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The River: An Exercise in Letting Go

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We all know, or at least should know, that there are many benefits to letting go of our negative feelings, particularly in relation to our past. We know that, for our own health, we must forgive those who have harmed us. We know that anything we cling to desperately — whether it's to avoid something else, to use as a guide for the future, or because we were wronged — is corrosive to our very being. It leaves us stuck at what can sometimes be a terrible place to be stuck. And we do it to ourselves. Hence, the River.

The River. A place to let go. A place to release. A place to cleanse ourselves. A place to wash, rinse and repeat. Let's go there now, in fact.

Close your eyes (but read the following instructions first!) and relax every muscle in your body, starting at the toes. If you hear an occasional noise, do as Eckhart Tolle says and ignore it, as though it were a child wanting your attention. Now, take a walk through the forest (use your mind). Walk until you see a clearing and a running river. You are all alone and you are at peace. Hear the running water. Step into the water. Is it warm? Is it cold? Look up through the leaves. Is the sun too bright?

We're ready to begin our work. Continue walking in the water until you reach the middle of the river. Now hold out your arms and put each negative item into them. Don't forget those people you have not been able to forgive. Include every instance where someone you cared about said that you have fallen short or failed to measure up. Don't think about whether these are true. They are negative and we are releasing those items right now.

When you feel ready, take a deep breath, both physically and in your vision. Turn around to face the direction of the flow. Bend down, release everything into the flow. Like water, which purifies itself after having run for a certain length of time, these items will purify as well. You are free from them.

Now, do as you please as you leave the forest and return to the mundane. Enjoy the water, look at the forest, feel the sun on your skin. Walk out of the forest.

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About Ginae B. McDonald

  • Pretty cool, all right. My personal “river” is the beach, and my favorite beach is in San Francisco. I can almost feel the spray as I type!

  • Wonderful! Thanks for your comment 🙂