“And space becomes your gift, encircles everything, slows the pace, lets the light in”.
I’m beginning this month’s article with the quote by Rachel Holstead that I finished last month’s article with. This line came back to me in a different context recently. I wasn’t sure if I could or would write a column this month because I’m moving very slowly through my own personal experience of shock, trauma, and grief. Knowing that grief is a normal process and part of life doesn’t make it any easier. I read a quote somewhere that “grief is the price we pay for love” and in this moment it feels like I’m paying a hefty price. So, without claiming to possess any expertise on shock, trauma, or grief, I am sharing aspects of my personal experience with the intention of setting out some tiny mindful steps that are easing my own journey.
Impermanence is such a core concept of mindfulness, and embracing or facing impermanence, including death, is part of being a mindfulness practitioner, and sometimes part of being a family carer. I have been intentionally making moves to face into death, especially over the last year or so, having only recently participated in an online course on grief run by Dzogchen Beara. Yet there is no preparing for the unexpected and sudden nature of things. My dad passed away in quite tragic circumstances and I am left with some shock and trauma to attend to before I can grieve fully.
I am amazed at the human mind and body and what it can do to protect itself. I have run the gamut of human emotion over the last few weeks, and it has taken a while to regulate the sheer rawness, vastness and even wildness of emotions, and now I’m in a state of “I don’t know.” One thing I do know is that mindfulness and compassion are helping me take baby steps through these difficult days. My mind and body have slowed down and my key focus every day is on resting, sleeping, eating nutritious food, as best I can and drinking plenty of water; these basics are so critical, not always easy to get right and so important at this time.
I am practising the very foundations of mindfulness, like tasting my food, feeling my feet on the ground as I walk, or my body on the chair as I sit. I’ve been practicing a body scan to feel and sense my way back into my body, in many ways it feels like I’m re-learning how to re-inhabit my body and beginning to trust my mind and body to lead the way and set the pace, without rushing and leaving space for grief to come. Patience and compassion with myself are central in those moments when I wish things were different or that I was back to some kind of “normal.” I miss the gentleness and quiet rhythm of our lives together but take comfort in the many gifts my dad passed on to me, like his ease in silence and in his own company and his resilience during difficult times.
I’m sharing my rawness and vulnerability in the hope that it may bring solace to or resonate with someone else struggling with shock, trauma, or grief in this moment. There is no timeline on this. I’m learning to give myself space to feel grief when and as it comes. Gently slowing down to let the light back in.
I am pausing all my compassion-based mindfulness work at Myross Wood in Leap (CECAS.ie) for the time being. Drop-in mindfulness sessions will resume in the Autumn.
Online guided meditation sessions via Zoom are also paused for now.
For more information, you are welcome to like my Facebook page (Mindhaven) or get in touch by phone: 087 2700572 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org