10 Tips to Let Go of the Past & Embrace the Future

"Two monks were on a pilgrimage. One day, they came to a deep river. At the edge of the river, a young woman sat weeping because she was afraid to cross the river without help. She begged the two monks to help her. The younger monk turned his back. The members of their order were forbidden to touch a woman.

But the older monk picked up the woman without a word and carried her across the river. He put her down on the far side and continued his journey. The younger monk came after him, scolding him and berating him for breaking his vows. He went on this way for a long time.

Finally, at the end of the day the older monk turned to the younger one. "I only carried her across the river. You have been carrying her all day."

Letting go can be difficult. Letting go of people, ideas, expectations, desires; letting go of bad habits, false beliefs and unhealthy relationships... the list goes on. Every day, every moment presents an opportunity to create ourselves anew, to shrug off the baggage of the past, open ourselves up to the possibility of the moment and take action to create an incredible future. 

Although we can understand this intellectually, knowing it and living it are two very different things. 

Here is my Top Ten Action list for letting go to get going:

1. Meditate. Find stillness, breathe. Meditation is action. Our mind is much harder to still than our body. Our lives are busy and fast paced, filled with external noise and distractions. Clarity comes from quiet.  Meditation, even in small amounts, will make room for the next 9 steps.

2. Understand. Take time to reflect on your own history as a third party looking in without judgment: simply observe. Understand that you are not your past. Understand that the situations and patterns and people in your life created your experiences, they didn’t create you. Knowing and understanding your past and some of your patterns will help you to recognize why you hold on and repeat self-destructive behaviours. Understanding creates awareness; awareness helps you break the cycle.

3. Accept. Accept your history and the people that have been a part of your history; accept your circumstances and remember that none of these define you. Acceptance is the first step to letting go and setting yourself free. Learn from the monk in the story: carrying bitterness, anger or animosity burdens no one but you.

4. Empty your cup. Consciously and actively work at letting go of your story; your judgments and ideals, the material things, all your stuff. They have no real value. They do not make you stronger, healthier or more powerful, and belief in them is a delusion. Pour out your expectations of how, who, where and what you should be as they, too, are part of a story that holds you back from simply being.  Once you let go of this story and empty your cup, your life purpose will open up and flow.

5. Align. Take a moment (or several: you’re worth the time) to write down the following: 
i. Your core beliefs/values
ii. Your Life Goals
iii. The actions that you are taking to pursue those goals.
Now take an honest look at your core beliefs/values and determine whether or not they align with your goals and actions. If not, ask yourself: is it time to create new core beliefs, set new goals OR take new action? What actions must you take to align your actions with your beliefs in order to attain your goals. Write down 3 actions that you will take this week to get yourself moving. 

6. Flex. It may seem paradoxical to detach from outcomes, yet set goals and work toward them. But if you are flexible -- that is, willing to let go of the end result -- aligning your goals and true purpose with the greater good is righteous action. Be flexible; allow the path to unfold as it will, opening up to opportunities. Flex and flow with the current of life. 

7. Contribute. When you find yourself lamenting about your past or angry about your present or brooding about your future, find a way to making someone’s day better. Offering a smile to someone as you pass, opening a door, putting a bit of extra change in the parking meter, dropping off some food for the food bank: these simple actions can have lasting impact and help you to put your situation into perspective. Contributing to the well-being of others is the best way to align with your true self.

8. Believe in yourself. Believe in your purpose. Believe that the universe is unfolding as it should and that you have a divine roll to play. Believe that holding on does nothing in fact but hold you back from that purpose.

9. Love the process.  Have fun. Be playful, cheerful and positive. Give power to positivity. Love yourself, love others and love this life. It is a gift to unwrap each and every day, to gaze upon with new and excited eyes.

10. Be grateful.  Be true. Once you have taken all of these actions, just be. 

Here’s to letting go of the past and embracing the future. 

Namaste my friends.

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About the Author

Cat O'Connor is inspired by yoga, surf & all experiences that nourish the body, mind & spirit. As a RYT500, SUP Yoga teacher, SURFSET Ambassador & Whole Food Wellness Educator with a beautiful studio in Orillia, ON Nourish Yoga & Wellness Studio, Cat is beyond grateful to be able to share her life passions with others with the intention of bringing yoga and a higher level of happiness to as many people as possible. She currently works with some of the incredible people at Free People and Lululemon Athletica who are helping her bring nourishment, yoga & surf to the people! At the end of the day, it's all yoga, baby! Be well. Live big. Love bigger. Namaste

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