Seasonal change is happening, in more ways than one. We only need to look into the mirror to see its effect on the physical level. Indeed, if you are struggling to lose weight, you might seriously consider how this line of thinking might help you finally succeed in your efforts in this autumn season.
We need to be mindful not to get completely consumed with the physical aspects of our lives during seasonal change, as something that is independent of our emotional and energetic status. Letting go this autumn, therefore, is both a literal and figurative imperative, if we wish to stay in balance. By remaining attached to the past, we defy natural law. What would we expect of a tree, if it did not let go of its leaves?
In essence then, quite simply, I want to compel you to examine what you are holding onto and to examine what purpose it serves—or more aptly, how it defeats your purpose of achieving a healthier and better-balanced life.
In my mind, there are at least three categories of attachment: the first is attachment to life, limb/organ, or function, whether for ourselves or for someone we love. The second is attachment to our personal quirks and habits. The third, associated with our ego, is attachment to our status, both as we perceive it and as we believe others perceive it.
While these categories of loss may be interconnected on some level, some losses stand out as being more significant than others. Still, we are often just as attached to the less significant losses, and the pain of separation may feel just as great.
Essentially, all attachment is both an opportunity for pain (hanging on) and liberation (letting go). I think it is the fear of pain that leads us to hold on. Like biting down on a throbbing tooth, if we can keep the experience at some consistent level, even if it is causing discomfort, hanging on often seems preferable to allowing the rush of “feeling.” So it takes a lot to intentionally put oneself through the process of letting go. And we often need help doing it.
As far as where this help may come from, let’s look again at the Chinese understanding of autumn, which brings a change to the air. Consider the usual refreshing crispness of autumn, an atmosphere that most of us recognize. Autumn provides us with a welcome relief from the hot, oppressive, and air-starved days of summer. When we inhale, we literally stretch our lungs, and the negative pressure causes the inflow of air. We take in spiritus, Latin for breath and root for the word inspiration.
So we inhale inspiration, which in turn can give us the courage to plunge into the depths of our attachments. Inspiration can help us see our attachments for what they are. Inspiration can help us shake loose from the ego’s attachment to pain, allowing us to live without regret.
How do we use the energy of inspiration for this transformation?
Imagine for a moment what it would be like to be feel truly alive, in alignment with your passion and purpose, full of energy, and excited by life’s potential. Now imagine what it might take to get there. Are there some things you might be willing to shed, to step into this state of grace? Go ahead and plan to release these things, and see how much lighter you feel as a result. If you find something is holding you back, explore its origin. Pick up a notebook and write about what you are experiencing and thinking.
Play the story back as a movie. In this movie, write a script for how the hero or heroine, you, heal and return to wholeness. When you let go of the baggage and physically improve your body’s function, as well as metaphysically improve the lightness of your being, you can move more easily on to your true path. If you find yourself preferring to hold onto the pain in one area, perhaps now is not the best time to let it go. Do what you can for now, and be patient with yourself.
Maybe it will help to realize that one thing that we hold onto is the notion that we are something other than perfect right now. Perhaps we can be more accepting of what is, including some of the pain and garbage in our lives. The practice is not to become squeaky clean, but just to move in the direction of our greater selves. It may also help to realize that no matter how stuck we may be feeling, we can in fact change. We change all the time! We get older, have different people in our lives, move to different places, and so on. What doesn’t change so easily is what we hold on to – our assumed identity, which may in fact be false. By adjusting some of our behaviors, we may get more in alignment with our true nature.
In the autumn, leaves fall from trees effortlessly. Following this role model, allow yourself to let go of whatever you can shed right now, without strain or struggle. I think you’ll be pleased with what happens in the spring.
Michael Finkelstein, MD, The Slow Medicine Doctor.