Learning to Let Go – Lessons of Autumn

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“Wouldn’t it be terrible if the trees outside identified themselves by their leaves? These are very flimsy things to be attached to.” ~ Adyashanti in Emptiness Dancing

Indeed it would be terrible! Especially come Autumn when they all fall away! Imagine all those trees bending over with their branches frantically scrambling to pick up their leaves and trying to hold onto them, year after year. Think about all the things we are attached to: our ideas, our appearance, our grudges, our “things.” We scramble in this way when we see them slipping away, our grasp becomes more firm, and our energy more scattered. Yet there is so much we are meant to let go of to allow us to nurture our core, who we really are, and the things that are truly important. There is so much bullhonkey we mistake for things that are truly who we are, and they distract us from our truth.

Think of all the ways that you have been stopped from doing something new, opening your heart, or taking a risk in the name of something you’re holding on to. How many times have you said, “Oh, that’s not me/my style.” “I’m not ready.” “I’ll never forgive him/her for that.” “I’m not strong enough for that.” “I’m not good looking enough.” “I don’t deserve that.”

Here’s news: Some things are meant to be with us for only a season, some things we outgrow, some things were never a part of us to begin with…and we have to let go. Only in doing this can we have the energy and focus it takes to truly nurture our core and our roots.

5 Ways to Let Go This Autumn

1. Get super clear about what your TRUE CORE is…at least what it is for this season (things change – including YOU!). What is your identity?

This is not about the things you are simply “used” to identifying with. Not the characteristics in that box that people have put you in since you were 7 years old. Not the lessons you learned on how to protect yourself when your heart was broken 12 years ago. Make a list of 60 characteristics that describe who you are, your identity. If you were asked to give up 1/3 of those, which would they be? Cross them out. Then someone asks you to give up another 1/3. Cross those out. And yes, do that ONE MORE TIME – another 1/3. Let them go. What is the 10% you are left with? How much time do you spend nurturing these characteristics?

2. Forgive Someone

Will ya let go of that grudge already?! It’s fine and dandy to pick someone to forgive for a minor infraction. However, I encourage you to dig deep with this one and find someone with whom it is a bit more challenging to forgive. Not for their sake, but for YOURS. It doesn’t take a Zen monk to realize that not forgiving causes more suffering to the person not forgiving that it ever does to the person not forgiven. At the same time, there is an incredible amount of freedom that comes with forgiving. Is it really that important that your friend didn’t write or call for a few weeks? Or that you didn’t get invited to that one holiday weekend when everyone went to the ski cabin? Or that your meat and potatoes family refuses to comply with your vegan standards at Thanksgiving? And yes, is it really that important that your ex left you for someone else, or that your father was angry and violent…so important that it burns a hole in your heart to this day and keeps you from realizing complete happiness? Yes, it can be important, but not worth not forgiving and the suffering it brings you.

Forgiving does not mean forgetting. We remember things for a reason. It helps us to learn from our experiences, to protect ourselves, and to remember what makes us feel good as well. It teaches us what we want and don’t want. However, forgiveness allows us to move on, to grow, and to expand instead of constrict, contract, and limit ourselves. It does not mean you have to forget, and put yourself into the same negative situation over and over.

3. Forgive Yourself

Wow. OK. So you totally screwed up. Man, you really blew it. What the hell were you thinking?

WHO CARES?! It’s done. It’s over. You can’t change what happened. However, you can change how you act now, and in the future. You can choose to respond instead of react. You remember what you did NOT so that you can beat yourself up about it every day, but so that you don’t make the same mistake again. You are allowed to grow and change. You are not your mistakes. You are a kick ass human being who is not broken or messed up or a lost cause. You are brilliant, magnificent, and creative. You can be whomever you want to be, be however you want to be, and do it (SNAP!) like that! You just need to decide to. So, stop beating yourself up about shhhtuff and forgive yourself. THIS will allow you to do things differently, because you acknowledge to the Universe – and to yourself – that you know you are capable of anything.

OK, now that we got some of the heavier “letting go” stuff out of the way, let’s get to some tangibles…

4. Get Rid of Stuff (e.g. Clean Out Your Closet, Remove Clutter)

This is totally about a big issue of mine. However, I have to assume I am not alone on this one. I am well-aware of the clutter my myriad t-shirts, yoga pants, tank tops, and jeans cause. Yes, I admit I even have dresses from the 90s. And maybe even one from the 80s. I like retro. Which would all be dandy if I actually wore them. And more than once every 3 years. Even though it was PERFECT for that rooftop party ages ago. And yes, that includes tutus…or does it? In any event, get rid of stuff. If you’re stressed about the money you spent on them, sell them to a consignment shop, to a used clothing store, or get a big phat receipt from Goodwill for your donation. Just ‘cuz you bought it doesn’t mean you have to keep it in that big box called your closet. Things in there are for things that get worn.

5. Stop a Bad Habit

What is a habit anyway? It’s not something we need. It is something we’re used to. Food, we need. Eating after work at 10pm, a habit. Rest, we need. Plopping in front of the TV after work and zoning out, a habit. Self-soothing when we’re stressed, we need. Nail biting, smoking, and complaining to anyone around us, a habit. Habits are yet another form of unconscious attachment. Let go of one…at least for 21 days. It is said it takes 21 days to form a new habit – like not doing your old bad habit!

Some final thoughts from Adyashanti:

Self-inquiry is…not about looking for a right answer so much as stripping away and letting you see what is not necessary, what you can do without, what you are without your leaves. In human beings…we do not call these leaves. We call them ideas, concepts, attachments, and conditioning. All of this forms your identity. Inquiry is a way of inducing a spiritual winter in its most positive sense, stripping everything to its root, to its core…This is a falling into the most essential root of being.

As you probably know by now, “Ziji” means “radiant inner confidence.” This growth requires courage and faith in who you are, and that you are indeed magnificent. Play with the courage it takes to let go, to see your core, and consider joining the October Ziji Up! Challenge for an extra kick in the butt.

 

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