A Lesson In Letting Go

By Nick Polizzi
Large Flock of Birds Flying Away from a Tree

In the middle of winter, there is a temptation to numb our senses while we wait for the flowers and bumblebees to come back in the spring.  But each season holds an equal amount of wisdom that is just waiting to be unlocked by those who are truly awake.

Our ancestors had no choice but to listen.  Their lives depended on it and their spirits thrived on the deep understandings that were inspired by the earth cycles around them.

Native shamans, granny healers and wise elders weave their own unique tapestries of the spirit world, but they all use the same thread and fabric. One strand that I hear frequently in various cultures goes something like this:

The outer world is a reflection of the universe within each of us. By closely witnessing your surroundings you can access infinitely valuable teachings about the soul’s journey.

There’s a personal lesson that I’ve been slowly beginning to internalize as the natural world outside sits cold and quiet. Something in that silence speaks to me about the shortest route to peace.

The teaching is this:

Many of us attempt to solve our struggles by giving them a ton of life energy, turning each one over and over in our hands like a Rubix cube. This method sometimes works, but often the exact opposite approach is required.

“Make like a tree and let the dead leaves drop.” – Rumi

Looking outside my window I see the naked branches of an entire forest of trees. Gazing at them, the question that subtly forms in the back of my mind is:

What thought constructs, habits or relationships am I holding onto that are no longer serving me? 

These majestic maples, oaks and elms seem to have no problem letting go of everything each year.  They are born with the knowledge that new leaves will always grow back once the time is right.

By letting the leaves drop, they create fertile ground below for other plants and creatures to grow and thrive within. Their annual dying process is actually a gift of life to themselves and the world around them.

This feels strikingly similar to the inner journey we embark upon in sacred ceremonies. In most native rites of passage there is a confrontation with our own mortality and a purification or removal of what is no longer necessary on our path forward.

Substitute the leaves with the thousands of stories we repeat to ourselves subconsciously each day…

Some leafy thoughts that come to mind are:  I’d be totally happy if I could only have X or Y; I shouldn’t have to deal with Z at my age; they’re all going to think I’m a Q because I can’t V; I’m not worthy of love because I’m not D…  you get the picture.

You know you have some of these “hangers on” clinging to you…  Why is it so hard to let them drop?

Here’s a possibility: our ego strongly wants things to stay the way they are. It wants predictability, pattern, formula, and continued survival of our physical body.  God bless its heart 🙂

But this ego-driven fear of change means that even the bad stuff stays…

If you’re looking to shed some leaves and would like a way to work with the ego and let them drop, below is a little fire ceremony that is easy to do and may help you on your path:

The Fire Ceremony:

When done with the right frame of mind, this practice can work wonders. When I was first shown the fire ceremony a few years ago I experienced an immediate inner shift once it was complete.

1) Take a few sheets of paper, the thinner the better, and cut them into ten strips. Using a pen or marker write down the ten limiting beliefs, memories, habits or fears that are holding you back. This exercise requires some soul searching, so give yourself some time. What are your emotional triggers?  Why haven’t you taken that next step in your personal evolution?  What is that bit of negative self-talk that comes up when you reach for the stars? Engage your shadow and write it down.

2) Once you have your emotional blocks captured in ink on paper, light a small fire. A fireplace is ideal, but a candle and a metal wastebasket will work just fine.

3) One by one, read the words on each piece of paper aloud, feeling the full intensity of what you wrote. You can see where this is going 🙂

4) After you read each note, hold it over the flame and say “It is time for us to part ways. Goodbye.” Exhale as each piece of paper ignites and disappears.

Many practices like this exist and have been used for centuries to unblock inner traffic jams and assist in the healing of spiritual and physical wounds.  Sometimes simply letting go is the most powerful act we are capable of.

Trees have been here a lot longer than we humans have – by about 350 million years.  Maybe that’s why our ancestors turned to them so frequently for their wisdom.

Stay curious,

Nick Polizzi
Director, The Sacred Science

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154 Responses

  1. Nick. I love your pursuit of conveying this and many, many well-being, awareness-consciousness information.
    You are affecting many, many people and people’s lives positively.

    You and your work, is greatly appreciated.

  2. I was sad depressed and struggling with my mind in bed before getting up early am when I opened my phone and found this sacrifice practice
    Will try it
    Thank you
    Felt like Hod speaking to me
    Thank you

  3. You might enjoy my post ‘The Glass Is Half Full…’ on my site endurancefreeliving.com. Another way of looking at lost leaves….

  4. Wow! Thank U, Nick, for UR powerful messages! I’ve not thought to try this technique. Like many people, I have more than my share of blocks & fears. It’s high time I tackle them & drop them like the trees drop their leaves. Such a cool analogy!

  5. Beautifuly said and I so appreciate you sharing, I certainly plan on doing this come the weekend, Blessings to you

  6. It is amazing how timely this is. I have discovered with myself a fear that interferes with surrendering to Spirit. I don’t understand this contradiction because I love and trust only Spirit. I am working on releasing the need to control, and allowing Spirit to bring me where I should be. Thank you for your emails. They mean a lot and I appreciate your energy, time, and guidance.

    1. I’m with you on your struggle with fear inter(fearing)?. The idea of the ego holding tightly to “protect” us makes sense to me. More work to be done.

  7. To Nick Polizzi

    I just received your email and read it . It’s makes so much sense !
    I will work on the “Let Go!” Thank you very much! I want to try this
    I feel I needed to read you this morning .
    Tks Nathalie

  8. You are a modern-day explorer of the soul and spirit. You offer encouragement and hope. Thanks for sharing your quests. Namaste

  9. It warms my heart to know we are all so much alike. There’s great comfort in knowing we have each other. There are no strangers in my world. Just as the tree has branches, leaves, & bark, you are to me as well, a part of myself. Thank you for sharing your love, your kindness, & your wisdom as well.

  10. Wonderful article. Im not good at leeting go as it makes me feel like ive not tried hard enough!!!! Mmmmh what oart of childhood did that come from i wonder. Going to sort my fire ceremony this weend . Huge thanks

  11. Dear Nick, Wonderful analogy! Trees also grow in girth and height as the years pass. You can compare it to spiritual growth, widening our horizons, and reaching our greatest heights! Monica 🙂

  12. Nick, thank you for your kind words of wisdom. I am truly happy, I feel the blessing you share with me. Your kind words place me in the right direction toward my soal healing.
    I appreciate all you do for me.
    Thank you.

  13. Thank-you, Nick, for so beautifully expressing this wisdom. I am a spiritual practitioner for Centers for Spiritual Living, which is like Unity. Nature is sacred and informs my practice. I will use this ritual and recommend it to those whom I counsel. I am looking forward to he e-book You are a gift to the world!

  14. I’ve read this several times. Makes perfect sense. Unfortunately trees are so much smarter than humans. I will give these words a serious try. I am in a place of confusion, change and loneliness. I want to begin anew so I am at peace with myself and others. Thanks for this article

  15. Thank you, Nick. I threw the 13! lighted scraps into the toilet, and had the added pleasure of flushing them!

  16. This is a wonderful blog ~ words of wisdom ! The interfaith worship center I attend (Spirit Space in Saugatuck, MI) just had a wonderful first Sunday in January, ceremony of the *Burning Bowl* Each one wrote on small squares of paper, some of our own limiting beliefs, and burned them in the bowl at the altar. It was immediately followed by a white stone ceremony (using a small white ceramic tile) upon which we wrote an affirmation of a new direction we would be taking ! A Very Meaningful and Moving ceremony !!!

  17. I let go of all years leaf and wait for spring to unfold the new. I know for sure sun reis and all wondwers of life wil spring out in rigth time.

  18. I am searching for soul tools all the time and this article hit home. Thank you for sharing. Im searing for new beginnings and learning to let go of things that no longer serve me. God bless.

  19. I love this blog. It’s a beautiful reminder of a ritual I did years ago on New Year’s Eve. In addition to doing the letting go ceremony, I would write down the things I would like to bring to me in the next year and then put that list away until the next New Year’s Eve. It’s a fun and sometimes profound way to focus on what is important in our lives. Thank you Nick for the reminder. Blessings

  20. Thank you for this gift of release and redirect.
    I needed to see the value of fertile ground …to produce Life.

  21. Good morning Nick…thank you for this beautiful way of starting my year….Let The Clearings Begin!!! Much Peace Love and Blessings

  22. Thank you. I have used and will continue to use this technique to great results. You have put it in a way that I may explain it with eloquence.

  23. Dear Nick: This is a great message! and very important for people to know. So many of us do not even have a clue how to “listen to the silence” which speaks volumes. I grew up in a tree house (I built it myself at the age of 12) and learned to listen to the trees, wind, insects, animals and all of nature. I was lucky to be able to escape this way. To me the trees are the wise ones.

    For years now, I have waited for the new moon, taken a black candle outdoors and a match. I write down my problems that I feel are causing me heartbreak, anxiety, stress, anger, and all of those negative emotions – on paper. Then I burn them in the flame of the candle and recite a “prayer” like this. I am giving this (whatever it is) back to the universe with love. I have experienced this (whatever it is) and the lessons I have learned from this are precious, but now I send these (problems, negative feelings, experiences) back into the universe with love – so that they can be taken back, shared with other energies, and dispersed as the universe sees fit. I am no longer in need of these (experiences, feelings, etc.) and now send them back. I am cleansed and thankful for these lessons, and filled with love for the universe and for myself. Thank you for the experience.

    That’s about it. Similar to what you said.

    Happy New Year – and thank you for the reminder to listen and respect the nature, trees, animals and all the magic surrounding us.


  24. Nick.

    I cannot help but write to you that as I was reading this blog I was standing in my backyard in 20 degree weather (in my shorts-love the winter! ) and listening to woodpecker calls as the sun poured down.

    I was contemplating the same thoughts you expressed in these last few months.

    God, Universe,
    Thank you for Nick and his wisdom

  25. Such a beautiful message and lesson. Looking to nature to learn the art of letting go, especially in winter, is both brilliant and inspiring. Thank you for a great post, Nick!

  26. Greetings Nick,

    This is a great article and we would love to share it on ourgreennation.org. Take a look at the site and let us know if you would be interested in adding your voice to the amazing collection of curated content there. Reach out to me directly if you are interested!



  27. Nick, I am sending you my wishes. You will never know how much I love reading your article, always perfect timing!

  28. As I read this I felt it may be exactly what I need at the moment, so I am looking forward to trying this method of “letting go.” I am grateful for your inspiring messages. Best to you always, Patty

  29. Nick, I love your focus on our ancestors and the rituals they had that we can use in our world today. Your articles are insightful and thoughtful provoking. I am in awe of how deeply you are connected to the ancestors and to nature. I know there is profound, unlimited wisdom there. I love your blog! Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  30. I love this, as I reflect on all I have been able to let go this past fall and know
    My life had been forever changed by it, I can celebrate as I read this.
    I have always been connected in the beauty and awesomeness of the trees, and
    Love this time of year when they show their true spirit and strength, naked with no leaves.
    I will be honoring any leaves I may still need to drop amongst the full moon in a fire ceremony.
    Bless you for sharing this inspiration.

  31. Nick, your sharing of such spirit driven knowledge, experience and Never ending search for well beingt is so needed and appreciated!! I feel so grateful I found your site!! Always such great timing!!
    Thank you for you!!! Much joy and peace to you and your family!!

  32. Wow. I believe this was written for me. Although I’ve been taught many of these things in my own Native teachings, it’s always good to hear it form another perspective. Keep up the good work.

  33. Hi, Nick, you always post a message that resonates with me. Your gentle approach eases my spirit exactly right. Thank you for your great support.

  34. Nick, I am in gratitude for your words, ideas and teachings! Your website is not about making money, trying to sell products—-it is sooooooooooo nice and refreshing! Mahalo from Hawaii! I often make copies of your messages. Sage tea and others!

  35. I just sold my business of 46 years and have had a hard time letting go. this message could not have come at a better time for me. I will be lighting my fire to let go.
    Thank you Nick.

  36. A very timely and perfect reminder for me, thank you. I am familiar with this practice and find the fire ceremony to be quite effective for releasing on many levels. I really enjoyed reading this.

  37. I really enjoyed this article. Many, many thanks. Watchfulness is needed in this and love…much love if one is to experience something like that.

  38. I love your article in your thoughts on burning it up. I am committed to take in the whole month of January to let go of physical emotional and mental stuff that is draining my energy and interrupting my life force . I know for me it’s a process and I have to work through some feelings in order to let go it’s not always so simple as just running on a piece of paper and letting it go I have to process it on an emotional level and allowing myself the whole month to do that is a process that I am really enjoying and includes Reading articles like this journaling reading Melody Beatty’s the language of letting go praying meditating talking to God and for a couple things it is included making a phone call and having a conversation with someone to see if I need to go to relationship go or move on with that person in my life but I knew a few people have had some really stuck negative energy around and want to let go of sue i’m alone myself to get clarity around that and making choices that are right for me today so thank you for this article that was beautiful validating and gives me another way to let go.

    1. Many times we need to move on in life so that we can have clear passages into our future. God will warn us when to move however many times we hold onto the things that are not good for us.

  39. VERY THOUGHT PROVOKING ARTICLE to encourage THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX instead of reinforcing the STATUS QUO accepting things as they are without thinking of POSSIBILITY OF CHANGE bringing an IMPROVEMENT.

  40. The trees are no different than human beings. We, too, experience the beginning and ending of relationships. When one dies we feel the lose but we go up to a different dimension and are of better service to the rest of humanity. The more awake we are when we die, the better we are able to help those that are left behind. Our spirit never dies, and Our Heavely Father just takes us with Him to a better for of existence, or maybe He brings us back to learn what we could not understand the time before on this earth?! Lots of love to all that read this!!

    1. I too have been spared life from God the enemy tried to vex me with his trap but he fell into it himself for I am free to dance and praise the lord for all his wonderful majestic power to heal all manner of diseases.. according to our faith..to believe and to trust him..

  41. Dear Nick,

    Thank you for this beautiful and deep meaning blog/email.
    The questions and fire ceremony have lots to get me thinking. I also thank others who have give. Similar letting go fire ceremonies. I participated in a fire ceremony in a remote village in Bali. Incredibly powerful!

    I could relate to you in your fantastic analog of the trees letting go of their leaves. My reaction was “Oh, this is similar to me learning to let go and shed my old clothes that I hardly wear any more. Giving them away is a freeing of the conscious and acquiring more space. Not only does it free me, it helps others in need of clothes, just like the fallen leaves – the dying process, the shedding and giving to those around us.

    Thank you, Thank you. I see I am in a world of like minded spirits.

  42. This is very much like the Burning Bowl Ceremony performed each year in Unity churches on or near New Year’s Eve.

  43. Thank you for that. I am going to do this as I have had trouble moving on in my life after the death of my husband and all of my family is gone also. I admit that “I am stuck, not knowing exactly what I want but am ready to go find it as I am not happy with the status quo. Negative feedback from people just make me angry. Time to move on!

  44. What an amazing and gifted writer you are! I loved this piece so much! I want it to be a book.
    This was a gift!

  45. You write so beautifully about the trees shedding their leaves so consistently and effortlessly, for everyone’s benefit. My affinity for the plant world, especially trees, makes your words the most useful thing I’ve read or heard in a very long time. Thank you so much!

  46. I have participated in this ceremony with friends and with strangers. We did it with paper and we did it with items that would burn (string, evergreen cones, leaves), that were representations of what we were releasing. The ceremony itself is quite powerful with others because each declared what s/he was releasing, and all of us honoured each other’s commitment. Powerful stuff! Thank you!

  47. Loved these words of wisdom, especially about the trees that drop their leaves each year. This I know applies to us, to try and let go of things. I can relate to the trees dropping their leaves. At the moment I have a bird on my head. Flossy which turned out to be a boy. He is a wild collar dove, that came to me at about 1 day old. He has been with me for 2 years now, and cannot be released, as he got two tumours which had to be removed by the vet. I also have a wild baby wood pigeon in my house. To late in the year to release her now, as winter is setting in. Flossy loves to sit on my head whilst I am on my computer. Sue

  48. I love the word of God and its truth that enriches me daily .. Its so much wisdom in the bible and it connects us to his powers. The herbs are genuinely used to heal .. I pray to the Lord Jesus Christ and get that relief I need. When we trust in him and not in material things then he is pleased with our conduct in sharing this good news we call the word of God. I am grateful for the medicine in herbs for healings.. thank you for this format to share ..I do appreciate the good things done through placing God first..

  49. Thank you, Nick, for making this ritual so easily and playfully accessible. Yes, thankfully there are many practices that can free up our inner log jams. A Sacred Quest is one of them–a wilderness right of passage that helps us thrive and become empowered to contribute to a resilient world.

    For those of us who want to live more naturally like the trees, there is so much wisdom to receive from the earth.

    If any of us who appreciate Sacred Science yearn for more, please consider EmergenceInitiatives.com/secret–quest . Thank you, Nick, for bringing Sacred Science forth through your passions.

  50. Thanks for the information, however I would like to know if Ajo Sacha is available for the public since it has qualities that fight against the common cold, flu, and infections, and the Bark of Tahuari which is also used to fight infections and even Diabetes and respiratory problems. I believe in holistic remedies and was glad to receive this. GOD BLESS

  51. Thank you Nick, I have not even tried this before but already passed it on to others, Have been waiting for the new moon to release. Many Blessings!

  52. This is brilliant. I have been blessed with cultural enlightenments throughout my life. And this is a cornerstone.

  53. Always appropriate. Always True. This goes beyond the unsettled hurt of the heart, and brings us back to the depth of our roots. Thanks for that light of strength. xx

  54. Thank you, I needed that. I will commence with the fire ceremony and hope to release some of the loss I have experienced this last year. I look forward to your positive posts!

  55. Thank you Nick very inspiring.i taught meditation and used to ask my class to imagine they were a tree strong and that when the wind rain etc blew the leaves away it was just another storm being thrown at the tree and same with life imagine your that tree still standing strong

  56. Great article! It’s amazing that, “fear of change” impedes our growth affecting our mind/body awareness. Change begins with a choice to say, I no longer want to feel “stuck”

  57. thank you. at this time in my life I really needed this. I have been struggling for awhile to
    rid myself of some “stuff” and this is just the thing to get rid of them. I will be doing this
    thanks you again

  58. Thank you for sharing your wisdom….what you r doing is incredible I really love your work. Will definitely do this.

  59. I stumbled upon this today. Or should I say the universe sent it to me while I was looking up Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin cookies. Fall is so beautiful in letting go of the old. I hope I can be too. I look forward to doing the fire ceremony.

  60. Hello Nick

    A wonderful narrative to share the wisdom from our ancient human civilizations. Thank you for being a gatherer and way shower. Our collective consciousness, if we’re to continue to evolve, need access to ancient practices and perspectives.


  61. very well written, Nick….!Another step to this that is used in Buddhism is, once named or identified, or while looking inward even, to vizualize what the shadow force looks like, and to ask it, what do you need from me to let you go.

  62. Still grieving and looking, maybe too much, for answers. I have often used nature to heal – and now, after reading this article, maybe it is time to release another way the pain.

  63. Hi Nick, I am grateful to you for the wisdom you share from your heart, your soul. Moments of your life and experiences have revealed and opened doors to me, where I am, where I am going, on my journey. These emails you share have been affirmations to my life situations teaching me to believe in my intuition, they are a symphony of synchronisities in motion. From mushrooms for healing to letting go with ceremony. (Jan-Feb drinking mushroom elixir healing cancer on my leg dumbfounded my doctor ? I watched your interview while I was doing this mushroom therapy)
    Keep writing, keep sharing, keep up with your documentaries, you are blessing so many, thank you.
    Be well, Nancy ❤

  64. I always love your newsletters, Nick, and I especially loved this one. Simple truth that I can’t wait to share. Thank you! Barbara

  65. I didn’t find an other way to contact you, I wasn’t aware my comment was dedicated to go public.
    I was meet for you only, but I don’t have any objection if you want to publish it!
    You don’t have to since I have given personal info, and it might be appropriate.
    Meegwetch Nick,

  66. Your post arrived in my email today. Your words and insight were just what was needed.

    Very much appreciate your writing and gentle encouragement.

    Thank you for all you do.

  67. I’ve always felt that our Psyches are intrinsically connected to the Seasons.

    I’m going to perform the fire ceremony now.

    Thanks so much.

  68. Nick, thank you for the ancient (and current!) wisdom you share. You often speak of things I know, but have temporarily forgotten. I appreciate the reminders.

  69. Dear Nick, thank you for your positive and uplifting posts that I always read. Very often they resonate with the processes I find myself in, which might talk about a greater web that is growing between humans of these special times we are in. To turn towards the future. About the wonderful observation of the leaves: one of the things we can also learn from them is the art of surrendering to the new incoming signal (autumn, winter..) with a complete trust that all is well. With appreciation, Heleen

  70. Thank you for reminding me of this and so much more: The outer world is a reflection of the universe within each of us. By closely witnessing your surroundings you can access infinitely valuable teachings about the soul’s journey.

    I’m in a long term fast and curious about fasting. I’m surprised and eager to hear more clearly.


  71. I love this Nick! Such a positive spin on winter, which hasn’t been too ferocious here in CT this year. Thanks for your insight and ideas!

  72. Hi Nick,
    I’m so happy you wrote this, it is so beautiful and is echoing my soul message for the day: if I lived in the present moment with all its wonder and beauty, not the past or the future or in my head with all its stale definitions of what my life needs to be, if I were connected to the present moment alone, which is all there is anyway, would I be more able to go in the amazing directions my soul is truly meant to go? Would I be more free to hear the divine and masterful whispers and more free to follow where they might lead? Now I have the trees to show me how and the fire to set me free. Love and blessings!

  73. Nick, thank you so much for this writing. This is really a tool. I loved the sentence:”what is that bit of negative self talk, when you want to reach the stars”.
    So true!
    Thank you for putting it in reckocknizing words, bless you and I will try this ceremony, more than one time.

  74. Dear Nick, Wow! Your lesson on “letting Go” went right to the core of my being. My soul. Not that I haven’t in the past participated in ceremonies of letting Go, but today, it caused me to awaken to the things I have been holding on and resisting. Just returning from Sedona, AZ and a talk by Michael Murdad, Unity of Sedona in which he referred to what keeps us stuck is believing our addictions, our stuff. His example was that there is only One Source, we’re connected, and that all the stuff we created as reality is not true. Our job is to let go of our attachments as to what is, in which we spend so much time and energy in claiming that as our true nature, then Oneness with Our Source, is neglected. Once we claim our Connection and stay focused on that connection, all of what we call reality is void of any power to harm the “I AM.” Your message confirmed once again, that Truth, and I Am Alive with that Knowing. Blessings and much gratitude. And of course, trees are so symbolic of life’s journey, I loved your analogy.

  75. What a beautiful thought, Nick, “make like a tree and let the dead leaves drop”. It is visual and profound. Thank you for sharing. God bless!

  76. Your article on letting go must have been written for me, but I can not find the courage to do it. I weep at the thought of saying goodbye to my girlfriend of over four years. Everything seems to be pointing to this as necessary for my personal growth. To go back on my sincerest promise to a very special woman, knowing I will break her heart in doing so just isn’t something that I honestly want to do. Am I a fool to say that I will sacrifice my best interests in exchange for keeping my promise?

  77. Dear Nick,

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about this. I too love looking at the trees with their bare Winter branches reaching up to the sky. These great beings are just so inspiring and we have much to learn from them. And what a simple yet profound ceremony to destroy any negativity in order for us to move on. Will definitely try this one out. With gratitude.

  78. Than you for sharing this Nick! Isn’t amazing how messages that speak to our soul come with such immaculate timing? 🙂 This technique seems just perfect to give a clear message to the subconscious mind while at the same time being a clear physical action supporting my decision to release the limiting beliefs. I will really enjoy doing this with my partner 🙂 What an exciting journey this life is; yesteray felt like a real “dark night of the soul” but the beach ball popped back up just in time for your post this morning! Thanks again!

  79. This part of your blog post made me laugh out loud:

    “Here’s a possibility: our ego strongly wants things to stay the way they are. It wants predictability, pattern, formula, and continued survival of our physical body. God bless its heart ?”

    Thank you for that laugh. Much needed laugh…’