Today, I want to discuss the importance of releasing from your life what no longer serves you and ask you to consider what it is you need to release at this time. Along the way, we will consider the concept of the “cycle of becoming” and developing the skill of “conscious releasing”.
Spiritual Context of Releasing
The act of “release” is a powerful spiritual tool. But what do we mean by releasing? Although I think that most of us hold a good awareness of what we mean, I’d like to put it in some “spiritual context”.
First, let’s consider that at our real truth is that we are spiritual beings moving through a human experience. On the one hand, our spiritual essence is an eternal unchanging divine perfection that is anchored in a unity with all that is. Here we are simply “Being”. On the other hand, in our humanness, we are ever in motion, constantly changing and evolving, ever moving onward on the spiral of life. Here we are constantly in a state of “Becoming”.
So each of us live in a powerful dynamic tension between our unchanging spiritual state of “being” and our constantly changing and ever moving state of “becoming”. Through meditation, intuition and other spiritual practices, we become more aware of our spiritual state of being. Through the constant motion of our life experiences, we grow and evolve continuously towards a higher state of becoming.
Our human self is ever moving through a cycle of four phases in all areas of our life. First is birth and acceptance of the new. Second is maturity and our fullest expression. Third is death and release of the old. Fourth and finally is a space, a gap between our release of the old and the birth of the new. After that gap, which can be so brief as to seem non-existent or linger on for much longer than we desire, the phases start over again. This is the cycle of our ever becoming. We also experience this pattern in the outer world beyond our sense as an individual, most obviously with the cycle of earth’s seasons.
This pattern goes on at different levels and timeframes in our humanness. At the shortest physical level, our cells and body are ever in this cycle of replenishment as our human material self is renewed and grows. At the longest human level is the cycle of our birth, growth and death as the individual human being that we identify with at the moment.
In between these extremes are many cycles of human experience where we are moving through this pattern of birth, maturity, release and “the gap”. We are generally at different points in the cycle for different areas of our lives. For example, we may be birthing a new romantic relationship while we are releasing an old career choice. The key is to see that our lives can be parsed into areas that are spinning around through the phases and to identify where we are in each area.
Possible Areas for Release?
What are some of these human experiences where we may be moving through the cycle of becoming and may be called to let go of the old? Let’s list some briefly:
- Releasing our children into the world as young adults.
- Releasing our relationships with friends.
- Releasing a health issue.
- Releasing romantic relationships.
- Releasing a job or career.
- Releasing where we are currently physically living (our house or our city or state).
- Releasing an old limiting belief that is holding us back.
- Releasing a loved one (including a beloved pet) after their death.
- Releasing an old habit or addiction.
- Releasing foods we enjoy that our not healthy.
- Releasing material possessions that are no longer essential to our lives.
- Releasing some label that our ego has used to describe who we are and we have constantly held ourself to living up to (such as “father/mother”, “provider”, “teacher”, “minister”, “doctor”, “lawyer”, “employee”, etc.)
These are just some of the areas of our life where we may be at the point of needing to release something. There are many other areas where you might want to explore your need to let go of the old.
If you and I are continuously going through this cycle in all areas of our human life, then you might ask why is it important for us to bring a level of awareness to our need to release? Here are three reasons why you would benefit moving to a state of “consciously releasing” that which you no longer need.
First, we may need conscious awareness so as to let go of something we are so attached to that we cannot even see that it is time for it to end. We cling to it. Sometimes our clinging is subconscious. Why do we cling to the old? Generally, out of fear. For example, in my first marriage, even when I reached a time when we needed to let it go and allow it to “die”, for a long time I couldn’t face its “death” for many reasons including that I defined myself by the relationship (I was “married”) and I feared the unknown of not being in the relationship. It was only when I brought a level of conscious awareness of the need to let it go that I could see how it was going to serve myself and my first wife by such action.
Secondly, if we don’t consciously release the old aspect of our lives that is ending, we may not learn what is needed to birth the new higher level of growth. This is a common occurrence when someone repeats over and over a self-destructive pattern such as with romantic relationships. They don’t bring an open level of understanding and conscious learning as to why their relationships are not working and thereby re-create the same negative pattern in the next relationship. Allowing yourself to become aware of why a relationship (or anything) is ending gives you a greater chance to understand what caused it and how you can grow beyond it the next time.
Thirdly, our conscious awareness of the pattern playing out in our life, especially the release and ending of something can call us to take some time to be in the gap or space between the release of the old and the birth of the new. This is, granted, an uncomfortable place to be. When something ends, our discomfort calls us to move through that space and quickly kick off the new beginning of something to replace it. However, if we don’t bring a conscious awareness to the change, we may jump into the newness without taking the time to be aware of what is best for us. Also, it is generally in this space where our intuition and life gives us messages that we need to hear. Consciously “sitting” in this space before we jump to the new allows us the opportunity to glean life’s messages for us and to birth the new from a higher level of wisdom.
For more on being in this space between the old and the new, I highly recommend you check out the book Transitions – Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges. He gives wonderful guidance for living in this space he calls “the void”.
Buddhism: Suffering, Attachment, Release
It is worth mentioning here that the act of consciously releasing something is directly connected to the Buddhist teaching of “the four noble truths”, a central tenet in that philosophy. Just as a means of showing the connection, let’s very briefly review these concepts.
The four noble truths lay out that all of life involves the experience of dissatisfaction, pain, anguish, and suffering. The central problem with our humanness is that we can never find everlasting happiness. There is no “ultimate state of human satisfaction”. Cue the Rolling Stones, huh?
Why can’t we get no satisfaction? It’s because we cling to stuff (our ideas and beliefs, our possessions, other people, our lives). We are “attached” to these things. It is only through the cessation of our craving and holding on to our attachments that we can move to a lasting sense of happiness and peace.
How do we let go of our attachments and move to this state of happiness and freedom? Buddhism lays out a road to personal growth called the “eightfold path”. This spiritual path is a course of changing one’s thoughts, words and actions so as to live a more conscious life.
Therefore, when I encourage you to develop the skill of “consciously releasing” that which no longer serves your life, what we might consider is that in doing so you are peeling away those things that you cling to and are holding you back from living your greatest life. By consciously releasing what you are called to surrender, you open yourself to an expression of newness at a higher level. This brings growth and evolution, but it also can bring attachment and clinging to that new higher level of expression.
Continuous conscious releasing allows you to spiral ever upward to higher and higher states of becoming, much like peeling away an onion and moving towards the core. And what happens as you grow and approach the core? As you move through the ever higher levels of your states of Becoming, you become closer and closer to that core of your Being, your never changing spiritual essence. In Buddhist terms, you are released from suffering and approach enlightenment.
Spiritual Practices to Help with Releasing
There are a number of ways that we can encourage ourselves to develop a sense of “conscious release” allowing us to grow and evolve through the many areas of our lives.
One technique taught in many New Thought centers is the process of visioning. This process involves cultivating a meditative state of connectedness to the Oneness of the universe and thereby opening ourselves to the flow of intelligence that is embedded in that state. When we can tap into a state of “divine wisdom”, we then contemplate certain questions followed by a “pause” and then capturing in writing whatever comes into our awareness. One common question in the visioning process is to ask “what is mine to release?” After capturing on paper whatever came through from this question, we typically follow up with the question “what is mine to embrace?” After all, releasing opens the space for the newness but we need to be open to accepting that newness too. For more information on visioning, check out my videos on the subject. Here is one that demonstrates the process.
Another technique that you could use would be to chart out where you are in life in the cycle of change on a piece of paper. Draw a circle and divide it into four areas….(1) birth/new, (2) mature/high, (3) death/release, (4) the void space between the old and the new. Then consider different areas of your life (job, finances, relationships, etc) and put a note on your paper where you are in your life on the chart. For example, if you just started a new job, you would put “job/career” in the new area of the circle. For any area that you marked in the area for “death/release”, take some time to write further notes to get clarity as to what exactly is ending and what do you need to know about it. If necessary take some time to journal on the area…to get more information.
Finally, a simple technique is to simply sit quietly and get into a meditative state and then ask the question “what is mine to release in my life right now?” Sit quietly with the question for a few moments. Then, open your eyes and take pen and paper writing whatever comes to mind. Don’t stop writing. If necessary, repeat what you have written, strive to keep the words flowing. Do not judge what you are writing. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar and so on….the point is to keep your pen moving and writing….and as you do so (and the more you practice this technique) you will find your mind getting out of the way and some new clarity will make itself known. Write continuously for 5 minutes or more, then take some time to review what you wrote. You may need to repeat the process over a few days, but at some point you will gain some new insights.
So What Now?
Hopefully at this point you have some understanding of the spiritual and evolutionary need to cultivate a sense of consciously releasing that in your life which you need to surrender. And, if you have gone through some kind of introspection to identify what you need to release, you have also identified the area that is calling you to let go of.
What happens after that is up to you. However, hopefully you will bring a conscious awareness to what you need to release and you will move into the next phase…..the gap or void….with an openness to listen to messages and information available to you as to what is calling forth to be birthed in your life.
Good luck on your evolution. ~~Mark Gilbert
NOTE: This article expands upon some ideas I presented for the recent online men’s retreat for New Thought Men’s Community. For more on that organization, visit their website https://www.newthoughtmens.community