What is Grief? How do we release it?

Dear quarter lives, 

We all have an emotion that is our personal Everest. We all have an emotion that we believe if we allow our selves to feel, we might die, but we might also reach the highest peak in our lives. We might gain a view of the world that only a handful of people have experienced. For me, that emotion is grief. Grief is my Everest. It is the one emotion that I’ve prevented myself from going through because the little glimpses I’ve gotten of it felt unbearable. It felt like I couldn’t breathe, that my heart was physically in pain. I could never allow myself to connect to grief for too long. It always overwhelmed me. But now I have come to a point in my healing journey where I must feel my grief. I must allow myself to grieve a loss I thought I wouldn’t survive. But the thing is I am still here. And I have survived despite my own disbelief in myself. Now, as I sit with my grief, I hear it asking me to trust it. To trust that I will survive feeling it. To trust too that I will not be empty without it, merely much lighter. Even though grief has been this thing I’ve always dreaded feeling, I’ve somehow developed this attachment to it. I began to confuse it with myself. The boundaries between us became blurry. But I realise now that I am not my grief. I realise too that I will not be alone without my grief. To release it from me and me from it, one thing must happen. I must cry. Have you ever had the feeling that you might lose yourself in your tears. I am afraid that if I start, I cannot stop. But I must, for the sake of my health, both mental and physical. I must free myself from my own grip on grief. 

Yes, it is often we that hold our grief captive and not the other way around. It’s like if you let go of the grief, there will no longer be proof for the loss you’ve gone through. And grief is not easy to release, the longer it stays within us, the longer it mingles and marries with other emotions. Grief for me is hugely tied to my Anger. I actually don’t know which came first. I don’t know if I was so angry that grief needed to come in to cool me down. Or if I was actually so cold in my grief, that anger came in to heat things up. The thing is our bodies are always striving for balance. Our bodies don’t recognise that we might be going through a lot of one emotion so it’ll hold back with another. Our bodies are designed to maintain balance. Neither side of the imbalance is good or bad. Neither side is wrong. It is merely the imbalance that is wrong. And I believe that’s what grief is trying to tell us, that it is merely here to even things out. It is not here to punish us or make us suffer for something bad we’ve done. It is here to tell us in fact the complete opposite, that we are not bad, that we don’t deserve to be out of balance, that we don’t deserve to suffer. It is not the grief that is causing us to suffer, it is the state of imbalance we experience after a loss. When we lose something, grief comes into that space to help us heal. Grief is healing. Grief is a gift of kindness from God to help us through our loss. Without grief, we cannot cry for the pain we are feeling, and if we cannot cry, we will continue to suffer in silence with no one in sight to help us because no one can hear us. Grief gives us our voice back. Grief helps call our loved ones to our rescue. Grief is a cry for love. Grief helps to bring us back to the present, because loss will often leave us stranded in the past. Grief is God’s way of telling us I got you. It is Their way of saying You think you might die, but I got you. I promise I do. Grief teaches us to have mercy on ourselves and on others. Grief is Mercy. And Mercy is the most godly of all acts. To learn to have mercy is to learn the language of God. I believe grief brings us closer to our Source. Grief is Spirit flowing through us. Grief is what opens our hearts again when they have been closed shut. So let it flow, dear quarter lives. Let grief flow through your veins until you are fully back here in the now with a heart open and ready to love once again. 

My grief won’t be like your grief. So to release grief, we must try to understand our own grief. We must understand what it is here to teach us. We must learn to love it. We must say thank you to it for all it has endured as we held it hostage within us. To release grief, we must be kind to ourselves. We must refrain from blaming ourselves for holding in grief. We must understand that this is what we had to do to survive, to cope with a destabilizing experience of loss. We must love ourselves through it. Hold your own hand through the grieving process. Hold your hand like you would a friend’s. Hold yourself as you birth grief out of you. And I promise you, dear one, that you will survive. Even better, you will finally come back to life. 

Please if you know someone who has recently been through a significant loss, ask about them. Even a simple text message saying I love you makes all the difference. And remember, we can experience loss in many ways beyond death. Losing a relationship, a  job, a dream, our health, our home. Grief can be very potent, but it can be very liberating as well. So feel it, free it, and if you can, help a loved one feel supported through their grieving process. Remember, we all grieve in different ways so be mindful of what you say to someone who is grieving. May our hearts be free of grief, may our souls feel held by love once again.

With love and always for peace, 

S.A.

We are our own blindspot.

Dear quarter lives,

Have you ever wondered why we can dish out advice so easily, yet when it comes to our own lives fail to see what is right in front of us? Have you considered the fact that we go through our whole lives seeing other peoples’ backs but never our own? Even our own face is hidden from us until we use a mirror. But the good news is there are plenty of mirrors everywhere. The whole world can be your mirror, but only if you are willing to see your reflection in it. With the current state of the world, it can be even more uncomfortable to consider the possibility that the world might actually be a pretty accurate reflection of us. It is scary; it is sad; it is heartbreaking. But until we can accept the world as it is with all the ugly, the dysfunctional, the shameful, we will never be able to accept our whole selves. Like the world we are made up of decaying skeletons as well as new growing life, and we too like the world, are desperate for acceptance. It is not about seeing the positive in the world (or in ourselves); it is about loving the world (and ourselves) exactly as it is (exactly as we are). It is about seeing ourselves and the world around us for who and what we are without trying to love them by trying to see the good in them or by fixing them. To love the world and ourselves exactly as we are today with all the dents, cracks, and imperfections, with all the anger, guilt, fear, and loneliness — that is real love. When you can love the dirty, the unspeakable, the shameful in yourself, in the world, in others — that is unconditional love. It is actually not about loving the “good”; it is about finally giving those parts that we call “bad” a break and showing them some love. You are not loving if you only love what is easy to love. Our hearts can stretch wide, so wide they can fit the whole wide world inside of them, so don’t limit your heart to a sliver of the space it can hold, let it carry all of you, let it take that weight of shame off your shoulders so you can breathe again.

Give permission to yourself to love yourself as you are, to love the people around you as they are, to love the world as it is today, and not as we hope it will be in the future or as it was in the past but actually as it really is. The world can be dark and scary in many ways, and in just as many ways, it can be full of joy and light. If we choose to only accept the light, we’ll always be rejecting one half of the world(and one half of us). Accept the darkness, it has been rejected for too long. It is screaming for our attention communicating with us through disease, conflict, and trauma (both within ourselves and outside in the world). Love your darkness, say thank you to it and make peace with ALL of yourself. 

With love and always for peace,

S.A.

Slippery floors and slippery minds

Dear quarter lives,

As I was walking the other day in the rain, I noticed I was much more aware of my body than usual. Because the floor was wet and covered in slippery autumn leaves and because I was afraid of slipping and falling, I paid attention to every step I took. I was so present with my body and the floor I was stepping on. As I noticed my heightened state of awareness, I realised that I don’t walk with such awareness when the weather is nice and the floors are dry. In fact, when it’s nice out, I walk with much less awareness of my body because I’m not worried about losing my balance. I feel safe walking on dry ground because I do it all the time; it’s the texture I’m most used to walking on, so I don’t really think about it and I don’t expect to slip walking on it either. And that observation got me thinking about how we face our own inner slippery floors. It got me thinking that there is something about perceiving potential danger that can be very constructive. There is something about finding yourself on slippery grounds that stops your attention from slipping away.

Perhaps, that’s why in a crisis, as we try to navigate the uncertainty around us, we find that the not knowing in itself is what forces us to pay attention to ourselves again precisely because we think we might be in danger of slipping, and so if we don’t pay attention we might fall and break something or die. And so our presence here and now becomes necessary for our survival. Trying to maintain our balance when walking through such unknown grounds forces us to notice what we’ve taken for granted. It forces us to pay attention to our feet. It forces us too to end our dependency on the forces of habit as this heightened perceived sense of danger shakes the expectation that our feet know what they’re doing on their own. It forces us once again to build that connection between our body and our mind. So we all need to step on a slippery floor every now and again to bring our attention back to the places we haven’t even realised we’d disconnected from.

Slippery floors show us what parts of our bodies we trust and what parts we don’t, but most of all, a slippery floor can show you just how out of it your mind was, as it brings your mind again back into the present moment. We go through crises not because we are bad or because some god is mad at us, we go through crises to come back again to our Selves, to rekindle our relationship with our bodies, to make peace with the unknown aspect of time — the future. It might not seem like it at first, but a crisis is a massive gift. It is an opportunity for us to return to life by returning to the moment.

So next time you step into an office or a mall and see a sign that says, ‘Caution: wet floor’ – notice how your awareness of your body suddenly shifts as you step onto that slippery floor. Notice how your mind that was thinking about a million things is all with you now. People who do slip, fall because their attention wasn’t with them, and not because the floor was wet. They fell because they were still thinking about the million and one things they had to do while walking on a slippery floor. That is why the best thing you can do for yourself when you’re going through something is meditating, exercising, singing, or any other practice that helps build your awareness muscle, because if you can feel your body as it moves through that slippery floor, you will make it to the dry ground safely and in one piece. It is our presence that carries us through our own slippery floors, and it is our own slippery floors that offer us the opportunity to heal our own slippery minds by bringing us back here.  

Happy Contemplating!

Always for peace, 

S.A.