We are so conditioned to celebrate the new, but what about celebrating what we are stepping away from, even when it feels uncomfortable or there is a part of us not ready to let go?
Whenever I’m going through a tough time in my life, I have the tendency to want to hide away and I hesitate to share what I’m going through on our blog or social media.
I’m noticing this pattern during this current cycle of feeling low and I’m feeling called to share the experience before all of the mental debris has cleared and before I reach those inevitable epiphanies as a result of this period of deep introspection.
New Beginnings Are Often Disguised As Painful Endings
2020: the year that broke my heart wide open.
I’ll never forget the message I got from Mother Ayahuasca two years ago during my first plant medicine ceremony. I asked her how to open my heart to love and she whispered, “compassion.”
She showed me depths of compassion I had never known (up until that point in my life) as I sat in our sacred circle that night and listened to my fellow brothers and sisters wail and purge lifetimes of hurt. I felt their pain as if it were my own.
I have always been an extremely sensitive person and I used to loathe that about myself. I believe this led to my drug and alcohol addiction throughout the last 25-ish years of my life. The pain was just too much to feel and I did anything I could to numb it.
In the process of trying to bypass my pain, I was numbing all of my emotions and, as a result, I cut myself off from my very life force.
As I sit here and look back at the past seven months of my life, I’m amazed at the depths I have felt everything that has happened — not just to me, but to my fellow humans and Mother Earth. I let myself fall apart, over and over again. Each time, in the midst of it, thinking I wouldn’t survive the pain.
I watched these old beliefs resurface and I was able to see them in a new light. I see now that I built those walls to protect myself long ago because I was too young to understand. But with awareness, comes the choice to continue living by these beliefs or create new ones that empower me.
While my internal world has been flipped upside down this past year, my external world has seen massive changes as well. We just sold a house we loved in coastal San Diego and we’re moving into a tiny apartment. The travel industry is on hold and, along with it, my career.
From societal standards, it might look like we are going backwards — and sometimes my mind tricks me into believing I am — but progress in life is not linear. Life will give you whatever experience will move you towards your highest self and this year, for me, is all about trusting life even when it doesn’t make sense.
I have felt a deep calling to make a big change that mirrors the internal changes I have been going through and maybe moving into a tiny apartment is just another step in the process of letting go that has been unfolding in my life over the past two years.
It does feel incredibly freeing to let go of things that no longer serve me — making room for more of what aligns with the person I am becoming.
That being said, I am not afraid to admit that letting go can feel incredibly hard. The way I would describe how most of this year has felt for me is “moving through sludge” in more ways than one. It has often felt like I’m stuck in the same place, or that everything is moving painfully slow with an emphasis on painful.
While I feel like I already had so many tools to help me through low points in my life, this year I needed a little more support than usual. I found a therapist and had a few sessions where she gave me gentle reminders of things I can do when I’m feeling anxious.
I wanted to share a few of those here as well as my favorite tools for releasing anxiety to help you through these difficult times when your mind is spiraling and your body feels unsafe.
Tips & Tools For Letting Go Of The Past
Talk To Someone
Sometimes just allowing your feelings to be heard can be cathartic. Whether it’s a friend, a loved one, or a therapist, we are not meant to walk this Earth alone and we need to lean on each other for support.
Get Out Into Nature
Nature has always been my refuge, so when we experienced our first lockdown, it was tough not being able to go for a walk on the beach or a hike through the trees. Luckily, things have opened up in most places and we can now safely get outside, while social distancing.
Do Something That Makes You Feel Empowered
This has been huge for me personally and I hope you find it helpful as well. I’ve started watching self defense videos on YouTube and doing things that make me feel empowered. When we’re in a state of fear, our bodies and minds feel as if we no longer have any control. While we can’t control what happens outside of us, we can control how we react to life’s circumstances.
It’s widely known that when our bodies are in a life-threatening situation, our natural instinct is to either fight or flee. However, due to childhood trauma, this is not always the case. If you experienced trauma at a very young age, there’s a good chance your instinct is to freeze and dissociate, which as you can imagine is not exactly helpful in most situations.
Taking a self-defense class, kickboxing, Kung Fu or something similar (even online) can help retrain your nervous system and give you your power back.
Active Meditation & Yoga
I’ve been meditating daily for 5 years and there have been many times this year when my body did not feel safe enough to sit still and meditate. There was too much for my mind and body to process — and I couldn’t turn to nature like I normally would because of social distancing.
Active meditations like yoga and breathwork can be great ways to release trauma and emotions from the body in a gentle way.
Distractions Can Be Helpful When Spiraling
I’m so used to the spiritual community looking down on anyone who uses distractions like Netflix. However, this year has been trauma-inducing. The definition of trauma is anything that is too much or too fast for our nervous system to handle. For me, I’ve experienced this on a nearly daily basis in 2020.
There is no shame in allowing your nervous system to relax by using distractions. My therapist suggested watching nature shows. Anything that will calm your nervous system down. I have found underwater movies and shows to be extremely therapeutic.
Make Time For Play
We are not meant to work all day without allowing ourselves time to do something just for the pure joy of it — whether it’s going for a swim, playing a game, or creating something with your hands.
Remember That You Won’t Feel This Way Forever
The one thing we can be certain of in life is that things always change — and that includes our feelings. This too shall pass.