Tag Archives: visible

Year of Self Compassion #5 Being held and carried

The feeling of being carried and my hand being held continues, cries and sobs are heard. And let’s be clear there is a difference between crying and sobbing. A cry is an acute response, while a sob is chronic – an ache that seems to go on and on.

In this year of self-compassion there is a lot more crying and sobbing than I have done for a long time … and it is not all grief. It is also release, the pressure valve being discharged and letting off steam turned to tears. It is also coming to terms with reality, a veil being lifted to see what was hidden and facing facts. Reality isn’t all its cracked up to be (and I am convinced the way we remember is one of nature’s ways of showing compassion towards us, only revealing what we can handle one bit at a time). Memory does play tricks on us and I am having lots of flashbacks to times gone by and reconstructing what was going on with a new lens, or sometimes with no lens at all, just seeing facts. It is possible to have more than one memory, more than one reality, we all live on multi-planes as we go about our lives on this planet.

As a child I loved (and I still love) science fiction and I used to imagine that we were living in a multi-verse – things happening in different dimensions at the same time all around us – even though we couldn’t see them such is the creative power of time and molecules. This is a common experience. In my multi-verse, time was the same in each place, but it was different configurations of people, places and creatures. Time being the foundation holding all the verses together even though they were parallel universes – a bit like Dr Who in the Tardis having a Groundhog day in many worlds. I haven’t thought about this idea for a very long time, maybe half a century, but it has returned to me in this Year of Self Compassion, offering me a way of seeing and understanding what is going on in my life with the familiarity of the world clock (my constant companion when I was working internationally for five years). It was perhaps my first exposure to the idea of liminal space and time.

Going under each lintel and over each threshold to new places, new beginnings you cannot cross on your own, you are carried. The tears open the door, which needs to be open to before you can go through. The ancestors, the angels, guardians, witnesses, escorts – all carrying me. Such a powerful realisation of being held and that old familiar experience of moving on and holding still.

Having had a couple of falls recently and feeling very unsteady on my feet and being ungrounded may well have been the invitation to be held and to be carried. To being lifted over a threshold to come to a new place, to not let my feet touch the ground. This is in contrast to the horrific origins of women being carried over the threshold of the new home on their wedding day. (This tradition dates back to Roman times where soldiers abducted and raped the women and carried them off against their will as reflected in the mythological Rape of the Sabine Women.) In my version of being carried over a threshold at this time, I am not touching the ground, it will be there for me more solid when I am ready to cross it and go out into the world having been in a new place. This is a constant renewal as you are never the same going in as coming out. But this post it is about being carried and recognising and naming the experience, honouring and acknowledging the invisible help.

The safety net offered by those closest to us who turn up over and over again invited and uninvited intuitively knowing when the moment is to step in and hold up with no fuss, no show and no comment is how I know I am being carried and held. Being held, banishes loneliness and being carried, reduces the chances of stumbling and falling.

I am overwhelmed by the visible and invisible acts happening in real time to get me over thresholds. In the new places, where the ground is less likely to go from under me, I can face the facts of parallel universes and move on while holding still.


In the garden at Glenstal Abbey

Year of Self Compassion # 3

Hospitality nudges turn welcomes into life lasting trust-building exercises. The Balinese take hospitality to a new level from offerings to gods and their heavenly hosts to all the creatures in the fields and crevices offering back their God-given gifts to their surrounds and to each other. There is a constant conversation between all of heaven and earth mediated by the elements and all of creation. It is good to have arrived in the land of the gods. After a fall 36 hours ago, my back has seen a healer today, received treatment in the form of home made oils and potions, spent time in a salt water pool, a stone heated sauna, had volcanic salts turned into body scrubs as well as many acts of kindness to ease me into various locations including motor bikes and cars. Despite all these interventions I come to bed with panadol and a sneaky suspicion it is a cracked rib causing the pain.

This pain under my left shoulder blade is asserting itself and claiming it has no right to go away. The pain has earnt its place in my body and will not fade or dissipate until it is done with being needed. Calling me to pay attention to it in the same way as any meditation aide might, reminding me to come back to the breath, come back to the practice. The pain becomes visible to others when I want to traverse a space and having a midwife to coax me through many of the transitions. People hold their hands out to guide me on slippery steps (it is rainy season inside and out), open and close car doors for me as the weight of the push or pull are too much, theories of what might work to get me better are widely shared and discussed in a range of languages and charades. Overall my effort to be invisible is completely thwarted and I seem to be at the centre of attention in ways unfamiliar to me. Krishna playfully constructs new ways I can be in receipt of kindness and hospitality.

Emotional roller coasters are crashing and colliding in the lives of people I call family. The highs of love and new beginnings, the lows of loss in ravines of agony, the fear of waiting for results and the paralysis of prevarication are finding fertile ground and throbbing through veins, sinews and tendons. Complexity, vulnerability, anxiety take their turn in many of the bodies. I am a long way from being witness but I can feel the effects via messages mediated across all kinds of devices.

For me though, I return to my beginner practice in this year of self-compassion. Being in receipt of care from friends and strangers is the lesson – to take everything on offer with grace- to enter fully into the experience of being cared for is such a turn around for me. Ever self-reliant and in the service of others, being served definitely has its benefits and while my apprenticeship is just beginning, I am learning to notice and appreciate more deeply all the acts of kindness and generosity I have bestowed to others along the way. If I take a karmic approach to this time, the abundant care from a bottomless cup inevitably is overflowing.

The daily check-ins from afar, the up close and personal clutches, the invisible and visible help across thin places permeating my spirit telling me with crystal clear certainty I am holding on and being held. The pain is the platform for a mantra. Breathing in and out as dictated by the phrasing or the mantra that arrives at the moment it is needed. I find myself returning to the same mantras: I am alive; Keep me safe O God you are my hope; Sat Nam. I am alive is new to me. The second is from a favorite psalm that has accompanied me in times of trouble over a lifetime and the third is from my yoga practice which is well and truly in remission. So I am hearing all of these calling me forward and offering me an interiority of stillness in the raging storms swirling all around and within.