Do you too have life lessons that keep showing up—same message, different day? One of the recurring messages in my life is that grief is a pathway to healing. Actually, let me rephrase that. My recent experience of fall-on-my-knees grief revealed, once again, that grief is a pathway to living and loving fully.
These times are challenging beyond compare and we have something that can help you.
Multiple times, every day, I read, see, hear and feel how we’re experiencing an unprecedented time of uncertainty. Personally, in our communities, and around our planet, we’re living with health crises, ecological devastation, political and economic turmoil and systemic racism and injustice. We don’t know when the impacts of all this will end, how it will end, and what our lives and our world will look like in the near or distant future.
In our commitment to using our mortality as an opportunity to live and love fully now, Michelle and I developed an exercise to help you move through these challenging times.
The first two steps are inspired by the writing of Centre for Action and Contemplation faculty member, Brian McLaren. The idea is that there can be great power in the dual act of acknowledging our anxieties, hurts, and disappointments and naming the plea or request for what we need to help us be with the pain we’re experiencing.
The first step is to name the pain.
Consider our current reality and write down 1 to 3 of your top-of-mind pains in any of the following categories:
- Anxieties / fears (what might happen)
- Hurts / wounds (what has happened)
- Disappointments (what has not happened)
I’ll be honest with you. Way back in March, my primary pains were my disappointment around the travel plans, workshops and other events that were cancelled, and my fear that income would dry up. But yesterday my pain and anxiety overflowed. I felt broken and fearful. I journaled pages and pages of pain points.
The second step is to name your plea.
Once you’ve acknowledged the pain, see if you can land on a specific plea or need. It can be a call to yourself, a higher power, or whatever feels right to you. Examples include: guidance, patience, courage, resilience, faith, boundaries, mercy, compassion, determination, healing, calm, freedom, wisdom, peace and so on.
I tested out a few possibilities and to my surprise I landed on faith. When I said faith aloud my body trembled in a way that confirmed that faith was what I was denying myself.
The third step is to find meaning.
These questions are meant to help you contemplate, explore and discover meaning in your experience of pain.
- What am I learning about myself with respect to the pain I’m feeling?
- How has this time of crisis impacted my relationship with the reality of my mortality?
- How has the reality of my mortality influenced how I move through this time of crisis?
I did this exercise partly with Michelle and partly solo. I learned that there’s no way around this pain. I can only move through it. Once I named my pain and my plea, I sobbed. When I cried out for help and acknowledged my vulnerability, I felt heard.
This cathartic release led me to connect with my conviction that this time of upheaval can pave the way for unprecedented levels of justice, peace and ecological and human health.
Focus on love and gratitude.
With death constantly in the news, I’m reminded that life is precious and precarious. The finite nature of life helps me be present and in turn, supports me to focus on love and gratitude so that I can work toward creating a new reality.
What about you?
What have you discovered about yourself through naming your pain and plea?
What has the reality of your mortality revealed to you in these times?
Want to continue to find meaning in your life? Visit our website for free tools and inspiration.