Why Do I Hurt?

Grief has been a close companion as of late.

Grief and I have been unashamedly baring our souls to each other.  And it is a lot like buying a Prius. Once you decide to buy that Prius, you start to see Prius' everywhere.  When you open yourself up to grief, it is everywhere. 

Oh, I've been worryin' that my time is a little unclear
I've been worryin' that I'm losing the ones I hold dear

In my recent weeks at the meditation school, I've witnessed grief while working with clients healing back pain and releasing trauma held in physical scars.  For example, I worked on a friend's scar.  She had broken her leg and had been walking with a limp for months.  We worked together, then later I saw her in the lodge.  She saw me and burst into tears.  She had walked to the lodge without a limp and without even thinking about her leg. 

The miracle was not that she walked normally that day.  That felt miraculous, but she still had healing to do.  The amazing and humbling part was the way she had the courage to feel the depth of her emotion.  In the crying, she released the trauma. 

...the fear that she may never walk normally again
...the grief of how the trauma impacted her and its lingering effects on her life.
...the worry of how this injury would continue to haunt her in the future.

The fear and grief had encapsulated themselves in her scar and had been part of what kept her limping after all those months.   Her willingness to feel the emotions was key in releasing the trauma, and in doing so, helped to heal the physical wound.

I've been worryin' that we all live our lives in the confines of fear

Our emotions have to live somewhere.  If we don’t let them out, they bury themselves in our body.  If there is one emotion we try to avoid, it's grief.  We try like hell to bury grief.  Because, frankly, it can be devastating.  We will feel anything else in order not to feel grief. 

I’ve been watching all the ways that I see grief get covered up, hidden within our physical pain and tucked into the deep shadows of our body.  We hide it with anger.  Anxiety.  Control.  We hide it  by numbing ourselves.  Somehow these options feel more palatable.  Anger and control feel powerful.  Numbing and anxiety are distracting.

And yet, the problem is that when we choose a cover-up emotion, the grief remains.  So we keep getting angry over and over, not even sure why, as our body cloaks the grief from arising to the surface.

The beauty in exploring grief is that it has a way of blowing you open.  For me, the more I experience grief the more I know, I am not my pain.  I am not my grief.  It will not destroy me.  It won’t destroy you either.  You might be blown open and raw, but like the aftermath of a storm, the air is cleaner, the land is cleansed, debris is gone and life feels fresh and new again.

Come on love, come on love
Watch me fall apart, watch me fall apart

In speaking with a psychologist recently about work at rehab clinics, he said that in almost every rehab client he had, there was unresolved grief.  That hit me hard.  What if, we opened to grief and even better,  encouraged others to open their grief to us?  What if we could really hold someone in their grief?  What kind of gift could it be for all of us?

Only love, only love
Give me shelter, or show me heart

Why do you hurt?  It is worth asking yourself about your own stories of grief. 

with love,

If you're not sure or want support, there are ways we can work together. 
If you are curious about the healing techniques for yourself, ping me here

Lyrics by Ben Howard, “Only Love” and “The Fear”

Where is Truth

Photo courtesy of unsplash and Stefan Rayner

Photo courtesy of unsplash and Stefan Rayner

I don't know why, but truth is quiet. 

I have discovered quiet steps towards truth, but it was my recent bout of less-truthful and not-so-quiet, righteous indignation that prompted this post.

This righteousness had a false note to it, but like junk food, the packaging looked really appealing.

"Tastes better!  More Flavor! 
I get to be right and everyone else is wrong!" 

This feeling sells itself as Truth, but is more concerned with being right.  And who doesn't like to feel right?  It will go through Wily E. Coyote, Brier Rabbit, and A Trial Lawyer's bag of tricks to position itself in the right.  And when this Indignation is successful, usually someone else is very wrong.  This can be a spouse, a friend or the guy at the corner mart.  It is so busy screaming how right it is, it cannot even hear what other side has to say.  It is so caught up in blame, that there can be no other perspective.  It is narrow, fierce and committed.  Righteous Indignation is vindictive.  It can’t come to the table for an honest discussion. 

Furthermore, it is everywhere.  It is inside me, it is probably inside you, it's in our national forum and politics.

So how do you know if you are speaking from Truth or from the part that just wants to be right at all costs? 

Truth doesn’t yell, throw a fit, or scream.  It doesn’t make someone else wrong.  Truth is a knowing that exists in a place that is bigger than being right or being wronged.  Truth is also impersonal.  It doesn't care about me, my pride, or my desires.  So when, as happened to me recently, I feel turmoil, charged emotions and a loud, insistent voice, perhaps even  sanctimonious (who me?  Never), I knew there is a good chance that my Righteous Indignation was posturing as Truth.  My best clue as to what was happening was my initial unwillingness to step into the other person's shoes at all.  I wanted to be right.  I wanted to stay on my high horse, far away from any pain I might have caused.

Why does this false counterpart to Truth rear its head?  It is a cover-up.  Maybe there is a bit a blame that we need to own, but don’t want to, maybe we have hurt someone and we don’t want to acknowledge it.  Often there are uncomfortable feelings lying underneath our righteousness that we don’t want to see, and as long as we can place the blame elsewhere, we don’t have to look at or feel this discomfort.  

This is the place where change can happen.  When we are willing to look at these places of discomfort and find Truth on the other side.  These are the places I had to go and where I go with my clients.  Having the courage and willingness to see through the comfortable disillusions is what leads to unvarnished, raw, but still shining truths.

And without the courage to see it though, it is easy to cycle into blame or self-judgement.  And what about my own recent flailing?  I could crawl into a hole and flog myself, but again, the truth is, it was only in witnessing and acknowledging my own righteous failing that I could see the path back towards that quiet truth. 

A Question of Resistance


The universe, with its grand sense of humor, recently and oh-so generously offered me a chance to explore my own resistance and to make some discoveries about where I’ve invested my will.

At a recent meditation intensive, the instructors added an hour of yoga to the daily schedule.  For those of you who have followed, you might recall my particular lack of fondness for yoga in an earlier newsletter - it was titled: The Art of Rage and Yoga.

I have been attending meditation retreats here for almost 10 years and never have I been asked to do yoga, or postures, as they prefer to call it.

While most of the class met the news with great enthusiasm and eagerness I was, at best, lackluster.  We lined up, many eager racehorses and me, desperate to go sit in the pasture and munch on grass.  Yet, the universe was calling out my resistance so off we went, my marginal willingness driven largely by peer pressure.

As the week progressed, I noticed that there was an overall positive effect of doing postures daily.  Mentally, I was still fighting it, but my meditations were deeper, stiller, and damnit, I felt good.  One night, in a moment of unexpected enthusiasm, I blurted out to my roommates that I was going to do 30 consecutive days of postures.  The next morning, they decided to join me in the 30 day commitment.  Crap.

During the next thirty days the exercise circled through reluctance to anticipation and back, but I did not quit, thanks to a question posed by an instructor at the retreat. 

Where is your will in this moment? 

I realized much of my will was invested in resisting the postures and in resisting the good feeling.  Feeling good actually happened against my will.  The universe really does have a sense of humor.  

And while ultimately, a 30 day yoga challenge is not a heroic act of will, it has given me a way to reclaim my will and its power. Harnessing will in the smallest ways gives momentum towards acts of will much larger. 

We've all had conversations about the challenges in committing to something, making meditation “stick,” or creating a routine and maintaining a good habit.  For me, asking 'where is your will is in this moment?' has been a game changer.  It is a way to reclaim the power that is inherently yours. 

Where is your will in this moment?