March 15, 2011 – Tip #271

March 15, 2011 – Tip #271
March 16, 2011 Ann Weiser Cornell

"I'm feeling sad for all those people who are hurt."

That's what my friend Tina wrote to me this week, talking about the people suffering in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami last Friday. I knew what she meant, I was feeling an aching in my own heart.

Sometimes we wonder if it's OK to let ourselves feel the sadness from a big disaster. Maybe the feelings will be too big. Maybe they will open up other feelings: feeling powerless to help, or scared about something like that happening to our own self and family.

And sometimes we might forget that the process of Inner Relationship Focusing can bring comfort and empowerment with something like this – far away and very large – as well as for the smaller more immediate issues of our own lives.

So because my own heart is aching, I thought I would write to you this week about using IR Focusing to be with the feelings we have about huge far away events. Because they also touch us. Whether they are earthquakes in Sendai, Japan, or in Christchurch, New Zealand, or people fighting for freedom in Egypt or Libya… they touch each of us in a unique way, if we choose to let them in.

My own Focusing with my aching heart about the devastation in Japan

I start by pausing.

Focusing always begins with a pause. It's perhaps the most important, most crucial step of the process. I can't do Focusing unless I pause. And when I do, I realize that I have been carrying a feeling all day, a fullness in my throat is what it feels like right now. (I thought it was my heart but now I feel it in my throat. I have learned that that is OK. It comes where it comes.)

Until I paused, it was like I couldn't slow down. It was like I couldn't allow those feelings. At the edge of my awareness I had a thought like, "That's not about me. I can't be sad about that, I have to get on with my life."

Now I pause, I feel my body, I admit that I AM sad. I can't imagine what people must be going through, but whether or not I can imagine it, my eyes are filling with tears. I am making a space for that.

Now I am not fighting what I feel. I am not saying, "I can't be sad." I am sad. Something in me is sad.

I turn a compassionate tender attention toward the feeling welling in my throat. Now there's a tinge of a scared feeling coming. "Don't know what will happen…" it says. I let it know I hear it. I have an image like walls coming down. "We're in it together," something says. This is not just far away. This will touch me. There's a part of me that's scared, doesn't want to be touched. But another part of me is grateful. We're not separate. Maybe I'm not spending nights homeless in near-freezing weather, but I'm losing money. Why don't I at least give some of that money to disaster relief before it slips away. Yes. A deeper breath.

Now a longer pause. I don't know if you, my reader, will know what I mean. And I realize, you don't have to. What I want to show you is how this process works. You pause, you sense what is here for you now, you turn toward it with tenderness, and it makes steps of change. For each of us it will be different, and yet human. We are in it together, this life we share on this living planet.


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