We do not need to go out and find love; rather, we need to be still and let love discover us.
When I let myself be still, when I unplug from the onslaught of virtual connection and lean into the quiet of no planned events, no social engagements and turn off the phone, I feel grief rise. I sit alone and yet I feel the collective experience of grief. The flurry of the virtual activity, emails, texts, chats, Zooms, WhatsApp, even all that is intended to comfort such as reminders to be mindful, online performances and concerts, daily poetry readings and more, can keep us away from being still and feel the grief of all the suffering the pandemic is creating.
I can understand the desire not to feel grief.
Even without the pandemic, grief is something we are not good at being in relationship with. It can feel like it is going to overwhelm us if we let it in. We fear we might get lost in its darkness and never emerge.
I feel, though, we are being given a gift in the midst of all this pain and suffering. It is the gift of the collective experience of grief alongside the gift of the collective strength and compassion to be with the grief together. We may be physically separate, but we are together in both feeling the grief and the rise of compassion to see and hold the grief.
Seeing and knowing that suffering is part of our common humanity is a basic component of self-compassion practice and many spiritual practices. It helps us to know we are not alone when we know others everywhere are and have similarly suffered. Strength, compassion and tenderness are also part of our common humanity. Knowing this helps us to feel our own inner strength and compassion.
When we can hold grief and compassion simultaneously, even for a moment, we can soften, pause, breathe and find a bit more space in our hearts to allow the pain and suffering of this time. In doing so, we can ease the tight grip we have on grief and let it also breathe, let it be here, because in the face of our common experience right now, grief should be here. It is an appropriate feeling, an appropriate response. It has wisdom it wants to share with us. The wisdom is personal to each of us, and we need to be still and quiet in order to hear the message. With the strength of compassion, we can turn towards grief and begin to know it in ways we never have before. We might find that instead of resisting its presence, we have the capacity to allow it, perhaps even welcome it and see that yes, this too, belongs. Who knows, perhaps grief may even become a companion who helps us ride out this storm.
Two weeks ago I intended to begin the self-compassion practice of giving and receiving, yet every morning when I sat for meditation I found myself drawn to tonglen. Breathing in suffering and breathing out compassion. I am going to trust my intuition and continue with tonglen practice and allow it to lead me in relationship with grief and compassion. Blessings to us all. Namaste
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