Tag Archives: grief

Year of self-compassion #49 #seesaw

This year of self-compassion is in it’s last month and I am still such a beginner. I am noticing the two planes I seem to be living in – one full of promise the other full of grief. For most of the year I have been trying to integrate these two planes and now as an act of self-compassion, I am letting them each live alongside of one another in parallel and in peace. I can put down one path and go to the other. The quest for unification maybe unwise and too soon. Each has its own journey to run.

I have learnt that grief is a thief, it steals your time, your memories, your past, present and future. It sneaks in and around moments of happiness and ambitiously turns up in all its glory just after you have had a fabulous moment. It refuses to settle and gnaws away on some invisible power cord like a rat, and then the lights go out because you didn’t hear the stealth crafted gnawing amidst the joyful noise.

There are more good days than bad days, but the bad ones can be brutal. I am noticing a pattern though and noticing is helping prepare myself to be kinder and gentler to myself. Preparation to be miserable is an interesting concept and for me seems to include comfort food, maybe a glass of wine, some favourite music to be reclaimed from the archives, a virtual retreat, a time to be sad in the cave that is my little cottage.

I am fascinated at how distractions waft in to turn me away from the wallowing and how I have welcomed those distractions as respite. As this year closes though I am asking the distractions to leave me to my sadness and come back later. I was describing the experience the other day as being like the apex of a see-saw. It doesn’t matter about the highs and lows they will come and sway in whether I like them or not, the weight off the other bumping one into the air and crashing the other to the ground – equilibrium is not possible – but the apex remains there just watching, observing, not moving. I don’t have to be on any end of the see- saw, I just have to notice to swings from the apex.

This change in orientation is surely an act of self-compassion. To be able to say to myself – look at that high, look at that low.  The middle point is the fulcrum, the place where the pivot takes place. This is the place that holds still, the place for the centre, steady and the only place to hold still when all around there is movement. It is said that the word see-saw comes from the French ci-ça, which literally means this-that. There is this and there is that – there is the joy and there is the sadness and both are held in the tension and dynamic of the weight of both as they leverage one another in motions and speeds designed to throw me to the ground or into the air.  If I think of myself not on the see-saw, but at the pivot point, that thought invites stillness and centredness. It is an insight to allow both planes to co-exist.

Equilibrium is not equanimity.

equanimity

 

Year of Self-Compassion #14 #gut

Sitting in the sun today, wondering what April is thinking having all these warm days in a row. The vines are turning golden and getting very dry around the edges, the garden is thirsty and winter clothes remain tucked up in the wardrobe. At this rate it is unlikely we will be pulling on hats and coats, scarves and gloves anytime soon. While we might be ready the elements have another idea. The weather often serves as a perfect metaphor, all the senses alerted and the skin transmitting osmotic advice deeper into the body.

With the warmth still in the ground and hardening, becoming more dusty underfoot, it is easy to slip into consideration of times where every bit of goodness is being sucked out of solid foundations. Sun-rays drawing the moisture out of the earth seem to get stronger as the day gets longer before Sister Wind has a go at blowing her gentle, autumnal breathe, to remind us that the season is changing even though all the signs aren’t there yet. There are glimpses of change in the landscape, sometimes ambiguous, a flowering that is early or late, a billowing sail through the trees as night falls, a bird that has usually left by now, still in the garden. Grief is like this too, sometimes the season starts when we aren’t ready, although we have known for years the due date; sometimes there are surprises or mis=steps to bring more complexity to what should be routine or predictable. Grief offers a master class each day in ambiguity – where memories make the decision of what serves you to be re-membered or best left on the shelf. There is an empty pit deep in my stomach and I am shifting my attention away from the emptiness to the lining of my belly which is holding this space. I hold space as a professional practice, and now I am literally getting a lesson from the inside about holding space. I haven’t even noticed that the space was being held, such is the high quality of the holding. This noticing is giving a whole new sense of respect for one part of me taking its turn for another bit to do the work.

The calendar holds the space for the month, all the while, the days and nights will do what they need to do in that space. The great Holding to match Never Ending Story’s the Nothing. My stomach has been a great informer on my well-being on this journey of late, as effective as any barometer for the seasonal change. There is so much information now about the gut, gut health and how it is our second brain and we now know there are about about a hundred million neurones in our intestines. The gut brain helps us with our gut feelings and therein lies a bit of secret – the gut and feelings – being paired. I have been reflecting not just on my own body, but those bodies I have known who have had gut reactions in their life – some of them pretty alarming – like bowel cancer, anorexia or bulimia, over-eating, gagging or choking on food. I am seeing all these as the gut brain talking and sending signals and deciphering and listening to this brain is a way to access and trust feelings. I have made some regretful decisions because I have felt with my head, rather than with what my gut was telling me. Now I want to honour that part of my body not just for its self, but also for its capacity to protect me, if only I let it.

Just as the sun comes when I want the next season to line up with the calendar, and my gut brain to align with my head brain, the elements will have their way to poke and point me to safety if only I get it the attention it has earnt and deserves. Just as the earth turns on her axis, and all our stomach turn and churn what we put into them, so new intelligence forms about the season we are in (and I can’t help with a pun courtesy Ecclesiastics and Pete Seeger – to every season, turn, turn, turn.)

I give thanks for the lining that holds the space, where it can hold butterflies, or allow a chasm so deep and wide it feels like an out-of-body experience. It might be time for some digestive healing, to “trust my gut” and feel through the walls who are holding the space for me to have the feelings in the first place.

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