Some mindfulness masters teach, that you cannot fully begin to meditate until you have wept deeply. I once read a story of a Zen teacher who flirted with meditation for years before he decided to commit. He recalled how he wept openly and often for two years and after he had grieved for many things in his life, only then was he able to sit in silence.
I was sitting outside this morning, enjoying the beautiful day when I began to feel the pull of profound grief and sadness for the life I had uncovered. For the loss, for the pain, for the torture, for the years that I clung to survival as my only way of life. Sad for the years of having no hope, no dreams, no promises made…thinking that whoever came into my life would go. Not by virtue of old age, sickness or played out friendships. But would just turn around and go. I don’t dwell there very long anymore, but sometimes, it’s a place I walk through after being triggered.
I began to recall the lesson about weeping. I thought about the many times during guided meditation that I would begin to shed tears. Not weeping, but feeling the unmistakable wetness on my cheek from tears. Feeling the tears stream down my cheeks, I stopped and pulled myself back to reality. The reality of kids, shopping lists or work. Never understanding that perhaps those tears marked the beginning of my spirit wanting to open up, cleanse myself through grief and help guide me on my path. I couldn’t tip-toe around those intense feelings, I didn’t understand that there is openness after grief, and it is an important part of life and growth.
Before I came in to write this, I grabbed a leaf that was floating down from a tree, made a wish, blew it away and came in to write.
I wished I could go away deep in the woods without the sounds of the world and cry. I thought about a story I once read of a girl in the silver boat who had gone through the woods and came out on a beautiful shore. I thought about my intense pull to grieve, and to also have the life I want to live. I yearn to go into the woods without the sounds of the world and cry. But I get triggered in the woods, bad things happened in the woods. And, still, I love the woods! My desire to go into the woods to grieve, to find peace, is coupled directly with trauma so triggering that going into the woods is a challenge. Mindfulness comes in by bringing myself back to the present, after experiencing a flashback. But, that’s not the simple experience I want for my life, my grief, my practice. It’s a paradox.
I realize that the girl in the silver boat and the zen master who said they wept for years are stories. They are books, metaphors that help show us another way and provide hope and give us the strength to keep trying, keep breathing. Admittedly, sometimes I don’t have faith in my ability to heal completely. I can stay in my head and trick myself into thinking it just the words I am supposed to feel, not feelings, I am supposed to feel.
My body, my mind, my soul wants to feel the feelings and grieve whatever it is I need to grieve. I yearn to be like those who have the ability to find solace in quiet places. Who emerges from a weekend alone with full cups and peace in their heart. I’m not ready to dwell in those quiet places. I have been wonderfully surprised that some mindfulness teachers are saying, that if a person is working through trauma, perhaps sitting and meditating is not the best path at the moment. For me, that’s the way it is right now. I accept it and respect the reality and the process of healing. Someday, I may be able to cry an ocean of tears that will take me through the woods, to the sparkling sea, and then be able to sit on the cushion just acknowledging my thoughts vs spinning into the past.
I am not a Zen teacher. I don’t necessarily want to be able to sit for hours. I try to live mindful, present and surf the waves of emotion as they happen. I also intend to stay the path. I set my intention every morning, I try to evolve, but know deep down inside that without shedding the tears, feeling the words, experiencing the grief, I will never heal the way I want to heal. Without grieving over the life that was, I will continue to open the scab without letting it healing into a beautiful gnarly scar.
Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph