The life we refuse

"The life we refuse is singing to us
From the other side"

These lines from a poem by Daverick Leggat speaks so clearly to this place we occupy when we pause and pay attention to our direct bodily experience. Here we stand at a door with courage and curiosity, and perhaps a little trepidation. Here we invite in what has been singing to us from the other side. Here, our exiled guests are waiting to be welcomed back.

In my fifteen years of accompanying people in Focusing, one the most enduring and regular visitors has been grief. Indeed, my own journey into this body and the art of Focusing began through the initiation of grief in 2003 when my mother died. My experience is that our bodies have a deep knowing about the truth of loss. No matter what our conscious mind thinks about it - at a deeper level we feel the loss. Just like a plant that feels the lack of nutrients or a mother whale mourning its lost young, our embedded and interwoven living body knows what is missing or lost, or what was missing and lost. How could it not?

So when we stand at that doorway and welcome what has not had attention... who else comes but the ones who have been forgotten? The sorrow and grief that for a multitude of reasons has been pushed aside. They are waiting for our empathy and attention.

For a long time I have sensed that some of our inner guests, and grief especially, need the company of not just us, but of our Focusing partners and guides as well. They simply won't come unless they sense the welcoming presence of others. But this understanding grew deeper when I came across the work of Francis Weller in his book "The wild edge of Sorrow" This beautiful and insightful book on grief and sorrow clearly argues that grief needs to be welcomed (and therefore "processed") in community. Indigenous peoples all over the world can attest to this and hold regular ceremony for just this purpose. Grief is not something to be dealt with alone. It is not to be "gotten over with". It is one of the deepest expressions of our connectedness and love that we can express. It shows we care and more than that, it shows we belong. To hide it away is an understandable but diminishing thing. To show it is a precious gift to the community.

One more gem from his book that spoke to me were his five gates to grief:

  • The First Gate: Everything We Love, We will Lose
  • The Second Gate: The Places That Have Not Known Love
  • The Third Gate: The Sorrows of the World
  • The Fourth Gate: What We Expected and Did Not Receive
  • The Fifth Gate: Ancestral Grief

These gates open up the landscapes that we find inside, and they welcome and articulate all the myriad kinds of grief we find ourselves experiencing. Rich territory indeed.

So now I am schooling myself in how to hold grief ceremony with my mentor Azul - Valérie Thomé (whom herself was mentored by Francis Weller) and hope to offer these later this year.

A plea to men.
We have generations of conditioning to overcome to even approach this edge. It seems clear to me that this work needs more men. Men who are willing to feel. Whom are willing to show their depth of feeling for life. It's scary perhaps and you might think "too feminine" or not manly to cry... but our world is disappearing because we have grown numb for too long. We must learn to live and show our love for the world and each other. If you are interested in grief work, please get in touch and think about coming to this years training in Devon with myself and Azul.

"So modern people are not bad or lost. They are stuck in a blast furnace of banality where all of that technology and so-called advancement have been purchased at the price of losing the most basic of human prerogatives: the art of being deliciously out of control to grieve their dead. It is a terrible source of grief in itself not to be able to grieve."

~Martin Prechtel, The Smell of Rain on Dust~
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