Cycles of Death and Rebirth ~ The Power of Letting Go
Cycles of Death and Rebirth ~ The Power of Letting Go
By April Bender
Without a doubt, one of the most creative and transformative movements we as human souls are blessed to experience is that of death and rebirth. This is a process that we are invited to engage in many times throughout the course of our lives to varying degree, as it is a process of growth and renewal.
Often these cycles arrive seemingly unannounced, catching us off-guard and thrusting us out of the safety of our well-crafted inner mansions of illusion. No matter the catalyst, they challenge us to examine our core beliefs, assumptions, intentions, expectations and ways of being in the world. This is because on many different levels, they no longer serve us (or the collective) and are inhibiting not only our growth but our experiences of peace, joy, freedom, and authenticity – qualities of our divine birthright.
The death of these old friends can leave us feeling unsettled, alone, vulnerable, fearful, anxious or angry, and that we no longer have control over our own lives. Many of the these fears and beliefs may have been put in place originally as survival mechanisms and we may be afraid that in letting them go we leave ourselves open to further harm. Depending upon how deeply such beliefs, attitudes and behaviors are ingrained, we may also feel that our very identity is in peril prompting us to ask, “Who am I?” And to further complicate matters, while in the throws of this sober reflection we often cannot yet see the beautiful rebirth awaiting us on the horizon. It is a strange and unsettling landscape indeed for those journeying through the shadows of the death.
I wanted to write about this topic because over the last year I’ve personally been moving through my own deeply transformative death and rebirth process. I wanted to share some of the insights and aha’s that emerged for me in the hopes that they might benefit others who are also moving through this difficult process.
First and foremost, these cycles herald change and change can be scary, or more accurately put, the unknown can be scary. However, you are in the situation you find yourself in because you are being prompted to change and grow. The Universe/God/Creater, your soul and higher self have provided you a catalyst in which to do so. Perhaps it was the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or home, a physical/mental illness diagnosis or disability, some other form of ongoing suffering, or simply a feeling of restlessness or lingering discontent. In any event, the impetus is provided and awareness given that one cannot continue to go on in the same way – something MUST change. Of course we may choose to ignore the trigger and to put that change off, which only guarantees that another, larger trigger or catalyst will appear and in the meantime, we will continue to feel miserable, lost, or stressed. Earlier I noted that these cycles of death and rebirth often seemingly appear out of nowhere, but in looking back you can often note that there were subtler signs of needed change that went unheeded. So as scary as change may seem, you’re better off embracing it because change WILL come one way or another and its best to work consciously and proactively with this process.
What changes in your life have you been putting off? What are you afraid will happen if you make those changes? What will happen if you don’t make those changes?
Facing Your Inner Shadows of Belief
We all have inner foundations built with our shadow (or now unconscious) beliefs. At the time these beliefs were formed they were conscious thoughts but as time goes by and layer after layer are built on top of them they slide into unconscious territory. We then mistakenly believe that the top most layer is the culprit but really it’s only a reflection of the core belief now buried within the unconscious. It takes commitment and perseverance to dig down and uncover that core belief – bringing it to light in your conscious awareness. But once you have it in your conscious awareness you can easily rework that limiting belief into a healthier one. I personally found the uncovering process to be much more cumbersome than the rewiring or changing of that belief. You’ll know when you’ve found a core belief because you’ll note how the tentacles of it stretch into every domain of your life including thought and behavioral patterns – they tend to color or influence everything you perceive and how you respond to that perception. Many of our core beliefs about ourselves and the world are formed back in childhood, adolescence, and our early adult years. If you aren’t sure where to start, look there. Perhaps try answering the following questions both from your inner child perspective as well as your adult perspective. You may find two distinct set of answers.
Do you believe the universe/world is loving? Do you believe life is inherently abundant or lacking? Do you believe you matter? Do you believe you are enough? Do you believe you are worthy of good things? Do you believe that if life is too good something might be taken away from you? Do you believe that you have something to contribute to the world or to others? Do you believe your value rests only in your accomplishments?
Owning Your Fears
Entwined with any limiting or negative beliefs you may be carrying are of course your fears. Instead of confronting your fears, I recommend that you own them. Confrontation implies the possibility of an impending battle and if you take the approach of battling your fears you will always be at odds with them perhaps even to the point of avoidance. However by owning them, you give them permission to exist in the first place. From this place of acceptance you can then begin to understand the source and nature of them better – allowing you to choose more consciously whether you will continue to reinforce them or not.
What specific beliefs can you connect to a specific fear? What are you afraid of? Is there a legitimate basis for this fear? What is the worst thing that could happen to you if you took a risk? What things would you be doing right now if you were not afraid? How are your fears holding you back on a daily basis?
Other Areas of Examination
The following are heavily influenced by your beliefs and fears and thus require reflection and examination as well.
There can be more than one intention or motivation behind anything you do, think, or say. Oftentimes we are aware of the more positive intent we carry. However I want to encourage you to think about the deeper underlying motivations as well that tie back to any limiting beliefs or fears you carry. Intentions around control, safety, and self-preservation. Consider everything from how you handle a complement to how you may be unconsciously guarding or closing yourself off.
Often we think that if we could just get a particular person or situation to change then everything would be great. The problem with this thinking is that WE were the ones prompted into this process of change – projecting that change onto others is not going to fix anything or help us grow as souls. For we cannot control other people nor can we always control our environments or the situations we find ourselves in (cutting ourselves off from the world isn’t the answer either). We can however, control the way we perceive and respond to any given person or situation. I found it very helpful to really spend some time considering whether I was projecting my fears, expectations, and need for control onto others – inadvertently robbing them of their divine birthright to be their authentic selves (even if I don’t resonate with their personal expression). While society has conditioned us to be creatures of projection, it’s important to remember that no one else can do our inner work for us and expecting the world to change to suit us and/or accommodate our limited beliefs and fears isn’t going to happen. Instead it’s better to let these souls and situations be our teachers for they can reflect back to us our own short comings and where we have additional work to do.
What are the behavior patterns and/or choices that reinforce negative or limited beliefs within me? In what ways do I self-sabotage my dreams, opportunities, relationships, success, etc.? These are important questions to ask ourselves as we seek to weed out our inner gardens. Accompanying any fear or limited-based beliefs you can be sure are self-sabotaging patterns of behavior that serve to reinforce that negative belief. I mean if you believe that you aren’t deserving of the good things in life then self-sabotaging behavior only reinforces that belief because now you feel guilt and shame for not following through what you wanted to do. Hence, you will continue to feel and believe that you are undeserving. I, for example, have always had difficulty taking a complement which is self-sabotaging behavior that reinforces my belief that my work is never valued or acknowledged. Funny how that works isn’t it?
Personal Insights and Aha’s
If you consider yourself a spiritual person you cannot say you trust Spirit/God/Universe/Higher Self, and then craft your life based on fear. Either you trust or you don’t. Likewise to believe yourself a carrier of a divine spark of the Creator and then harbor limited beliefs about yourself is a form of blasphemy. So which is it going to be?
Inner cup/Holy Grail
I like to use the metaphor of an inner cup or Holy Grail that should be kept empty in order for Spirit to fill with inspiration, guidance, and movement. If it’s already full of my beliefs, expectations, projections and/or everything I think I know…what room is left in there for Spirit? For me to just Be? Or to see the world with fresh eyes? I’ve found it helpful to check in with myself periodically and try to sense how empty or full that inner chalice is. And if it’s full of my own stuff, I do a variety of spiritual/contemplative practices to empty it back out again.
Clearing your physical space
If we want to make room for change and new things to manifest in our lives then we need to move out some of the old. This is true whether we are talking about inner or external space. I’ve found it very helpful to clean out my home and office at the same time I’m going through an inner death/rebirth process. I personally felt like it allowed Universe to manifest more of the new or rebirth aspect more quickly. Give it a try.
Curiosity and wonder
Curiosity and wonder can be a wonderful practice or approach to use during times of quiet introspection, when engaging others, and in embracing change. They can help us to see the world differently, hold our own stuff a little more lightly, and make it easier to let things go. It’s hard to be scared, rigid, or judgmental when working with curiosity and wonder as they offer us a fun, light, and adventurous approach that can enliven and enrich the overall process, not to mention life in general!
At the onset of a death/rebirth cycle it’s normal to at first want to resist, fight, and struggle against the impending change you feel coming. And let us speak plainly, this process can be painful, uncomfortable and frustrating and it can be quite some time before we see the shores of rebirth or the new appear. So when we feel the first inklings of it, especially for those of us who are in tune with these cycles, it’s normal to want to resist it and put it off because it seldom appears at the best time to undertake a total life overhaul. But the sooner you can let go and surrender into the process, the more quickly you will be carried by it to the shores of rebirth where a greater sense of peace, empowerment, authenticity, joy, love, and abundance await you.
In closing, like the snake shedding its skin, the phoenix rising, or the caterpillar that transforms into a beautiful butterfly, you too are on an epic journey of transformation. If we wish to see the ascension of this world or the re-enchantment of it (depending upon your tradition), each and every one of us needs to embrace the death and rebirth process when it comes calling. To reclaim all that we are and hope to be requires no less.
In this journey, may you be blessed.
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