It might not be a surprise that I have been reflecting on anger given last week’s disclosure of recent losses in my life. Anger is considered a normal reaction to loss and part of the ‘moving through’ process of grief. Anger is a territory that I don’t know well; certainly not like I know the terrain of anxiety and fear. My ongoing reaction to loss is always on the move, changing shape and form: sadness, anger, depression, despondency, resolve, sentimentality, fear…back to sadness again. I wouldn’t say I have a favourite, but there is something about the ‘sadness’ element that feels the cleanest (although incredibly painful).
And as I have explained, the practices of Ngondro seem to be magnifying the effects; and certainly the physical element of the practice is changing how I experience all the emotions in my body. It emphasises the waves, the intensity of each, and how it lands in a particular area of my body and ‘locks’ me. Each time the loss comes back in to my awareness during everyday life, I have been experiencing a “whoosh”, up my spine in to my neck and temples. I don’t see this at all as a bad thing. It feels it is exactly what I need to pay my respects to the experience(s) I am having. Each time I feel the ‘lock’, it gets witnessed, it gets room, it gets the much needed nurturing needed to transmute and move through. Equally, I don’t look forward to my morning alarm call right now - there is a palpable sense of apprehension: because it isn’t nice to feel all these things in such a concentrated way.
I am grateful that I have this practice to support the composting of this emotional experience…
I sit here in the early phase of bereavement. Just hours ago I found out a friend had died. It isn’t a shock - it’s been on the horizon since his cancer diagnosis nearly three years ago, and its turn toward a terminal condition some two years ago. On one level, I had been preparing. But, can we ever prepare for that final happening?
This loss comes soon after the death of my Auntie at Christmas. There have been other experiences of loss too - most of us go through loss on a near daily basis, even if it feels more like ‘change’ than ‘loss’. Changes in relationship, changes at work, changes in friendships. Just last week I also had the news that dear friends are moving away from the UK. More loss. Quite frankly I feel like I am amid a “boot camp” of loss and change.
On Saturday I was at the University helping behind the scenes as we got our CPD programme at Brighton up and running. Our inaugural event was led by Dr Greg Madison: a Chartered Psychologist and Registered existential Psychotherapist renowned in the UK (and indeed worldwide) for his work with Focusing. I’ve done a fair bit of training with Greg - and at one point I was making a decision between taking my interest in Focusing-orientated therapy deeper or stay on at Brighton to train in a more generic form of psychotherapy. It was actually interesting to reflect on that this weekend - if I hadn’t stayed on at Brighton to complete the MSc, maybe I wouldn’t have the job that had me on the campus that morning!.One’s life path is an interesting and curious creature!
Having practiced Focusing a fair bit myself, and having helped others use Focusing in therapy and through meditation classes, I am well versed in how beneficial it can be. Yet I found myself surprised when Greg took us through an initial Focusing session at the top of the morning. This past weekend I have had the opportunity for 3 days of intensive Ngondro - the practice I am now doing since becoming a student of Vajrayana Buddhism last autumn. By the time I arrived on campus for Greg’s event Saturday morning, I had already meditated for nearly two hours. When Greg invited us to turn inward, I assumed I already knew “how am I?” And this was an interesting thing to observe and play with once I noticed my assumptions…
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