I do not think I have ever cut away so much deadwood in one year. The photo now would show a big gap in the middle of the shrub. It is almost shocking to see because of course, I want it to look full and beautiful. However, in cutting away the deadwood, I found so much potential new growth waiting to burst forth as little tiny buds, which I would not otherwise have seen and potentially would not have grown.
To me this is a real metaphor for life. We carry a lot of ‘deadwood’ around with us. Old, outdated belief systems, habits, situations and sometimes people that have run their course. Yet we often continue to carry them with us, not even realising they are no longer relevant or helpful to anyone.
When we realise we have been carrying all of this around and prepare to let it go, it can feel like a huge hole in our lives. We may ask, ‘What do I do now?’ or, even more importantly, ‘Who am I?’
Yet this is a powerful moment in our lives. We have made space for something new, something that we would not have experienced if we had not cut out that deadwood. Further, this ‘newness’ has the potential to be beautiful and profound for us.
Right now, as we move through Lent, we are using Unity‘s Lenten booklet to let go of something different every day. I joked at the beginning of the season, that
if we were able to let go of everything listed, we would rise up like angels, so light would we be.
Yet really, this is no joking matter. It is true.
How much are you carrying around with you today? How much are you holding onto something or someone that feels like a dead weight, restricting and limiting you? Can you find a way to recognise that which you no longer need and let it go to its good?
Something I really desire to let go of, is people pleasing. It can still have an unconscious hold on me, which then creates resentment, frustration, limitation etc. My response is to breathe through this quality and associated feelings, to free myself and everyone else as well!
In its place, I claim and know strength, authority and wisdom. For when we let go, it is important to remember that we must claim something positive and empowering in its place. Otherwise, the old feelings and habits return multiplied. As explained in the parable in Matthew 12: 43-45.
There is a quote by Lao Tzu:
In the end, the treasure of life is missed by those who hold on and gained by those who let go.
This Lenten season, I encourage you to join me in letting go of the old ‘deadwood’. Look for the new growth that may have previously been hidden, but is waiting to bloom and grow in you. Claim it, feel it, give thanks for it. For there is untold treasure waiting for you and our world. I invite you to break free of limitation and know the full potential that is bursting forth through you this year.
Many of you have heard me say that letting go and letting God be God in any given situation, or person, was one of the big revelations Unity gave me when I first came, over 20 years ago. It has become a lifelong daily practice. For I have come to see how hard the mind wants to hold on.
When we hold onto negative repeated thoughts; when we hold onto resentment, bitterness, shame, guilt – all these big emotions, we feel depleted of energy, our bodies get as tense as our minds and our whole energy system is blocked. We cannot see a way forward and we often slip further into depression and despair. In a way, this is rather like algorithms on the internet, which can lead us deeper into the dark side of life. We end up feeling lost; separate from our Source of love and energy, God. We forget who and what we are – spiritual beings having human experiences.
What are we to do? We let go! Our minds may say – let go, you must be kidding, this is their fault, or even all my fault. Unconsciously we hold onto negative thoughts or feelings, thinking this will bring forth a resolution and it rarely does. We remain stuck and our energy blocked.
Now for a simple exercise … Imagine something you have been holding onto. How does it feel in your body and heart? Check in … do you want to continue this way or would you like a new experience? Where is the tension in your body? Can you breathe into the tension and feel it ease away through your breath? If you can you will feel freedom and release. Now give yourself permission to let the associated negative thoughts go – see them drift off away from you. Any negative energy that has held you down, let it simply flow through you – stop holding on, just let the energy flow. How does this feel now?
If you would like to experience being guided through these techniques, we will practice them at our April online workshop, sharing the challenges and results together. Let us give ourselves permission to open our hearts and be set free.
Rev Kimerie Mapletoft
Director Silent Unity and Daily Word UK
Michael Singer, author of The Untethered Soul and published in Unity Magazine, writes about this. He writes about ‘the maniac’ that lives inside our heads – these thoughts that dictate, criticise and chatter away. Truthfully, when I read that statement it made me laugh. To help us find some distance from this experience, he says to imagine these thoughts as a person outside of us. How would you respond if you sat next to someone who does not stop talking! Well, you wouldn’t keep sitting there for one thing. Yet we sit with the incessant thoughts that keep us stuck in our heads and out of the silence. To my thoughts, I now say, with love and laughter – enough already. This is done!
So how do we switch off from this incessant chatter? We learn to recognise that we are not these thoughts. We are the witness, the observer, who notices the thoughts. The thoughts are a product of our personality. The silence is where we access our spirituality and the beauty, power, love and grace that is God. Indeed, we can only truly experience God in the silence.
I invite you to start noticing your thoughts as the witness, the Self that is beyond thought. As we learn to detach from our personality-driven thinking, we make space to know our divinity – this is the power of being in the silence. It is why Unity teaches it as a core practice.
I know how important this is for me right now. This is why Silent Unity will be leading a one-day workshop on Zoom entitled, “The Path of Peace” and I will be leading a meditation class, all designed to access this glorious silence.
Are you interested in exploring this further with us? Click through to the website for more details.
Today, let us each commit to start the practice of being the observer of our thoughts, not the victim of our thoughts – now there is a challenge I set myself too!
Rev. Kimerie Mapletoft
Unity in the UK