I remember a time, right before I was introduced to mindfulness, when a life event made me realize how much pain I carried in my body, mind and heart. I felt as if I was one of the walking wounded, on the outside I looked okay but if you could see deep into my heart you’d find a deep well of sadness. At the time I felt hopeless and powerless to change what was happening in my life. I was going through the loss of my father, worry about my mother, and unresolved anger, resentment, guilt, and shame. I could write a book about how this loss, reopened a wound I thought I’d cleverly hidden from myself. This reopening of the wound was a necessary part of the healing process and spiritual growth.
Spiritual growth isn’t about angels singing or the sun shining it’s light upon you.
I’ve never experienced such chaos and pain. I mean it was messy, painful and at times it felt downright awful. I’ve read other’s experience of spiritual growth as being blissful and full of light. Not so for me!
Instead, I often felt like a baby bird, hairless, blind and completely exposed. I felt there was no where I could go to get away from the pain. Sometimes the sadness was so overwhelming I thought I would die from it! I didn’t know at the time that these feelings are a natural part of spiritual growth. The heart feels like it’s breaking open and this is necessary in order for defenses and walls to drop away.
Breaking the heart open is essential for healing and growth
To live defended is to live in a world of reactivity, defensiveness and limiting beliefs. This is how I lived prior to this loss. I was walking around angry at my father for past events that were never resolved or healed. I’d taken on his pain/projections and lived chained to his image of me. I didn’t know who I was, because for so many years I’d been living according to his image of me! So when he died my reason to hold on to the anger, died with him. Suddenly, I didn’t know who I was. I felt lost, alone and most of all wounded.
Healing is an act of self love…
It took months of crying, releasing anger, opening to compassion, meditating and writing goodbye letters to come out from under the years of hurt and resentment I was carrying in my body, mind and heart. Meditation and the practice of self compassion were essential to my healing and spiritual growth.
The most valuable lessons learned from this experience were that :
- Holding on to resentment stops you from living. It blocks compassion, which is what helps us heal and stay connected to life and each other.
- We are all wounded in one way or another. Freedom to live and love comes when we recognize that even though our painful situations are different the feeling of suffering is the same.
- That we need connection. And that resentment builds when this biological and essential need isn’t met.
- That we need to love and accept ourselves the way we are, because when we do, it allows healing and growth to happen.
- That forgiveness isn’t something you can force to happen. When and if it does it opens us to see others pain and allows compassion to blossom in the space between us,them and life.
My path may not be yours. We all deal with loss differently, that’s the messy part! My hope is, to let you know you’re not alone, that we all, in some way experience pain and that what helps us heal, is to open to the pain in the presence of compassion.
May you be well…