Everyone has something that they hold onto that they wish they could leave behind:
- A toxic relationship
- A consuming job
- A family quarrel
- A bad habit
I recently created this visualization to allow me to let go of thoughts surrounding a past relationship. My mind raced with self-doubt and discouragement and the more I tried to push the thoughts back, the more often they would run through my head and gain speed and traction. I overheard an unrelated conversation in a coffee shop which spurred this visualization that helped me to release those self-deprecating emotions (so I could get some work done or focus on being a good friend). I started doing this very short and powerful visualization exercise.
It takes 1 minute or 15 minutes. You create the situation that works for you.
I create visualizations for myself that are not based in theology or religion, but actually mirror my life and use language I use everyday. It is my sort of spirituality. This is very tactile which helps me feel it from head to toe so the benefits stay with me for hours or days.
Sit in a place that is quiet where you are completely comfortable; a chair or a couch or on the floor.
Start to breathe deeper and close your eyes. Feel your neck and shoulders relax and your stomach softly rise and fall with your breathe. Breathe in the calm quiet of the air and breathe out the stress that is in your body. Do this until you feel relaxed and focused.
Start to imagine that thing that you want to let go of. Take a few minutes to get a clear image of that person, situation or habit in your mind.
Picture that person or thing as an itchy wool sweater. It is tight and uncomfortable, and you fidget with it trying to make it fit right – but it doesn’t.
And think of all the things that are good and hopeful about that person or situation. The qualities that attracted you to them in the first place. Like a sweater, even the most uncomfortable one, it provides you warmth, shields you from the wind and at one time, probably looked fantastic on you.
But over time, it has shrunk. It has gotten dirty and pilled and become itchy. Despite the benefits of having this sweater, it causes you more irritation than comfort, and you know it is time to let go.
Scan your body and for just a second feel the discomfort in your legs, your torso and up your spine, feel the itch down your arms and the tightness around your collar. Feel your body constricted by this thing. Keeping you from freedom and movement.
Imagine how it feels to take the sweater off. The fresh air hitting your stomach, the relaxation of your arms, the tension leaving your neck and shoulders.
Feel the sense of freedom when you raise your arms and remove the itchy wool from your body. For a moment imagine your skin feeling the fresh air and wind against your body, it’s cold but exhilerating. Stand completely still and let your body get goosebumps in the cold. Freedom can often feel uncomfortable for the first few minutes, but resist the urge to go back to the warmth of something you know will only last for a minute before the discomfort returns.
Feel the freedom. Embrace the refreshing change.
Realize that your nakedness and this freedom lets your body have space for something better. A better relationship, a clearer mind at work, better communication with your family, there will always be another sweater. One that truly fits, and one that will be comfortable for the rest of your life. Or perhaps letting go of this habit or situation will allow you to simply be comfortable and move on.
When you’ve adjusted to the cold and your body has settled into a higher state of awareness – imagine what it would feel like to put on a new sweater; cashmere or silk. It fits you well and leaves you room to breathe.
This is the new situation, the new friends, the new lover, the new healthy habits that will fill the time and space in your life that you’ve released.
Continue to breathe in and out for as long as you need to feel at peace in this new place, with these new situations and people. Visualize what that looks like for you. What it feels like to be loved and supported. To pass on that love and support to others.
When you are done, hold your hands as if you’re praying and touch them to your forehead between your eyebrows, thank your inner guide for allowing you the self-knowledge and respect to acknowledge that you have something you need to let go of, and the strength to actually do it.
Repeat this visualization before, during and after your actual process of letting go. You will feel confident in taking the necessary steps, whether it’s a hard conversation, saying no to someone, or avoiding a situation or habit. Surround yourself with love and appreciate your ability to move on.
Take off that itchy sweater.