Imagine that you have your hands full of chocolate cookies and your mother comes along with a cherry pie, hot from the oven with crumbles on top (feel free to adjust imagery as necessary). You have to put the cookies down before you can receive a piece of the pie. You’ve probably realized that you could eat the cookies and then take the pie, though in that case you’ve shifted the issue from the size of your open hands to the size of your stomach. In either case when you are holding enough of one thing it’s hard to receive something else.
There are many instances in life when you have to let go of something old to receive something new. Change is like this, and life is change. If you’re holding on too tightly to what you have, you wind up with crumbled cookies not crumble pie. If you are like me, often the change only happens after what you already have leaves before you got around to letting go. The dynamic is the same on all scales—a dear old shirt, a house, a job, a relationship.
Years ago I was working in a software group in California. The economy hiccuped and the whole group was gone, and I launched myself across the Pacific to Japan. Before I went I sold, loaned out, or gave away all my things. One night shortly before leaving I was staying in a friend’s guest room and woke up not knowing where I was, full of terror of the unknown. I’d let go of one world and stepped into another—a pretty big step, as almost everything was different. But I kept breathing, opened to the change and received many wonderful things.
Since that trip I have let go of many places, things, a few people. Like most of us in this busy world I have become more used to change, even if it still comes with some fear. Sometimes I let go gracefully. Other times, something falls away before I feel I’m ready. But once I have let go and stepped forward, the fear leaves and the joy of embracing the new fills me.
Small steps and big steps. Once I took a step off an airplane into a foreign land. Once Neil Armstrong took a step off a ladder onto the moon. The steps weren’t much different, yet as large as mine were, his were larger. Which brings us to the present, in which we are all approaching the place of taking a step into a new world.
If my letting go before travelling to Japan was scary, this letting go may be more so. This step is not from one place to another, even one as far away as the moon. We are stepping from one way of being in the world to another. This step is not so much about letting go of our physical stuff (though that may happen too) as it is letting go of our emotional stuff, and especially our mental stuff. When I went to Japan I took with me language experience as well as human and computer skills that helped me reorient. However, this step is moving beyond thought as we know it, beyond all the analytical wilfulness and figuring, into a place in which how we understand things, how we communicate, how we experience our being are different. Wow! Focus this change into your body and breathe. Exhale and relax.
I have met so many people in the last year or so who say, “The old ways don’t work anymore.” Even those who have been good at the old ways of doing things are finding themselves adrift. I suspect that even those who are more used to living from their hearts and their knowing will find things changing.
The good news is that we all know how to live in the new ways. A part of us has always been there, in spirit, knowing and feeling as spirit. In particular this is not something you need to (or even can) figure out. While the ego-mind may freak at this, it is good news—really! You can relax and stop trying to understand things in the old way. Take a breath and relax. As you let go of busyness, you create space for your spirit to pour into your opened heart and empty mind. What has been unconscious or in the background will have room to present itself and guide you forward. You are moving from fear and effort into joy and ease.
Perhaps you find yourself knowing things in new ways. Ideas and understanding simply fall into you. Perhaps you see something in your mind’s eye, or are feeling more, or can remember things when you need them (but not at other times). It may come as a thought, or body awareness. It may have the quality of reaching out for what you need to know, like pulling a book off the shelf and looking something up. If the mind goes blank or is spinning, let it go, listen and feel underneath. What is present in your awareness? It is a time to explore, experiment, calibrate; practice trusting your knowingness and noticing how it works. It’s a bit different for all of us.
The biggest thing that we need to let go of is our fear. This is the cookie that keeps our hand in the jar. All levels of ego fear. It’s OK to let these go as they won’t help us in moving forward. When you find yourself feeling lighter, more spacious or clear, accept that and let go of any anxious reaction of caution or analysis. Letting go of fear you open your heart and your knowing—these will show you the way. Remember also that you are not alone (like all those other lifetimes). This time there is a collective transition that will support you. Remember joy as you step forward and you will find the new ground under your feet. Welcome to the biggest adventure of our lives!