5 TOOLS FOR BEING WITH SOMEONE IN GRIEF DURING THE HOLIDAYS.
BE THE PERSON WHO SENDS HOLIDAY CARDS.
I've been thinking a lot about how hard it can be to sit with someone in grief. We never know what to say, and often worry about saying the wrong thing. Here are five useful tools from my experience in working with the bereaved:
1. You can't fix this, nor is it your responsibility to do so. . .
STAYING ON THE PATH: RITUAL & MY GURU
I said to one of my besties Andrea today, I want to be the woman that still sends cards. In my old life, before the gilded age of the internet and social media, I would take one night in December crank the holiday music, put down my paint brushes, and put my artsy behind on the floor with some spiked eggnog, and wrap and write till my fingers hurt. It was a ritual. One I've forgotten. One that said, "I love you so much that I will hand draw hearts and reindeer on the outside of this brown paper package with this $5-all-I-can-afford gift just for you"
SO, APPARENTLY I WORK IN THE DEATH ARTS.
I hadn’t seen Baba in a few years. He’s always been saint-like, but it still strikes me that each time I see him, that he seems increasingly peaceful, calmer, even more, connected to source. He radiates love and compassion. His presence fills every corner of the room with light till compassion permeates the air. I described it to a friend as probably similar being the presence of Gandhi or the Dalai Lama - you want to be closer and linger in that peaceful presence forever.
Being with my teacher keeps me on the path.
Even though I only seem him occasionally, it is one of many ritualistic things I do to me connect to a greater sense of purpose.
I'M IN A BOOK! #MARCHFORSCIENCE & A WEEK OF BEING A MANIFESTING MACHINE.
It was my 41st birthday, and Nate had just given me a pair of binoculars for my new bird watching habit. (I love birdwatching, it's like navel gazing but with live animals). Anyway, the binoculars sparked a conversation with our waiter who turned out to be an avid bird watcher. I had just asked him where his favorite place to bird watch was, which he replied, "Well... it's kind of creepy, but there is this cemetery..." to which I interjected without missing a beat, "Oh no worries, I work in the death arts."
SET DOWN THE WORRY.
Speaking of which, I’ve done a lot of things I'm proud of, but this may be my biggest honor to date. Last fall, I was invited to contribute to the new book from The March for Science "Science Not Silence: Voices of the March for Science Movement" published by MIT Press. The book is gorgeous. I am beyond words, humbled, and filled to the brim with gratitude to be included alongside some of the bravest and most brilliant minds of our time. You can pick up a copy of the book here: https://www.marchforscience.com/book
2018 RESOLUTION: SACRED PRESENCE & 13 THINGS ON MY TO-DO LIST.
I dream vividly. Two nights ago I dreamt that Nate and I were enjoying wave watching from the tower of a lighthouse just like this. All of a sudden the ocean changed and the waves came crashing over the top filling the lantern room with saltwater. In between the crashes of the waves we tried to scurry back to safety but found that we were trapped. As I watched the next impending wave I looked at my love, reached for his hand and screamed: "hold your breath!" Moments later we were submerged.
RASAMAYA: LIVE INSPIRED. TODAY.
This is in stark contrast to my to-do list at the beginning of last year which was literally three pages. I don't know when it happened or how, but apparently, without my even noticing, my subconscious started stripping away the unnecessary.
My New Year's resolution for 2017 was "courage." On the heels of that horrible election, it seemed like the natural choice. That courage took me to Haiti on a medical mission, to the Women's March on Washington, and got me through a mysterious illness I thought was going to claim my life. Courage served me well.
But perhaps the biggest lesson courage taught me is that it also means saying "no."
TEMPERANCE. THE CALM IN THE STORM.
Rasas are the nine core emotions that govern our life; they are the nectar of artistic expression. The juice. The good stuff.
Rasamaya is about living the creative life. It’s about letting the emotions course through our bodies as they will. Emotions are not negative more nor are they positive. Disgust can be a powerful catalyst for change. Love can be jealous.
STEADFAST | PLAYLIST OCT 2017
Temperance. The tarot card we studied at the amazing Tarot Salon I attended this week at HausWitch in Salem, Ma. According to the teacher, Temperance is "the medicine card, the blending of waters." For me, it is the card of the healer, balanced, calm, and collected. When we think of temperance we think of self-restraint, or from the yogic path brahmacharya (celibacy) in it's truest sense. This is celibacy not in the sexual sense, as it is sometimes interpreted, but celibacy with our thoughts, our words, our actions. . .
STEADFASTNESS. DANCE TILL YOU DROP.
My theme in my yoga classes this month has been about cultivating steadfastness in our life. It's something that has come up over and over in my tarot readings and morning meditations of late. In these uncertain times, it's the discussion I'm having the most with the people I love.
KINDNESS. POETRY BY NAOMI SHIHAB NYE
My theme this month is "steadfastness."It's been coming up a lot in my life. In these uncertain times, I have decided to commit to letting go, to stop "pursuing," and to simply give my heart and my time to the people and the things that I love.
DEATH. EAST ROCK. MY BODY AS TEACHER.
My heart is heavy with sorrow. My hope is that all the tragedies of late allow us to grieve deeply, grieve universally....
"...Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice..."
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
RETURNING HOME. POETRY FROM STAR ISLAND.
I am composing this blog post from East Rock on Star Island during my fifteenth year leading a yoga conference. Fifteen years. It seems impossible that it has been that long. As I sit here staring at the endless sea and thinking about the passage of time, I am also thumbing through a book about death, which has been on my mind a lot lately.
I always say that when I die I want my loved ones, friends, students, old lovers, old enemies, and anyone who I’ve danced with in this journey to come together at sunrise and throw my ashes off of this cliff. This rock is my home and is infused with memories that range from sunrise meditations and soul-blubbering cries to some fantastic make-out sessions with a variety of lovers over the years. I can only imagine how many other hearts this rock holds in the crags of its sparkling surface.....
GETTING COMFORTABLE WITH THE DISCOMFORT ON YOUR MAT.
Our theme this year for our 15th annual Star Island Yoga Retreat was, "Returning Home. " This poem says it all.
- Ursula K. Le Guin
Please bring strange things.
Please come bringing new things.
Let very old things come into your hands.
Let what you do not know come into your eyes.
Let desert sand harden your feet.
Let the arch of your feet be the mountains.
Let the paths of your fingertips be your maps
And the ways you go be the lines of your palms..... (click for more)
ANGER: HONORING A TABOO EMOTION (RAUDRA RASA)
...It pretty much sums up my teaching, a lot of which is getting my students comfortable with the discomfort that is "resistance."
I'm sharing this discussion because as a long time yoga teacher, I know how hard it is to hold space for our students when they don't like us much. Despite what they might think of us, it's important to create a container where learning can happen through grit, sweat, patience, and a whole lot of losing their balance.
HAITI: THE LAND OF HOPE
The Anger Rasa is a stirring within the ego. It rises when things don’t line up. What is surprising about anger is its power to create or purify. And we can harness it.
The powerful energy of the anger rasa can find an appropriate temporary residence in your core. This Manipura Chakra (or third chakra) is centered directly above your solar plexus and is the physical manifestation of your personal power. Anatomically, the solar plexus wraps around the middle of our being and serves as the epicenter of our physical body.
Nursing in global health is a steep and fast learning curve. The last few weeks in Haiti were tiring but deeply soul-fulfilling. I have shed tears with some of my patients over situations that no person should endure. I have also smiled so hard it hurts from the stories of hope and resilience.