Your body is a map of the world

The Pathway of Sorrow, part 1

Last week, I wrote about the challenges that face us in today’s world (climate change, impending war, social injustice, …) and how all of us feel those things in our bodies.

It is important to feel these emotions, as they are signals from the greater Body of Earth, the living ecosystem we are all part of. We need to take the time to be with these feelings and let them guide us.

But obviously, the sorrow that washes over us from the media are is not the only signal we feel in our bodies. We each have our own pains and sorrows, and they are part of the greater whole as much as anyone else’s. Even if our problems seem insignificant in comparison to the people who fill our news media, what we feel is still a signal, a warning sign that something needs attention.

Your pain may be physical or emotional. And there are practical ways to deal with either. You may rest your sprained ankle, or you may call a good friend when you need to talk. But one thing remains the same: don’t fight the pain.healingheart

When we fight what we feel, we only add to our stress and suffering. Our culture isn’t very good with pain. It does all it can to hide it and or fix it. Collectively, we spend enormous amounts of energy putting a brave face on things while agonising behind closed doors.

And as we fight our pain or work to ignore it, our negativity escapes into the world around us. We might snap at a colleague, or take it out on the people we love most.

We need to learn to do better. We need to learn to listen.

Because as we are part of the greater Body of Earth, what we feel is what She feels. When our body or our heart asks for our healing attention, the world is asking. In healing ourselves, we heal the Mother.

Giving yourself healing attention

Whatever the source of your sorrow, don’t fight it or ignore it. Just give it your gentle attention.

That tension between your shoulders. Just give it your full attention for a few minutes. Sit with it and breathe into it. Accept that it is there. Give yourself compassion for your discomfort. Hold yourself gently and breathe. Soon, you will feel yourself relax a little and the discomfort ease.

Do the same with a headache. Or your anger with your mother or sister. Or indeed your fear for the state of our world.

Don’t fight. Don’t ignore. Don’t push it away. Just be with it. Feel yourself soften to it. And as you soften, as you give yourself compassion, the compassion of the world grows.

If this practice works for you, you can extend your compassion to the people around you. The grumpy shop assistant is no different from you. Be with how her rudeness made you feel. Just breathe with it. Give yourself and her the gift of compassion.

Do let us know how you do with this practice. It isn’t new, so perhaps you have been doing this for a long time. What have you learned from it. All your insights are welcome. Use the comment box below.

Image: aussiegall

This post owes a debt to the writings of Oriah Mountain Dreamer.

Other resources
What does ‘listening to your body’ actually mean? Beginners’ instructions for getting familiar with the language of your body and its intelligence.

Accepting your feelings. A blog post showing the contrast between fighting and accepting your feelings.

Step-by-step body scan meditation. Clear instructions on how to be with your body’s sensations without fighting them.

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