Inviting in the Elements to Move Through Sorrow


The mood around The Town is pretty heavy right now. It's a mixture of the usual hustle & bustle of holiday festivities coming up, but in the background of tragedy. The Oakland Ghostship Fire happened near me. If I need to hop onto Bart or drive down to the highway, I have to see the streets that are blocked off for the investigation and watch the police and firefighters working tirelessly. And its overwhelming. The amount of sorrow that came to me on Saturday morning, the morning after the fire was also overwhelming. Because I saw the actual building, its remnants, the people, the police, the tents up. It sunk my heart to the ground. I can't image. Right now I can gratefully say, I'm only witness to this tragedy. I know I have friends out there who are directly mourning the losses and who did share moments in life and memories with these artists and activists. So this isn't "far" from me at all. It isn't far from anyone, really. In this time of deep sorrow and a season that brings us into a deeply compassionate place, how can we hold ourselves and our community through such a tragic event?

Honoring the human process of shock or grief or sadness is a needed step in the healing process. It's a critical acknowledgment of our human condition. We honor these by being present in these states as long as we need to be; individually, as a community, during vigils, etc. When it gets hard to be present is when we get interrupted, we're asked questions, or we need to go back to work, or we need to take care of this or that. It causes our healing to take longer. What can we do if we don't have full capacity to grieve and process wholly?

When I lead participants on healing hikes I invite in all the elements of Earth, air, fire, and water, by calling on the four directions that hold them, North, East, South, and West respectively. If you're not familiar with medicine wheels, these are the diagrams that show us the interconnectedness of our world. When we place ourselves in nature we are in direct sight and contact with these elements. Not to mention, in direct communication to them as well! So, an intentional healing hike is when I honor the directions, invite their elements in, and then begin the process of healing the individual while we walk in meditation. I've coached through grief at Lake Merritt, a very public and populated area in nature. And I've coached in the forest, deeply immersed into the redwood groves. As long as you are intentionally honoring the elements to be there for your healing you are honoring yourself through a process. And THAT creates transformation.

As you think about holding a space for yourself and/or community, try to remember  how these elements are here for you. Each direction holds something in our value for healing. When you cry you are actually inviting in the West; it holds the water that allows us to move through things and actually heal. The East is air and when we get overwhelmed we take a deep breath and sigh allowing newness to come in after darkness. The South is fire where we gain insight, understanding, and a strong heart. The North is Earth that holds the wisdom we need to keep grounded and on the wheel to bring us back to the East.

Grounding and interconnectedness is dependent on the world around us. The people you are surrounded by at any moment in your life, the places you find yourself experiencing...they all have influence and energy. Hold onto the components that bring you balance, light, and celebration even in the saddest of times. And remember the four directions and the elements they hold. You face each direction everyday and we are made of each of the elements they hold!