I've been working on making a relaxation meditation CD this summer. It has been an exercise in patience, and computer software skills, but I feel like I am finally getting somewhere with it! I hope to reveal some of it on my website this summer or early fall....
One of the tracks I am recording is a "lovingkindness" meditation, which I teach in Yoga for Grief Support, to cultivate compassion for ourselves and for others. This morning, I was reading up on compassion, and kindness, and came across this wonderful quote. I love that included in the definition of compassion is sadness. I know, in my own personal experience, there is a definite link between sorrow and compassion - one that I have actually grown to appreciate. It's this intertwining of two seemingly paradoxical emotions that reminds me not only of the amount of suffering in this world, but also the amount of love.
The quote is from A Path With Heart by Jack Kornfield, and it is a quote by Chogyam Trungpa:
"When you awaken your heart, you find to your surprise that your heart is empty. You find that you are looking into outer space. What are you, who are you, where is your heart? If you really look, you won't find anything tangible or solid...If you search for the awakened heart, if you put your hand through your rib cage and feel for it, there is nothing there but tenderness. You feel sore and soft, and if you open your eyes to the rest of the world, you feel tremendous sadness. This sadness doesn't come from being mistreated. You don't feel sad because someone has insulted you or because you feel impoverished. Rather, this experience of sadness is unconditioned. It occurs because your heart is completely open, exposed. It is the pure raw heart. Even if a mosquito lands on it, you feel so touched...It is the tender heart of a warrior that has the power to heal the world."
Chogyam Trungpa calls this the 'spiritual warrior's tender heart of sadness'...which I think is a beautiful description of the love, rawness and courage it takes to live with loss and grief.
From one warrior to many warriors,
It seems as though lots has changed since the last yoga session ended in June. Flowers have sprouted and bloomed, grass has grown, trees have their full lush boughs of leaves. Recently, thunderstorms have pounded our city, with intense lightning and heavy rains, and as quickly as they come, they disappear. I'm left with this wise reminder from nature that everything changes. In a few short months, the leaves will change as fall desends, and then...(dare I say?) snow. Living in a part of the world that has such defined seasons, has reminded me about the fact that things are always changing....sometimes sublty (as in the changing of the seasons), but also massively (as is the upheaval when someone we love dies).
Both are inevitable...as surely as the seasons will change, so will we, and so will those we love.
I find comfort in the wisdom of nature. There is something peaceful and reassuring about how things come to pass - how buds know to bud, flowers know to bloom, leaves know to fall from the trees, and snowflakes know how to be perfectly unique.
When someone we love dies, it can be hard to recognize this same wisdom within ourselves. And, while it may seem like there is no order in the disorder of grief, we can use our bodies and yoga and meditation to practice how to "live the change" we experience in our lives. By experiencing small changes (like noticing the variations and subtlties in the way we breathe, or moving in and out of yoga postures and noticing the sensations of that flow), we can naturally extrapolate this awareness into the big changes. Yoga brings us into our internal worlds, and everything that that entails - the comings and goings of thoughts and emotions, the variety of sensations we experience from hunger pains to muscle pains. With practice, we see the connection between our inner world and our outer world.
We begin to trust more in the wisdom that everything changes. That which we view as positive will come to change along with that which we view as negative. This wisdom doesn't create immunity against the emotional response to change, nor does it somehow make change and loss sting less; the practice of yoga and meditation isn't about miraculously "making things better," it's about learning how to live amidst and amongst it ALL. As time marches on we need to do the hard work of mourning, if we hope to integrate our losses in a healthy way. Time alone doesn't heal, but time along with compassionately tending to your grief, does.
Maybe the leaves and the buds don't consciously know how they do it - change from spring to summer to fall then winter...and maybe we don't know how we will get from the trauma and rawness of our loss to the uncertain and untravelled place we hope to be...but I believe there is wisdom engrained in our bodies, that when paid attention to, can link us to this wisdom we see in nature. We are natural beings after all, in a natural world...and our grief is our natural experience and expression of our losses.
I recenlty came across a project by Eirik Solheim, who documented the seasons changing over the course of a year, with a series of still photos, which he combined to make some stunning videos. I could watch this forever...it speaks to me as a metaphor for life.
I believe yoga is a practice that not only teaches practical ways to cope with change, but also is a pathway to fully appeciating and living it, as an inevitable part of our lives.
Join me this fall for the new session of class. You can find the dates and details here.