It’s 22 March, 2022. I’m currently “doing” my third round of “30 Days IN the Power of Gratitude” with Kevin Monroe. This is powerful stuff…. Each day is an investment of 7-8 minutes – unless I’m feeling wordy of course! And currently I’m coming out of, what feels like, A Dark Night of the Soul… Layers and layers of Grief lifting… It’s not a long one, thankfully. Simply a good few weeks – 6 weeks or so. Though, sitting within it, I felt fear that it would stretch on beyond and forever…
I’m familiar with Dark Nights of the Soul. With the healing / mindfulness / work I’ve done over the last 20+ years, I know these Nights. – These waves of sinking into that darkness. The fertile soil that lies there. And the breakthroughs that come as a result of sinking into them and going through these. The Transformational energy of these. I rejoice when these come along – as hard as they might be sometimes. Because I KNOW from so many studies, reading and pure experiences that these are simply part of the process. The healing journey. The pilgrimage if you like, into deeper connection, more soul-ful living. More Joy. More.
Last Year, I did the Thanksgiving Round of “30 Days IN the Power of Gratitude”. I think it was the first day that my heart shattered? Certainly, the first week. Sitting with the FEELING of Gratitude, still shy, not knowing Kevin, or the people in the challenge, I worried about how much to share… But, “Feck it, this is me….” So I shared. The outpouring of Grief and Joy and Gratitude that was surging through me. How my heart just cracked open – and it hurt so damn much – and at the same time, there was so much joy with it, -so much rejoicing and experiencing of love within that cracking… So damn grateful for the opportunity, for the experience, for the outpouring, for the space to simply – Shift. And the words bubbled through me…
That was my first round of doing this challenge. (It’s fun, I promise!) Looking back now, it feels to me like it was the “Fire” round. That first, fast, breakthrough – and the deeper shift into greater joy, greater connection, greater love. More love. More me. More opportunity. More connection with life and living it…. Whew. It felt good! Great! And this amazing sense of community….
I could have stopped there. I am so grateful I didn’t.
In January, I did the second round. I was wary – I know that often, late January and into February is a tough time of the year for me. I miss the light and the sunshine… I crave it. And I tend to hide away. I was worried about if I would be able to cope with honouring the commitment of doing the challenge. Not to meet anyone else’s expectations – purely my own. When I felt into the idea of doing it, it felt like it would be an opportunity for wings beneath me through a tough time. A deeper dive somehow, into a deeper layer of my own being. I didn’t tell Kevin this at the time. The focus of the space is not that of therapist / healer… It’s not that kind of space, although the action of doing and experiencing it results in deep shifts, and even a deep sense of community…. I knew I could have, at any moment in time. I knew I could message at any moment to ask for more support, to ask for an ear… I also simply felt overwhelmed with busy-ness of life in the day to day and didn’t think of reaching out to ask. Because I would have struggled to fit that time in, in amongst all the doing going on daily.
I struggled with the round. Missing days. Reading other’s comments, but struggling to add my bit in. Grief surged up and through me. And, I held back from feeling deeply into that cracking…. I could feel the wave of that energy – but there was too much depth. I was scared to let go into it, worried that if I fell into the grief of it too deeply, it was a bad time of year for me for finding my way out. I made excuses…. I felt out of my depth and didn’t experience that “cracking open”. Or maybe, I was able to let go into bits of that crack – but not the deep healing crack where everything gets transformed which I remembered from the previous one. It felt like I was balancing on the edge of a wave, yearning for that shift – that crashing wave – and not quiet committing to going over the edge… To riding that wave of shift, transformation and joy that comes with going over the edge… (If you’re a surfer, or have spent time on the ocean that image might really resonate with you! ) I couldn’t quite catch my breath, could feel the tension building up within my body… Survival mode perhaps with too much adrenalin, and not making the time to feel into it all. I could see it, knew I should. But, was too afraid to let go into it… Still, the practise of doing the challenge – I was so grateful. It felt like both an anchor holding me steady, and a sense of a pair of strong, supportive wings, or arms holding my head above water… Preventing me from sinking or being washed away.
The third round – this one which I am doing now – started the week of my birthday. I was still struggling with the February blues. Struggling with the lack of light, with unpaid bills, with a sense of feeling so isolated and alone… I knew I needed to make changes, but couldn’t get a clear sense of how, or where. Kevin wrote to me, asking if I was joining… And I leaped. And decided I would. There was that pull in my belly, a sense of a deepening, somehow, somewhere…. Even though my head was judging me for not participating “enough” in the previous round.
Going deeper into the gratitude this March round, I am finding that my heart shares space with grief. It is not one or the other. There is no sense of overwhelm, no sense of one or the other. Simply a noticing that there is space for both emotions. Sometimes even at the same time. No judgement. Just grief – no “real” reason. And then my heart cracks, falls apart, falls open – and gets bigger…. There is more space within me. For love, for joy. For grief. Making more space for grief AND love at the same time. The more I let myself sit with gratitude, the more space there is for the grief…. This feels like such old grief which I couldn’t make space or time for at the time, because of the circumstances. Being in Survival mode. Being a child. Being a teenager and simply not having the space, the time or the understanding – internal or external for dealing with the grief which was surging through me at that time…. The old old grief of a trauma experienced in my twenties. The grief of a friend berating me for not having shared that story of the trauma – they would have “taken on the person who did that” – which is why I didn’t share back then. The grief of precious relationships ending – that teenage love who walked away, and that lover in my twenties who I walked away from… The grief of the relationship with my child’s father ending for healthy reasons for all of us. The grief of being alone as a single parent. The grief of the challenges of a long distance lover…. The grief of the isolation of CV19, and the war, and racism… Grief that I felt which I had no label for, or could give a sense of place to. Just grief. And being ok with that. Finding that there was space within my heart for sitting with the grief, wherever it came from. All these lists of old or ongoing grief – impacted grief layered up within my body… Which begin to melt as I let myself feel into more gratitude within this 30 Days Challenge…
And as I let myself feel into the gratitude – the grief emerges, my heart expands – there is space for both. The grief melts, and more gratitude emerges… And there is more space in my heart for more.
Looking back now, I am aware that for the last 6 weeks or so, during the “dark” months of February, it had felt that that wall of grief had been taller than the wall of gratitude. And yet that energy, that light of gratitude – the lists of gratitude that I still make – has been sitting there… Quietly holding space and shining at the foot of that grief wall…. Holding back the dark perhaps?
I’ve been a bit paralyzed with all that grief for a while. That is how it has felt. Unable to write, to express or reach out, to share…. I have felt mute within that grief. And within just grief.
Yet. I know that people love me, that there are people – friends – participants within the 30 Day challenge, and beyond, sitting there, holding the light within themselves – shining it into the space within themselves and around themselves. For themselves, and the for the space – the people around them. And knowing that, has helped me in sitting at the foot of that wall these last 6 weeks. Mute. Holding my hands to that small flame… I could reach out and ask… Yet, there has been a power to simply sitting with the grief. Without moving to fix or change it. Simply making space within my heart for it.
Last week, the grief started cracking. And that light grew brighter again. And I could feel my heart stretching and expanding…
In my imagination I could see and feel my heart stretching like a great, shaggy creature waking up out of a long, rejuvenating sleep in the dark. Waking up out of hibernation. That first deep stretch the body falls into after a particularly long sleep where all the bones and muscles and sinews just let go into absolute dreamless sleep. That stretch. Where the body is so refreshed again, even in the midst of that creaking stretch. That one which is a hollow backed dog head down shifting into cobra? That one. My dog gets it perfect every morning and I watch her with envy…. Sometimes I even copy her. Which she loves, coming in to rub under my chin as I stretch, causing me to dissolve into giggles with her…
Feeling my heart stretching again, I am aware the seasons are shifting. Equinox this weekend just past. The land awakening into equal light – dark hours. That balance between the two, beginning that stretch… Stretching towards those long days of Summer sunlight where, here on the edge of the Highlands in Scotland it seems the sun hardly goes down before it is back up again to greet the day again.
That wall of grief – last week I could see and feel those cracks in it. Spiderwebs splintering. Spreading out from where I knelt with my slow growing light at the foot of the wall. Over the last week, sinking into feeling gratitude, that wall has simply started melting. Feeding into my joy and my stretching heart. Nourishing it with the return from those fertile, dark weeks into a growing sense of expansion…
That Dark Night of the Soul sees dawn breaking through it. Slow. Gentle. Deeply nourishing…. And I am grateful for it.
I NEEDED those days of darkness and grief where I struggled, where I felt numb. All those layers of old grief – I can feel how they have shifted and rearranged within me. Those layers falling away, melting… And insights into who I am, where I am, why I am as a result of those old grieving memories bubbling up. Or just no memories, simply grief and the feeling of it within my body loosening and dissolving. Inspiration into the “more” now. I feel more. Looser, vulnerable. Able to feel more. And it feels goes. Soft and strong at the same time. I can feel more love within me. For myself and the world around me. For community. I feel more hopeful. More alive.
I can feel my heart stretching again. Expanding. Strengthening. Once again, my heart grows. Is growing. And I can let the grief dissolve from that wall, melting into a river flowing through me… The tears fall away, the old pain washes away… My rational mind doesn’t even try to define it as those tears fall – there is just the feeling of it. I don’t need to know what “it” is or where it comes from… Beyond that it is layers of grief washing away through the practise, feeling and expression of gratitude… Dissolving & releasing.
And I am so damn grateful.
For the presence of those tears, for the melting. For the wealth of friends in my life who simply go “Ah, grief dissolving, joy expanding, heart stretching… Ah yes.” And they simply smile, offer me a cuppa, or a quiet moment, or sit beside me with tears dripping off their own face. Not seeking to fix or heal, but willing to sit in the moment of feeling. With me, with themself. Stretching and expanding into it themselves. Feeling it. Whatever the “it” is in that moment. Breathing into the philosophy of “All your Emotions are Welcome”. And recognising that tears are a river that heal as grief melts, the heart expands and there is space for both within the moment…
I feel like an acorn cracking open. Bursting open with that first violent push of new growth. Roots spearing out and down, and leaves uncurling in the warming light…
And I am grateful for the practise of FEELING into my Gratitude.
If you are interested in joining one of these challenges – I would say “Yes”. Wholeheartedly. Yes. There is this most marvellous space where you meet yourself, witness others and are witnessed… Where you move into a practise of feeling your own gratitude. And can express it. Where you can be inspired with videos, shared practise, Kevin’s wisdom and his smile… And simply a space of holding and being held, and sharing gratitude, wins, gems, insights… So yea, here is me, giving Kevin’s work a plug! I believe, I KNOW within every fibre of my being that when any one of us can shift our focus into feeling and expressing gratitude, then our sense of connection, our sense of place, our sense of being – all of this shifts, grows, expands… There is such deep healing within this work! And this deep awareness of how, feeling & expressing gratitude supports us in creating the world we would want to live within, in the Future… So yea, take a look at Kevin’s work! There’s a link here to a free Gratitude Encounter run by him. Maybe I’ll see you in there? Or, in one of the 7 Days Exploration Gratitude or 30 Days In the Power of Gratitude? It’s not a big time commitment if that’s what you are worried about 7 -8mins a day…
I’m always happy and willing to share Gratitude with you and the World! Gratitude shared can feel bigger than gratitude experienced in isolation… And, there is a powerful sense of community, optimism and hope which springs from simply sharing gratitude. Who doesn’t need this in the current day and age…? Powerfully Transformative…. It makes me curious about what we can create in the world when we share a focus of Gratitude… Don’t simply take my word for it though. Come and have a play?!
For now, Wishing you Joy. I am grateful for you, for your Presence, on Planet Earth, at this Time, Now. Thank You.
I love, and value, the support I am gifted. I love how it frees me up to support others, plant trees, tickle the soil, nourish the soul – and how this opportunity of gifting and sharing creates networks of support, resilience – and basically, embedding more love.
I love how I can use what I am given, to give to others – and together, we can all shine and create more… Step by step, slowly slowly…
I’m busy working on a Patreon “thing” – learning how to do this, in amongst the chaos of washing dishes and mommying, and everything else. People keep asking me to. And there is so much I want to do – trees to plant, foraging, communities… A little goes a long way. You don’t have to, by any means. But it is always such a delight for me when someone does.
2 responses to “Grief and Gratitude Part 2”
WOW — what a gift! The bearing of your heart, the sharing of your soul.
I am so honored and humbled to be part of this journey…to share this journey WITH you…and you WITH me. I remember that first session you joined…when on the very first day, you wrote about your heart cracking open.
Of course, I had no idea of your journey, nor you mine.
I met (discovered and began leaning into) gratitude at a time of deep darkness and despair (a Dark Night of the Soul) — soon (17 April) will mark four years of that initial breaking and the beginning of a breakthrough. At that time, I had NO idea that doing so would lead to creating space for others to do the same. The gratitude work I do emerged organically and continues to emerge.
Reading your journey is inspiring, nourishing, and fulfilling. When our sorrow and suffering helps others navigate their sorrow and suffering — that’s redemption! It’s also identification and connection.
These words >> “And as I let myself feel into the gratitude – the grief emerges, my heart expands – there is space for both. The grief melts, and more gratitude emerges… And there is more space in my heart for more.”
The grief melts, and more gratitude emerges.
There is so much pain, sorrow, and suffering in the world now. So much grief has grown over these past 742 days of CV-19 and is now only exacerbated by 26 days of intense conflict in Ukraine.
As crazy and as counterintuitive as it may sound and seem — now is a perfect time to explore and embrace gratitude.
Thank you, Morag, for your kindness and courage…and, especially, for your love and friendship.
Thank you Morag for sharing your story with all of us and encouraging us to put forth the time and effort into healing trauma within ourselves so that we can move forward with more alignment and balance, peace and harmony in our lives.