Join me this month for a meditation and practice to engage your inner resources as a support for recognizing and processing a difficult memory or emotion. This meditation comes from Resma Menaken’s My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies. If you enjoy it and are looking for resources for embodied practices in anti-racism advocacy and other forms of justice work, I highly recommend the book.
|Grieving and Grace|
Two weeks ago, I finished moving into my new office. Not only did my body feel a release from having a private space large enough to keep physical distance, my body felt alive. I could even tote boxes of books from my car into the office (Thank you physical therapy for helping me strengthen my injured knee!) It was seamless.Until that night, when my knee swelled up. “How could something as simple as carrying boxes of books cause such a fierce reaction in my knee?”, I wondered. The rule-following part of me chimed in—”You’ve been doing everything right. Everything they said to do.”The part of me that I call Negative Nelly retorted, “See! Nothing ever works out!”My productive and people-pleasing mind came to the rescue, shushing these two parts and encouraged me to keep on keeping on. It’s ok….you’ve got this. You’re ok… (She’s really good at faux compassion)In rule-following fashion, I kept doing my exercises while pushing through the pain. As I pushed through the pain for a couple of days, my desire and ability to meditate lessened and I couldn’t figure out why.Then, my physical therapist invited me to consider resting my knee. Perhaps my body—with its swelling and pain—wanted me to slow down and rest. The next morning in meditation, my body not only released and breathed deeper than it had in months, it also filled with the deep water of grief. Grief and sorrow over my own difficulty being with and honoring my own body. Grief and sorrow at so much loss, so much tragedy, and frankly witnessing so much hatred and contempt. It felt as if my body had been carrying all of this — It’s no wonder my knee swelled.In that moment I thought of Tara Brach, therapist, meditation and yoga instructor. Tara’s words about self-compassion resourced my mind and body. As I had the awareness of the emotional and physical ache, I recognized how my helpful, managing parts, try to avoid or fix the pain…and how I judge myself for not being better. Tara’s teachings on self-compassion helped me shift my awareness and judgement to awareness and acceptance.Tara teaches and practices RAIN. Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture. This is how I engaged my parts. I recognized their thoughts and feelings and allowed them. Then I investigated with kind curiosity. Oh my goodness, my Self noticed, of course these parts are activated; and of course this hurts so much. From this place I could not only accept where I was and how I felt, I could also move into action in a way that was nurturing to myself and my parts. In this sense, Tara’s RAIN provided a gentle framework to help me move from awareness into acceptance and then action.
For me this process creates an infinity loop of energy with grief and grace. As I slow to honor and name the places of grief and loss, grace shifts how I engage myself and with others. It softens the harder edges. If you find yourself feeling caught in cycles of Self or Other, Blame or Self, or Other Judgement, I invite you to consider shifting your awareness with RAIN. As you do, may the gentle wash of grace support you as you recognize, allow, investigate, and nurture yourself.
Perhaps you have heard of the concept of picking a word for the year. This year one of my words is Appreciation. In the midst of 2020, having appreciation and gratitude has also been a resource. This month I am sincerely grateful for the work of therapists providing support and sessions across the nation right now. Many have added sliding scales or free sessions to assist people. One non-profit in Philadelphia, PA is called Black Men Heal. Their mission is to provide mental health treatment, psychoeducation, and community resources to men of color. They achieve this mission by providing men of color with clinicians of color. In gratitude for their work, Well Counseling and Consulting Services is donating 10% of profits for the month of February Black Men Heal. If you are interested in learning more, know someone who would benefit from their services, or would simply like to check them out, go to their website: