There is always a certain amount of grief in the falling of joyous tears.
They come with the meeting of that which we've bee longing for... for years.
In the discovery of this gratitude we also feel the pain of the separation of what was always right there.
A remembering of that which we have forgotten in the mind... but it is always available through the body.
In many cultures, tears conjure up a direct association to sadness, grief & pain. I have had many experiences - on my journey of allowing joy to come through - where tears would fall from a joyous moment however I then notice a sadness push through. Like in the witnessing of myself crying I judge my tears as sad as, after all, that's what happens when I'm sad, tears fall.
So, as you invite more opportunities for joy into your life know that tears will come. The startling truth that jolts us in moments of joyous insight or pleasure unleashes a dam and they will turn your eyes in to magnificent waterfalls.
They key is to keep your presence amongst the joyousness of the moment while still allowing the felt sense of the grief to fuel your sensations. They belong together... don't try to force them apart.
David Whyte says, in 'Apprentice to the arc of your Disappearance'; "One of the dynamics that holds us back from a courageous discipline application to the central conversation in our lives is the understanding that when you experience that joy, you'll also experience the full grief of its possible loss and passing."
"Just as when we get close to a son or a daughter and feel the untrammeled joy of that love we find ourselves holding back from the deepest levels of those affections because part of you asks yourself - 'if I felt my love and my affection at such a level what would i do if I lost it? And what would I do if I lost them?'. It would be almost too catastrophic to contemplate."
"So that one of the underlying obstacles that remains between us and the life we want for ourselves is the possibility of actually living that life and of wondering who you would be and how you could bear it if you then had to give it away, if you then lost it."
"There is a way in which we hold our talents inside ourselves in a kind of private cradling, not letting them out into the world. Understanding that once we have actually hazarded ourselves in the eyes of others, in the real social world that those hidden private cradlings will in effect go through a kind of death and be transformed by the very people we're actually trying to help with them, to transform, to impress. To simply be seen in their company that every creative act is indeed a form of meeting with its own demise and a breaking open into something much larger."
So the next time you feel your tears of joy rolling down your cheek welcome too the drops of grief falling away. Tears of joy are from a life well lived. The joy opens the portal and the grief falls through. They are lovers who come into union when we are shamelessly alive.
“The philosopher George Herbert Mead believed that words have visceral components. We feel in our guts what we say. Even if we consciously use one meaning for a word, our bodies react to all of its meanings. This corresponds to what Hindus mean when they speak about the vibration of a sound and how that vibration resonates within the whole body. Through our social interactions, we learn to feel some words differently than others. Are we speaking healing words or sickness words? We find out by listening to the stories we tell and perceiving their effects upon our bodies and upon our listeners.
Of course, if you don’t accept the oneness of mind and body, this idea is crazy. Nevertheless, I will point to emerging evidence from quantum physics to support my argument that we are all connected, that connectivity is fact, that separation is impossible, that doctor and patient become a treatment unit just like mind and body or word and illness… The stories we tell about our illnesses are actions upon the world that result in confirmation of the way we see things.
My goal is to tell healing stories, and to teach people who are telling sickness stories how to sing a different tune. In Coyote Wisdom, I ask readers to consider a different paradigm of health and disease than what is familiar…
This would change the way we practice medicine, psychology, and counselling. It would change the way we attempt to solve problems. If story and illness are connected like chicken and egg, then we cannot just diagnose the illness; we must also “diagnose” the story, meaning that we must understand the illness as something created through the mutual entanglements of relationship – entanglements of biology, culture, and spirit. Language is the vehicle for exploring these webs of connection.” (p.5)
“…We evolve through relationships. This idea is central to Cherokee and Lakota healing – the two cultures with which I have genetic connections. Healing involves restoration of a “right relationship”. I need to hear your story the story you tell about yourself and your illness, to know where you relationships are disturbed. The unfolding of the story provides the clues about where to restore balance and harmony.” (p.4)
“Through carefully listening to a person’s story about their illness (and the stories told by others in his or her community), we can begin to grasp the imbalances and disturbances of harmony that foster illness. Illness arises as a creative solution to problems created out of our imbalances and disharmonies. The illness can always be seen as a partially successful attempt at healing. We need to know what problems the illness has helped to solve and which still need to be addressed.
This “storied” approach to healing can also explain the so-called placebo effect. In this self-healing response, we share in the creation of a story to suggest how I can get well. The story may or not be grounded in biological science, but because we believe it to be true, it serves as a pivot point for changing the story I tell about my illness and its destiny. This approach can make both conventional medicine and alternative medicine adherents uncomfortable. Their structuralist culture seeks specific answers that apply uniformly to everyone. “Mercury is bad. Everyone needs mercury fillings removed. “Coffee prevents colon cancer.” “Vitamins are bad for cancer patients. They make the cancer grow.” “Macrobiotics will cure cancer.” “Everyone needs cholesterol-lowering drugs.” “Meat is bad.” “Carbohydrates are bad.” “Take Prozac.” “Drink spring water.” “Go get a bee sting.” A recent article in Scientific American concluded that the only certainty about medical recommendations to prevent heart disease is that they change every two years.
The storied approach to healing makes the radical hypotheses that no pure biological facts exist. Biological investigations without specification of the subject’s beliefs (revealed through the stories they tell about themselves), family constellation (revealed through the stories family members tell about each other and the family), culture (revealed through the recurring themes or stores everyone hears – the so called pop culture of the modern world), and spirituality (revealed through the religious stories people hear and repeat) are incomplete and prone to inaccuracy.
This does not mean that clinical trials will not reveal biological trends, given sufficiently large numbers of subjects, but it does suggest that even these trends flow with the flux of culture. It suggests that medical treatment as we conceptualise it may be ineffective because of our lack of grounding in these larger contexts. Herein lies the essence of what I am calling narrative medicine (or “Coyote Wisdom”) – that biology is embedded in larger hierarchies; families, communities, cultures, and historical time periods. Biology cannot be studied apart from the context in which it is embedded.
Modern philosophers are coming to similar conclusions. Wittgenstein, for example, began his career believing that language would lead us to the truth. He ended his career believing that meaning relies on how people use language with one another and is anchored in human communication and evaluation. He came to understand that there is more than one correct way to understand and communicate, that understanding cannot be pre-mapped in a one-size-fits-all manner from which we can assess the accuracies of our communication and understanding. I suggest that similar implications hold for biological medicine – that our efforts to find one-treatment-fits-all-with-that-diagnosis are doomed to fail when we ignore the world in which biology is placed. We can discover that world only by hearing the stories of people who suffer, along with the stories told by their families, their cultures, and their religions. And that world is changed when we “contaminate” those stories with alternate stories suggesting other ways of interpreting and organising the same experiences to lead to different outcomes – healing, health, and spiritual well-being.
While it remains mysterious that telling stories can change physiology, scientific research is beginning to discover potential explanations for how this happens. Stories affect our states of mind, which are reflected in changes in the brain states. When we are happy, PET scans of the brain show patterns of regional blood flow different from when we are sad. These patterns of blood flow are different in states of joy compared with states of depression. The stories we tell ourselves inform us about how to perceive the world around us. They even tell us how to interpret our bodily sensations. Change the stories and perception changes. Changed perception means changed experience, and change in experience alters brain biology. Since the brain regulates everything in the body, including the immune system, the body changes when the brain changes. Here is the beginning of our understanding about how stories can have healing power.” (p.6-7)
Lewis Mehl-Madrona – from is book Coyote Wisdom
So I realised a couple of days ago that there is a part of me that wants to be owned… a part that wants to hear from my partner “you are mine…I want you and no one else.” Depending on your slant you may read this as romantic or you may see it as the inherent dis-ease that sits not only within me but in many women and men. It is both… and where this desire comes from is the BIG difference.
For me the awareness of this desire showed up in connection to my clear choice to be in an open style of relating and all that this brings up for me. There are many labels for this and for the purpose of this story I’ll simply go with non-monogamy as this is part of my story but this story extends way beyond my choices of relating... it is a story of the masculine and feminine energies that exist within us all.
As a friend pointed out to me, this desire can be part of the natural swing of these masculine and feminine energies. It is the masculines natural inclination to claim in the context of direction and purpose and the feminines to flow, to be receptive, to surrender. This can be the case however this desire I feel within me, this part that wants to be owned, feels like it comes from a deeper and slightly darker place. It is tainted with self sabotage, old patterns and societal conditioning.
I realise this urge as a dis-ease because a larger part of me squirms when I see this part that wants ownership… possession. “I am a strong independent woman who chooses her own path… no one owns me!!!!” I scream. Well yes but not entirely true I’ve discovered!! I have let myself be owned in so many ways that I was unaware of and discovering this… discovering that as an adult I have still been subconsciously choosing this is both scary and amazingly liberating. As with this awareness I now have the power to choose differently. Phew… now the question is “How do I do this and walk even more firmly upon my path?”
You see, once upon at time there was a little girl who so wanted to be loved by man that she bowed her head and obeyed. Her voice became small and she did what she was told. She gave herself over for love. She let go of her voice for love. She gave her body… tremoring… for love. She walked along a path that she didn’t carve… for love. She gave her sex… without question… for love.
I allowed myself to be claimed in many ways… for love.
Back then, as that little girl, I wasn’t even aware of what I was doing. I didn’t sit and ask as a 3year old if this was mine to give away. I didn’t question at age 8 “do I want to be quiet?” I didn’t take a moment to reflect at age 14 on “do I want to put my hand there where he’s telling me to?” “does it feel right for me to allow him in?” I wasn’t even part of the equation and tears of sadness well up in me as I see and own this as part of my experience.
I was all about pleasing him, serving him, unconsciously allowing myself (choosing perhaps??) to be owned by him.
It simply was the natural thing to do to be claimed. No one showed me any different. No girls or woman were claiming their space… their own bodies… this must be what you do… right? All around me I experienced men making demands and women bowing their heads whispering a passive “yes”. This part of me learned that to ‘have’ the masculine in my life I had to be ‘had’.
So here I am now at the age of 41 with an awareness of a part of me that still feels that desire to be owned… claimed. It is still there as I have not until now been fully able to look it in the face. It was ingrained in me at such a young age that it has become a part of me that feels familiar and has created a (false sense of) safety in my life that I had no idea was there… until now.
As for now I (begrudgingly) can see and own that part of me completely. I have seen parts of her but not all. I have had the ‘ah ha” moment… the ‘oh my god I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to realise this’ moment… the ‘shit!!! I have to own this too’ reflection… and from this place of awareness I can choose to release myself from this. And in releasing myself from this I release all men in my life from meeting me there.
In realising this I also realise the irony of it all – that in my desire to be possessed and owned in order to feel loved and safe I am actually perpetuating a much deeper pain; the pain of staying small, the pain that quietens my voice, feeds my unworthiness and sees me falling in as I curl up in a ball over and over again… rolling with it!!
This is one of the painful dances of the wounded masculine and feminine. The dance of unhealthy possession… as there is a healthy and light side to all of this too. It is also a story of how these wounds can be healed by the willingness to really listen to all parts of ourselves and how this dance can shift from a fumbling to a flow when we listen to what speaks to us right NOW!
Right now I believe I have been able to see this as right now I am a woman who is willing to look and I journey with men and women who are willing to see. In particular I am dancing intimately with a man that I can openly talk with about this part of me; a man who can hear this story without thinking or feeling less of me. To the contrary a man who loves that I am willing to look at and own all of these parts of me and who is willing to journey these with me.
A man who can hear my question “if I have this part that needs to be owned then what in you my love needs to own in order to meet me there?” and is willing to look within himself knowing that it takes two to tango.
A man who is willing to dig with me, through the soil, the broken glass, the rubble, through to the roots of this dis-ease and to turn these old patterns into compost where healthy seeds may be sewn.
Seeds that are grown from the healthy feminine soil rising towards a nourishing masculine sun… Seeds that see me consciously choosing to surrender deeply into the masculine… to be taken by the men in my life from the place of a full and bold “YES… take me!”… and not before I have fallen deeply into myself through my own expansion and growth. Not because I need to hide parts of myself… because I want to show all of myself.
I want to be taken from a place of mutual consent with a smile of joy and delight on my face.
I don’t want to be owned from a part of me that feels unworthy and needs to hear the words “you’re mine”. And so, this is my new declaration:
“I choose to claim myself…. All of myself as worthy and loveable and to hear his “I want you” because he sees my amazingness.” I can still ask to be held, ask for open arms to fall into as I choose to own and heal and accept and love and claim and adore myself….
And I leave you with this question:
“How do you allow yourself to be claimed and how can you reclaim yourself?
With love and gratitude…
PS. This story is from the perspective of the feminine – the masculine has his own experience of being claimed and feeling owned… As a woman I feel this is not my story to tell but it is certainly one to be told….
It’s easy for personal growth teachers to say, “Be open.” Be open to what life is dishing out for you. Be open to the pain. Be open to what’s possible. Be open to other ways of seeing things.
It sounds easy. But it can feel impossible. In the face of pain, or subtle fear, or the disorientation that change can bring, being open is anything but easy.
Openness is not a passive exercise. You actually have to “do” openness.
(Excerpt from Danielle LaPorte's new article titled "A few thoughts & actions that will help you open up more." click on the title for a link to the full article
When I was first introduced to the concept of Sandtray Therapy I noticed an inner giggle appear at the thought of learning anything about myself from “playing in sand with little toys”. However the experience of anger and rage that came followed by wanting to pick up the tray and throw it out the window while experiencing this therapy as a client told me there was a lot more to this practice than I could have imagined…
My reaction lead me to seek out a Sandtray Therapist whom I saw almost every week for 1 year and now, 5 years later I am passionate about the simplicity and complexity of this work and offer it as part of my practice as a Holistic Counsellor.
As a kid I spent hrs in the sandpit that Dad built in our backyard. I am a single child and with no siblings to join me in the sand I really took myself into and became part of the worlds that I would create there. Today I can see some direct parallels and perhaps this is why I feel so connected to this work.
Sandtrays are a great medium for creating tangible and visible landscapes that appear from within our intangible sub/unconscious realms. Often we have felt senses of something that just doesn’t feel right or comfortable within us but can’t seem to put words to them in order to explore what they are.
In Sandtray Therapy I support you to connect firstly to your body and felt sense of what is moving within you and then invite you to simply place your hands in the sand and let them move without any preconceived thoughts of what you are creating. After an initial exploration of the ‘sandscape’ we then move to the objects/symbols/toys (as they have been called). These objects are simply symbols that mean different things for different people. Things such as feathers, leaves and stones, safety pins, pegs and thimbles to small figurines of Buddha, a cross, a baby or a married couple. Fences and doors that may symbolise barriers, boundaries, gateways to boats & cars possibly symbolising movement, journeys etc… the list is endless, anything that can hold a meaning for someone can be part of a Sandtray object collection. My collection feels very much alive and ever growing.
Once your Sandtray feels complete we then begin to delve into the story that is created in the tray. This story being a part of your inner world that you now have the ability to see, feel, experience and even move around and recreate. I will invite you into aspects of your Sandtray through open questions that prompt you to see your story from different perspectives; the perspectives of the parts of you that are represented in your tray. You may engage in dialogue with these parts, you may discover parts of yourself that have never met each other before or uncover old patterns and beliefs. At this point you have the opportunity to change your tray around, removing parts you no longer need creating more spaciousness, or you may choose new objects to be part of this story that will serve you from that point forward.
As with any form of art therapy, Sandtray work allows you to see parts of you visually and sensually to get to know yourself and your inner world. The advantage is that it is three-dimensional and tangible giving even more depth to your creative experience.
To take your own personal journey in the sand, give me a call to make an appointment or send me an e-mail with an enquiry via the Contacts page.
[Photos in this article are of actual trays I made as a client in 2008]