“When I let go of what I am, I become what I may be”
– Lao Tzu
We are coming into Autumn, the season of the Metal element. One gift (and perhaps challenge) of the Metal element is letting go. Every time this season comes around, I give new thought to the idea of what it means to let go, and what might be gained from doing so.
Letting go seems inherently sad or difficult, even painful, because it implies that something is being lost. And indeed, the autumn can bring up a feeling of loss even in the change of the slowly disappearing sun and the onset of cooler weather.
When I read this Lao Tzu quote this morning, though, it reminded me that in fact letting go is necessary for change. And it might not only be about leaving something valued behind. It might also be about letting go of self-imposed restrictions and making space to be a new version of ourselves.
The more I treat patients, the more that I see the connection between our belief systems and our health.
Even on a basic level, if you are attached to an ongoing belief that you are sick or hurt, you are more likely to stay sick or hurt. I read recently is that there is a high correlation between the time it takes for a fractured bone to heal and whether or not someone likes their job! In other words, if you are getting something out of being injured, your body may not be in a rush to heal. This is a belief or thought guiding the actual physical body in its healing process. It’s quite miraculous.
The mind can also limit or expand the way we feel in the world and in our lives. If you are in the process of change (who isn’t!), you may find that you are challenged to discard some long and dearly held aspect of yourself and shed it like a snake sheds an old skin.
This could be a letting go of the idea of being depressed, if depression has been your “normal.” Or letting go of the idea that you are not good enough or not deserving. Or letting go of your idea of yourself as someone who must always struggle to make ends meet. It could also mean letting go of the known, to become something you have never been before! All of these are mental concepts that can have a very real impact on the physical body.
Fatigue, heart palpitations, stomach pains, jaw tension, headaches, insomnia, lack of appetite, back pain, and so on, can often be traced to mental or emotional struggles. I see this every day in my clinic. This is why I always take a person’s whole life into account, because sometimes the physical body is a reflection of an internal struggle for transformation.
I welcome you to think about what aspect of yourself you are ready to discard, and connect with the way it would feel when you are on the other side of that transformation.
This vision of your future self, the new you, can help to guide you if you get snagged in the process of change. Because change can be painful, and it might feel as though you are losing something you value. But the more you connect with the way you want to feel, the more courage you will have for the journey it takes to get there.
Happy fall to all!