Travel Lightly by Letting Go
According to various sources, 2015 is set to be a year of lightness, peace and abundance. Let each one of us become the ‘change we want to see in the world’: love and peace starts with an inner intention and heart focus.
Rather than the impossible burden of resolutions, this year I decided to focus on things in my life that will improve flow and connection between my heart and brain, letting go of unwanted issues and old, worn out beliefs. I choose not to tolerate any longer. Letting go makes me feel lighter, more joyful and productive. Here are some examples of what you could choose to focus, by letting go of anything that does not serve your personal growth and authenticity.
Finding a healthy balance between giving, self-interest and self-care. Before the heart pumps blood to the rest of the body, it pumps it to itself – this is not a selfish act, but one of self-love, so that it can work best to supply the rest of the body, and every single cell with life giving oxygen and nutrients. In his book Give and Take, Adam Grant discusses the differences between givers, takers and matchers. Among givers are selfless givers and otherish givers. Selfless givers give their time and energy without any regard to their own needs, setting no boundaries. Selfless giving, in the absence of balance, becomes overwhelming and can lead to burnout. Becoming more of an otherish giver is part of a balance between self-care, self-love and giving.
Becoming mindful is a way to bring your attention into the present moment, the here and now, connecting to your inner core. This practice will allow you to increase the space between a potential stress provoking incident and your stressful knee-jerk reaction to it. Use the SHIFT exercise:
S: Sit quietly, upright in a chair – then focus on the sensations in your body – where are you holding tension? Then do a quick scan of your body, starting with feet, then lower and upper legs, abdomen and back, arms and hands, neck and shoulders – deliberately relax each muscle group. Then do deep, circular breathing: breathe in through your nose to a count of 4 or 5, without pausing, breathe out through your mouth to the same count as your in breath – doing this for about 1 to 2 minutes in a smooth circular movement.
H: While doing the circular breathing, place your attention on the area of your heart, putting your hand over your heart, if that makes it easier to connect. Imagine the circular connection between the brain and vice versa, as a continuous flow of energy and information in both directions and to the rest of the body.
I: Simply observe any images arising in your mind’s eye. Don’t judge or think about whether it’s pleasant, unpleasant, good or bad. This is a practice of simple observation to realise you’re not the images in your mind.
F: Become aware of any feelings (emotions, mood) you’re experiencing. Again, simply observe without judgement, allowing it to pass through your mind, like clouds in the sky.
T: Become aware of your thoughts as they pass through your mind, simply observing and letting it go.
Notice the sense of deep relaxation after this exercise. Now is the time to connect to your authentic self by focusing on the area of your heart. What comes to mind if you do that? Do some freehand writing in your journal about any ideas, thoughts, dreams, life purpose and meaning that pop into your awareness while in this state of deep relaxation.
Being grateful as a way of life, filled with the spirit of thanksgiving. Thereby I don’t mean the superficial ‘good manner way’ of saying thank you. I mean genuine, deeply felt gratitude, the feeling that arises when we realise the tremendous gift Life is. This gratitude softens the heart and opens the mind, then even ordinary things become sacred. Gratitude becomes a form of prayer that ‘acknowledges the gift of Existence, that we can laugh, dance, sing, love, eat, create, celebrate, heal, transform, play, and that we have been fully equipped to become self-realized beings’, as Michael Beckwith says in his book ‘LifeVisioning’. This is probably my key intention for this year, especially the play part!
When I’m busy it will be purposeful and intentional, rather than being ‘busy’ with distractions, time fillers and time wasters! Being busy isn’t a bad thing, as long as it has meaning, intention and purpose. Too often, we fill our lives with unnecessary and meaningless busy-ness in order to feel important and responsible, or to avoid facing ourselves in solitude and silence.
Investing in high quality relationships. I’ve realised that I’m tired of being around, or in close relationship with, people who cannot focus on the interchange between us, easily distracted by their techno toys, who are only able to participate in superficial small talk, who cannot listen and share deeply of each other’s lives. Low quality relationships can be identified by a sagging energy feeling (like a deflated balloon!) after an encounter, and are often based in lack of trust. According to researcher Jane Dutton, high quality relationships have these four guidelines: respectful engagement, task enabling (supportive environment, mutual interest in each other’s lives), trust and play (having fun, doing joyful things together, laughing). This year I’m going to focus on gently letting go of the low quality relationships in my life, and I already feel lighter just considering it. Sometimes we are in relationships for a while, to learn and grow, but then the time comes for a gentle parting of ways, rather than hanging on long past the sell-by date.
‘One of the hardest parts of life is deciding whether to walk away or try harder’. Once you start letting some things go, the decision will often become clearer
Authenticity means being comfortable showing up in my life as myself – idiosyncrasies, warts and all. It’s sometimes hard, because it requires vulnerability and complete honesty with myself.
Being discerning with time spent on electronic devices, letting go of too much time spent texting on my cellphone, Facebook, cruising the Internet, working on my laptop. This will free up time to explore high quality relationships, interesting conversations and business opportunities I might miss being glued to the screen, straining my neck, shoulder and back muscles, with eye strain and headaches, while I’m at it!
Clearing physical clutter allows for a sense of unbelievable freedom. I spent a day clearing my desk of unnecessary papers and documents, donating clothes I haven’t worn for more than a year, or that I actually don’t like, and thinking about my main focus areas for 2015, rather than dousing fires all the time with all the scattered thoughts and ideas I continually have milling in my busy monkey chatter mind!
Clear headed thinking or clearing mental clutter, is the discipline of becoming aware of mindsets and negative messages my mind is occupied with, then deliberately choosing to become still, allowing my core self to inspire and direct my actions. Choosing to let go of limiting thoughts and resilience zappers, will free up energy to focus on what’s important in my life. According to Michael Beckwith, ‘a disciplined mind is open to the influx of inner guidance and puts it into action’. To me it means bringing my attention back from negative tailspins of meaningless and energy wasting worries and fears, into a deep connection with my core self, opening up to the guidance from within, agreeing with Howard Thurman who recommended to ‘give over the vital nerve centre of consent’ to a higher consciousness than the small ego self who is fearful, drowning in scarcity consciousness and always struggling for survival.
Releasing all past failures, regrets and mistakes. Holding onto these, is like carrying a backpack filled with heavy rocks. It slows you down, burdens you and prevents you from getting where you want to go. Simply letting the rocks go, is immensely liberating!
When you finally let go of the past, something better comes along!
Making health my priority as a commitment to myself, to energise my body and mind, being optimally well, productive and creative. For me this means not drinking any wine during the week, doing water aerobics 3 times a week, meditating for 20 minutes every day and eating raw or lightly cooked veges and salads most days, while snacking on nuts and drinking enough spring water (1 glass for every 10 kg of body weight) every day, with some herbal tea in between.
Look out for our ‘Open Your Heart’ article in the February Newsletter