Letting Go

This is probably one of the most paradoxical and challenging aspects of being a human being; letting go.

How can one embrace life and also let it go? This question used to haunt me and grew painfully loud when I became a mother.

Life and death are a single point in our existence. For anything to be born, something else dies, which then makes the “thing that died”, part of the living thing.

It has taken me many years to fully understand that letting go is both a spiritual and practical practice; one that is critical to my overall health, productivity, and well-being. There are countless teachers and books to guide one through the process, but the best “teacher” is your own life.

Letting go is one of the biggest “advancers” of consciousness– it can literally transform your human experience from one of chronic suffering (mental, emotional, and physical), to one of personal freedom and peace.

Father Richard Rohr has a passage in one of his books about “the colonized, the marginalized, the recovered, etc.” as a sub-set of our human family who are intimately aware of the necessity of forgiveness and the letting go of the distortions that block personal reconciliation and healing.

How do you reconcile (literally) the injustices, crimes, and ongoing abuses of fellow human beings? For anyone who has ever “done me wrong” (harassed, abused, threatened me), I see that I have two options:

Option A (my ego): engage with “my attacker” and fight back
Option B (my soul): understand their pain and suffering (their distortion) and let go

From the words of Jesus, near the moments of his own death, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:24), there are few more poignant reminders of the power of understanding and forgiveness.

Letting go is not a sign of weakness.  To yield and release has been one of the most profound practices of my life. This is true in everyone’s life. Yes, your ego (Option A) will always tell you otherwise. Fact is, however, that letting go is a conscious and awakened choice and the quickest route to the birth of something new.

Transcending our conditions

What conditions, if any, do you wish you could transcend?

There are countless methods, tools, and practices for moving beyond our current conditions, whether physical, psychological, or emotional in nature. But perhaps the most powerful practice is gratitude. Gratitude is a practice of personal peace.

In the midst of chronic illness and suffering, it is not uncommon to experience severe negative emotions and thoughts.  Unattended suffering leads to personal and inter-personal aggression and violence. We know this. We can’t just ignore our suffering. I’ve learned time and time again that gratitude neutralizes my suffering in such a way that it simply and effortlessly transmutes it, and therefore my understanding of whatever “condition” is elevated.

In my years of practicing gratitude, I’ve noticed the humbling effect it has had on me and those around me. I call this humbling effect grace, or the aha moment. Inevitably, grace enables transcendence and therefore our desire to yield, not because we have given up, but because we can see from a higher ground.  We actually become defenseless because we fully understand that there is nothing to defend or fight. If you are fighting something or someone, it is because you do not understand it, or yourself; it is because you are suffering.

To move beyond painful conditions is a challenge faced by each of us. While it’s common to seek solutions “out there”,  the solutions are actually “in here”; they are solely with you. What’s always out there, is the support, compassion, and love from fellow humans who have connected these dots.

Why do you do what you do?

I grew up around talk radio and still love it. One of my favorite radio personalities is Terry Gross, who hosts Fresh Air. What I find most fascinating about her show is not so much who she interviews, but the questions she asks. Like a skilled investigator, she shortcuts through the obvious in search of the most interesting, personal, and deepest truth. I have often paused just to marvel at her questions and in doing so, contemplate my own.

In my own line of work, learning to ask better questions has yielded considerable insights. A few years ago (well, more like 18), I too contemplated this question: “why do I do what I do?” and this came during one of the highest points in my corporate career. In an essay titled Enterprises of Meaning, (2013), I shared the following:

Vowing never to do anything of artificial importance again, I left corporate America in 1998.  Some called this departure “bold” and “inspiring”; most called it “stupid” and “misguided”. I was 4 months pregnant with my first daughter and decided to trade-in the security of a lovely salary and stellar benefits, for education and a more meaningful existence.  That Fall, my friend Julie and I enrolled in a graduate degree program at a nearby University – both of us fueled by a deep desire to not only learn more about the world around us, but about ourselves.  And we did. And we are still learning.

So here I sit, 18 years later, asking myself the same question; why do I do what I do?, and of course, the answer is both infinitely simple and complex.

The poet Mary Oliver, when asked about why she writes, stated that when a poem comes to her it is like an energy so powerful that she must stop everything else and simply write it down–or it will be gone.  It is something she cannot help but do. Many writers and artists know this feeling. Inspiration is not a “thought”; it is an energy that visits us, in order to manifest itself in physical form.

When inspiration comes knocking on your life door, you have a choice; follow it or ignore it. Either route is imbued with great peril and potential terror. Either path will yield data for the heart. However, only one path will be representative of your fullest, most authentic humanity, and result in personal peace and true wealth.

In the years since leaving corporate America, I have come across many others who have heeded the call to follow their soul’s call. Many of them are “here” with me, as we support, co-create, and grapple with duality! One thing we all share in common is the deep understanding that comes from “the fall”; the necessary softening, integration, and utilization of the ego, in the service of something greater than ourselves.

If you’re at a life cross-road…if you’re struggling or suffering…if you’re ready to ask yourself the deeper questions, there is support available. To this end, here are a few questions from our Soulful Inquiries™ to help get you started:

– What one thing can I do today to be more peaceful in my life?
– What level of consciousness do I wish to embody?
– Is my life in alignment with my soul?