Ritual for Letting Go and Taking Stock

Ritual for Letting Go and Taking Stock  
By Cait Johnson, author of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air (SkyLight Paths, 2003).Early autumn is the traditional time for taking stock: what do we need to release so we won’t feel burdened in the months ahead? What do we keep in our spiritual larders to sustain us? We can take a gentle lesson from nature as we witness the trees and their graceful letting-go, and the busyness of squirrels as they gather the stores of food that will ensure a secure winter.Here is a simple ritual designed to help you free yourself from the burdens of the past, and to help you identify the skills, strengths, and gifts that will be your wise companions this winter. Read it here:

1. Take a little time where you will not be disturbed. Sit comfortably with a small pad of paper and a pen or pencil and close your eyes. Take a moment to feel how gravity keeps you firmly here on this planet. Take comfort in your weight. Now take note of all the places where your body is touching something solid: the chair, the floor. Feel how you are cradled by these places. Take a moment to feel grateful for your life.

2. Now gently bring into your awareness anything you carry that makes you feel weighed-down, heavy, sad, or angry. Perhaps a relationship issue or a negative pattern of thinking. Perhaps worries about not having enough of something. With compassion for yourself, write these things down on your paper.

3. Now, still keeping your eyes closed, turn over a new leaf in your pad. Give yourself a few moments to think of any important lessons you learned from these burdens–any skills you gained from having carried them. (For example, if a relationship did not work out as you had wished, you may have learned to be more self-reliant and independent.) If you release the sadness or anger associated with each burden, what are the gifts that remain? Write these gifts down on the fresh piece of paper.

4. Now give some thought to your personal talents, skills, and qualities of character. These are things that nothing can take away; they are part of the great gift to the world that you are. Write down as many as you can think of on the same piece of paper.

5. When you are ready, open your eyes. Take the list of burdens and, without looking at it, tear it into small pieces. These may be burned, buried, or released into the air or water. (One friend took a chair outdoors, stood on it, and released her paper bits like autumn leaves, enjoying the sight of their gentle drifting-down.) Now read the list of gifts. Fold the paper and put it in a safe place. Whenever you need a reminder, take it out and reread it.