retrogrades give us pause to feel.
slow down and support yo'self.
yoga is the process of replacing old patterns with new and more appropriate patterns. ~ Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya
I don't know about the rest of you but i have been really feeling these last couple retrograde cycles.
For me personally (and similar reports from friends and clients), they've been periods of layer after layer of deep stuff surfacing. It's been.. not easy. It's been a time with periods of anxiety, feeling apathetic or stuck and times of deep sadness. It's also been a time of huge shifts, powerful dreams, deep healing, empowerment and growth. A time of more full embodiment.
I'm reminded (and for me it's helpful) that these cycles are not entirely personal, though the content can feel oh-so-very-much-so. Often these things come in cycles that effect many of us. And sometimes, when it comes to intense feelings of apathy, sadness, anxiety or anger, we're not even sure where they're are coming from. Some believe that these retrograde cycles release experiences not only from our earlier lives in this body, but previous embodiments as well. I also tend to think of the way that generational hurt is stored deep in our very cells, in our dna. Our grandmothers' sadness, our great great great grandfathers' fear.. all the way back to the beginning. And then there's infinite suffering in the world at any given moment, happening now, and now, and now...
So, i've recently decided i'm done being surprised if i suddenly feel sad for "no good reason." I'm done calling an experience of sadness "depression," something that sounds so clinical, something that absolutely needs fixing. (Disclaimer: This is just my personal journey with this stuff. For some, and for myself at other times, it's helpful to call it depression. Right now, that somehow adds a layer of confusion for me.. "i'm feeling something that's not normal or healthy to feel, something that needs 'fixing.") Right now it is empowering to realize that things happen personally, globally and in the span of humanity, that the only sane response IS sadness. Or anger. Or fear. Or even numbness. Sometimes we need to split from the raw feeling because it's too much to bear or witness. But the coming back together process requires us to feel. There are good reasons to feel our feelings, however uncomfortable they may be. Anyone who tries to convince us that life is a walk in a well-tended park is advertising something. The truth is we are tender, sensitive creatures and the world is full of jagged edges. What we often don't realize is that that tenderness and sensitivity is our gold, our strength and wisdom. That, of course, can express in as many variations as there are kinds of people in the world.
But this process of feeling safe enough to feel takes a lot of support. A lot of self care. A lot of gentleness. A lot of support from community and mentors. And for me a lot of tools and resources that support the practices that allow me to feel safely.
We may not all have these resources right now. I surely haven't for most of my life. This is actually part of my sadness recently, the healthy mourning of the lack of support and encouragement to feel my own goodness from family, and at young and sensitive times. It's super important for me to realize how difficult it's been to survive and thrive without that care and modelling. And what that means generationally in both directions. It's terribly painful to own this truth. I put my own hand on my own heart and offer myself presence and warmth. After the sadness comes a feeling of steadiness. A groundedness. A genuine feeling of strength. The sadness doesn't always disappear. Sometimes it changes, sometimes it recedes, sometimes it stays very present as i move through my day. But there's a sense that i can hold myself in a way that no one has ever been able to do. With that also, a certain awe that i've done as well as i have. I've had to piece a lot of it together from different sources, until it came together in a more cohesive way. And that process has been both inspiring and exhausting. So i acknowledge that and try to take radically good care of myself.
As my self compassion opens up i see people all around me suffering with the same feelings, but no resources or guides.. the young mother on the ny subway who cannot accept the loving touch of her 5 yr old boy, the woman on the sidewalk beside me who is so overwhelmed that she strikes out at her preschool-aged child when he steps in a puddle, cycles of abuse and neglect repeating themselves, people endlessly trying to prove themselves worthy in all kinds of self-(and other)-demeaning ways. I let my heart get bigger and hope they (and their children) find some relief. My vision to be of help, true help and healing, only grows with each instance i witness of people suffering so deeply because they can't trust their own goodness.
If you're feeling a lot right now, you're not alone. The planets have been up to mischief recently. And although it's all for our own growth it doesn't mean it's less painful or confusing at times. Ultimately, it's a huge opportunity for the reintegrating of past experiences, replacing those "old patterns with new and more appropriate patterns." Empowering patterns, life-affirming patterns, connecting to others genuinely patterns, fully embodied patterns, self-worth patterns, empathetic patterns, healing patterns.
If this is new to you and you're unsure and without many resources, here's what to do:
1. Slow down in any way you can and avoid making any big decisions or changes right now.
2. Engage in active self care (gentle movement, a hot bath, a quiet walk, meditation, therapy or mentorship)
4. Alternate gentle movement and mindful activity with genuine rest. Yoga nidra and restorative yoga are both good options.
5. Seek out genuine environments and support and connection from people who have been able to hold their own intense emotions and have tools to offer you to do the same.
7. Engage in all these activities without an agenda of changing anything but instead with the aim of supporting yourself to feel everything.
8. Remind yourself that all your feelings are valid, wise even, even when we don't know their source or what they're trying to tell us.
9. Listen to this Sade song and imagine that you are both the giver and receiver of these sentiments.
10. Be totally gentle with yourself (if you're not sure what this means go back to step 1-9), especially when intense feelings are active.
And if all else fails, take my word for it.. YOU are basically good, basically wise, kind and strong. And so are your feelings. This cycle too shall pass. And hopefully we'll all be a little more whole, genuine and stronger on the other end.