Releasing What You No Longer Need

Releasing–letting go–is a vital part of the pilgrimage experience. It doesn’t happen “once and for all.” Pilgrims practice releasing over and over.

Here is a ritual that many have found helps to unload burdens.

Upon entering the cathedral through any of the doors (west, south, or north), find a stone in the floor that you would like to stand on. Their sizes and shapes vary; keep looking until you find one that seems or feels right for you. Plant both feet on it as if nothing could move you.

Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths, emphasizing your exhalations.

Ask yourself one of these questions:
“What am I ready to let go of?”
“What do I want to release?”
“Who am I going to forgive?”
Be as specific as possible.

Once you are clear, imagine placing whatever it is in the cupped palms of your hands.
Close your fingers around “it.” Tense your fingers, making clenched fists if that helps.
Sense how much you have held on to what you identified.
When you are ready–and not a moment before, be sure to take all the time you need, even if minutes pass–turn your fingers towards the floor and open your hands, symbolically letting go of whatever you no longer need or want.

Pay attention to how your body is reacting and what it is communicating.

When it feels as if the release is complete for now, take three deep breaths.

When you are ready, open your eyes and reorient yourself in the cathedral.

Then, move on.

The stones of the floor inside the west central door of Chartres by Jill K H Geoffrion