The Alchemy of Letting Go

Last night I was at an incredibly beautiful event. It was a formal dinner and women’s circle in a home in South Park Slope celebrating the full moon and the topic of “forgiveness” and “letting go”. I had no idea what to expect, as I only knew one woman who would be there, but I trust her so I had a feeling it would be worth it.

All the ladies who came wore “winter white” except one perfectly placed “black sheep” who didn’t read that part of the email and was an elegant misfit in all black. Small cities of pillar candles stood on the two long tables. The candles started out upright and well-behaved, but by the end of the night were spilling over into ever-increasing motes of wax.

Our hostess was the embodiment of the sweet and powerful nurturing feminine. Originally from South Africa, she created a heartfelt meal based on the Sunday cooking of her mother and grandmother. She even printed the menu in Afrikaans, her first language. It felt wonderful to be in her care, and to sense her female ancestry in the meal we were sharing.

There were about 20 of us ladies at the dinner. After a brief presentation about the significance of last night’s particular full moon, we settled in to eat, get to know one another, and casually discuss the topic of forgiveness and letting go…

Over the course of the evening there were several really poignant ritualistic elements. But I think I have shared enough to set the scene and get to the topic that has been intriguing me. This idea of letting go.

One of the most frightening topics for many is the idea of moving on and letting go: from a job, a partner, a friendship, a home, an identity in the world, a set of behaviors that has worked for a long time… We all cling so tightly to these things that have provided comfort, meaning and security in the past. We are afraid that if we let them go, there will be a gaping hole where they once were.

Does this ring true to you? Is there anything happening in your life right now that feels like it’s obsolete, but you’re still hanging on, afraid of change? Or perhaps something that has recently ended, but you’re unable to accept its ending?

This autumn I made the very big decision to stop leading the teacher training that I created with my very dear friend and collaborator Yuuki and his wife Kana at Dou Yoga. We are in our fourth year and it is inexplicably exciting to have been in this creative process together.

To have been a guide in the thrilling transformations that trainees have undergone through taking the training… I literally can’t explain how cool it has been. There’s been so much heart. So much love. So much bravery. So much meaning in doing this training. Part of me thinks it’s crazy to let it go.

But this is what I know: This experience has reached completion. And the words “letting go” don’t actually even apply. I’m not letting anything go, because it’s fully inside me. The jug within marked “Dou Yoga Teacher Training” is brimming. With every jostle or bounce it even overflows a bit. I am moving on because I’m so full of that particular experience, it will now integrate into my system and inform the next things I’m going to do.

I believe this can be true for anything that you sense is coming to an end. Its ending is not the act of discarding it. It is the fact of acknowledging that that the essence of that particular experience/relationship/whatever is all the way inside you now. It is ready to be transmuted into the next thing.

There was a very cool and mystical woman at the gathering who was an alchemist. She created one of the rituals for the evening that involved the idea of alchemy. And I think that alchemy is an appropriate metaphor here…

Think about that thing you know is coming to an end now. Or perhaps think about something that has already ended but you’re still hanging on to it, having trouble unclenching your fingers.

What if in “letting go” you are actually allowing it to reach its next level of refinement in your system? The part where it transforms from a common, everyday experience, into a precious invaluable aspect of your soul? What if it “ended” because because its teachings are now fully present in who you are? Could that be possible?



2 thoughts on “The Alchemy of Letting Go

  1. George McQuilken says:

    I admire your abilty to post a thoughtful post almost every day. As a past active blogger, I feel I could never match your pace. Keep up the good work.

    1. arielkiley says:

      That is kind of you to say George! Yes, I have challenged myself to a post five days a week. When I’m running low on ideas I do a brainstorm list of 20 ideas (even if they’re sucky), just to get creative juices flowing. Usually in one of those 20, something feels interesting enough to write about.

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