During this autumn, the season of harvest, we begin to reflect back on the year and make stores for the winter. This is a good time to clean out the pantry and collect sustenance for the colder days and the longer nights. Autumn is a great time to do this, even though “spring cleaning” is the more popular time. Letting go and making space is a practice I try to cultivate regularly.
Letting go of that which does not serve us can be difficult. In Buddhism, this is illustrated in the Four Noble Truths. The second Noble Truth says, “The origin of suffering is attachment” —attachment to transient things and the ignorance that follows. (ALL things are transient, nothing is forever.) “Because the objects of our attachment are transient, their loss is inevitable, thus suffering will necessarily follow.”
Someone came to me and asked, “How do I let go of the past? How do I let go of grudges I hold for something from so long ago?” My first thought was, “How do you hold on? What does keeping this collection of grudges do for you? How does this attachment serve you or keep you where you are?” The person wasn’t able to answer these questions right away, but took them in and reflected mindfully upon them.
We frequently want to immediately get rid of something when we notice it is to our detriment; but sometimes that letting go takes time, for it took time to acquire as well. We never take something on without purpose. Looking back on how this thought, belief or behavior served us in the past, and reflecting on how it no longer serves us can help us let it go.
Perhaps you can take time this autumn to clear out that which no longer serves you in order to make space for the new. This is the last harvest time – fill your stores with that which nourishes you.
– Nick Venegoni, MA