Completion and Grief

Yesterday I completed a milestone that I have been working toward since 2009. I am now officially a Master Somatic Coach through the Strozzi Institute. One would think, after all that hard work finally finishing would produce a feeling of elation and excitement. But instead I feel drained and sad.

This feeling of grief surprised me. I am generally a pretty motivated and excited person. And though I feel happy to be validated in my accomplishment by the official decree, I understand that this is not the end. And I am learning that endings take time. And I am a beginner on the path for taking time for endings.

Richard Strozzi Heckler created a process of development similar to Fernando Flores Rhythm of Action. Richard’s process is called the Rhythm of Excitement and is described in his book the Anatomy of Change. This model captures how energy moves through the body. Since the body is a natural organism (we can forget that we are natural sometimes because of our cultural lens through which we see the world), these rhythms also mimic nature: the seasons, life to death, formation of the universe; any natural pattern moves through these phases. Richard calls them: Awakening, Increasing, Containment and Completion.

Each of us has certain predispositions to a particular phase or two. We have certain ones we like and others we have to practice more. For me, completion is not a phase I sit in frequently. Even containment is hard though I have been practicing that one over the last few years. Completion is the phase I am in now and with it comes grief. Rilke has a poem about this called Pushing Through:

It is possible I am pushing through solid rock

…,as the ore lies alone;

I am such a long way in I see no way through,

and no space: everything is close to my face,

and everything close to my face is stone.

I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief

so this … darkness makes me feel small.

You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in

then your great transforming will happen to me

and my great grief cry will happen to you.

This poem speaks of a place I seem to be in, but as Rilke says, “I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief (ending)…”. I believe it is the reason I feel small and like a beginner and not the elation I thought completion would bring.

Personally I like to live in the awakening phase, or spring of the cycle. New ideas abound, life is full of possibility. This phase though comfortable for me can be like pushing through solid rock for others. We can be petrified of trying something new, of putting ourselves out there, of failing. When we can recognize this phase and work to embody the qualities of it, we can make it more digestible, less scary and increase our likelihood of engaging in it in ways that produce favorable results.

The next phase, which I also like is the increasing phase. The summer of the cycle. A stage of vetting all the options that surround the ideas, a phase of abundance. Figuring out the possibilities, trying, adding, diagraming, planning; all the things that go into making something come to life. Gardening is a great metaphor for this. This is a time of watching new life burst forth and fruit. This phase really excites me.

Where I have been practicing staying is the containment phase. The season of autumn. A time for putting things up. The work to contain at the end of an abundant year. Holding onto the idea enough to see it through fully, to fill it out and see if it becomes something sustainable. Containment for me is my coaching practice. I am sticking with it through its ups and downs (it helps that I love it), I am trying new things (leadership lunch hour, half-day workshops) to fill out my offer to the world. Containment is sticking in a relationship (intimate, work or with the self) that is going through a hard phase and working the difficult conversations in order to get to a new place. Since I have taken time to make this phase digestible, it does not overwhelm me and becomes something I can do instead of run away from.

Which brings me to completion. Winter. Cold, darkness. Death for rebirth. Sometimes things just have to end. I guess I have not been aware enough to feel the grief of ending. I feel it now. Even in the conversation yesterday after I received the Master Somatic Coach designation, I asked about future possibilities. This was probably a subconscious grasping at a window of awakening for the future. But instead of mobilizing on those ideas I am containing (more practice), waiting until the time is ripe instead of pushing to make something happen. I am living in the ending. It is a cold, stone-like, solid space and I wonder what ore I will find. Who will be the master, made fierce and breaking in? What will the transformation look like? Time will tell.

In each of these phases, the same principals apply: once you get to know the dynamics of the phase you can enter into it knowing the parts are digestible, not as overwhelming as taking it all on at once. You begin to learn your challenges and find ways to stay in the conversation.

Which phase scares you the most? Invite perspective, learn how to break it down and enter into all phases with confidence and trust that eventually it will change.

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