“Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.
We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.”
Such a potent and honest remembering:
Joy is a choice. IT IS ALSO OUR BIRTH RIGHT
It has taken me a very long time and lots of pain to realise this, many dead ends and dark allies. It has also taken me to navigate through and undertake a journey deep into the beauty of Grief. Healing only comes when we follow what hurts and pay attention.
Grief…..a journey which has opened my heart to love, to myself, to others, to LIFE. It has dissolved my armour (well….that’s a work always in progress, it takes A LOT to soften all that protective armour I have established over the years!).
However, I am and always will be an ‘Apprentice to Grief’.
Why an ‘Apprentice” because grief like any emotion is a journey – there is NOTHING LINEAR about it. It is a teacher, it is a friend. It is a feeling that can be so overwhelming we ‘think’ we may never return from the abyss that is the darkness of the unknown, a place of nothing but pain, loss and anguish. A vast unknown landscape that is lonely and dark. The ‘void’.
As Cohen sang so soulfully ‘ the wound is where the light gets in’. Cliché?
YET…YES…grief is an access point. It is a key. It is an opportunity to open to something so magical and potent it can take our breath away from the beauty that unfolds around it, through it and from it.
In a culture that pretends, us Brits are renowned for ‘brave face on’, squashing the TRUTH of what is happening, quelling the rawness, realness and reality of living with emotions…GRIEF; ANGER; PASSION, anything that might be deemed expressive and ‘too much’….who is anyone to say ‘what is too much’ for us as an individual. It can be tricky to know how to access these emotions as they have laid dormant, festering for so long.
Now, more than ever, in Covid times, conjoined with the recent increase of tragic events in the USA, fires earlier in the year we have been becoming more acutely aware of the call of grief. The frustration, rage and anguish that we feel about things we are unable to ‘do anything about’ so we numb and then numb some more.
It is our birth right to feel, to express….it is more than a right it is necessary…it connects us, it keeps us alive, it opens us up to the joy we seek and yearn for mistaking for designer this and that, for sugar and anything we can ‘CONSUME’…. joy is different… It is a feeling, a state of BEING…..not bought nor sold….it is as it is…IT IS WITHIN – not without…
Yes, someone or something (puppies playing spring to mind) might bring us joy, but this feeling, as any feeling comes from within….not without – an external can activate the feeling, for it is touching something WITHIN us, not without.
The more we externalise this ‘feeling’ the less we embody it, own it, know it, claim it as part of our ‘SOVEREIGN BEING’, as part of ourselves. We cease to live and as such close ourselves to all feeling. Further numbing, ignoring, avoiding. Finding ourselves heading further into a dis-eased state of being.
How do we access these emotions when we have blocked them so long and fear the place of no return, for YES, life alters, changes, morphs when we begin to feel. We begin to know our truth, what makes us ‘tick’ what rocks our world and what turns us right off. What we have been tolerating rather than saying ‘No’ to.
A few ways I access what I am feeling are:
MOVING: movement, shifts our mind set, it activates our endorphins and allows us to feel what is going on. Dance for me is the perfect access to my feelings. The more I dance, the more I know myself, my body, my emotions. I have on occasion raged, wept profusely with grief, each breath and each movement shifting, lifting stuck energy, stuck emotions. Each move, each dance allowing a freedom towards joy. I find myself again and again on the dancefloor.
MUSIC: music moves us, tugs at the memory bank which in turn tends to our heart, inviting in softening and easier access to what we are feeling, let the music move you and change will come
LAUGHTER YOGA: oh my resistance to this I had, yet, from laughter comes tears, from tears comes laughter…..perfect medicine!
WITNESSING: practise speaking your truth! It can take time to access our truth. Ask a non-judgemental friend or family member to witness you – NOTHING to fix, simply listening. I say ‘simply listening’ yet this is trickier than we know. How many times have you been with someone and felt ‘unheard’ FULL body presence (no phones, or distractions) eye contact and listening is a gift. It enables us to be seen, a rarity it seems in today’s world.
EYE GAZING: this one cracks me open every time. Simply seeing and being seen. Finding a gentle gaze into the eyes of another. Again, nothing to fix or change. A looking and seeing with soft gaze. This can lead to such intimacy non-sexually and sexually, yet, it allows us to find ourselves in the mirroring of another. It comes with giggles, embarrassment, fear, shame and a myriad of other emotions. Yet, if practised with a kindly soul can bring such profound healing and access to our hearts it is a gift beyond all gifts.
THERAPY: I am a therapist and I have had therapy on and off for years. For me THERAPY WORKS. Find one you connect with be it Creative, Play, Art, Gestalt, talk therapy only there are so many to choose from, shop around. For me a good therapist is like finding a great bra. The fit should be supportive, nurturing and feel good! A good therapist will provide somewhere you can feel safe, unjudged, perhaps challenged a little and above all and opportunity to explore yourself, your stories and they will walk with you as you grow!
WATCH A MOVIE: sometimes when I am struggling to feel I put on my favourite movie which enables me to loose myself a little in the other whilst I navigate my way in to my feelings.
PLAY: yes you read that correctly learn to play Joy needs levity in order to thrive. Just watch children how they find joy in a heart beat. In the simplistic things. This for me was one of the hardest things to do. I had to spend time learning how to adult and speak with my inner child. She had long been over looked (this is a different post all together). Reflect on what you found joy in, find someone who knows joy and spend time with them learning what it is for you to sprinkle your life with levity
FIND A GROUP: It is amazing how easy it is to think we are alone in what we are feeling and whilst no one’s journey is the same, there will be others on their own journey feeling they are alone, ashamed of feeling, speaking and emoting. PLEASE KNOW THIS: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I know for me Grief Tending and Grief Ceremony has been some of the most profound work I have done and it has been
JOURNAL/PAINT/CREATE: express what you are feeling through words, art, something that enables you to get out what you are sitting with. The numbness will melt to feeling when we allow it.
SPEND TIME IN NATURE: Simply allowing ourselves to be in nature (WITHOUT taking photos with our phones. Nature, trees, green, water, whatever calls. To spend time simply allowing ourselves to ground, to take in the beauty of all that is around, the simplicity yet intricacy and power of nature can mirror so exquisitely what we are avoiding feeling.
TAKE TIME OFF TECHNOLOGY: YES, that means social media, email, text. It is amazing how we avoid feeling through diverting our attention away from our heart to our phone, focussed again on the other rather than the inner.
Please know this, there is NO RIGHT way, there is ONLY YOUR WAY. The KEY is to find what works for you and how you find your way in, little by little. It takes practise, it takes to be so stuck or in my case broken, that the only way is through. To surrender to what is screaming to be felt, and allow myself to explore. Simply. Gently and with great kindness and compassion for myself. KINDNESS IS KEY.
With this I invite you step by step, breath by breath to begin.
Healing only comes when we follow what hurts and pay attention.
JOY will come it is after all the opposite side to the same coin as grief Begin now, it is the only way to change what we are unhappy with. Make a choice and say YES, the journey is worth it as are you.
In grace, with a beating heart wishing you all joy in your life. Sarah
YOU. ARE. ENOUGH.
Walking you home to self.