Monday, August 9, 2010

one way to manage existential sadness

Comments on the last post indicate that many of you can relate to the quiet presence of existential sadness.  We all carry this in some measure just by walking as a human on Planet Earth. 


Sadness, however, can be a seductive siren, tempting us to stay and build altars to our losses on her jagged shores.  While it is important to allow and honour our feelings as they emerge, it is also important to remember that feelings are not meant to engulf or imprison us - they are meant to flow through - always leading to the next feeling - and the next.  Keep your feelings in a state of flow (e-motion).  Letting go of one (when ready) makes room for the next. 


Don't erect an altar to your wounds, losses and sadness.  Acknowledge them, work through them, and use them as a signal to celebrate what is left to you.  While loved ones, status, wealth, reputation, work, etc. can fall away, we always have access to beauty.  We can always use beauty as a touchstone to remember who we are and what matters to us.  Use beauty to access gratitude and appreciation which are probably the feelings that most mirror an enlightened state of being.  Gratitude and appreciation are healing feelings.  They signal our cells that we love life.  Use the beauty that surrounds you to help heal a wounded or lonely heart. 

For more encouragement in this regard, I am including a quote from Nietzsche and wise words from John O'Donohue.  I hope you find them helpful.

 
Beauty triumphs over the suffering inherent in life.

~Nietzsche


"In the shadowlands of pain and despair we find slow, dark beauty.  The primeval conversation between darkness and beauty is not audible to the human ear and the threshold where they engage each other is not visible to the eye. Yet at the deepest core they seem to be at work with each other.....The luminous beauty of great art so often issues from the deepest, darkest wounding. 

We always seem to visualize a wound as a sore, a tear on the skin's surface.  The protective outer layer is broken and the sensitive interior is invaded and torn.  Perhaps there is another way to image a wound.  It is the place where the sealed surface that keeps the interior hidden is broken.  A wound is also, therefore, a breakage that lets in light and a sore place where much of the hidden pain of a body surfaces.....While the wound is open, new light flows into the helpless dark and the inner night of the body weeps through the wound.....It ruptures through the ordinary cover of words we put on things.....

Where woundedness can be refined into beauty a wonderful transfiguration takes place.  For instance, compassion is one of the most beautiful presences a person can bring to the world and most compassion is born from one's own woundedness."

(excerpted from Beauty: The Invisible Embrace by John O'Donohue, pp 179-180)





29 comments:

  1. nice. love your thoughts on this...particularly not creating an altar to your sadness...so true...

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm OK with the sadness. It's the saffron in my emotional soup bowl. Just a pinch, and everything else comes alive. Can't explain it, just know it's vital. It brings humilty to the joy, like a cello in an orchestra.
    Now I'm hungry, and want to listen to Yo-yo Ma....heh heh.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is a great post! I like the idea of allowing emotions to flow. I am sometimes constipated with feelings...

    ReplyDelete
  4. HI BONNIE

    the validation, hope and encouragement in this writing is astounding. I am truly grateful for your inspiring words and quotes here today. You have really helped me. "thank you"

    Love Gail
    peace and hope.....

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's such a journey of transformation from sorrow to compassion or creativity, or wherever you choose to go. But so empowering. . .

    ReplyDelete
  6. Keep your feelings in a state of flow...I like this way of moving beyond sadness.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Very nice post, Bonnie. Seeing, touching, experiencing, feeling those moments of beauty are so important.

    ReplyDelete
  8. you have well described my life's trajectory. Spread the good words, Healer Bonnie!


    Aloha from Waikiki :)

    Comfort Spiral

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love that Bonnie... "Don't erect an altar to you wounds, losses, and sadness." So many people get stuck doing just that. True words of wisdom.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You have elegantly presented life's most important lessons. Suffering may not be avoidable but it can be transforming if we allow it to be. There is great beauty here.

    ReplyDelete
  11. lakeviewer: Glad you appreciate them!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Brian: Yes, so easy to do - and then we begin to feel comfortable there and do all we can to maintain it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Kathryn: How beautifully expressed. It does add a flavour that heightens all the other notes. Thanks for that!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Missy: Come here any time for a colonic! :0)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Gail: Thank you. Then I am truly satisfied having made the effort.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Paul: Yes, as Missy inferred - it is must like our literal digestive tract. Emotions too must be digested, metabolized, used and let go. I think Brian had a post this week as well about emotional 'movements'! Sorry - extending the metaphor a bit too far for some tastes I'm sure.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Jingle: Well, practical anyway! :0)

    ReplyDelete
  18. becky: Yes - and don't you find that blogging keeps us aware of beauty of many kinds?

    ReplyDelete
  19. Cloudia: It's a team effort here in the virtual world - and I'm happy to be on your 'team'.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Jayne: Yes - I did a long time ago - and it was hard work to dismantle it.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm all too familiar with that subtle hint of sadness that hangs just below the consciousness. Every now and then I feel it. Every now and then I see it in the mirror. Every now and then I see it in her eyes.

    Whenever I feel it begin to invade my consciousness, I take a walk in the woods, or I just sit quietly and listen to my thoughts. Then I put them aside and go on. I've learned how to handle that part of it.

    But when I see it in her eyes? It breaks my heart every single time.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Bonnie, my dear, I can see why you would fear that your words could encourage sadness as a way of life, but I promise you, that I relish my existential sadness, I positively hug it to me, when the mood takes me. It is, in itself and by itself, a withdrawal and healing of wounds.

    There are also days when the joy of living, the beauty in nature, the kindness in people make me sing with pleasure and joy, and those days I also hug to myself.

    Then there are the dull, grey days, days almost of depression and darkness, those I do not relish, I wish them to go as fast as possible, but without them I probably would not be able to experience the other days as deeply.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Jeff: I have experienced those moments too, where you walk past a mirror and are surprised at the sad demeanor of your face ...

    Seeing our loved ones sad truly is harder than being sad ourselves. All we can do is continue to let them know they are loved and make room for them to express without fear of judgments.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Friko: You are so right - our sadness does serve a healing purpose. Grief happens by grieving - that produces the closing, albeit not elimination, of the wound.

    I think it is a sign of maturity, wholeness and health when we can embrace our moods whatever they may be - trusting that another mood will probably emerge tomorrow.

    I'm not surprised that you knew the purpose of this post - to make sure people don't take yesterday's post as encouragement to wallow in their sadness. I can never put anything past you!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Bonnie, I have just recommended this thoughtful post to my readers. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are always read and appreciated.

(I am grateful for all awards received. However, I ask that this be an "award-free zone" and meme-free zone. Thanks for understanding!)