I would have to say grief and joy have been some of my loyalist companions throughout life. They are always right by my side. What I find most interesting is that everything stems from the same source yet it seems that some things are easier to accept and express. Grief can sometimes just be downright ineffable and not so much fun unfortunately. But grief can be absolutely beautiful and poetic (and undefinable), it reminds me of the ocean as it brings you to the depths of your own humanity.
“Grief is like the wind. When it’s blowing hard, you adjust your sails and run before it. If it blows too hard, you stay in the harbor, close the hatches and don’t take calls. When it’s gentle, you go sailing, have a picnic, take a swim." -Barbara Lazear Lascher
Last week I had a profound healing session while receiving acupuncture. My lungs and spleen qi are pretty low due to much grief and a damp damp climate. The spleen likes a dry climate (like Arizona) and I was living in Seattle (which is a very damp/moist climate). Needless to say I am very grateful to be back, but I am doing my best to get the spleen into healthy shape. My doctor started pressing on my chest and asking what emotions I had been feeling lately, and I shouted out “JOY” emphatically. And then she began touching a very tender area and asked, what else? Stuck the needle in and I started whaling for a solid 5 minutes, which has never happened during an acupuncture session before. If felt like my insides were literally on fire, as a burning sensation started to permeate my chest. I guess I had been holding onto some grief for quite a while.
“Breathing in, I’m aware of the painful feeling in me. Breathing out, I’m aware of the painful feeling in me.” This is an art. We have to learn it, because most of us don’t like to be with our pain. We’re afraid of being overwhelmed by pain, so we always seek to run away from it. There’s loneliness, fear, anger, and despair in us. Mostly we try to cover it up by consuming. There are those of us who go and look for something to eat. Others turn on the television. In fact, many people do both at the same time. And even if the TV program isn’t interesting at all, we don’t have the courage to turn it off, because if we turn it off, we have to go back to ourselves and encounter the pain inside. The marketplace provides us with many items to help us in our effort to avoid the suffering inside.” - Thich Nhat Hanh
The session allowed me to deepen compassion for myself and for grief. What have I been running from? What hurts so deeply that I’d rather distract myself with sweets and more food that would give me the instant gratification and relief that I need. But I spoke and listened to grief just as I would with a friend. And grief told me:
No one wants to even look at me. I am shoved to the depths where no one can see. I cannot breathe, but I watch everyone else breathe. And I feel so empty and hollow. So much love for everything but I cannot breathe, and no one sees me. Please help, I wish to be seen. I wish to breathe. I wish to share all this love breathing inside of me. I love I love I love everything. -Grief
I was profoundly moved by what grief had shared with me. Grief is love., pure love. And all this love gathered up inside of my chest with no outlet to breathe. And I didn’t want to see.
“Grief is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” - Jamie Anderson
I am so grateful for the healing session, as it helped me understand that to truly love is to be intimate with whatever arises within the present moment whether it be anger, compassion, grief, joy, gratitude or bliss. To not shy away from the mirror, but to embrace it in its totality. To say:
“I see you. I see you.”
With love and gratitude,