Learning how to embrace our Grief is one thing I believe our society is in great need of to heal as a whole. We are good at sweeping things under the rug, round here. Especially the things we fear, or that we don't want to look at. Meanwhile, subconsciously these things are steering the ship more than we know. And when it comes to the actuality of the inevitable end that many fear, we often get sucked into the industry of death without knowing how we feel about it, or what our options are.
Also, often times we are expected to just 'get over it', when someone or something we know and love leaves us. The truth is that when these huge shifts take place we are forever changed and it is a gradual learning process of how to relate to the world as this forever changed person. The experience brings us out of our bodies and makes us often out of balance on the physical plane. We have to be kind to ourselves, and it helps if we are willing to look this grief in the face, so that we don't become numb. Just because we are numb, doesn't mean we are over it. And it can start to bubble out in interesting mysterious ways.
"it's easy to be grateful for what you have, but it takes courage to be grateful for what you have lost" (cloud cult ) nurturing what we have lost helps us learn about all the abundant beauty. it doesn't stop.
when I was first going to school for massage in Maui, I moved to this commune, in the middle of somewhere next to nothing... fearless, without much money, a baby on my hip and a whole lot of trust in the world. I would hitch hike to school, 45 min one way. hitchhiking is legal there, so it felt rather safe. But sometimes I would end up in the back of pick up trucks, also legal. Traveling on the very curvy mountain pass that wrapped around the island from my home to school, in Makawao, at Maui School of Therapeutic Massage. My mantra in those moments where i was handing over my control to the person behind the wheel and the will of the God's was " you gotta learn how to die, before you can live", it was a thrilling and beautiful way to experience life. It feels really bold to me these days! And I can hardly imagine doing it that way now. exactly that way anyhow. But I do believe that to be a powerful mantra worth living by. only by embracing our death, will we really become able to embody our lives full heartedly..
While going to school there, I studied at length with a wonderful man named Jim Hacket. He had started a school many years before in Chicago. His main focus was Neuromuscular Therapy, a trigger point method that focuses on the origins and insertions of all the muscles. He was a master at his craft... full of strength, presence, grace and a wealth of knowledge. I can still remember the way his thumbs looked, and the way he would pace slowly by and watch us work on people, correcting our pressure and body mechanics. He also taught us Anatomy and a few other courses. He eventually took over the Maui School of Therapeutic Massage, and taught many students over the next decade or more, since I graduated in 2004. Recently I learned of his transition out of this world... somehow I had missed it when it actually happened, I learned about it on the one year anniversary of his departure. I was just about to walk in with a client when I heard the news. My whole session was washed with visions of what he had taught me, and just how much I use that information all the time. I feel very blessed to have learned from him. And it got me thinking 'am I really living right now, to the fullest potential of my being? If I died today what would I miss the most? ' and all of sudden life felt so short.
"you start dyeing slowly if you do not travel, if you do not read, if you do not listen to the sounds of life, if you do not appreciate yourself.
you start dying slowly when you kill your self-esteem, when you do not let others help you. You start dying slowly if you become a slave to your habits, walking everyday on the same paths... if you do not change your routine, if you do not wear different colors or you do not speak to those you don't know.
you start dying slowly if you avoid to feel passion & it's turbulent emotions, those that make your eyes glisten &your heart beat fast. You start dying slowly if you do not change your life when you are not satisfied with your job, or with your love, or with your surroundings. If you do not risk what is safe for the uncertain, if you do not go after a dream, if you do not allow yourself, at least once in your lifetime to run away from sensible advice. " Paplo Neruda
We are all in a death cycle of one kind or another in our lives, if not many simultaneously. Staying open hearted is key, even during time of trial. Embracing our grief without fear so that we might truly live. one of my hopes in this life, before I leave, is to see my community embrace death on a whole new level. So that we can really show up for each other. What does this look like? How do we want to be nurtured when we are dying? This is a big conversation. I think we start by taking the rug off, and holding death sweetly in the palm of our hand.
In other cultures I have been they are so close with death. It is much more in their faces and I believe they are better for it. In Varanasi India, today, you can go there and if you happen to find yourself in a boat in Ganges, you might be surprised to find a beloved deceased human friend floating in those sacred waters. It is a place of pilgrimage for the dying. A very sacred way to go, if you are so lucky. I wonder what that looks like for us in our culture? making death sacred. Or at least attempt to normalize the only sure thing in life? My Sufi teacher Leilah Be's husband Bodhi Be , in Maui have gone to great lengths in their community there in this arena. with Green burials, death doula's, a death store and all kinds of consciousness around our grand departure into the Great Mystery. they have regular radio shows and workshops year round exploring this, its fascinating and cutting edge. you can find out more on the doorway into the light website.
Massage is also an amazing tool to use during these extreme times to help us remember where our bodies are in space. To return to the source of our center of gravity is a key component to moving safely in the world. Not to mention the layers of tension that can shed and how that alone can make a person think clearer. There is no way around but only through these obstacles in life that we start to fully embrace the newness of our collective growth. grief is mostly seen as something that is experienced by the people left behind by a loved one... but it also is an experience to be had when our lives change dramatically in other ways, never to be the same again. or when a piece of our own personality dies... or when we ourselves consciously learn that we are going to die and are grieving the life we are to leave behind. taking time with the home of which houses you here and now, can truly help you experience the moment more fully so that you can truly walk through the center of what is happening, and not getting to magnetized to the avoidance of your self.
Embrace this wildly real reality ever more gently !