There is a lot of uncertainty and change out there right now. We as human beings crave predictability, but the only constant source of stability we can count on and cultivate is within. Now is the time to strengthen our wisdom, ignite our inner fire, and be the calm within the storm for ourselves and for each other.
I often ask my students, “What are you really hungry for now?” They don’t say French fries or more clothes. These are the common responses:
- I want peace.
- I want more time.
- I want to feel more connected, and be able to stay in the present moment more often when I’m spending time with those in my life.
Seem like a tall order? Not necessarily. In fact, we can reach some of these goals by simplifying our approach to everyday activities and encounters. One practice that brings us closer to strengthening our inner stability is letting go.
I first came in contact with the practice of letting go from one of my first teachers and mentors, James Baraz (https://www.awakeningjoy.info). James is a Co-Founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the author and originator of the class and book, Awakening Joy and Awakening Joy for Kids. Earlier in the year James and I were talking about how the act of letting go helps you to be more content with less.
3 Ways Letting Go Helps You Navigate Uncertainty
1) Let go of story. What stories about yourself are keeping you wound up? For example, when difficulty arises in a relationship it may trigger thoughts like: “I am not good enough or I don’t have enough.” What story can you let go of? What story do you want to cultivate that creates more peace and balance? This is one that I use often: “I am being fully supported and have everything that I need right now.” I automatically feel more peace and inner stability after a minute of repeating this thought. We can replace the old story with something more supportive at any time during the day or simply repeat it over and over as a way to calm the mind and body.
2) Let go of stuff. We acquire so many things because we believe that this thing, this experience, etc., will make us happy. By continuing to search outside of ourselves for pleasure without a strong inner practice to tether to, we will always be hungry and our hearts and bellies will never feel full. What if you could come from a place of enough—how much stuff would you actually need? What do you really need to feel full?
3) Let go of busyness. This is the one we are all in search of. Everyone I meet seems to feel stretched with the information overload, the list of neverending tasks, the musts, and the shoulds. Sometimes the best way to have more—time, connection, and freedom, is to commit to less. How can you simplify your life so you have time for what really matters? What is the first thing you can let go of today?
Every few months when the seasons change, I do an intentional letting go practice. This weekend as the leaves were changing and falling, it felt like a wonderful time to practice letting go. I decided to let go of an old story I had been telling myself for a long, long time. It was holding me back and so I felt ready to burn it.
On the heels of this weekend a huge fire occurred where I live in Northern California. As a result of this fire, this practice of letting go has become even more vibrant as people have lost their homes, the clean air we took for granted to breathe is not available right now, and there are many other things we are all adapting to and letting go of in this new norm until the outer fire subsides.
The irony of this experience is that the outer fire can ignite our inner fire. We can think of the outer fire as any hardship, challenge, or natural disaster that we must meet and move through with grace and grit.
Our inner fire is connected to our deeper gifts and talents and yet what gets in the way of us leading from this light is our attachment to our story, stuff, and busyness. This is what dampens our inner fire.
More than ever, we need to come together, to lead, to bring our light to diffuse the outer fires. Our world cannot be healed without everyone being engaged. Each one of us is part of the puzzle of the greater awakening and healing of our world and planet.
When we let go of the stories that keep us mired in self-criticism and self-doubt (and ultimately separate from one another); when we let go of the need for stuff, and when we let go of the need to be busy, we create the inner stability we need to meet challenges with more resilience, inner fire, and clear-headedness. That feeling of not being good enough starts to chip away, and we can begin to feel that whatever we are looking for is already here. We have greater space to bring our light, make decisions, and contribute to what really matters to us.
I invite you to pick one of these three categories of letting go and explore it with kindness and curiosity. See what you notice. Practice this for a month and see what changes for you.
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