There’s something in the coming of fall, the changing of leaves, and the turning of the weather that will speak to us if we are quiet enough to pay attention. When night skies darken sooner, our spirits, too, have the chance to turn inwards. In the changing of the seasons, we are given the opportunity to look for what we want to let go of.
Of course, the act of letting go can be done during any time of the year. However, the lessons of autumn remind us that when we release what we’ve been clinging to, change can be beautiful. As the popular meme says, “The leaves are about to show us how lovely it is to let the dead things go.”
Too often, though, releasing negative experiences, relationships, and thought patterns doesn’t feel lovely. It feels difficult, and at times, impossible to fully move forward instead of releasing what’s no longer good for us. Many of us struggle with ruminating thoughts and stay trapped in ruts we’ve dug out for ourselves. We hold onto the past in fear. We doubt who we will be if we say good-bye to the different seasons of our lives. We grip tightly to models of thinking that got us to where we are in life, even when we know in our hearts and minds that it is time to move on.
The good news is, releasing what no longer serves us is repetitive work. We have the chance to practice. It is often the braver, bolder choice.
“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”
― Ann Landers
As we move towards the season of letting go, here are a few things to consider as we enter into autumn.
Complete a Letting Go Ritual
Professional organizer Mary Lynne Murray likes to say, “There are as many ways of letting go as there are people. But one thing is universal, and that is the need to find meaning in the chaos.” Rituals help us make meaning, and provide tangible transitions to release whatever we may be holding onto unnecessarily. You get to choose what can work for you.
Start by asking the question, “What am I ready to say good-bye to?” and explore what comes up in your body. Where are you holding tension in your muscles? Is your jaw clenched? What memories are floating to the surface - perhaps ones you most want to squash down?
As your answers become more clear, consider the following rituals representing the elements that could work for you:
Fire - Make a list and burn it. Make a list of what you are ready to release. This can be thoughts, experiences, negative emotions, or old beliefs. In a safe space, watch as the flames lick away that which was gripping you. As ashes form, honor the remnants by saying “I no longer need you and return you to the earth. Thank you.”
Water - Release to the water Water can be a healing source for many. There are many ways to release what you’re holding onto into moving bodies of water. Go to a riverbed and select a few stones that are along the edge of the water. With a Sharpie, write words that represent what you want to release. When you’re done simply toss the rocks back into the river. Watch as they make impact with the water, and in their splash, the words become the water, no longer taking up space in your heart and mind.
Or, find flowers or leaves that will float and say a prayer of release before dropping the items into the current as symbols of what no longer serves you. As they swirl away, say “I release these experiences that no longer serve me.”
Earth - Leave it behind.
Being in nature has unique healing components. You may consider visiting one of your favorite outdoor locations, but going out to the garden would work as well. Create a space where you can leave your worries. On small slips of paper, write what you want to release and leave them in the space. If you prefer to bury the slips of paper, you can do so here too. Say a release mantra like “Letting go is the best thing I can do” or “As I move on, I experience inner peace” and when you are ready, leave the space behind and walk away.
Focus on The Breath
Our breath is a powerful tool. Our automatic inhales and exhales sustain us without much thought. However, when we tune in to how we are filling our lungs with intention, we can tap into new awareness about what our body is telling us. The process is connected to our physical and mental states, and the good news is, we have power in controlling our breath.
Livingmetta.com shares “The Letting Go Breath,” an easy exercise to use during times of overwhelm or intentional release. To complete this breath practice, follow these steps:
“1. Inhale gently and fully through your nose. 2. Exhale gently out an open mouth. As you exhale, focus on imagining any pain, tension, or stress exiting the area and out your entire body.
3. Repeat for three or more cycles or minutes.
As you complete the process, imagine inhaling an uplifting quality (like joy, ease, or love), and then exhale whatever no longer serves you (like criticism, blame, or stress). Each breath is an invitation to receive on your inhalation and to let go on your exhalation.”
For a visual representation, check out this video from yogajournal.com.
Paulo Coelho, author of The Alchemist, once said “If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” As you work on releasing, open your heart with curiosity and ask, “What new hellos could be waiting just around the bend?”
We understand the power of releasing what no longer serves us as you navigate the path towards wellness. When you are ready to say hello to new things, the team at Aspen Ketamine Center can guide you through meditation, yoga, and breathwork exercises that nurtures mind, body, and spirit. Set up a call today to explore what support could be helpful for you.
What rituals or practices help you let go when you know it’s time to move on? Let us know in the comments!