each thing (thought, feeling, experience, etc.) into the water and watching it float downstream, or blow it into a bubble and watch it float away into the sky. Feel yourself getting lighter and lighter with each thing you release until you feel so light that you could float away yourself. When you feel complete with the releasing part of the exercise, relax in your peaceful place for as long as you like. When you emerge, don’t be surprised if you have a relaxed smile on your face! An additional use for this visualization is to go to your “paradise” whenever you feel stressed and allow yourself to take some R&R there.