Sometimes we sabotage ourselves by not letting go of things that we should. We hold onto patterns or emotions or habits or thoughts long after they have ceased to serve us, long after their usefulness is gone.
There is a story of two monks traveling by foot along a wooded path. Their religious order was a chaste one and included a solemn vow never to touch a woman. As chance would have it, the path these monks trod required them to cross a stream swollen by a recent rain. They came to a young maiden in great distress because she could not transverse the turbulent waters. Without much ado, one of the monks swept her up in his arms, swiftly carried her across, promptly placing her on the far side, safe and dry. He then continued his journey with his companion. They walked in silence for a few miles and then his fellow monk could contain himself no longer: “How could you have done that? You violated our vows! You touched a woman!” The first monk smiled peacefully and replied, “I put her down on the banks of the river. You are still carrying her in your mind.”
The story illustrates several points. The first and most obvious is the power of release, of letting things go. Get over it, move on. Continue your journey, focus on the task at hand, on what lies before you, on what you can impact.
The second and more subtle point the story illustrates is the human tendency to elevate the form of a rule far above its purpose. The purpose of the “no touch” rule was to avoid temptation, the first step on a slippery slope. The second monk, with his mental obsessing about the woman, was further down that slope than the first monk who did a kindly, helpful deed and thought of the woman no differently than he might of an elderly man or young child in the same predicament. One respected the form of the rule and in doing so violated the purpose. The other knew the power of letting go and so respected the purpose of his vow of chastity while also adhering to a monk’s duty to help those in need.
The ability to let go of what no longer serves your purpose is a powerful skill, one that frees up your energy. I have a visualization of myself climbing a mountain and in a moment of clarity I realize that I am carrying a heavy load of dead weight––useless anger or grudges or resentment or self-sabotaging beliefs or habits. I decide that this is stupid. Since I am intelligent person, my own best friend/coach and cheerleader, I reach around, unzip my backpack, and watch pounds of useless rocks tumble out. My load is instantly lightened, my energy levels restored, and I continue my upward journey with renewed vigor.
What are you carrying that no longer serves you? What do you need to let go of?