Strong rains have pummeled the earth several nights in a row now. The rainy season has arrived.
Just as the seasons change, so do we.
It’s now understood that these five stages may be relevant not only in the process of dying, but in many different types of life transitions. Especially ones that occur with a jerk. The stages do not neatly occur in a linear fashion. Some stages may be skipped. And not everyone undergoes them.
But I have. And I’ve found the denial stage especially tricky. By its very definition, you don’t realize you are even in denial. And it can get all mixed up with bargaining. Until a sharp needle pricks the bubble, allowing clarity to emerge.
But it could be anger instead of clarity that pops out, which has its own challenges. There’s the danger of turning it on yourself or projecting it outwardly. Neither of which leads to happiness for one’s self or others.
These stages seem to unfold invisibly. But knowing about them can help you face them more consciously and remember their impermanence. This itself may bring some greater sense of ease.
It’s not easy to work skillfully with painful emotions. They can feel so strong and overpowering. Sometimes, I just want to bury my head under the covers.
Recognizing their transitory nature and allowing them to be – without pushing them away or over-indulging in them – is the secret to releasing them. This is an art we can learn to master through meditation. But it does take tremendous courage, diligence, and the willingness not to run away from the pain. Or hide under the covers (all the time).
Often, when change besets us, all we want to do is regain our equilibrium. When, in fact, it might be better to experiment with remaining groundless.
The Western spiritual teacher, Pema Chodron, is a strong advocate for understanding groundlessness as an aspect of our natural state of being.
Her book, When Things Fall Apart, Heart Advice for Difficult Times, is a primer for working with change and the tsunami of turbulent emotions it can spark. Instead of running away from them – which only continues our cycles of pain – Pema Chodron shows us how to work with them directly. In this concise, yet revolutionary book, she provides very simple instructions on meditation, loving-kindmesss practice, and “tongen”, a practice for working with suffering using the breath.
This book was my best-friend the past month. I recommend it highly.
In the end, the judicious way to work with change is to allow a period of time – and it will take time – to feel the emotions of grief and then to be willing to let go and move on. Chances are it will feel messy, but we can applaud our courage instead of falling into self-judgment. And even if we do, we can gently release that too.
Not judging is the essence of self-acceptance, which continues as an important theme in my own life. I see ever more clearly that if I don’t fully love and accept myself, I’m just caught in an endless cycle of seeking external validation. In relationships, through work, in blogging, in competitive activities, in spiritual endeavors, in myriad ways.
While relying on external validation sometimes works for awhile, sooner or later, it only activates a continuous loop of hope and fear, which generates suffering and discontent. But, of course, it’s difficult to disconnect from all the subtle ways we seek outer validation, isn’t it? This form of hope and fear simply is the modus operandi for many of us. It confirms our existence and keep us from experiencing that terrifying sense of groundlessness that is actually the way things are.
Meditation and loving kindness are two ways that I nourish self-acceptance. It may not be obvious, but meditation can also be a way to express compassion for ourselves when we refrain from judging what arises in our mind.
I’m also working on self-acceptance by taking responsibility for my emotions, being honest about my limitations, and clear about what’s true for me. I assure you it’s all a work in progression and not a final work of art!
And, I took some time to write a letter to myself when I felt a need for encouragement.
I’m three sessions into a seven-week class in Nonviolent Communication. Developed by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D.,
“Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is based on the principles of nonviolence– the natural state of compassion when no violence is present in the heart.
NVC begins by assuming that we are all compassionate by nature and that violent strategies—whether verbal or physical—are learned behaviors taught and supported by the prevailing culture. NVC also assumes that we all share the same, basic human needs, and that each of our actions are a strategy to meet one or more of these needs
People who practice NVC have found greater authenticity in their communication, increased understanding, deepening connection and conflict resolution.”
So far, I’m impressed and excited. I’m looking forward to learning more and becoming a more compassionate communicator.
A Day of Rest
I really need to chill out these days. So I’ve declared Sunday my day of rest, relaxation, spiritual hyper-focus, and mini-digital retreat.
That means I’ll be posting on Monday instead of Sunday. And other week days when inspiration strikes.
Supporting Always Well Within
I welcome you to support this site and my writing by making a donation or by sharing links to my articles with your friends on social media. Your generosity is deeply appreciated and makes a difference in my life. A special thank you to everyone who gave in October. You made my day!
In November, I’m hoping to take a 3-hour Jin Shin Jyutsu self-help class.
Jin Shin Jyutsu is a simple way to harmonize the body, mind, and spirity by gently placing the fingertips on specific points along the subtle meridian channels. Like acupuncture without the needle; but Japanese instead of Chinese. It’s great to be able to treat yourself for an array of normal troubles like headaches, digestive distress, and much more.
You might like to know that the planet Mercury will be retrograde from November 24 until December 13, which can cause delays. According to astrologist Susan Miller,
“Mercury is the planet of communication and transportation, shipping and commerce / negotiation, so miscommunications may cause problems. Do not sign any papers until after December 13.”
That means it’s a good idea to shop early for the holidays if you partake, and double checking your flight arrangements if you plan to travel.
How was your October? Any new insights or experiences to share?