“Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop” – Rumi
Well, here we are at the beginning of another new year and you’re probably settled back into the old routines, facing a few new challenges and doing your individual things. And no doubt, since it’s the traditional time for making resolutions about creating improvements in ourselves and our lives one way or another, some of you may have spent the last few weeks of December thinking about what you’d like to achieve, and/or things you’d like to change in 2017.
It could be that you want to lose weight and join a gym. Or make a concerted attempt to clear your clutter. Or sign up for that class/course to learn something new. Sometimes we find ourselves making the same resolutions year after year but never actually succeeding in carrying any of them through. How so? Something happens to push us off course, or we lose the impetus for one reason or another. How many times have you set out on January 1st with good intentions only to find that, come the end of the month, you’ve fallen by the wayside with your goals?
If so, maybe it’s time to re-think the whole idea of new year resolutions and instead of making a list of aims and aspirations which you find hard to achieve, have a look and see what it is that prevents you from seeing your plans and projects through and resolve to let any limiting beliefs go. Why? Because by letting go of negative beliefs that hold you back, you’ll automatically find you’ve got less obstacles to achieving your aims!
Many years ago I belonged to an esoteric group where part of the teachings that we received encouraged us to refer to Nature for guidance in our lives and to do this by observing the cycles of the seasons. We learnt to ask ourselves : Are the first shoots appearing? If so, then this would be a good time for starting new projects and endeavours. Is it a time of flowering? This then would be an indication that any early planting of seeds you had done were growing and flourishing and you’d do well to notice your personal flowers and feel encouraged. Autumn brings an abundance of fruits and berries etc., so this is clearly the time to look for your personal harvest and assess your achievements (large AND small) in the previous months and celebrate whatever you’ve managed to accomplish so far. Are the trees shedding their leaves? Or are their branches bare? Then now might be the time to look to see what areas in your life are not serving you and to see what you could do to let go of the things that hold you back.
Every season can provide us with some new knowledge and understanding of ourselves. All we have to do is to be observant of the changes in nature and learn. This is what our ancestors did and they lived their lives by it. And they found that their spirits were nourished by their closeness to Nature and the understandings that came from the earth upon which they walked.
Right now, as you look out of your window, you’ll see a lot of bare branches on the trees. Some may already be showing signs of buds, but this couldn’t happen unless they’d first shed their leaves. Every year, deciduous trees let go of their leaves because they know that new ones will grow when the time is right. The great oaks and elms and sycamores and their smaller tree cousins know that by discarding their foliage and letting it fall, they’ll create fertile ground in the earth beneath them in which other plants and creatures will grow.
We can draw an analogy between the leaves and the stories and mantras we recite to ourselves subconsciously each day. Examples might be (fill in the gaps) : People like me never get to do …….; I’m not worthy of love because I’m not …..; If only I could have ……..I’d be happy; I’m hopeless with money …….. ; there’s too much competition out there for me to succeed – and so on.
You may well resonate with the examples above – or find you have other negative mantras which come to mind. Perhaps you’d love to change aspects of yourself and have tried many times before but failed. So it’s time to understand WHY. Look carefully at past situations and see how what has happened previously which may have created limited expectations of yourself.
Looking at your perceived failures this way is very useful. Instead of feeling defeated or lacking in ability, you can begin to see how negative self-talk (i.e. limiting beliefs) prevents you from achieving your aims. And these are the “leaves on your tree” that you’d benefit from shedding.
So…….if you’re up for wanting to shed some of your metaphorical leaves and would like to have a crack at a different approach to letting go, here’s a powerful little ritual you can do to help yourself:
You can do this using a fire in your grate at home, or simply using a candle – but if doing the latter, make sure you do it safely so that the burnt paper falls into a metal container or sink – and have some water nearby just in case!
- Take a few sheets of paper and cut it into 10 strips.
- Then using a pen, write down 10 limiting beliefs, memories, fears or habits that are holding you back. (If you can’t think of 10, then just write out as many of them as come to mind.)
- Take your time to do this as it may require quite a bit of soul-searching. Ask yourself why you haven’t taken that next step in your career/relationship/personal and spiritual development. Write down the negative self- talk that comes up consistently for you when attempting change or when you face challenges. Write these things down on the ten strips of paper.
- Once you’ve identified these emotional blocks and written them down, light your fire or your candle.
- Then take each piece of paper one by one and read out what you’ve written aloud and really FEEL the emotional intensity of what you’ve written.
- As you read each strip of paper, hold it over the fire or candle flame and say : “It’s time for us to part and go our separate ways. Goodbye.” Let each piece of paper go as it ignites in flames.
- Exhale as it turns to ash.
- Then take the next piece of paper and do the same, and so on, until you have burnt each strip of paper.
Ceremonies like this go back a long way in time. They’ve been used for centuries to help unblock those inner obstacles and help in the healing of emotional and spiritual wounds. Doing this ritual with focus and intention can be very liberating and many people experience an immediate inner shift as they burn the papers.
By interpreting the wisdom of trees in this way we’re following their example. Give it a try! Remember, trees have been around for about 350 million years which is a whole lot longer than we’ve been here! They must have learnt a thing or two during that time!!