My sensory awareness group met today. As I settled into myself and felt the support of the floor and the chair, a tear came and rolled down my cheek. My throat felt tight and scratchy and I began to cough. Grief extended into my heart and down to my feet.
I shared that I was experiencing a visceral feeling of grief from my brother’s death on April 14th. I had hoped I’d moved on.
Later, a woman who’d just completed a workshop at Spirit Rock on death, dying and aging asked if I thought what I was feeling related “just” to my brother’s death. I knew that it was more than that. She suggested that my feelings related to impermanence.
I could feel how true that was.
Later we worked with flexibility using partly inflated balls. I felt my holding and inflexibility. I was trying to hold a stance of strength. I felt the work of holding back tears, what it does to my legs, neck, and spine.
What I learned today is that flexibility and impermanence relate and when I can honor the waves of both, float a little more openly on the natural movement I am, I can breathe, and tears may come, but in and through the tears there are waves, and released, I breathe, and am breathed.
Allowing immersion in impermanence, I hold both joy and sorrow, no dividing, and there I celebrate the wonder of being alive. Vitality is my wand and spring when I honor that impermanence is the ocean and land we share. There’s nothing to do and nowhere to go. I’m here.
I sit here now after a Zoom call with three close friends. The four of us spoke about and shared the weight and pain of grief.
I shared how on Tuesday I broke down when I bent to pet a little dog. Sobbing I told the man who held the leash that my son and his wife had just lost their little dog Velvet/Vellie.
I’m not one to cry in public and certainly not with a man simply walking by. What’s happening to me now? What is this weight that continues to break apart?
Anna led us today in Sensory Awareness. We began by moving from our elbow, allowing our elbow to lead. We then allowed the wrist to lead, the pinkie. As we moved the arm and shoulder blade, we felt into the back of our lungs, the front of our heart.
I felt how I hadn’t been breathing fully, had been holding onto my breath. We spoke of how there may be a place for that, a place to hold back, and as I sit here I think of how grief, all grief, touches us deeply within and asks us to pull apart as though removing a shirt. What is it to live with a full heart, open and exposed, beating, beating, beating, pounding the sound of breathing, connecting transition with love?
We agreed it may feel painful to allow the full pulse and weight of grief, but only those who do so are allowed to reach into the tangled thorns and bring forth the rose.
I look out now, allowing my eyes to open, flowers on a stalk, birthed and berthed, in the soil and soul of my heart.
I’ve been immersed in the practice of Sensory Awareness for over twenty-five years. I came to it when I was forty-three and knew immediately I was home. If you live in the San Francisco bay area, there’s a workshop coming up April 13 and 14. It offers an opportunity to taste more deeply and expansively this lovely world we share.
Here’s a photo of me and others touching a Gingko tree at Vallombrosa in Menlo Park. This year the workshop will be at the Shambhala Center in Berkeley to make it easier to access.
The practice of Sensory Awareness is a gift in my life.