About Grief, Clean Pain & Dirty Pain.
The morning of October 7th & the days that followed had a texture that we all unmistakably & viscerally recognized:
What used to be is no more.
In a snap, the time had reorganized around a new axis:
there will be, from that point on, a new “before” & a different “after.”
The magnitude of the impact was such that we all felt the earth shifting under our feet, no matter where in the world.
Something cracked open, carrying an urgency, a wake-up call, a tear in the fabric we wrap ourselves in & call reality, an imperative to confront things that many of us dare not to look at, exacerbating intense emotions, nausea, and Pain.
So much Pain.
Resmaa Menaken, author of My Grandmother’s Hands, talks about two kinds of Pain: Clean Pain & Dirty Pain.
I quote below directly from his book (pages 19 & 20).
“Clean Pain is what mends & can build capacity for growth.
It’s the Pain you experience when you know exactly what you need to say or do; when you really, really don’t want to say or do it.
When you step into the unknown anyway, with honesty & vulnerability.
Clean Pain hurts like hell.
Dirty Pain is the Pain of avoidance, blame & denial.
When people respond from their wounded parts, become cruel or violent, or physically or emotionally run away, they experience Dirty Pain.
They also create more of it for themselves & others.”
I must have read that part of the book one thousand times.
And every time it takes my breath away & I must pause.
And then, what does it leave me with?
What is there to do next with this understanding in order to not intellectualize spirituality & emotional work so I can “feel good” about grasping it and yet, not do anything with it, dissociating the process so it is, in reality, never connected to anything else beyond my belly button and therefore useless as we, humans, are only here to connect & every single on of our actions has reverberations.
And it leaves me every time with a renewed commitment to work daily on discerning from what place I move in the world.
Do my words & actions stem from Dirty or Clean Pain?
And if they are born from the murky place, I must then acknowledge it, understand it, apologize, correct, repair where I can & then carry on & try again to do whatever I ought to be doing in my life from a clean(ish) space.
I am well aware that I am schlepping inside the very system of oppression that is raging outside.
We all do.
None of us live in a vacuum.
None of us are perfect.
None of us have The Answer.
None of us can individually change much.
But collectively, we can.
And collectively, we must.
It is the imperative of our times.
For this reason, I am inviting you to the next round of Circles for Grief, in person or online (all details below & here).
Grief is Pain.
Pain is Grief.
How we metabolize it, deal with it, embody it, ignore it, weaponize it, dwell on it, tend to it, love it, or honor it informs so much of our actions in the world at large.
Originally designed to deal with so much unprocessed Pain from the ongoing pandemic, I am enlarging the theme, the umbrella for these circles to grief at large.
Through this collective embodied practice, we can strengthen our emotional capacity to withstand challenging times & weave back together our communities.
Because everyone has different ways of accessing their emotions, below you will find various options: in-person & remote, some including some talking, others not.
I hope to see you soon, in person at Maison May or online, so together we can hold each other, witness & evolve.
Details about all Circles for Grief
In-Person Circles for Grief
Every 1st Tuesday of the month in the Fall
5pm to 7.30pm
(Tuesday Oct 3 – Nov 7 – Dec 5)
In-person in NYC at Maison May
Virtual BreathWorks For Grief
Every 3rd Thursday of the month in the Fall
7.30pm to 9pm EST
(Oct 19 – Nov 16 – Dec 21)
Virtual on Zoom