I meditated at the beach recently and had a beautiful experience. Meditation is one of my greatest passions. 

As I sat there, I felt peaceful and open. Then I felt a wave of all the (minor and major) painful experiences that I went through in the past months. It was a little jarring to feel this. 

I opened my eyes and looked at the ocean. I watched the waves roll calmly and crash, calmly and crash, and repeat. It was a natural rhythm of the water and it was soothing. I felt how the ocean contains the cycles of the calm and the crash. 

I thought about that rhythm in myself and how it can be difficult to experience pain as easily as peace.

Then I wondered, why have I resisted so much pain throughout my life? For the first time, it seemed absurd to have fought against painful experiences instead of embracing them more. 

I looked at the rocks on the sand. A lot of them had holes in them. I felt like I could be a solid rock with holes - a whole person who is ok with pain.

I felt grateful and inspired by the beach around me.

A few days later, I was in the middle of a big fight with someone close to me. This led me to integrate the meditation into my daily life. The fight was so painful and I was so emotional during it. When it was over, I felt how embracing my pain means to feel it fully. When the ocean crashes it’s not silent. When the ocean crashes - it crashes. When I feel hurt, I’m going to feel hurt. I’m not going to keep quiet about it.

This feels right to me. It feels in alignment with the push and pull of the tides on the beach.

Personally and culturally, I’ve experienced a lot of repression and taboo around grief. Growing up, I stayed quiet about certain difficulties. My parents weren’t always present for emotional conversations and I didn’t have many people to reach out to. I think this is part of the reason for why I ended up traveling and exploring spiritual paths, and part of the reason for why I pursued psychology in school as well as the field of end of life care. 

It’s not like everyone you meet welcomes you into their lives saying, “Hey, let’s be friends. I’ll hold as much space in our relationship for the suffering you want to share together as for the happiness you want to share too.” People usually opt for the good times and reject the suffering because they still can’t hold space for their own pain, let alone another’s. 

Overall, I’m seeing more clearly how important it is to fully feel my pain and to share it when necessary. This acceptance is important because it’s an alchemy that transforms pain into something that’s ok. It’s important for pain to be ok. When it’s not ok, fear arises and from fear comes violence. 

Years ago, I sat with a teacher who said that, “grief is praise because it’s the natural way love honors what it misses.” This points to how a profound love of some kind is always buried within pain. When we’re hurting, our heart is trying to tell us what it loves. But when we’re not ok with pain, we reject that love and fear takes its place - then violence arises on small or larger scales. 

So many things in this culture go against honoring pain. I can write a whole thesis on that alone, but what I want to mainly share in this entry is how important it feels to acknowledge pain at the individual level, which ripples out into to our relationships and the world.

yourfiona - 14:59:48 | 2 comments

  1. Dan K.


    Fiona, I’m glad I found your blog. The views you have shared here, have shaken me to my core. Thank you.

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