The Art of Letting Go

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Autumn is well and truly upon us here in London, the leaves have turned from their once healthy green and the city now basks in a beautiful golden glow as they begin to fall. This has to be one of my favourite seasons, such a treat for the senses. It feels like everything starts to slow down and take on a more relaxed pace as life enters a period of hibernation and in some cases, bids us farewell. It is a time where you can reap the rewards of what was planted in Spring as there’s an added clarity this season brings in with it.

Recently I’ve started to view the season as a time for new beginnings, a time to reflect on what has been and readying yourself for the new year ahead. I was reminded of this as my family and I celebrated the Hindu New Year last week. And then again last Saturday, when I spent the day at an urban retreat with the lovely Spirited Project. Robyn Silverton spoke beautifully about how Autumn is a time for retreat and turning inwards. Leaves and flowers shed and now is the time to take care of all that is within, Robyn placed particular emphasis on the word retreat. Autumn is introspective and caring, you shed what is no longer necessary in order to re-treat. That is to begin to take care of what is within after a hive of activity earlier in the year. At the urban retreat, we cleansed and let go of anything that no longer served us and set our intentions for what we would like to call into the new year: “Fall is the right time to practice getting out of the way and letting Spirit take charge of our lives”.

I love this beautiful description of Autumn’s purpose by Christine Valters Paintner: “Autumn is a season of transition, reminding us that our lives are constantly in flux. Autumn brings us to a deeper awareness that we live in a continual cycle of dying and rising…as the trees begin to pull energy inward for the coming hibernation of winter, the chlorophyll in the leaves decreases and the vibrant shades we witness are the tree’s true colour…Autumn is a season of paradox that invites us to consider what we are called to release and surrender – what no longer serves us or what gets in the way of being present to the holiness of each moment. Autumn also invites us to gather in the harvest, to name and celebrate the fruit of the seeds of dreams we planted months ago. In holding these two in tension, we are reminded that in our letting go, we also find abundance.

What I love most about this season, is the ease by which everything seems to let go. There’s an innate trust that this is a necessary part of the greater process, there is no need to force or try to stop it. The best way is to become a part of it. There is no need to do anything apart from be. If trees, flowers, animals and all of nature can do this then why can’t we? We’re a part of the same process after all aren’t we? The same energy and natural intelligence that flows through them flows through us doesn’t it? We are one in the same thing as much as many of us may try to convince ourselves that we are not, that we’re far superior, we’re not. Nature is on to something, a winning formula, something I’ve been slowly discovering and experiencing for myself day by day as I’ve stepped further into my ‘unlived life’.

After taking the decision to end my career back in July, the wheels were truly set in motion for me to ‘forge a path’ into my new beginning. Naturally, there was a lot of fear attached to not knowing exactly what my next steps were. I had a few rough ideas of things I’d like to try or might be good at but up until a few months before handing in my resignation, they were all just ideas. When would they come into fruition? Well I didn’t know that part for I didn’t expect to taking this step quite as soon as I did. So when I was given the fantastic opportunity to work part time for a month in my ‘day job’ I obviously needed a plan of action so that I wouldn’t lose track or momentum or waste the precious two work days a week I was being gifted with to do as I please.

The first day of working for myself draws closer and I’m excited, I have a whole schedule in place for everything I am going to do, where I’m going to work from, the conversations I need to have – oh how I do love a good plan! So the night before I have stuff I need to get done, to get ticked off my list but by around 9pm I start to not feel so good, maybe I just need to get myself an early night and then I’ll feel much better and will be able to get started on my plan. So I give myself the early night. The alarm goes off the next day – urgh, I feel horrendous, I don’t feel like getting out of bed at all, but I’ve got so much to get done! I can’t spend my first day of working for myself ill! So I drag myself out of bed and try to get on with the day but it’s just not happening, I feel pants. So I sit on this feeling for a bit and then I hear my body say “hang on a minute, you have all these grand plans you want to carry out but don’t forget who you need to help you get on with them”. I knew right then that I had two choices, to push myself through this feeling to work or give myself the rest I deserved to make a quicker recovery and really get stuck into the good stuff. My body was just asking for some much needed TLC and warning me to not push myself too far if it meant I would be ignoring my health.

“The body is in need of no defence. This cannot be too often emphasised. It will be strong and healthy if the mind does not abuse it by assigning it to roles it cannot fill, to purposes beyond its scope, and to exalted aims which it cannot accomplish.” ~ A Course in Miracles

So I rested easy until the next day where I had plans to figure out yet more plans for my wish to go to Bali later in the year. I had a phone call to talk through all of the logistics and by the end of it, instead of feeling excited and elated, I felt stressed and the same pain and spasms that were in my stomach the day before came back harder. I felt upset. Why is my second day of working for myself going so wrong?! This is isn’t how it’s supposed to be! What’s happening? And then I stepped out of myself and realised what I needed to do. I needed to let go. I needed to trust this process I had entered into to be able to take care of itself and just allow it to breathe and in turn, allow myself to breathe too. Yes, I may really want to go to Bali because she’s been calling me for the last two years but I just had to trust that it would happen when it needed to not when I thought it had to. Yes, I am trying to figure out a potential career in graphic design whilst working with my sisters on a vegan desserts venture but again, I had to trust that the way to proceed would become clearer if I just loosened my vice like grip a little. With this realisation, the relief was instant, the spasms in my stomach loosened and without a word of a lie, things really started to flow. Opportunities I never quite expected came up in an instant and with abundance, travel plans became clear and easy to decide, it started to become easier to not be as fixated on the attachments that may be holding me back. Opportunities opened up one after the other: I was guided towards working in design for now and letting my sister take the reigns of the desserts venture. The opportunity in Bali was extended into the new year allowing me to sensibly tie up all of my major responsibilities and earn some more money by the end of this year, the opportunity to work freely and on my own terms in my ‘day job’ arose, as did the opportunity to begin working in the print studio, the list of examples could go on. I was truly experiencing flow!

Anyone who knows me well has probably known me to quite an impatient person in the past and this is something I’ve been working on a lot in the last few years to improve. I can hold on and on to something more than makes sense to and I expect answers and outcomes instantly – not in the slightest bit annoying, I know. Being in and experiencing flow taught me just how important it is to let go. If I am embarking on a journey where the unknown is being experienced on a daily basis, then how exactly am I in a position to make truly informed decisions? If all my judgements are based on what I have experienced in the past or what my preconceived notions of the future are then again, how exactly can I make truly informed judgements?

“The mind engaged in planning for itself is occupied in setting up control of future happenings. It does not think that it will be provided for, unless it makes its own provisions. Time becomes a future emphasis, to be controlled by learning and experience obtained from past events and previous beliefs. It overlooks the present, for it rests on the idea the past has taught enough to let the mind direct its future course.

The mind that plans is thus refusing to allow for change. What it has learned before becomes the basis for its future goals. Its past experience directs its choice of what will happen. And it does not see that here and now is everything it needs to guarantee a future quite unlike the past, without a continuity of any old ideas and sick beliefs. Anticipation plays no part at all, for present confidence directs the way.” ~ A Course in Miracles.

“Ultimately, the word ‘beyond’ captures the true meaning of spirituality…When you constantly go beyond yourself, there are no more boundaries…Beyond is infinite in all directions…Things seem finite because your perception hits mental boundaries. In truth, everything is infinite.

To go beyond, you must keep going past the limits that you put on things…Right now you are using your analytical mind to break the world up into individual thought objects. You are using the same mind to put these discrete thoughts together in a defined relationship to each other. You do this in an attempt to feel a semblance of control. This is seen most clearly in your constant attempt to make the unknown known.” ~ The Untethered Soul, Michael A. Singer

When we are in a state where we feel the need to plan what is most important, the mind says to you “We need to come up with something, we need to come up with something, we need to come up with something!” that is the complete antithesis of living from the heart and in Spirit. To come up means to move in to your mind, far away from your heart, there is no room left to be inspired from beyond the limitations of what you already know.

In yoga we practice a breathing technique called kapalabathi, which is used to exhale any stale air from the lungs thereby clearing your mind, the kapala. This act of forceful inspiration and expiration is said to clear space for that which is no longer needed both physically and mentally. To breathe in is to inspire, therefore it makes perfect sense that by constricting yourself through the need to plan everything is to starve yourself of all the oxygen needed to be inspired and allow nature to just flow.

It now seems completely ridiculous to me all of the situations I’ve gone into expecting something instead of just allowing myself to experience it and how in turn, I’ve prevented nature from taking it’s course. Living in this state of flow for the last few months has been truly liberating. It does not mean I’ve abandoned all forms of common sense, after all I still have a mortgage to renew, trips and things to book, etc. but it means that when I feel myself approaching a point where I may fight with a decision or action, I just trust it enough to let it go and have it come back to me with clarity and direction when it needs to. The perfect example being a few weeks ago where I felt the need to make a decision as to whether I wanted to commit to a £9000, three month full-time design course. A huge investment of money for me, especially at time like this. I felt myself begin to fret as I would need to make plans as to how I could fund it, when would be the best time and if it would actually be a worthwhile investment in the end. I was fretting for a full two days and then as I walked to work for my weekly slot as a junior artworker, I knew I had to let it go as it felt like the questions were taking over my mind and driving me ever so slightly insane. So as I walked, I said to myself “I wish I knew someone who has done the course so I can ask them a few questions” and I let it go so I could focus on my new work. Again, I kid you not, about three hours later, I was sat having a conversation with a lovely lady in my new team who had done exactly that and was able to answer my every question. A few days later, I realised right now was not the time for me to take this opportunity. I let it go and felt that was truly the right decision.

“A healed mind does not plan. It carries out the plans that it receives through listening to wisdom that is not its own. It waits until it has been taught what should be done, and then proceeds to do it. It does not depend upon itself for anything except its adequacy to fulfil the plans assigned to it. It is secure in certainty that obstacles can not impede its progress to accomplishment of any goal that serves the greater plan established for the good of everyone.” ~ A Course in Miracles

“Be as a little child because little children know that they don’t know. You think you know and therefore you are unteachable. Little children wake up excited, adults wake up bored, why? Because we think we know what’s going to happen today and we’re right because we’re taking yesterdays thinking in to today, there’s no room for miracles and adventure. Have a sense of adventure, be something different. A little child knows anything can happen today. Anything can happen in your life today.” ~ Marianne Williamson

Living with this new behaviour is quite the task to instil, it feels like unlearning a process I’ve held on to all of my life. It takes work but the returns on this investment are unlimited. I try to remind myself, if a tree has no issue shedding its leaves and trusting its natural instinct that all will be well and the baby forming inside it’s mother’s womb doesn’t need a manual of instructions of what to do next, then why do I need to plan everything down to the millisecond? Why am I not in a position to tap into this same universal intelligence that keeps all of these amazing feats of nature progressing? Who am I to not experience this same degree of freedom and trust?

This season and as we move in to an ever more introspective season, winter, why not allow yourself to let go of that which no longer serves you, turn inward and enjoy a space in which you know all will be taken care of if you just allow it to? Let your inner light guide you and keep you warm this season.

Trust that your soul has a plan, and even if you can’t see it completely, know that everything will unfold as it is meant to.” ~ Deepak Chopra.

My heartfelt thanks to Christopher Campbell for the photo used in this article that so perfectly captures how it feels to let go and be in flow. To the unending wisdom, spirit and space created by A Course in Miracles, Marianne Williamson, Michael A. Singer, Deepak Chopra, Robyn Silverton, The Spirited Project and Christine Valters Paintner. My greatest thanks to the fallen leaf that caught my attention on the way home last week. This article has been gestating inside me for a while and seeing you made it all make so much sense and gave it birth. Namaste.


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