Updated: Oct 28
"We should feel sorrow, but not sink under its oppression."
The cycle of grief.
As consistent as the seasons, as are the cycles of processing grief.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and while originally I wanted to draw some awareness to local domestic violence resources, current global events remind me that violence is prevalent everywhere.
The processing of grief after violent events, both personally and as a community, is a very real journey. A journey that swings the pendulum between experiences of suffering and moments of acceptance. Violence has lasting and profound effects on both the ones experiencing the it as well as those that have observed what others endure.
I think back to my personal experiences with violence, the reasons why I kept it hidden, why I was afraid to leave, how it has impacted my family, my friends, and the communities I was and am a part of.
When I zoom out away from my personal experiences to view the range of violence and human suffering across the globe, I remember there is nothing new under the sun. This doesn’t dismiss it, but it does help better understand the feelings so I don’t get stuck in the riptide between confusion, denial, anger, bargaining, and depression.
It is in the acceptance of our history where much wisdom can be found. Wisdom helps guide our next steps. This wisdom teaches us that if we pause and breathe, we can choose a mindful response that puts an end to the cycles of violence within ourselves and own lives.
The emotional cycle of grief has a spectrum that covers a multifaceted range of experience, as does violence. Violence could be the harsh glare one gives / receives, it could be a tone of voice, words said, energetic frequency delivered through what would be considered “normal” behavior (you know the feeling of needing to walk on eggshells around someone else), or it could be the physical manifestation of harm through violent behavior towards things or living beings.
Violence begins in the mind, hardens the heart, and makes excuses to grow like a cancer until it is born through patterns of behavior, creating a ripple effect of fear and suffering by those witnessing and experiencing the physical manifestation of this frequency.
Some might say it’s evil in the flesh.
With this in mind, it’s not too far fetched to say it’s spiritual warfare. We as spiritual beings know that all things spirit do not operate with the boundaries of space and time.
In this current age science provides data and evidence revealing that violence can be witnessed seen in the strands of our DNA. This means they can see DNA code that predisposes someone to be violent. It also means they can see how violence has impacted those who have endured by experience or witnessing it.
This is called epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of how your behaviors and environment can cause changes in how your genes work. It tells us that unlike genetic changes (mutations), epigenetic changes are reversible despite impacting how your body reads your DNA sequences.
How does this all relate?
In our current day and age the practice of mindfulness has become mainstream. Mindfulness stems from philosophies such as practicing non attachment, practicing exercising choice to live from a state of being “at cause” vs “in response.”
Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, touches on this in The Will to Meaning: Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy when he said people are “capable of resisting and braving even the worst conditions”. In doing such, a person can detach from situations and themselves, choose an attitude about themselves, and determine their own determinants, thus shaping their own character and becoming responsible for themselves.”
Let us lean more into our personal practices of going within and choosing to be responsible for our own personal responses. Let us each take the opportunity to do this this great work so we can reframe and reshape our expectations, experiences, and our relationship with reality.
For some of you reading, those practices might be very cerebral activities, whereas others reading might lean toward spiritual activities. Regardless of your personal experience, remember every thought, every word, and every action produces a frequency and a ripple effect through the community.
How might you personally take a mindful approach to handling experiencing or witnessing violence in our world?
One might consider the practices of ho hooponono meditation, meta / loving kindness meditation, and tonglen meditation.
If you’re a student of religions and philosophy, consider the life example and lessons taught by Jesus Christ of Nazareth or lean into your perferred spiritual or religious rituals and practices.
Whatever your chosen path, now is the time to do the work. Let us pray, let us breathe, let us lift up those who are suffering in an energetic collective embrace so we might all heal.
Once your heart is settled, choose your next action or set of actions that support growing a more peaceful environment and healing for those who need it. You are all powerful and able to do this great work. Together we can make change.