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How to let go of the past (the story of “The Two Monks and the Muddy Road”)

By Michal Spiegelman

We’re all guilty of it-holding onto the past.

You argue with a family member, and your feelings get hurt. Your boss doesn’t acknowledge your efforts, and you feel unappreciated. Your friends plan without you, and their Facebook photos leave you feeling left out.

You replay these hurtful scenarios over and over in your head, each time adding more details. With each replay, you get more and more upset.

Over time, you might hold onto the difficult emotions from past events for weeks, months, or even years.

Let me tell you the story of “The Two Monks and the Muddy Road.”

Nissim Amon, a Zen Monk I learned from many years ago, shared this story with me. Then, I reconnected with it when I read Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth.
“Tanzan and Ekido…were walking along a country road that had become extremely muddy after heavy rains. Near a village, they came upon a young woman who was trying to cross the road, but the mud was so deep, that it would have ruined the silk kimono she was wearing. Tanzan at once picked her up and carried her to the other side.

The monks walked on in silence. Five hours later, as they were approaching the lodging temple, Ekido couldn’t restrain himself any longer. “Why did you carry that girl across the road?” he asked. “We monks are not supposed to do things like that.”

“I put the girl down hours ago,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?”

The story’s message is simple but powerful.

We all hold onto things that happened in the past and assign “stories” to them.

However, what we often fail to realize is that holding onto the emotions attached to events long after they’ve passed is harmful to us.

The pain I carried with me for many years.

I was in therapy for years, trying to let go of the grief I carried from losing six pregnancies. Every baby I lost was like a part of myself died with them.

Talk therapy made me very aware of the pain I was in. I wanted to find a way to release my sadness so I could be fully present for the beautiful son and daughter that I did have.

I did everything I could to release the grief, but something was missing. 

Awareness was not enough. Knowing that I needed to let go was not enough. Over time, I realized that because my therapy was only focused on the past, I was missing the power of being in the present moment. My turning point was a transformational one-day class.

How I learned to let go of the past.

Even though it was 26 years ago, I still remember how I felt when I walked into my first Reiki class. As soon as my Reiki Master attuned me with Reiki, I felt an immediate sense of relief.

It was like a ton of bricks was lifted off my chest. I felt like I was able to breathe again for the first time in a decade. I treated myself with Reiki every day and gradually felt lighter and lighter until I experienced what I thought I’d never feel again: pure joy.

Therapy helped me become aware of and accept the pain of my past. Reiki helped me let go of the past, so I could live fully in the present.

That Reiki class was the beginning of my personal transformation.

Now, I combine my years as a social worker with my skills in Reiki, Shiatsu, meditation, Color Therapy, Reflexology, Aromatherapy, and other healing modalities that led to my Beacons of Change method. I integrate the energy work we call Reiki with the conversational therapy I offer to my clients.

Healing the past is only possible when combined with living in the present. Honoring the present can prevent the past from dictating how you live in the moment.

Jumping out of a plane to let go of the past.

Sharing my personal story of letting go reminds me of one of my clients. She said, “My girlfriend told me you’re the only one who can help me. I’ve tried everything, and I mean everything. I’ve been to multiple therapists and even jumped off an airplane.”

Her latest therapist had suggested she try skydiving to “let go” of the rage she felt towards her ex-husband, who had an affair.

She carried resentment towards her ex, just like the monk who carried the woman to the other side of the road.

Years later, she was still unable to let go. Since the trauma was stored in her body, addressing it solely on a mental level wasn’t enough. She needed to release the emotions that were stuck in her body physically.

Letting go of the past gave her the ability to heal, leave old hurts behind, and move forward in her life. Not for her ex, but because she deserved to be at peace.

It all comes down to three words.

Just for today.

Reiki not only gifted me a tangible way to release my pain and allow joy back into my life, but it also changed how I live my day-to-day life.

Now, I’ve expanded my practice by living the Reiki Way.

Living the Reiki Way means using the Reiki Principles, a set of guidelines written by the grandmaster of Reiki, Mikau Usui, as a way to live a fulfilled life.

The Reiki Principles.

Just for today, do not worry.
Just for today, do not anger.
Honor your teachers, your parents, your neighbors, and your friends.
Just for today, live honestly.
Just for today, be kind to all living things.

Millions of people who practice Reiki worldwide use these principles to let go of the past.

When you’re feeling off, you can return to the principles recenter. They remind you that you won’t feel that way forever when you’re worried or angry. When you commit to starting and ending your day with Reiki, you’re invited to live by these principles one day at a time.

People spend most of their time thinking about the past or the future. When you live in the present moment, you can CHOOSE not to be angry about the past or worry about the future.

This is my life after Reiki.

Even when I’m hurting, I’m not as angry as I used to be. I don’t worry as much as I used to, but when I worry about the future or resent the past because I’m human, I have the tools to bounce back faster.

When I notice I’m carrying an emotion from the past that doesn’t serve me, I use Reiki to help me shift to the present moment and regain peace.

I wish you to let go of your past and experience joy in the moment again with Reiki. If you’re ready to learn more about Reiki, click here to learn more about Reiki.

How many “stories” from the past are you still carrying? What are you ready to let go of?

Meet Michal
Michal Spiegelman

Michal Spiegelman is the visionary behind Beacons of Change, a transformative platform dedicated to guiding women and healing professionals toward a soul-fueled life lived at full power.

As the founder and creator of the Soulful Healer Method for Profound Transformation, Michal empowers a diverse community of individuals to find their authentic voice and develop a distinctive identity.

Michal combines deep expertise and timeless wisdom with a comprehensive methodology enriched by a variety of traditional and holistic therapeutic tools. This powerful blend ignites transformation and growth, inspiring women and healing professionals alike to become soulful and shine brightly as beacons in their personal and professional lives.

Michal is the author of "Becoming Soulful: Six Keys for Profound Transformation in Your Therapy, Coaching, or Healing Practice," scheduled for release in the summer of 2024.

She is a certified professional life coach, Reiki master, spiritual mentor, medical intuitive, and social worker, passionate about elevating consciousness in the world, one soul at a time.

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