The Art of Letting Go

“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”
                                                                              -Robert Frost

In winter the leaves have left the trees for the season and our plants and trees as well as many animals go into a dormant period. Everything slows down and pulls inward gathering resources and strength for the re-birth to come. If we could learn from the seasons we would learn a lot.

As with the seasons, it is true of us as human beings; there is greater beauty to be found in us as we mature and grow wiser with the years. We have acquired wisdom and understanding that can only come from age. We become beautiful in a very different way; much as wine becomes more fragrant and rich and mellow. Society doesn’t always value this inner beauty. The value comes with us. As we value ourselves we can more easily let go. This inner sense gives us a greater sense of wholeness, inner vitality and spiritual/mental/physical health.

Some of us grow old gracefully in this way, and some of us resist the changes and have a hard time letting go. I will tell you a true story of my father and his struggle in this regard.

As his mind is struggling with finding words, and he has let go of his house cleaning, financial management, cooking, etc., he still holds on frantically to his life. For him, this means his work. His work has defined him. It became clear to us, his children, that he has come to a place in life where he needs assistance to his daily living. We found a place for him to live where his needs are met, he has supervision and food, and it is near one of his daughters. This move required leaving his apartment and his work as he has known it. He left it kicking and screaming.

On his last day here, we had planned a dinner where folks can come and give tributes to him. My brother flew in to physically move him to his new city and place and give him support along the way. My other sister and I assisted his packing and tried to help get ready to move and to let go of the old and bring in the new and unknown.

He was still seeing a few patients and he had not told them he would be moving. In fact, one patient even came to an appointment the week after we moved him; he never told her. I had to let many of his patients know that he was moving. My father’s tenacity has always been legendary.

On the day before the move, my brother and I sat with him and another person who dad thought that they together, the other person and he, could find a way where dad didn’t have to move.

In fact the day before his move, a friend of his came by to convince us that dad didn’t actually need to move.  My brother and I were ready to pack the car for the drive, and yet we spent that afternoon in long discussion about how they could make it so dad could stay. My father, being very tenacious, just couldn’t see the need for the move.

It is hard to let go of much of one’s independence. At one point, he looked at me and asked me what I would do if he refused to move. I told him I couldn’t make him, but I wouldn’t be a part of anything I didn’t believe would be in his best interest. After about three difficult hours, we could see that dad was beginning to understand that even if he stayed in St. Louis, he wouldn’t be living in the same place; that everything would be new.

He then asked to speak alone with the other gentleman. My brother and I left for the dinner not knowing if dad would stay or not. It was 5:00 p.m., the day before the supposed move. Dad arrived at the dinner, and after others arrived, and we all ate, my brother started off the tributes for our father. There were lovely and moving stories; very touching and true. Everyone was teary eyed, and dad clearly moved. He was able to hear, while he was alive, what he has meant to many people and the gifts he game them.

As most everyone was saying their goodbyes and pictures were being taken, he began speaking about leaving in the morning. It was after 7:00 p.m. The three of us, my brother, dad and me, then went back to his home and packed up the car for the drive.

It was hearing what he has given to so many people that helped him to be able to let go and move into the unknown. I felt it as God’s intervention or hand that allowed this shift to occur. He didn’t have enough of an inner sense of his value to be able to shift into this phase of his life without a battle. As he was able to take in what other’s gained from him, enough of a sense of value sifted into his being so that he could move forward.

Letting go takes work, but when we are ready, it can happen in an instant.

Shift Your Story; Guided Visualization/Meditation

Every one of us has as aspect within us which has a hard time letting go, and wants to control someone or something. This meditation is an opportunity to look at something in us which does want to change and see us/it anew.

Find a comfortable place to sit, and sit with both feet planted gently on the ground in front of you, and with your bottom up against the back of the chair so your back has support.

Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to help to silence your mind and to shift into a deeper inner space.

Think about something you would like to change in yourself or in your life, but have had a hard time doing so; you feel stuck.

See that part of you or that aspect as clearly as you possibly can, and give the situation your full attention and say as clearly and completely as you possibly can what your issue is  and what you are stuck with and about.

Voice this out loud or silently, but thoroughly, with complete sentences. This allows you to see the situation clearly. Don’t leave out any detail.

As you see this clearly, then take another couple of deep breaths. Now imagine and see how things would and could be if you could let go and let things happen. See yourself having lost the weight you have been wanting to lose, or see you out of the bad relationship and living happily in a situation you would love, or see you in your new home or your new job, etc.

See it thoroughly and as completely as possible with every detail you can imagine. What is the color of his/her eyes, or the color of the walls, or the details of your new job, or how you would feel in his arms, or moving easily without pain, etc?

Stay with this new image as long as you can or as feels right.

Now, pay attention to what your voice is telling you; can you allow yourself these things or are there voices telling you that you can’t, for whatever reason? Listen to your voices as closely as possible; just noticing. Take a couple of deep breaths and then open your eyes and come back to the present.

Take out a pen and paper and write down the new images and also the voices you remember that you heard that keep you from moving in that direction. Just look at them. When your desire is strong enough for the new to be able to let go of the old, and with the insights of what you tell yourself that keeps you stuck, you can then begin moving forward and letting go; even if this is one small step at a time.

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