Take Time to Sit, Feel, and Breathe
March 24, 2021
Take Time to Sit, Feel, and Breathe
It is so strange to think about what I was doing a year ago today. Life was so different and has possibly changed forever for all of us. We all have experienced so much loss over the past year. We have lost our sense of safety. Grocery shopping became a challenge all its own. We have lost our comfort with greeting others with a hug or handshake. Many people have lost their jobs, along with the ability to put food on their tables and take care of themselves and loved ones. We have all lost the ability to safely share space, laughter, and conversation with our loved ones. Many people have temporarily lost their ability to do their job in the way they once did. Many no longer travel or get to socialize. Some people, especially parents, have lost personal or private time they may have had prior to the pandemic. Frontline workers have lost time with loved ones as they work tirelessly to care for their communities. In all of these changes, we have lost our sense of community. We no longer linger in the produce area at the store or talk to our neighbors. We rush in and rush out to lessen our time among unwelcome germs and dangers. Many of us have also lost hope and faith in our fellow human beings. Some of us have lost loved ones as well. At the time that I am writing, there have been over 2.6 million deaths to COVID-19 worldwide.
All of the above and more are real losses—and I believe that there are other losses that we have not begun to name. This pandemic is far from over, and the healing has just begun.
Stop! Pause Before Re-Entering Life Fully!
Yet, I keep hearing that people cannot wait until life goes back to normal. I hear this everywhere. I have even thought this myself. It’s as if we are putting our lives on hold while the pandemic is prevalent and we truly believe that life will begin again once we can move about and hug each other freely. Life has not stopped. Life is happening every day. It just looks vastly different from what we know. It’s almost as if while waiting for life to get back to normal, we are denying what is actually occurring. We are denying what is right in front of us. I can hear many of you through my computer saying, “That’s not true! I am very aware that life sucks right now! I am just looking forward to life returning to normal.”
Maybe it is just me, but I think we all have a gigantic amount of grieving to attend to. We have all had losses over the past year, and each and every loss carries grief. It can be a normal human reaction to get busy, find a new job, help your kids with their schoolwork, and get familiar with Zoom. In other words, it is common for humans to look away from the emotions calling out to us to be felt. We stay busy, and as a result, we also unintentionally avoid the emotions building up in our hearts and bodies. And the emotions are there. They are for me. They are for the people I know. I would assume that they are there for all of us.
Learn to Allow Your Emotions
The more we run away from our emotions (even if it’s unintentional), the more we are surviving and the less we are living. The less we are living, the more we forget that life is whatever is happening right now and the less grateful we are for that life.
Our emotions are not accessories to the human experience. Our emotions are a fundamental part of being human.
As Mark Nepo, spiritual writer and poet says, “If we don’t feel our feelings all the way through, they never leave us, and then we do all kinds of unusual things to get out from under them.”
I remember when now President Biden and Vice President Harris had a national memorial the evening before the inauguration. I was never more excited to sit and grieve in my entire life. My body was screaming to grieve! I am so grateful for that national moment. I cried. I mourned. It felt like a release.
Nepo also says, “Though we fear it, feeling our feelings is the only clear and direct way to free our hearts of pain.”
So, before we all run to embrace and throw ourselves back into what we perceive as life on the other side of the pandemic, stop for a moment. Do yourself a favor and take time (real, uninterrupted time) to feel your feelings. Don’t push them away. Sit with them. Allow them to fill you up. Allow your feelings to fully express themselves. This may seem scary, but trust me that you will be glad you took the time.
I am a firm believer that grief is a natural part of life. We are meant to grieve the loss of loved ones when they die. We are also meant to grieve the countless other losses that we experience by simply being alive. And yet, we as individuals choose whether or not we experience grief. I recently came upon this article, and it resonated deeply with me. I am grateful to the man who installed this piece of art. Additionally, I am happy that this phone is bringing so many solace and comfort.
I also wanted to share one of my favorite grieving rituals. Having grown up in the Jewish faith, I am familiar with lighting a yahrzeit candle. A yahrzeit candle is a memorial candle that is lit on the anniversary of a loved one’s death. There are special yahrzeit candles that can be purchased at grocery stores that last approximately 26 hours. This has been a very comforting ritual for me to remember my father. I always welcome this ritual and seeing the candle lit throughout the day. I have shared this with many people who are grieving the loss of a loved one and all have truly appreciated it.
Believe it or not, I have just discovered the singer-songwriter India Arie. Forgive me if you have been a fan for years. I am just thankful that I discovered her. Her voice, lyrics, and message are an incredible balm. Enjoy her song “I Am Light.”