Step onto the Pathway of Sorrow, an introduction.

The Pathway of Sorrow

I resisted putting my feet on this Pathway. It felt too overwhelming. The path of Sorrow is about recognising the pain of our world and allowing ourselves to truly feel it. I didn't particularly relish the prospect.

Over the last few of months, though, the world seems to have turned even crazier than it was already.

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached 400ppm. The agreed maximum to prevent disastrous climate change is 350ppm. Still, our governments, and the corporations who influence their decisions, are hell bent on squeezing every last ounce of fossil fuel out of the earth. Both the extraction and the burning of these can only add to the climate change threat.

When people stand up to protest against these decisions, and against the power of corporations, it is clear whose side the police is on. Police forces in the western world are supposed to protect the people. Instead, we see them protecting corporate interests and kneeling on the heads of peaceful protesters.

Meanwhile, it has become clear that our governments are also spying extensively on our internet activity. Huge databases exist of our everyday e-mails, phone calls and interactions on social web sites. These can be statistically analysed to draw conclusions about people's political views and activities.

Despite promises at the turn of the millennium, global food poverty persists and is worsened by financiers speculating on food prices, artificially driving them up. The land that people rely on for their survival is degraded and destroyed by the greed for oil and by increasing extreme weather events caused by climate change. Species of plants and animals die out at an unprecedented rate.

I could go on about injustice done to the poor and disadvantaged in our own societies. Corporate media feed us lies about each other and many of us fall for them. Crimes against minorities increase as a consequence.

The madness of it all seems never ending. And we all feel small and inadequate in the face of so much suffering.

Do you feel it? Do you feel these realities in your body? Where does the reality of climate change hit you? What visceral feelings are conjured up when you watch police violence? Where in your body does injustice to people make itself known?


We need to feel our sorrow for the world. Image: wikimedia commons

We all feel this, at least to some degree. Many times, we try to run away from these feelings because we don't know what to do about them. We numb out, hide our heads in the sand, and choose to soothe the nagging thought that our lifestyles might actually be contributing to all of this.

Yet it is important for us to stay with these emotions, to fully become conscious of them. As humans, we are part of this world. Our self-aware brains and our capacity for awareness are part of the large ecosystem we live in. The feelings of threat and desperation conjured by the reality we face are messages from the greater Body of Earth. They tell us we need to wake up and take action.

This is what the Pathway of Sorrow is all about. It teaches us how to create safe space for us to feel these emotions, this pain for our world. Allowing ourselves to feel these things both motivates and heals us.

Holding on to negative emotions is not good for us. Habitually ignoring strong emotions just adds more pressure to our battered souls. Without fail, the negativity will leech out into our everyday lives. If we are to stand up against the encroaching darkness, we need to keep our souls healthy and resilient. We need to feel the signals of our emotions and then free ourselves of them.

Feeling and healing the sorrow

Just last week, my guiding spirits gave me a way to deal with these feelings, and to help heal the Earth. This is what they said:

First, you need to feel the pain of the world. Whatever it is that confronts you today, whether it's the threat of yet another war or the dangers of hydraulic fracking, feel it. Feel it wherever it manifests in your body. Just be with it for a while.

As you pay compassionate attention to this feeling, you may feel it gently dissipate, or start to flow through your body like a wave. Let the feeling flow any way it wants. Let it return to the Mother Earth, who turns all rubbish into fertile compost.

Now reach for an instance of beauty in the world. If you have walked at least a few steps on the Pathway of Love, you will have no trouble doing this. Bring to mind a source of awesome beauty that you are personally familiar with.

Fill yourself with that beauty. Fill the space that, just now, was occupied by the pain of the world. Be with the joy of being alive on this planet. When you feel full and strong, let that also flow out into the Earth and into the space around you. Let beauty and joy expand out into the world.

Of course, you can use this meditation to heal any kind of pain. Healing your own issues is just another way to heal the world. Remember: we are all part of the Whole. Whatever we do for just one being, we do for all existences.

Do you have practices that allow you to feel your pain for the world and bring healing? Please share them with us. Acknowledge your sources, but don't be shy to teach us what you know. We all need all the help we can get to keep our souls resilient and strong.

In my next few posts, I will develop four steps on the Pathway of Sorrow, each giving us more opportunities to listen deeply to the world and our souls' tears.

The four steps are:

  • Your body as a map of the world.
  • Gathering knowledge about issues that deeply touch you.
  • Letting your feelings lead you to the issues you are most passionate about.
  • Allowing emotion to express itself.

You can find the four steps on the Pathway of Love here.

This post owes much to the teachings and writings of Oriah Mountain Dreamer.