The 4 Steps To Letting Go

How do we let go?

This is the question I've been asked most throughout my career. Clients, yoga students, junior high-schoolers, high-schoolers, college students, adults. You catch my drift. Everyone wants to know, how do we let go. 

I once heard someone demonstrate it to a group of inquiring minds this way. "Hold onto this banana, and they handed the person a banana. Ok, let it go, and the person let go. That's how you let go." Everyone clapped and for a while after that I suppose I believed that there wasn't a formula. I realize that's bull-shit, there is totally a formula.

Here is the formula:

I bought a necklace ~ or really a piece of art ~ six years ago and wore around my neck every time I stepped into the realms of forgiveness, leadership, grief, fear, etc. The stones are a translucent blue color like the ocean and they symbolize an empty vessel. When I bought the necklace I was certain it was my job (I am a Capricorn rising for those of you that follow astrology) to fill the necklace up, and fill it up I did.

Last summer I was enrolled in an expansive, life transforming rites of passage program, similar from one's I have done in the past. As I got ready on the first evening of the program, I reached for the necklace, secured it around my neck and off I went. It broke with in the first hour of being on this journey. Part of me was sad and disappointed but the larger part in me knew its time was over so I put it away in a closet in my home and that was that.

About 3 weeks ago, I came across it and felt compelled to throw it away...those memories are not the ones I want to live anymore. The stones are filled with old stories and beliefs...of grief and fear, a lot of stuff from my childhood, and a lot of things that no longer serve me, all things that are not a part of my daily day to day life. Yep, I was going to throw it away.

Here's what I did instead and as I did this I realized that THIS is what it looks like to let go. I took the necklace apart. One by one, I took the stones off. I held them in my hand and thanked them for holding the huge-ness of what is my life. I set them out gently and methodically on my outside table to clear in the sun and I let them be. Later that evening, I got them from outside, brought them inside, ran them under water and put them into a glass. I'm not sure what I am going to do with them yet, but I am definitely not throwing them away. The stones hold stories and beliefs that I am ready to be done with, but they are not meant to be cast away, they simply need to be made into something new. 

I boiled it down to 4 quick and dirty points for you all. 

In order to let go:

1. You need to give thanks for the past - There is a textural component here. First off, the charge around whatever you need to let go of needs to neutralize in order to alchemize. So you do need to get to a place where you are able to name it and take a deep breath in as you do so. You need to have done enough work with it so that it's not like you are ripping a baby from it's mother because in many cases when we are letting go, we are letting go of something that served us deeply. There are many brilliant ways to metabolize our past so that we can hold gratitude for it.

2. You need to let go with reverence and ritual - Unless you take some space and time around this step, it stays with you. There are many ways to take something apart with reverence and with ritual. In the example above, I simply held each crystal in my hand and thanked it and then let it clear, washed it with water and put it into a new container. 

3. You need to acknowledge what it is that you want to let go of - With out the acknowledgement and the naming there is no real release that is going to happen, it stays inside. By saying it out loud we give it breath and allow it to become part of the bigger story, not just our own story. We need to throw it into the fire, release it into the earth. In different cultures and healing modalities there are different ways to do this. They are, in fact, endless.

4. You need to let it move through and then allow it to exist in its new form - We become attached to how it feels or looks in its old form - whether this be a necklace, a person, an aspect of ourselves, a pattern in a partnership or friendship. Memories are stored in the cells of the body and areas of the brain, and you need to allow it to be, to move, and to exist as something new. That last part takes some training of the mind. There is heart, body and mind in this step.

Lastly and most importantly, be gentle and active with yourself in the process of letting go. Reach out for guidance and support, dance, love, be in nature, surround yourself with people and things that nurture you and realize that you are shifting so that you can become more full, more free, and more of yourself.