Clearing Away of Old, Dead Parts of Self is the third in my 5-part autumn blog series on psychological shedding. The first two parts are linked here:
Part 2: Letting Go of Rotten Things
It isn’t enough to simply drop those things that no longer belong in our lives. As it turns out, allowing rotten fruit to decompose around a tree’s roots is actually harmful to the tree (I learned this from Steve Bender’s “Around the Garden” column in the September 2018 print edition of Southern Living). The rotted fruits can harbor diseases and insects, as it turns out. This is an apt comparison to the role of toxic people and destructive beliefs that we’re dropping!
Just as fruit farmers must clear the rotted fruit from their trees’ roots, we too shall undertake a clearing of the soul.
The parallel between our own experience and that of a tree makes a lot of sense; for if we dropped a relationship but still kept it close by, the person would continue to exert a force on us. Now, it’s important to get clear on intention for this one: If you dropped a person but kept her or him close, was the drop done to punish, to prove a point, or something else? Dropping but not clearing means that you’re not really ready to say goodbye to the drama and the hurt. We tend to do this when we leave a relationship but don’t really mean for it to be forever. Often in these cases, we can’t convince ourselves that we deserve better.
Of course, there are toxic people who must remain in your life for various reasons (such as if you share custody of a child with your ex). In these instances when we talk about dropping and clearing, we’re really making the decision to clear the control the person has on your self-worth, your psychological health, and (returning to the tree metaphor) your ability to grow new and positive parts of self. The person may be physically present; but the control she or he has need be no more.
The Clearing Exercise
For the next exercise, you’ll need nothing more than your own silence, and perhaps some good meditation music. Here’s one I listened to today, and there are several more on YouTube from which to choose.
Taking in three good belly breaths that you exhale slowly, you’ll bring the image of the tree to mind. The tree is indestructible. Through all it endures, the tree survives. You survive. See your beautiful tree surrounded by the negative, rotten fruits you’ve dropped. Spend as much time with this visual image as you wish, perhaps looking closely at the fruits to really get clear on you’re about to sweep away.
Remembering that nothing can harm your tree, allow an element: fire, water, wind, to slowly take form in the near horizon. Begin to feel it as it creeps closer. This is your anger, and it is fabulously healthy; for anger is the natural emotional response to injustice. The burdens we carried, the nonsense other people sought to instill, the old beliefs that we allowed to hold us back…these are deserving of our anger.
As someone who’s often struggled to find my anger and use it to voice injustice in my life, I find that bringing fire to mind works best for me in the clearing. It starts slowly, and becomes an inferno that surrounds, then consumes the detritus I’ve dropped. I allow myself to feel the heat fully, awakening me and reminding me that I am at once alive and vital. I meditate on fire burning away the old and rotted parts of self and allow myself to sit with the image as long as I need. As it subsides, I notice the fertile ground that will allow new things to emerge in my life that reflect my love, my creativity, my passion and zest.
For others, a cleansing stream to wash over the roots of your tree may be a clearer image. The water surrounds you, yet you do not waver. Feel the water rushing around your trunk, and watch as the things you’ve dropped are washed away. As the water subsides, the ground is bare, cleaned, and nourished.
Perhaps it’s a wind that clears the detritus from your roots. A powerful gust carries these people and things away with a howling fury. The wind buffers you and you feel it fully against your bark; refreshing you and allowing your limbs to tingle. The cleared ground at your roots are bare and ready for whatever you will allow to spring forth.
Whatever works in clearing these things away from you is yours. Own the symbol of your anger, whether fire, water, wind. It’s powerful and will allow you to voice “Good riddance!” and perhaps a few additional choice words that reflect you in your most powerful self.
Spend as long as you wish in this space. Meditate on the silence around you, the cleared ground, the piece that comes with this choice you’ve made.
In Part 4, I’ll share how to harvest the positive fruits of your life.