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Eating the Grief of the World 7.09
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“Awakening isn’t a way of thinking differently; it is a change in orientation.” --Anne Hillman

“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” --Henry Miller

“As we come to know ourselves as part of the wider web of cosmic and biological evolution, our lives gain meaning and we begin to feel a new sense of enchantment and connection with the world.” -- Wesley Nisker

Eating the grief of the world. In the last few weeks this topic has come up so frequently, with friends and students, that it is time to address it!

In our interconnected world we are collectively confronted with more and more global grief – loss from war, from famine, from violence, from ecological, economic, and weather disasters. The range of our responses to each disaster is huge: compassion, fear, avoidance, desire to help, overwhelm, anger, despair, powerlessness. Our personal and collective responses create dense, heavy energy that is snowballing out of control, consuming us.

What To Do?

Making a practice of eating the dense, heavy energy—eating the grief and transforming it—is a heart-opening and consciousness-shifting process. It’s a process that’s addressed in some way by all the spiritual traditions of the world, back to the earliest indigenous cultures, through ceremony, meditation, and community building.

It is both a challenge and a gift to focus on transforming heavy energy into light energy. I have written of using this practice to transform personal heaviness many times. The same practice can be applied to collective heavy energy. Say you are in a meeting where downsizing and layoffs are being discussed. All those heavy energies are flying around the room, feeding the tension. Yet if one person can step into compassion, seeing the grief and loss that hide below the fear and anxiety; if one person can shift into that calm state of spacious awareness; if one person can align with his or her inner radiance, then the energy of the meeting can begin to shift. The issues and difficult decisions remain; and the collective energy moves to “lighter,” gentler, more grounded awareness.

A Calling?

If you are what Myron Eshowsky calls the “Just Ones,”—those ordinary people whose hearts take them into the sorrows and heaviness of the world to transform and transmute—it is really helpful to develop your skills in shifting energy. If you are not, it is still important to know about this work and reflect on how to use it in your personal life. Developing tools for keeping ourselves in balance, keeping ourselves healthy, and transmuting toxins is really necessary: we are no help to anyone when we get stuck or muddled in our own heavy energies!

Shadow and light are intimately entwined. While we are all affected by cultural, religious, and political tendencies to dichotomize -- making the shadow into the “Other,” the “Terrorist,” the “Enemy” -- a central tenet of shifting consciousness is learning how to embrace both light and shadow, inside and outside.

In the Andes heavy energies (hucha in Quechua, the language of the Incas) are consciously released and gifted to the earth, then replaced with “light” or “refined energies (sami), in an ongoing process. It’s done with internal heaviness (my own grief, depression, frustration) and with heavy energies in a family, a community, an office, the world.

Meditations for Eating the Grief

Doing a meditation for releasing the heavy and drawing in the light is an incredible way to shift our consciousness, and the energy that accompanies our focus, away from or out of the grief and negativity of the world and into our “light work.” Releasing the heavy and drawing in the light can also be an incredible gift to the planet as these times of transformation increase in intensity. Such a meditation is a way of holding space for us humans to get through whatever arises!

Here is a simple way of doing such a meditation as you hike or walk the dog, given to me by the mountain I live on:

“Observe the elements to see about moving your energy. When great winds blow through, let something go. When precious sun warms the day for a few hours, draw in the light. When it rains or snows, ask yourself what in your life you are watering and feeding. When the quiet, long dark comes, let yourself enter the womb of silence and mystery.”

A second way of feeding the earth metaphorically with anyone’s energetic compost follows:

Imagine an opening from your belly (hara/dan tien/q’osqo), just below your belly button, with a channel feeding into the earth. Intend to let the heaviness flow out from you, through this channel. Intend to feed the earth with this wonderful compost, joyfully letting go of what does not serve you. Don’t worry about naming the heaviness, or identifying it: simply intend, and intend some more, until the moment when you feel a shift: it’s gone! Then draw up “lighter” energy from the earth, filling your cells. Imagine the soil, the earthworms, the water and pebbles, the seeds unfurling as you send down and draw up from the earth.

In making these connections, you are drawn out of your small self into a larger awareness, a greater integration with the world around you.

For a third way to move energy using all the elements, see the link “Movint Energy Meditation.” I use this daily because it connects me so deeply with all the living energies of our world!


Learning to shift our own energies is essential to meeting the challenges we face as humans. All the teaching and healing I do integrates practical tools for releasing the heavy, gathering in the light, and transforming our energy and awareness on an ongoing basis. Such self-empowerment—finding what works for you, and using it—opens wonderful doorways to health and radiance.

We cannot change the “facts”—houses and lives destroyed by a hurricane, layoffs after a bankruptcy, the death or serious illness of a loved one. We can always try to change the framing, our perception, and our response. We can change the energy we bring to the situation. We can support and strengthen the collective energies that move us into more balance. When we feel in our bodies and cells how fully we are loved and connected, we can be a healing force on the planet. Together.

An invitation: Send your paradigm-shifting, inspiring stories to us. We'd like to include your experiences in the newsletter!

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