main

Being with Grief

everything’s going to be okay, I tell myself. this will pass.

I find so much peace in those simple words during challenging times. this will pass.

456c6c7df8524f9d7064d8bcd9768915
photo by joniwoq

Grief has been increasingly present for me. A collective grief for all the beings who it feels like are gone too soon, for the state of the world, the conditions of the earth, institutional racism and all the other -isms that just repeat seemingly without end.

Grief used to scare me. The way it inhabits. It feels like water — giant waves overwhelming my heart, my body, my spirit that cannot be ignored, have to be felt, and have to be expressed. Its water-like state transforming from ebbing and flowing waves into varying forms of floods and erosion when ignored and into a soft intermittent stream when heard, acknowledged, and held.

I hardly notice grief when it arises and passes like the soft stream. When it starts to linger with the large waves that may flood though, there can often be a worry about what if it never leaves and I fall into a permanent state of grieving. There can definitely be an underlying wanting to get rid of grief and a wonder of what it would mean to never have grief again.

Is it even possible to never grieve and to have a full experience of life? With the reciprocal nature of grief and love, grief and joy — can one exist without the other when life is so precious, so impermanent?

tumblr_mm09win53c1rbaqo5o1_500
photo by llbolek

Deeply nourishing practices I find helpful for being with grief:

-Comforting and releasing grief through my cycle of breath, knowing that although I may feel grief that I am not grief. Breathing in, I am aware of my breath flowing in. I follow its journey through my body and feel its life and energy. I can feel my breath encounter grief as I breathe in. I shine light into the grief with my breath: touching grief with my inhale, releasing it with my exhale.

– Self-soothing with my hand at my chest, belly, or another part of my body that resonates as a reminder that I am not alone and I will always be there for myself no matter what.

-Engaging in rituals and celebrations that honor what has been lost starting with a land acknowledgment to remember the indigenous people who stewarded the land and to name all the loss and traumas taken in and healed within the land.

-Seeking support from nature. I find certain lands particularly supportive for being with grief where I can lay down all that I am carrying even for a moment and allow myself to be held by the land, to rest my body against a tree trunk, to be fully present for the way the tall grass at this particular hillside I often frequent effortlessly dances with the wind.

– Being active. Yoga, qigong, dancing, going for a walk/run, etc.

– Cooking and eating balanced, supportive meals.

– Engaging in activities that draw a deep belly laugh. I invite my favorite books and comedies to help with this.

– Communal grieving. Being around loving, welcoming people. I allow myself alone time and it’s really important to be around others as well to avoid getting too caught up in my experience. And if there isn’t anyone in your circle for you to be with in this way, please consider utilizing one of these resources from the Grief Resource Network.

– Journaling. Writing. Singing. Humming. Being creative and allowing for expression and release.

– Accepting each moment for what it is and bringing a gentle curiosity to each moment. I have started to realize the incredible peace and freedom in befriending each moment  — not just the ones that take my breath away with their joy but the more difficult moments that arise where I feel lonely or overwhelmed. Adding a layer of compassion and acceptance to challenging feelings and experiences can make them so much easier to navigate through.

-Remembering that everyone grieves differently and at their own pace. It’s really important for each person to find what works for them and to become aware of when they try to compare themselves to others or rush themselves through the grieving process.

***

Writing a piece like this helps tremendously. It helps dissipate the grief, helps me to feel less isolated and more connected by sharing my experiences with others rather than keeping them a secret. We don’t have to grieve in secret. We can create space for us to grief together, allowing our collective grief and love to be held by each other.

—lissa

 

pleasure activism

Pleasure Activism as a Form of Care and Justice

abundant tree
photo by @jeremybishop


What happens when we as a collective center pleasure as a form of care, justice and liberation?
I have been exploring this concept in my life and also in my offerings particularly InterPlay, deeply guided by the work of  adrienne maree brown and her book  Pleasure Activism.

I have found Pleasure Activism to be an incredibly powerful approach to healing that not only affects the individuals engaging in the practice but all of those who in turn come in contact with them. Pleasure, compassion, and care intersect with each other and promote a more just society where we have the agency and capacity to care for ourselves and each other.

It gives me great hope that I can center pleasure as not only a practice that allows for well-being but as a loving form of rebellion against oppression, a form of individual and collective perseverance and strength for me and so many others in my communities and my ancestral lineage.

rosie-kerr-DoUUDaNwHJM-unsplashphoto by @rosiekerr

The permission that is the foundation of the work, according to adrienne maree brown, is a reclaiming of “our whole, happy, and satisfiable selves from the impacts, delusions, and limitations of oppression and/or supremacy.” This reclaiming is in complete opposition to what makes up many principles of capitalism and oppression as it centers abundance, our natural goodness and enough-ness, and tuning into what offers us happiness and making space for that. It is a reclaiming of the gratitude and celebration of the miraculous nature of the earth and all of the earth’s creatures. It emphasizes that pleasure is not related to accumulation, money, materialism, greed, or excess.

“It turns out, being present is the most important part of every single experience in my life.” — adrienne maree brown

I was never taught about pleasure growing up. It wasn’t something I or anyone that I knew placed value on. The value was in acquiring wealth and fancy objects, in assimilating to the dominant culture, in being perfect with the perfect house, career, family, etc. It always seemed so strange to me how acquiring something off that list only bought fleeting happiness followed by worry about what if I lose this or a quick momentum onto the next item on the list to be happy again.

I slowly gave up on the list and began allowing myself to be led by the simple moments of connection, the times of ease and expansion, the present moment experiences of aliveness, that I found great wisdom in and which seemed like sustainable forms of not only joy but vitality. By being with these experiences, I could see more clearly and live in harmony with life, with my experiences, with the universe,  rather than the previous disharmony of always needing myself, someone, or something to be different, to be better.

waterfallphotophoto by @azharckra

Is it possible for justice and pleasure to feel the same way in our collective body? Could we make justice and liberation the most pleasurable collective experiences we could have? — adrienne maree brown

What’s your relationship to pleasure? Is it something you could make more space for and see as a form of care?

Is it possible to see a connection, a companionship between justice and pleasure and for it to be a collective embodied experience?

Feel into what arises in the body in contemplation of this.

Imagine the type of world we could live in if this was all of our embodied experiences. A pleasure devoid of materialism, oppression, supremacy, greed or narcissism. A pleasure that is simply a reclaiming of the whole selves we always were before systemic oppression and associated trauma, before the conditioning around scarcity and inequities, before the retelling around our good enough-ness.

A world where everyone knows how good enough they truly are. A world where your mere existence validates that fact again and again.

adrienne maree brown writes: Do you understand that you, as you are, who you are, is enough?” She asks us to be “stay mindful of our relationship to enough.”

What if you could feel that sense of enough-ness permeating into your every pore, your every breath? Would you welcome it in, make space, and invite it to tea? It’s here and available whenever you’re ready. I’m happy to remind you of this whenever you need it: You, as you are, who you are, is enough. Always have been and always will be.