Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Sarah – a lovely woman who has offered her experience and her wisdom to all of us. I love how she says “I am holding onto my grief. It is as part of me as any organ.” Sarah’s story and her guided meditation offer us a chance to assimilate and grow even more through our losses.
First, let me make clear: I will never fully let go of my babies, not the ones running around my home right now and not the ones I lost. I will always resist that phrase of letting go. I know that grief and regret and guilt are no fun, not for me and not for those around me; at the same time, my babies were here, within me, and now some of them are not here. In their absence is my aching heart.
So please understand, I am holding onto my grief. It is as much a part of me as any organ. At the same time, I am letting my heart grow bigger, so with the grief and regret and guilt there is also room for deep respect. The phrase I can honor, if not letting go, is I don’t know. I don’t know why my all my babies can’t be here with me and with their father and siblings; I don’t know why I had to feel them pull out of my body and die. In this ignorance, I can bow to something higher than myself. I can bow to all that I cannot understand. A kind of relief occurs when I sense myself inside a larger, invincible force.
I lost my babies when I was forty-one and forty-two. I had a four year old girl, a six year old boy, and an eleven year old stepdaughter. No one understood my grief. “You have such a beautiful family,” people would say, voices vexed. I was told to work harder at my professorship, to travel more, to go out with girlfriends. Instead, I wept – usually after the children were asleep, but also during the day. A scent of lilac in spring could bring on tears, or the story of a runaway teen on the radio, or even a heartfelt hug from one of my children. I didn’t know why my losses stabbed so deeply or why the pain persisted from one year to the next. All I could say to the few friends who could stand to listen was, “I just feel another baby belongs here.”
Rather than suppress the grief, I began to listen to it. I spent hours in the woods while the kids were at school. I walked along mossy paths, and I sat to lean against trees. I had never felt so aimless in all my life. The only words that I could offer were, “I am here.” I was offering these words to this child spirit that had entered me twice and left me twice. Was I promising I wouldn’t forget him or her? Was I offering myself up again for another visit? Was I trying to re-inhabit my own life? Questions flowed; answers were elusive.
I began to write in a journal after these journeys, though, and very slowly, insights began to form on the pages. I saw areas where my family needed help: my stepdaughter was changing schools and for the first time in ten years was going to be spending weekdays with her mom; my son was not getting enough outdoor free time during the week because of a scheduling change in his kindergarten; my husband wanted to earn enough money to allow me to give up my full time professorship and work part time but such luck hadn’t yet occurred. Maybe these issues seem small, but they needed attention, and I let myself walk in the woods to “hear” ways I might contribute.
My grief didn’t go away, but over the last six months, new life has entered our household. My walks in the woods gave me courage to take a full year’s leave from work and to focus more on being a mom and partner. Everyone is appreciating the extra attention and nurturing. And my sorrow is a vital part of my transformation: it keeps me vigilant about tending to others’ emotions and helps me listen to others more openly. A lot of suffering occurs that we can’t explain, and I am learning how to accompany the pain and be a helpful mom and friend to those feeling it.
I offer the following meditation for those who are interested into stepping into this land of not knowing, where you can bring no baggage nor directions nor even a goal. Here, you just wander and wonder. Maybe a voice will speak. This meditation helps you open to others’ voice more fully, and in this space, you can also better hear your own.
Meditation to Explore the Fifth Chakra
Your fifth chakra is located in the center of your throat. It spins as a cobalt blue star, whirling around in the midst of your voice and breath. Touch it now. Place the fingers of your left hand just to the side of your Adam’s apple. Feel the pulse of life beneath your fingers. Is your hand tingling? It might even feel hot. As you ascend up your spine, each chakra has a higher frequency and so this chakra’s energy may feel quite intense. Take as long as you need to envision and feel it.
Experts talk quite a bit about how your fifth chakra is the source of your voice. It dictates how well you communicate with the world around you. It is equally important, however, to realize that the other side of talking is listening. And listening is not an activity that involves only your ears. It begins in your heart, which must be fully open and receptive. Any restriction in the heart can weaken your hearing. In turn, when you cannot hear clearly, you suffer blocks from accessing your own voice.
So we will begin with a meditation for relaxing the entire energetic portal, including your heart and lungs, throat and mouth, ears and mind. Place your hands on your heart chakra. Does it feel healthy, open, generous and receptive? Take three deep and slow breaths, feeling your heart beneath your hands the whole time. Your lungs and heart are intricately connected, and so each breath is a mini-healing session for your heart. Feel this healing occur as you continue to breathe, and when you are ready, shift your energy to your throat. Imagine a narrow tunnel within your throat becoming wider and rounder. Feel blue and clear air stream through your throat freely. If you have any trouble here, return to your heart, press upon it with your hands, send it love, breathe into it so it opens, and then re-begin, climbing to your throat chakra again.
Once your heart and lungs and throat feel relaxed and open, then let the area around your ears soften. Relax your jaw and temples. Relax your cheek bones and your tongue. Inhale, exhale; inhale, exhale. Keep breathing and relaxing until you feel that all of you is an open channel from your heart through your throat all the way to your face.
Most people work so hard to say and write things that feel important. Yet, for this moment, I want us to take a break free from these efforts. Rather than requiring energy, the following exercise for your fifth chakra is about receiving energy. So do your best to remain in this relaxed and open state as you take up your notebook and pen. Settle yourself comfortably, and then, all you have to do is…Listen. What do you hear? Your breath? The sighing of bus brakes outside your window? Your mother calling you, from the past or in the future? Sorrow? Excitement? For seven minutes, write your answer.
Take a few breaths once you finish, and then, for the second part of this exercise, ask yourself: What do you hear beneath the sounds you just described in the first part of this exercise? Listen, listen. Breathe softly. Do you hear the ground beneath you rumbling with an ancient story? Do you hear a child from another country saying your name? What does your own future have to tell you right now? Close your eyes and open all of you to the whole world. When you feel ready, pick up your pen, and for seven minutes, write.
You have now entered the true writer’s trance, and voices destined to speak through you will find you. Keep breathing steadily and slowly while writing. Try not to move too much. You are medium, channeler, voice to the voiceless. Your words pour forth, waters from a spring, blue and clear and vital to all life. Write and write more. When you feel finished, make sure to take several minutes to rest in silence before doing any other activity. Drink a full glass of water if you can. Touch your throat and speak a blessing to your fifth chakra. Like a new mother, you have just opened yourself in the most raw and real way for new life to pass through. Be careful with it. Be careful with yourself.
Other ways to strengthen the fifth chakra of your writing spirit:
(1) Find a natural setting such as a park or riverside, and sit down to record all that you hear, from the water and wind to the more subtle sounds beneath the ground;
(2) Ask a friend to sit with you, knee to knee, on the ground, and write together on one shared subject; take turns to read aloud everything you wrote, paying as much attention to listening to each other as reading;
(3) Choose one of your favorite pieces of music, lay down flat on the floor or ground, and listen to it at least three times from beginning to end (or more if you want to!); write about all your enjoyed while listening;
(4) Write a letter to your angels; write a letter from them back to you.
Sarah Silbert lives and writes in Vermont. Her blog address is http://www.leftofpluto.com/