There’s an ancient Japanese art of repairing broken objects that holds powerful lessons for our daily lives. It’s called Kintsukuroi. When pottery breaks, instead of throwing it out, the object is lovingly repaired with gold. What was once damaged becomes even more unique and beautiful—“a conversation piece”, as my grandma would say. Something with new life and history.
We, too, are more beautiful and unique as a result of our broken-mended parts. And for me, the process of repairing often begins with grieving. Expressing grief is like spiritual Kintsukuroi—it’s the healing gold that makes us stronger and more radiant.
2016 was a tough year for many people—myself included. I experienced deep personal loss and crisis in my family. It rocked my core and continues to have ripple effects. A special shout out of gratitude to my close friends, sister, loving husband and spiritual practice for providing space for my tears and my growth.
Though I’m not ready to share specifics, over the coming months, I hope to blog in a more personal way from time to time. But, the specifics don’t really matter. What matters is that a lot of us are grieving right now for our own reasons, and we need tools and support to process our pain and transform it.
It takes courage to grieve because it hurts. Grief requires us to stay present and to acknowledge our sadness or pain, rather than pushing it down or nonchalantly brushing it off. And let’s be honest, feelings are slippery little suckers. When we deny them, they can get pissed off and come out in other, more destructive ways. Addictions to food, drinking, drugs, shopping, sex, negativity, co-dependency… the list goes on.
Full disclosure: I recently started therapy again and it’s been very helpful. Among many things, it reminds me that it takes an enormous amount of psychic and physical energy to stuff my feelings—energy that’s far better served nourishing my life.
So if you’re pushing down your pain, I want to encourage you to find a safe place to explore and express it. Your health and happiness will thank you.
Feel your feelings
If this conversation sounds like the medicine or gold you need right now, set the intention that whatever comes up is ok and accepted. You are safe and supported. You don’t need all the answers—you just need a willingness to feel.
Allow your feelings to move through your body. Gentle deep breathing, full body sobs, gut wrenching screams, even ecstatic dance are all methods to release our emotions. It will probably feel intense at times, like you’re being swept under by an emotional riptide. That’s normal, and it’s where trust comes in. Trusting and surrendering to the healing process. Trusting that you can breathe under the waters of grief, or any emotion for that matter. It may not seem possible. You’re human after all. But, your spirit is capable of breathing in the entire universe.
So as the waves of emotion arise, we boldly and bravely allow them in and through. In and through. In and through, till the tides recede. And, they will. You won’t lose yourself or if you do (temporarily), it’s because you needed to let go of what wasn’t working in order to embody your true power.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you’ll suddenly be over the situation—the loss of your job, your health or a loved one. Or, that you condone any abuse or betrayal. It just means that you’re willing to be restored so that you can carry on “with your one wild and precious life”, as the poet Mary Oliver would say.
Transform grief into action
And, speaking of your wild and precious life: grief can be transformed into action. Yes, please! The loss of a loved one can inspire us to start or join a cause, our despair over animal suffering, climate change, social issues and so on can inspire us to volunteer or donate to charities aligned with our values. I’m always renewed when I turn my pain into purpose and in the coming months, I’ll be doing more of just that.
Difficult times break us open, but the crack in our heart creates space for gold.
Ok, that’s it. Love you.
Peace and gilded veins,
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