Hey, ya’ll- I’ve been out for a few days on a dark part of my path. At first I thought I was in a bit of a spiritual ‘cave,’ being in my dark, but I realized, “no, this isn’t a stop, it’s the path- it’s just a dark part of the path. A place I have to do real work.” So, I’ve been doing the work. I’ll say more about that in another post because I’ve been learning a lot and I’m close enough to some aspects and stages of growth to be able to parse them out more clearly. Anywho….
Last week I had my ego mowed down in the most gracious and succinct way and I’ve been doing the work from the lesson it gave me. I had been wanting to let go of a connection with someone but it just never quite would go away. (I have this trouble- my heart is big, it would hold on to people forever if it could.) And in few moments filled with a lot of energy and drama the connection came to a crashing halt and I was given the lesson I so desperately needed to learn.
This is often how it has gone in my life with important lessons: I hang on until the lesson or teaching is revealed and then – poof! – I no longer need or desire the connection with that other person. It’s abrupt, and some people don’t like abrupt, but that split-second shift is sometimes a very merciful thing. It makes it easier to let go.
In the spiritual practice of letting go, there are two important times to surrender:
- When you’re ready to.
- When you’re not ready to.
Often we know when we need to let go, but we’re not ready. That’s the time you need to let go.
Often we know when we need to let go, and we’re totally ready. That’s also the time you need to let go.
And, in my experience, we all know when we should let go, we just wait as long as we can, hoping Life will give us different instructions. But, no. Life will always have her way with us- best to do what she asks, when she asks.
When we’re being asked to let go (whether we’re ready or not) there are some rituals that can help. Rituals are a way of formalizing and deeply acknowledging the importance of what we’re doing- the importance of letting go. I believe that rituals touch the deeper waves of our personal energy force and help shift things at the subconscious level- so they can help us let go more easily, giving us energetic support to open our fingers and release.
Ways to Let Go with Ritual
Burn. A favorite for millennia among the spiritual and the secular. Write a letter, write a name, draw a picture, whatever it may be- set it alight and know that the energy of the thing goes with it as the ashes form and blow away.
In the Italian Catholic tradition, one writes the name of things they wish to be rid of on a bay leaf and then burns the leaf in a candle. Very fiery and effective, especially if you’re feeling a little Sicilian.
Rip. Slightly less final than burning, but it feels quite good to tear something asunder with your own hands. Think of Dead Poets Society– rip with joy.
Bury. Also a favorite for millennia. Create some symbol of what you wish to let go of and bury it. Bury it deep. Bury it far. Let it return to that from whence it came.
Flush. I prefer this one when I need a little humor in my ritual. We flush gold fish, why not our finished connections? Paper is best for this one- don’t clog the pipes or you get an entirely different outcome for your ritual!
Fly. Tie your symbol or words to a rock and huck it as far as you can. Drop it from a high place (make sure no one below will be hurt). Ask someone to drop it at the nearest airport garbage can.
Dance. I think dancing something away has to be done carefully. Dancing is usually for the taking in of things (see: whirling dervish). But I do believe we can dance our way free of things. And if that is what is needed, let it be.
Bind. Sometimes we just want something to keep its own boundary so that we can be free. In this case, let your words, letter, names, or symbol be bound with string or tape or whatever feels right. Bind it up so that it can’t get into your space anymore.
Digital Sorcery. In this modern age, everything goes down on a phone or tablet or computer. And those spaces need to be cleansed, too. I prefer deleting contacts to blocking them, as blocking means the person continues to take up space on your phone. Take screen caps of whatever you might need and then d-e-l-e-t-e.
And make sure to email those screen caps to yourself so you can completely clear the phone out. And stick those screen caps in a folder far, far away from your daily routine; another way to bury.
Funeral. Sometimes, when shit is deep or hard or long-standing, you gotta call in the big guns. Create a funeral for the connection. Speak your piece- roll out the soliloquy of anger, disaster, fear, frustration, gratitude, love, wisdom. Play some music. Stick the words, the symbols, the name, in the ground. And let it go.
Speak. Sometimes, all you need is to say the words out loud: “I’m letting this go.” “I’m done with this, now.” “I accept that this is done.” “Be well. Take care. Goodbye.” And even if you only say it to yourself, that is enough.
Energy Clearing. Many traditions have special words, rituals, or tools to help clear away connections. Native Americans clean a space or energy with the smoke from burned sage leaves. Pagans may simply blow on a thing, as if blowing out candles, to clear the energy. You can wash or dust something away. You can simply pretend to do those things (in the case of a phone, for instance) as part of a ritual and it will be equally effective as if you’d actually done it.
For the moment, these are the options I can think of. I’ll add more if I think of them (please add yours in the comments!).
The point of any ritual of letting go is to help us connect to the finishing of a connection and also symbolically recognize it- and allow it to come to completion in our psyche as well as our everyday life. Sometimes it is as easy as I had it- the lesson arrives and the connection dies all in the same moment. And sometimes it takes longer. But a good ritual can help us accept this part of our journey and find meaning in it. Letting go is an important part of life. And the more we can practice it, the better off we’ll be.
More soon, fellow travelers,
Joanna :: xoxo