I would not consider my mother a hoarder by any stretch of the imagination, but I am inclined to say that she does indeed hoard things. Some of these things are memories that live as relics that we can hold and look at to jolt us back to a time of ease and convenience: old, well-worn recipe cards or a threadbare address book, holding phone numbers and birthdates of all the people back home, here in New York and across the world. Others serve as time capsules that transport us right back to the moments that we hold dear: the photo albums from trips to Barbados, Dominica, and Baton Rouge; headshot photos from high school graduations; and remembrances of acting auditions hanging on the wall besides a framed Obama inauguration picture. Some things are a little less tangible and a little harder to explain such as the 12 year old ghost in the apartment or the way she cooks macaroni and cheese in honor of her mother. Nonetheless, all of these things are things my mother holds onto because they hold value for her in her heart.

Some items are worth holding onto because of their sentimental value, but those are tangible things. What about feelings, thoughts, memories? What do we do with those? When we hold onto the thoughts, ideas, and memories that no longer serve us, we no longer serve us, either. We can fall victim to that feeling of being stuck—that there is no way to go but down the path that leads us further and further away from freedom. When we let go of relationships, of careers, of friends, of opportunities, and of notions that do us more than good, we are creating more room for the things and people that do.

It is in this letting go that we get to experience the totality of our living. Letting go is a process—a process of reexamination—of looking at our current season of life and determining what are the things that are currently in place that are serving our greater, higher purpose, or what is hindering it. When we give ourselves the freedom to pause and take a step back to reflect what is showing itself to us in the present moment, we also create the freedom needed to step away from anything or anyone that no longer lines up with our values and truth. When we are aligned—with alignment meaning that there is congruence between who we are and who we are choosing to be—we can better see how the things around us are either adding to or detracting from our quality of life. And that quality is solely determined by us.

This level of letting go is not easy and can be scary. It may involve removing people who once were prominent in our lives, or leaving the job that we’ve had for years, or ending that marriage that we kept alive for our children. Letting go on the surface feels difficult, because it is. However, the freedom it creates for our heart and spirit are part of the pathways we get to walk towards a greater understanding of our purpose here on this planet. It also allows us a means of getting closer to a liberation that is not man-made, but is instead spirit-focused and centered. Letting go is not about giving up but about giving in—to joy, to love, to possibilities. Surrender, let go, and see what kind of magic waits for you on the other side.

Joél Leon is a father, dreamer and storyteller. Follow him @joelleon.