In Chinese medicine, each season corresponds to an element of nature. The season of fall corresponds to the element of Metal. In some traditions, it is known as Air.
Metal expresses the emotion of Grief. For many of us - myself included - Grief is not an emotion that is held comfortably in our bodies and minds. We oh so often want to feel sparkling brightness and blissfully ecstatic joy. This has become such an addiction in our modern world, as we constantly look for the next dopamine rush of excitement.
For some, Grief feels so painful and terrifying, bringing deep sadness, tension, and even shame.
For those in the medical field, traditionally we witness sickness and death, and then quickly step back into the same hospital rooms to continue our jobs, ignoring Grief endlessly.
I have been told by some, “Don’t be sad.” ”Don’t fall apart.” “Don’t cry. It’s not worth your time.”
“Don’t waste your time being sad.”
“What is done is done.”
“It’s time to move on now.”
“It’s all going to be alright!“
Emotions are not an on-off switch.
And there is no magic wand to rush the process of Feeling.
If we do not give Space and Time for Grief to be Present in our Selves - in the Here and Now - we are in fact denying a very essential part of Being Human as Human Beings.
Remember the movie Inside Out? Sadness has to be embraced for Joy to be expressed. We have all emotions within us, and they need equal attention and care. If we ignore one part of ourself, it will not just disappear. The feelings get trapped in other parts of ourselves - hidden, only to cause other discomforts, reappear later in larger form, and force us to wear masks of inauthenticity as we pretend to be “alright.”
Allow Grief Acknowledgment.
Allow Grief Space.
Allow Grief to Speak.
Journal. Paint. Do a ritual and burn your woes. Reflect on what parts of your body are in discomfort, and be curious as to what this tension is holding. Dance, swim, run - whatever exercise you like - to move the energy from within and be outwardly expressed and shaken off. Gather your Good Company to share Your Stories in a Safe and Secure circle.
With open authenticity and vulnerability, Grief can be a Lovely Friend, who has witnessed your struggles and strengthened your Whole Being. Practicing this full expression of Your Self provides nourishment for ever evolving growth. As the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says, “No Mud, No Lotus.” Every individual is different in their needs in how to express Grief in his or her own healthy way. And each one of us will need as much time as it takes; there should not be a race to “get it over with.” If you know someone who is going through a difficult time, ask what he or she needs. Offer a hand and an authentic place to Sit and Listen, with full presence.
Many times, the “perfect words” are not needed. It can be very jarring when others try to fill the room with smiles, laughter and positive phrases when Sadness needs some room to be felt, voiced, and released. Positive thinking can be very powerful in changing our emotions and pains, but we must also view the Whole Reality. We must honor this Reality for ourselves individually and for others. One must be cautious not to deny the existence of Truth and not to give Space for the Whole Being. To do so would be a violation of Existence and Whole Vitality, and lead to an unwitnessed presence. To grow Wisdom, we must be Aware of All parts of ourselves.
Giving Space with Silence can allow us to dig deep to the roots of emotions and surface new foundations and greater capacity for healing. And Collectively, the power to heal can be even more magnificent.
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