Fall has arrived. Dark nights, chilly weather, staying home to get cozy, allowing ourselves to turn inward. With this inward focus we can begin to uncover truths that want to be seen, so they may be nourished for growth. It is also a time to allow the untruths to be seen and fall away, like the leaves falling from the trees. The practice of letting go is a grieving process - we are allowing parts of ourselves to die in order for new life to be born. Letting go naturally involves a touch of fear and doubt, because we are uncertain about how life will be once we've let go.
So, what do I want to let go of this year? Doubt, or more specifically, Self-Doubt. You know the common refrains: "I am not good enough…What am I doing with my life?…What are others going to think if I try something new and fail?..." Sometimes, I hear this Doubting Debbie character so loudly and persistently that I begin to believe the phrases. Recently, in the midst of this doubting delusion, I paused, took a breath and reached for a book: "Living your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life" by Judith Lasater, PhD, PT. Lasater compares the word Belief with Faith: "…belief is a preconception about the way reality should be; faith is the willingness to experience reality as it is, including acceptance of the unknown." Suddenly, my doubt lessened, and I could feel that there had been a shift in my pattern: for the first time I chose to be mindful of my self-doubt. I chose to experience the reality of now, feeling self-doubt and looking at it, with curiosity and clarity, without reaction or judgement, faithful that my experience would be temporary and fruitful. Rather than letting go to extinguish my doubt, I let go of it's control over my Faith. We must let our Doubting Debbie (or Doubting Dan) walk alongside of us, while we choose to embody Faith.
In the space where creativity and uncertainty live, Doubt is an ever-present companion. It is a deeply embedded character that we all carry, and, no matter how many years of practice, I will continue to face this challenger to my heart and spirit. Perhaps it is a lesson in this life to learn to recognize the times where Doubting Debbie shows up, walk with her, feel her presence and acknowledge her exit, leaving my Faith intact. The letting go of doubt or any other stifling character, is a daily practice and requires our utmost courage to continue on the path toward Faith. "Faith is the quiet cousin of Courage. Faith is willing to put its foot out when there is no guarantee that there will be a step to support it" (Lasater). Let's be quietly courageous. Let's continue to walk gently and mindfully along on the path, so long as it feels easy, good and true.
Love to you on this path, from your Ever-Faithful Friend
Here is a simple practice of Letting Go that you can do from home:
Find 10 breaths
Focus on the exhale, letting all of the air exit, every last drop
Then, inhale naturally
Exhale, completely, nothing left in the tank