NANCY G. SHAPIRO

FINDING CALM IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE

Being Part of the World

May 14, 2011

 

“You are definitely ready… to [plumb] the depths of your adoration for the privilege of being alive.”

— Rob Brezny

 

 

Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, floods, hurricanes, forest fires, and tornados. Wars, revolutions, violence and unspeakable things. Social, economic, and environmental collapse.

 

World events effect us deeply, a body-mind-spirit, triple whammy impact that we often don’t figure into the equation of how we feel or behave, or that simply escapes our awareness altogether. These events seep insidiously into our daily lives, leaving us susceptible to what psychotherapist and author Miriam Greenspan calls the dark emotions: grief, fear, and despair. In her 2003 article in Ode magazine, Healing Through the World’s Hurt she writes, “Our world, so full of beauty and wonder, is also a place of unthinkable terror, ecological devastation, and a baffling, overwhelming mass of ongoing collective sorrows…our inability, both individually and collectively, to mindfully tolerate our grief, fear, and despair—emotions that are continually triggered in an age of global threat—is a crucial source of what ails us.” Eight years later, her statements are exponentially more potent.

 

As foreboding as those words sound, the dark emotions so easily aroused these days can be transformed, healing and enriching our lives in ways we can not imagine while in their grip. Grief into joy. Fear into gratefulness. Despair into faith.

 

Not in one day— it is after all, a heroine’s and hero’s journey, full of all the vicissitudes of a human life. Yet it is possible. Having felt for myself the onerous weight of all three emotions, and subsequently, after much journeying, known the immense relief and freedom as that weight, transformed, slipped from my shoulders, I’ve also been honored to witness clients, friends, and family accomplish the same, seemingly Herculean feat. I repeat the transformation again…

 

Grief into joy. Fear into gratefulness. Despair into faith.

 

If these words so move you, it may be the time to begin your own journey, to embrace your emotions, the events of your life and of the world of which you are a part. Because you are not separate from anything that happens here on the planet. Hold them all close to your heart. Feel what it takes to live here, in this moment. Breathe. And breathe again. Feel the incredible privilege that Rob Brezny speaks of—this breathing in and out. In and out. In and out. 

 

Borrowing Oprah’s closing statement in her magazine—This I Know For Sure—this is what I’ve come to know; not think, not feel, but know for sure in my very cells. All the seemingly disparate pieces of one’s life relate to each other. This one life is linked to the lives of others. These lives make up the human community. Humans are intricately connected to, and an integral part of the natural world, all sentient beings. Pull one thread, anywhere, and the entire woven fabric of experience and circumstance shimmers and shakes. 

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