Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The New Year and Letting Go

photo credit : folksy.com

As with all beginnings, a new year opens a door and offers the opportunity to expand one’s life to allow fresh experiences, clearer perspectives, and glimpses into spaces unknown. But what if most of your spaces are taken up by things that fill the closets, basement, attic, and storage spaces?

This January, I have decided to face all of the “stuff” and begin to let go. In order to make space for new energy, the old must be dealt with. It was amusing to note how my first few attempts went. I would start in the basement, gloves and overalls on, ready to go. But then I began to find the stuff and well, one thing led to another and I would have to take a seat on the floor and reminisce; read through that old journal from 1996 (did I really think like that?), look through photos of people from another lifetime, and claim that yes, I think I could bring that old bowl back upstairs and fill it with fruit again. Did I really need 30 plates of various patterns and sizes to carry with me on my life journey? Of course! I could use them for Christmas, for Easter, one for….well, you see how things went. It was not a productive beginning. A better plan was needed.

So, I shifted into second gear. If I went down in the basement, I could not leave for one hour and not until I picked at least ten items to give away or throw out. Every time I entered my closet I chose one article that I could donate or offer to a friend. If it was unsalvageable, off to the garbage bin it went. I began organizing my teas (wow, I have a lot!) in the pantry and brought some boxes to work. I invited my brother down into the basement and told him to go shopping in my indoor market. He left with a variety of treasures that included an apple peeler (the best he’s ever seen!), a modern vintage red toaster (works like a charm!), an old TV, and some baking pans. This new plan was beginning to work.

From one perspective, letting go of “stuff” is like letting go of parts of me that no longer serve me. In the yamas and niyamas, yoga’s ethical guidelines, aparigraha (or nonpossessiveness) invites us to let go of things, grudges, clinging beliefs, old fears, and all that prevents us from allowing new breath, light, and energy from entering. Deborah Adele states this beautifully by reminding us that “Like the breath when it is held too long, the things that nourish us can become toxic”. We hold on for fear of letting go. But in the letting go and in that new empty, open space that arrives, energy is reborn and can begin to come alive again. Something is rekindled and the possibilities become clearer.

I have discovered that it feels good to shed some old skins. What was found underneath, I discovered, were dreams that just needed a little dusting off and reinventing. So, take a look around you and inside you. Do you have anything to let go of in 2011?

“I can’t go back to yesterday- because I was a different person then.” ~ Lewis Carroll


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