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Welcome to my island of sanity and serenity. I'm Sandra Pawula - writer, mindfulness teacher and advocate of ease. I help deep thinking, heart-centered people find greater ease — emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Curious? Read On!

Plagued by the Past? How to Let Go.

How to Let Go of the Past The stars surprised me.  At the beginning of the year, they told me I need to focus  on healing, surrender, and closure all the way till August.

“Be sure to include a big dose of rest and maybe even a creative retreat,” they insisted.  “Look back on the last 12-year life cycle and focus on the loose ends, forgiveness, and letting go,” they said.

I’m used to looking back a year at a time, but 12 years!  Sounds like a good precaution to avoid the top of regrets of the dying.  But holy-moly, at first I couldn’t even remember the last 12 years.

“Nothing happened,” I thought.  Funny that mind of ours, isn’t it?

With this starry nudge, I’m getting into the retrospective groove.  Just in case you want to look back too, this is what I’m up to.

The Last 12 Years

First, I had to remember what actually happened since September, 2003.

I took a blank page and made a mind map, starting with a heart in the center that read, “Last 12 Years.”   I let my mind roll and these bubbles popped up one by one around the map.

  • I connected with my passion for writing, first as a freelance writer and much later as the founder of and blogger at Always Well Within.  This replaced my previous work as a non-profit director and fundraising consultant.  You know, the work you can do well, but it doesn’t give flight to your heart.
  • I participated in a (literally) mind-blowing 3-year, 3-month Buddhist study and practice retreat in the South of France.  On a purely physical level, I survived the excessive wind, rain, and snowy cold on the plateau that hosted our introspective endeavor. "Even the sheep don't survive up there, " the locals have been known to say.  It's beautiful, but the elements clamor madly for each others' attention except during a few, fast summer months.
  • But just barely, survive that is.  I became so ill that I could hardly eat, shrunk to 84 pounds, and out of the blue became sensitive to every sort of fragrance and toxic chemical hanging around.  The illness started a few years before the retreat, but intensified as can happen when you engage in serious spiritual practice.  I was well cared for, but the karma would not yield until anti-histamines gave me a modicum of relief and a few well needed pounds.
  • Afterward, I came to the Big Island of Hawaii to heal.  I planned for a few months and stayed on; 5 years so far.  In my usual naiveté, I thought healing would occur in a blip.  But a childhood with a few missing parts, unresolved traumatic stress, and living on high-speed as a so called grown-up may take the better part of a lifetime to heal. Still, I’m finding joy in greater relaxation and ease.
  • My eyes opened to a deeper sense of love as I navigated unexpected twists and turns, bumps and dips.  I’ve even improved my communication skills.
  • I’m learning what it means to connect deeply with the land.   I plant, weed, hack, and hoe.  I feel the wonder of life bursting from the soil or enticing from a branch.
  • I’m recognizing myself as a creative person and life guide:  The writer who’s beckoned to be set free since her teen-aged years and the course-builder who wants to help others find insight, comfort, and ease.

Much of the last twelve years felt like a breath-defying roller coaster ride.  I once called the larger part of it a decade of challenge.  Finally, the roller coaster crashed and I got delivered to Hawaii for some slow but sweet repair.

How I’ll Find Closure (And You Can Too)

Over the next 7 months, I’ll be quietly reflecting and moving toward closing this 12-year period of my life.  These are some of the questions I’ll pursue.

  1. Who do I need to thank?
  2. Who do I need to forgive?
  3. What do I need to forget?
  4. Do I need to ask anyone for forgiveness or make retribution?
  5. What lessons have I learned?
  6. Is this what I expected or wanted to happen in the last 12 years?
  7. What do I need to gracefully accept because honestly it’s not going to change?
  8. What patterns and attitudes are no longer useful and thus would best be let go.
  9. Are there projects I need to complete?  Loose ends to tie up?

I’m grateful I have 8 months (7 now) because all those questions look like a lot to accomplish in a 12-year review.  At the same time, I’ve decided this doesn’t have to become an intensive project.

I can take it bit-by-bit and some I will.  But, I can also do some of this healing in one fell swoop.

There are several Buddhist practices that repay karmic debts - why so much happens in the first place - some of which I do every day.  So it’s a question of directing these practices to heal and transform any unresolved aspect from the last twelve years - individually as well as globally.

I can also use the practice of Ho’opnonopono from the Hawaiian tradition, which means “to make right” and thus it also cleanses and clears.  I’ll direct these 4-lines to whatever calls me from the past 12 years:

I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.

I won’t spend endless hours brooding over the past.  I’m a champion of living in the present moment.  But, I know mindfulness shouldn’t be used as a way to deny or suppress what’s not right from before.  If you make that mistake, you'll be haunted again and again.

A New Life Cycle

According to the stars, a new 12-year life cycle begins for me in August of 2015.

I don’t have a clear vision for the coming episode.  On the one hand, I feel stung by the truth of impermanence and the uselessness of wasting time on the mundane.  On the other hand, I feel drawn to sharing creatively as a means to help others find ease and realize their true self.  And if I could have a third hand, it would be pulling me to further open my intuitive capacity to see what it might bring.

If you feel you need closure over any part of your past, I invite you to use or adapt my formula and put it to the test.

  • First, map out what happened.
  • Then use these 9 questions (or ones of your own) to raise up and process the unresolved.
  • Finally, use a simple practice like H'ooponopono or simply send love to heal and dissolve the dark places you've found.

These are powerful ways to achieve resolution and be free of the past.

Would it help to find closure on some part of your life?  Have you ever reviewed a whole decade or 12 years at a time?

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