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For me there is something so exhausting in hoping that tomorrow things will 'get better'. Yes I can make decisions and exercise choice daily to create the life I long for. And, I'm so sick of the effort and energy that it takes to label today as 'imperfect' and the grasping of a time that may never come in the future. A sense that my nervous system and my body just want me to come home now!

My life has been sorely impacted by Coronavirus (like so many others), one might think that I have every right to focus on things getting 'better'. I can remember as a child waiting for that time, which never came no matter how much I begged 'god' to come to my rescue. I just don't want to live like that any more.


So I want to greet this moment and the flooding of life force through me in whatever form or shape it takes and to say yes to it, to trust it as my companion with thousands of life filled signals for me about how to live, how to love, how to be and how to contribute.




I have launched my Sense Of Life YouTube Channel and posted this video below, my conversation with an Aspen Tree. This tree has accompanied me through recent days of grief and loneliness, recent challenges, recent loves and recent celebrations, and my intention for sharing and creating it is as an offering of softness to you in the present and an act of gratitude to the tree, that her voice may be more widely received. It's a window into what I experience as the wisdom and beauty that is there for us in this world through the pathway of compassionate dialogue and on the threshold of 'not knowing'. This is the practice of the opening and re-sensitisng of the 'listening' apparatus that is our whole body and soul. An offering to address the 'Separation Sickness' of our times. The dialogue I speak of is a constant one with inner experience and reactivity and a deep listening to what life wants to share with us.


Please feel free to share this with someone you sense might be nourished by it.

And finally, I would like to offer here the latest blog post from Matt Licata whose words speak so clearly of the this kind of courageous opening. Boundary And Compassion.


With love,


Clare


(photos by me)

These magnificent translucent hawthorn berries adorned the path of my walk during a meet up with some cows and a bull a couple of days ago. The berries were silently being themselves, a gift to my eyes and I had the presence and permeability to allow their beauty enter my system. There was a time when I inhabited my body, my senses and my life differently and their beauty and presence would have been lost to me.

It is the path of grief that has opened my heart back out to the world. The path of softening into the tears, the constant tears that open me out to the world today in all it's beauty and all it's tragedy. The 5 Gates Of Grief, not as a 'process' to go through step by step, or as somewhere to 'get to' but as a way of breathing into life. The places we have not known love, The sorrows of the world, Ancestral Grief, Everything we love we will loose, What we expected and did not receive (ref: Francis Weller).

I experience each tear as some kind of medicine falling down my face and bringing with it a soothing calm across my cheek. It's as if each tear is packed with understanding, warmth and encouragement and embrace.


I teach a process of self-compassion which supports life when in the midst of charge, reactivity and traumatic response. I sense that it softens and resensitises me, (and I sense it does so for others who come to me for support) into a place in the present where breathing and being and belonging become tangible. Remember, today is all we have, tomorrow may not come, so what a gift it is to have a soft moment of breathing and allowing what's real today through the portal of our tears.


Tears are not welcomed in our culture and even shunned. Have other people ever asked you not to cry? I have often wondered if this is so often because they actually resonate with your tears and fear the waterfall waiting for them too?


I find being with others in this culture and in this current way of life so often painful. The longings that surge in me when I imagine what I long for in connection with humans; warmth, authenticity, transparency, dependability, are so often impossible to live out.


In your adulthood I pray that you may have even one person who can hold the bandwidth of what you would like to share and alongside that, that you yourself can become a holding place for all those lost dreams and painful places where you were not met with warmth.


I have spent time with groups who believe in shared tears and grief, they have been from many walks of life, working in war torn countries as health practitioners, witnessing the felling of ancient forests, seeing them ripped out. Such people have been in my circle, we have wept together, sung together and apologised to the earth together and offered her our healing tears and our voices in song and individual languages as a gift of gratitude to her for still being here with us and supporting us.


So be glad that you can cry a tear today, today is all you have, let the tears soften you into connection with whoever is near you, animal or human or plant, rock or water, know that the tears speak of only one thing: the interconnectedness of our needs, the universality of our longings and our hunger for love.


To end this sharing I want to offer a 'dialogue' I had with my father after these many years of walking with compassionate practices and language. I offer this particularly for anyone who may have been physically violent to another creature or person, may it reach you with warmth and understanding. My father physically attacked my mother, remembering now when we little ones tried to rescue her but he blocked the door, we couldn't reach her, all we could do was scream for help, it never came. I wrote this recently after some time spent

quietly in nature:


Dear Dad, what's wrong? What are you feeling? What are you sensing inside you? What is this terrible fierce pain in your body, in your heart, that is so unbearable? Is it that you feel like you are going to die and that if you don't express your pain somehow, somewhere, you will die? Are you feeling so desperate, wondering if you will ever be free of the pain? Is this pain so absolutely unbearable for you to hold and sustain in this present moment that it must find expression! Are you imagining that if you can let it out, make it visible, that others might see it and maybe be able to help you? And that if you can express it, others might feel it too and finally you will get a sense that you are seen, heard and understood? Does this pain in your body and your being create a panic and urgency, a blindness to all other beings around you? Such a sense of desperation that unless you take action you will no longer exist?


And finally I wonder about the nature of love human to human. For me, once I have loved, it is not a current that 'stops'. Sometimes I wish it did, that life would be easier, but I guess we are not in this life flow to experience only ease, but to sense the fullness of life. And so the flow of love I felt as a little girl for my father lives on in me, I hope he can sense it wherever he is (he died some years ago), and I sense his beauty and longings in me and sense his call in my work and in every choice I make about how I show up in the world.


With love to you who might read this, may it warm and support your heart and your capacity to lean into your life's longings.


Clare











Updated: Sep 19

How does a little girl who witnessed domestic violence, who's body shook uncontrollably with fear whether watching her father physically attack her mother or lying in bed with hypervigilence waiting for a drunken father to put the key in the door (as I describe this the cells in my body say hello, tremble with the memory and thank me for re-membering and inviting them back into a warm belonging) EVER imagine that life is in any way safe and can be allowed to flow of it's own accord? And so I learnt to control my breathing so it wasn't too loud, I learnt to pretend to be asleep in case he came into the room to caress my head, which he sometimes did when he was drunk (sensing the love now that he could only access when numbed by alcohol). Yes I learnt to live through the portal of control for fear of consequences as a child. That same lens is with me daily, except now it has become a system of messages and alerts, the flashing lights on the dashboard to invite me to cultivate self compassion, a 'no wonder' state that explains so much and brings so much softness, love and life.


Ungripping into the flow of life...

Gracefully moving from noticing the controlling and gripping, waiting for life to 'get better', outer circumstances to be different, waiting for the emotional pain to go away in search of happiness - towards a compassionate receiving of the signals from what Matt Licata calls 'a holy limbic system'. And so I am learning to create a holding container within myself which provides a spaciousness, a place of allowing life to impact me, saying YES! to life. A place that brings choice and agency.


Weaving A Thread Of Compassion

This process of ungripping can feel life threatening as you re-enter and experience these sensations. They are the very tide you may have kept at bay for fear of annihilation. This process feels counter intuitive from the get go. In my experience, the warmth of compassionate presence, particularly when naming what we are longing for which floods the felt sense with validation, creates a connected thread to that time so that a homecoming in the present moment can take place. Not through the practice of 'discharge' but through the practice of 'feeling'. Thus arrives a moment of being lovingly held by things that we cannot fully name or identify. (Though I have a sneaking suspicion the grace of trees have something to offer. I feel their presence like a blessing to my nervous system. And my friends the ducks at the garden centre where I have breakfast and work, the little noises and scuffles and bathing and resting bring so much joy to me.) And so these moments upon moments accumulate until they interconnect more and more and bring wellbeing and agency. A continuous compassionate thread.


My workshops are a blend of sharing practices that allow this homecoming process to take place and learning the compassionate language established by Marshall Rosenberg to support agency in our lives. Compassionate Communication (NVC) is a mindfulness practice of attending to the way we use language -- not just in speaking, but in how we listen, the meaning we make of our own experience and of what people say, especially when they express pain and blame.  My intention is to support you in building the life you long for according to your values, one conversation at a time, one day at a time, for that is all that is allocated to us.


Book your place on the September Workshop here.


Clare O'Sullivan


September 2020