The best of intentions can go strangely awry.
During the holiday season, needs arise to see friends and family. It is important for us all to reflect on the intention. Even a mixed intention is not always clear. Not wanting to cause harm is important, but have you examined the full consequences of the action?
This year has been a year to be especially careful of our interactions with our breathing so as not to pass on the corona virus or expose oneself unnecessarily. I’m reminded of the fragility of our humanity, and how hospital and clinical services are already being stretched to the limit in our area.
A recent article on goldfish populations in Minneapolis lakesbrought this to mind. I imagine two Goldfish named Sammy and Jammy that had a happy life in an aquarium at home with a couple of kids taking good care of them. Then, perhaps, the kids were told that they had to move to another state, far away, for their parent’s work. Sadly, they could not take their pet goldfish along on the long road trip to their new apartment home. The kids worried for their pets, and with their good intention to let the fish live, decided to set them free in a neighboring lake.
Now, there are thousands of nonnative goldfish in the lake requiring regular inspections and removal of huge nets full of goldfish from the lake.
A more skilful action associated with their intention would’ve been to give the pets to a local school, or a friend to have, or even to let the fish die, instead of putting them into the lake.
We do not always know the full extent of our behaviors. There are many unseen events that are connected to everything that we do or do not do. It is not too late to stop and see what you are doing. We are capable of learning and resetting the direction we are taking and making new choices.
Can you take time to stop and consider what it is you really need and how to go about that more skillfully? What are your options? Can you take time for phone calls, video chats, and safe outdoor activities? How can you grow your interests in healthy learning and exercise? Just bringing consciousness to your intention and the action that you are taking in connection with that intention is a first step in awareness practice.
May we free our consciousness to gently inquire into more skillful actions during this difficult time in our world.
(Picture from Carver County, MN Water Management Organization)
Start with being a good friend to yourself, and in that process, you establish a friendship with the world.
A friend to self rebukes self-will-run-riot, complains less, reviews means for noble causes as tasks required in themselves; holds no role to one’s bosom, but watches as desires of the heart vanquish in exquisite agony.
Let there be freedom to speak freely in truth.
Friends nurture tenderness and care for the honest appraisal of one’s own experience.
One must stand in one’s own shoes; refute the potential possession of another and know the undergirded nature of unity in one another. In knowing unity, stability is present for contrasting and assembling ideologies to evolve or collapse.
Do not fuel friendship where no alliance can be shared in values for the world’s good. Listen carefully for core values in the way of discourse and actions.
Allow patience to work in amongst the frequencies, wondering if comrades or accomplices shall meet or enmity shall rise up to deepen the discourse. Penetrate division with insight and release poor associations to the turbulence of the world’s spiraling schemes.
Whatever forms arise, see them as specters of nature within divine creation allowing for independent appraisal; not mine; allowing for breathing relations in the midst of discovery.
Explore one another, feel your predispositions, patterns, or assumptions jump like sumac in the fire, wipe the sparks from your pants knowing your palm will never be completely unstained.
True friends pick up after years of separation with little concern for disparate conditions or distance. A delicate understanding presents itself upon meeting again with interest and care.
Gems of perception shine an intelligence that faces melancholy, poverty or suffocating forms of oppression with freshness like opening a window to a vast view.
Last night was the first night of the “Growing Through Loss” support group series in Roseville, MN. The speaker, Ted Bowman, gave an overview of common misconceptions about grief:
a- That there is a right way to do it.
b- That there are predictable stages.
c- That there is closure.
d- That some people don’t grieve.
We all grieve. We all have some form of suffering in our lives, whether it is the loss of a physical capacity, the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a job. Life is not easy; we are all in some form of acceptance for working with our feelings and our lives.
We need to acknowledge our grief. While painful memories are difficult at times, they can help us come to terms with loss when we honor our grief process.
In my work with those in recovery, there is grief in letting go of addictive behavior and opening to life in a new way. Fear, sadness, anger and grief are feelings that we need to know. To find support for this process is a gift for our emotional health.
The group breaks out into a variety of specific small groups depending on death of a spouse, child, sibling or other issues. In this way, folks connect with those in similar circumstances and know they are not alone.
I’m grateful to be a part of the series and presenting on October 2nd, 2017. My talk will focus on being aware of the breath and the body, and how to find some openings in one’s grief process with breath awareness and body wisdom.
One of the core practices of my work is simply sitting and noticing. The idea behind this is to pay attention to the changing qualities within the mind and body, to see that they are ever flowing through us. In this practice, I pay special attention to the thoughts and desires that want to control this natural process. The example I want to write about today concerns the feelings of grief related to a loss that can arise throughout our life. I have been blessed to work with many people around this issue, as I have worked with it myself for many years.
Recently I was going through some books from my early studies on working with grief, and I began reflecting on the persisting cultural beliefs about loss and the grieving process. Many of us are taught that grief follows a specific path before vanishing from our life like smoke. When we lose someone, we might be given space for a time, but eventually we may be guided towards a sense of closure. In fact, we might even have a desire to be over it ourselves, which might then lead to the arising of guilt and shame. I was deeply touched by the story Patrick O’Malley told in his 2015 Op-Ed for the New York Times, in which he described a client named Mary. Having spent six months of despairing the loss of her child to infant death syndrome, as Patrick writes, “she had diagnosed her condition as being ‘stuck’ in grief, believing that a stubborn depression was preventing her from achieving acceptance and closure.” But Patrick offers a different perspective, as he writes, “I suggested to Mary that there was nothing wrong with her… She was just very sad, consumed by sorrow, but not because she was grieving incorrectly. The depth of her sadness was simply a measure of the love she had for her daughter.” By believing that she needed “closure,” she was attempting to control the natural process within herself that was calling out with sorrow.
There is another way. It is important to remember that we each have our own style and way of working with loss. Some of us are more intellectual, some have a more emotional center, and some are more kinesthetic and action or movement oriented. I find that we need to balance our way of working with the head, the heart and the entire body for inner peace while touching our inner pain. If we are grieving, the feelings of anger, sadness, shock, overwhelm, or despair can come in different degrees and in different order. We may discover new ways of working with old grief that can provide insight and new forms of release.
Ultimately, this idea of closure is at odds with my teaching and practice because of the way it constricts the mind to only one way of being. My practice focuses just on what is present. I have worked with many people, including myself who have felt a shift come after some time. Sometimes you feel lighter after working through some grief and that can go on for any length of time, but we never know when the memory of that person meant so much to us or the loss can come back and hit us in a new way. So it’s important to work with just whatever is coming up without judgement.
I have found that grief is a natural part of life. When I know about how many species are becoming extinct each day, and see many people dying from various causes, learn about wars being waged, my heart aches for all sentient beings. When I acknowledge my sorrow and meet it with compassion, just pause and sit still for a bit, I feel this glimmering light that grows into love. I see how much love is available, a love so large that I cannot even hold it. It holds us all. And, in this process, with each breath, and each step, there is just this, whatever needs to be faced right now, with love.