9 beautiful releasing rituals that will help you let go
Goodbye, she whispered softly and gently placed her hand on my shoulder.
Tears were streaming down both of our faces. And over the past few days – her last days in this office – she had run out of tissue paper. Apart from the dread of walking back out into the world with mascara smudged all over my face, I couldn't care less. I let the tears flow.
After spending hours upon hours in this room, sharing my vulnerability, my chaos and my (hopefully, slightly beautiful) mess, my therapist was leaving her job. And leaving me.
For those of you who are lucky enough to never have needed therapy and/or become attached to your therapist, I can reveal that it feels an awful lot like you are a little baby bird, sent out into the world far before you are ready to fly. Pushed out of the nest and left alone.
For weeks, I had been dreading this day, and here I was, in the middle of it.
Goodbye, I quietly sobbed in return and walked towards the door.
Letting it go
Over the years, I have become a master of letting go.
In the last two years alone, I have ended a long relationship, moved twice, sold an apartment I had designed and decorated from scratch, let go of more than half of my possessions, broken up with friends and said goodbye to wonderful people I am not likely to ever cross paths with again.
Some things have disappeared from my life out of necessity. Some have been dismissed willingly. Some have been given away anxiously.
And all of them have been let go of painfully.
Letting go is challenging, and sometimes you have to do it again and again and again until it sticks. You show it to the door, and somehow it keeps creeping back in. And then you gently guide it back out.
The cue here is gently. It is as true for letting go as it is for any type of change. What you resist persists.
The key to letting go is embracing acceptance. There cannot be release unless you accept.
And just like acceptance, letting go is a practice. Consciously deciding and repeatedly acting is the way.
Personally, I practice acceptance and letting go the same way I practice yoga: Several times a week, with intention and purpose. Bravely, humbly and gently. Truly.
These days, I am working on letting go of my story. After years of analyzing and agonizing over the past, I am becoming increasingly ready to let go of what happened to me. At this point in my life, it no longer serves me to identify as the victim. I am so much more than that.
For me, letting my story go means accepting the parts of me that are shaped by my experience. Letting go of my story means being fully present, without burying myself in memories or despair. And most importantly, letting go of my story means learning to see myself as whole and healed, not broken.
In addition to faithfully committing to let go in my mind, repeatedly, every time I fall back into old ways – I am working on opening myself up both energetically and emotionally. The way I let go is active and spiritual, symbolic and visual. It helps me make the intangible clear and definite. And in this, I am connecting with my power.
There are as many ways of letting go as there are people. But one thing is universal, and that is the need to find meaning in the chaos. One way of making the process easier to relate to is to do a releasing ritual. Here I give you my favorite rituals for letting go.
Write a letter, a note or take a photograph and burn it to ashes. Light the fire with intention and awareness. Watch the fire as it burns and feel how your body physically lets go of the energy you are releasing in the flames.
Release it with the wind
Sending something to fly with the wind a powerful ritual to let go. I believe this is why so many people wish to have their ashes spread with the wind when they die. A way to release something using this technique could be to intentionally blow on dandelion seeds, drop a feather from a tall place or let sand flow through your fingers on a windy day at the beach.
Make a flower mandala
Buddhist monks use mandalas as a way to practice non-attachment, and it can also be a beautiful way of letting go. This summer, I made a flower mandala with intention and care – and then I destroyed it, mindfully. I recommend that you do the same to visually let something go.
Send it to heaven
There are at least three beautiful ways to release something by sending it to heaven. My favorite has to be lighting a sky lantern and watch it fly away on a dark night. Another favorite of mine is to tie a note to a colorful balloon and let it rise and disappear into the ether. Finally, you can fly a kite and then cut the cord, releasing it into the world.
Do yin yoga
If you crave a more physical form of ritual, I recommend yin yoga. This gentle form of practice is all about finding ease and to relax into the poses. I find this is a great and ritualistic way to learn how to let go, because in my yin practice I am constantly reminded where in my body I am holding on. With every exhale, I try to let go of tension, thoughts, pain, emotions and everything else I am carrying into the yoga room with me. Try yin yoga. By the end of the class, you will feel light, calm and clear.
Let it float away
Another beautiful way to let go is to let your issues flow away with the river. There are several ways to do this, but my favorite is definitely to let either flowers or lanterns get carried away with the stream and out of sight. Knowing that what I have just released will be carried by the water all the way to the sea, gives me comfort. Another, cute way to do this is to write your thoughts on a piece of paper and make paper boats.
Create a ceremony
The sky is the limit when it comes to crafting your own releasing ceremony. Use something that speaks to you and lights up your soul. For me this is sage, amethysts, feathers, essential oils and meditation. For you it might be photographs, flowers, prayers or chanting. Ask your inner spiritual guide to lead the way, and you will not walk alone.
Say a blessing
Before I release a relationship, I find it powerful to say a blessing. One of my favorites – that I have memorized – is this:
May you be filled with loving kindness. May you be well. May you be peaceful and at ease. May you be happy. (Ancient Tibetan Buddhist blessing)
Clear a space in your house
Letting go of something physical can really be helpful in letting go of more intangible things as well. The way I do this is that I clear out a space in my home. It can be a shelf, a window sill, a drawer or an entire room – and I go through all of my belongings to see what I don't need anymore. When I have found the items, I either recycle, donate to charity or give them away. The open space I have created symbolizes the deeper work of letting go, and at the same time creates room for the new.
Before I left the room, I turned around to look at her one last time.
It was a last futile attempt of holding on to something I was forced to let go. For just one more second, I wanted to cling to that sense of security she had provided for me. I knew that I would most likely never see her again, and turning around to see her one last time was a way of trying to imprint the presence of her into my memory.
With a heavy heart, I turned around...
And she had already turned away.
So I did the only thing I could do. I walked out the door and down the hall.
I wiped away my tears.
And I let her go.
This post is part of the Let it Go Project: a collection of stories leading up to a beautiful releasing ritual, hosted by Sas Petherick on the 30th of January. All the details for this free event are here. And you can take part! Be inspired by other posts in this project, and share what you are ready to let of of on the Let it Go Project Community Page!