I’m home. And exhaling.
It’s that deep guttural exhale that happens with your whole body and feels so good that your eyes dampen and your heart swells.
My daughter and I whisked to Texas this past weekend to be by my husband’s side for his grandfather’s funeral, and despite the somber air, it was really sweet to see his extended family all gathered together in the name of celebration and reverence. Everyone was on their best behavior, and it was a string of low-stress days filled with laughter and the good kind of tears.
I went into the weekend with one driving intention - to stay as connected to the Oneness as I possibly could.
For me that meant radical presence. I wanted to allow life to flow through me and to be truly present to all the energies and feelings I knew I would undoubtedly experience.
When I say Oneness, I mean Spirit, God, Krishna, Allah, you, me, the Universe. I mean that quiet place between breaths and between thoughts. The energetic force that flows through each of us animating our bodies and comprising our souls. The nothing and the everything.
With that intention at heart, I made my way into the weekend through a different lens. From the moment I arrived I could feel the shift in Pop’s house. I walked up that green astroturf ramp that leads to his front door and stepped inside those wood-paneled walls, and I could immediately tell the energy of the house had an entirely different resonance. There had been so much heaviness and thickness when he was sick over the past few years, and it had dissipated.
The contrast was so stark that it took my breath away. In a moment I knew. He was free.
I remember laughing to myself because the clarity of the energy was so joyfully overwhelming. I felt him everywhere and in everything but not in the same way I used to when this was his physical home. It was purer, lighter, a connection of vibration and interwoven strands. It was reassuring and undeniable.
For the first time maybe ever, I felt more centered and more embraced by Spirit than I ever had going into a funeral, and there was a grounded-ness in me that allowed me to observe rather than react to the huge waves of emotion rolling through the weekend. I saw the people around me outwardly grieving this loss of physical human life, and yet I stayed connected to the energy of his spirit swirling around us. It was so simple and yet so profound. He was there.
When we went to the actual service, I felt washed with everyone’s grief. It came in all-consuming waves, and I shed big tears as I listened to my husband eulogize his grandfather and as I hugged my weeping daughter at my side. But every time I almost got lost in it all, I took a breath, allowed the energy to move through me and then found Pop’s vibration again. I centered on him.
I’ll admit that it felt “linearly” easier to re-center because of the nature of Pop’s passing. He was 93 years old and had lived a long, happy life. He was beyond ready to transition and wanted nothing more than to be with his sweetheart of 63 years who had died 10 years ago. I can’t imagine holding myself as energetically steady if I was mourning someone younger and less ready to go. And yet, it felt like there was such sacred work being done in holding space in this way…like this was exactly the place and the way I was supposed to be practicing.
And as i sat there breathing I realized, this isn’t work reserved for funerals. This is the work asking to be done daily in our lives - to hold our field and steady our energy. This is the path to freedom while still in the body.
I’ve been reading The Untethered Soul again recently, and in it Michael Singer talks about the releasing of blocked energies in our hearts and bodies - known as Samskaras in the yogic tradition. And as I sat tonight on the plane ride home reading the chapter on allowing stuck energies to move, I realized it was the same work I’d been engaged in all weekend. Identifying the triggers around death. Not blocking their flow. And also not holding too tightly to the good memories as well. Whole presence. Living right now. Allowing everything to move.
It’s popular to grieve in a certain way. In the same way that our society barrages us with ideas about anything and everything related to being human or being a certain gender or being an American, it also dictates how we’re supposed to act when souls leave their bodies. Society tells us it’s sad and stressful and to be met with great sorrow and fragility. And yet, it’s the one experience outside of being born and breathing that we will all 100% share. It is an intensely sacred rite of passage.
I think there is beauty in the soul disentangling itself from the body. And I also think it’s normal to feel loss and sadness facing a life without the physical incarnation of a loved one near. I have known deep grief as well, and yet there is a difference in losing the human form of a soul and forgetting our unseen, energetic tie to each other.
I believe it is our birthright as souls living in bodies to be reminded of how connected we truly are to one another. Death is not the end.
And even though we may suffer deeply in the hearts and minds of these bodies, there is peace to be found in the surrender of individual moments. There is wonder to be discovered in the spaces in between. Because those are the spaces where the people we’re missing are actually hiding in plain sight.
Every person that got up and spoke about Pop talked about how he made them feel. He had a way of making people feel like they were the most important, the most loved, the most special person on the planet. He marveled at the small things in life, and he always found time to serve others.
It was clear that even though his body was gone, his soul was alive and well in that room.
Birth, breath, death. These are the experiences we share.
The magic is in the moment, and our breath is the vehicle to help us find the moment. To steady our energy, we only have to find a breath and ride it throughout the body. Notice where it sticks. Notice where it encounters tightness. Notice what thoughts arise in that moment. And then gently ease it through. Two breaths and we’re in. That’s it.
Two breaths and you’re in the Oneness.
The Oneness is you.
On the day I die,
when I am being carried toward the grave,
don’t weep. Don’t say, He’s gone. He’s gone.
Death has nothing to do with going away.
The sun sets and the moon sets,
but they’re not gone.
Death is a coming together.
The tomb looks like a prison,
but it’s really release into union.
The human seed goes down into the ground
like a bucket into the well where Joseph is.
It grows and comes up
full of some unimagined beauty.
Your mouth closes here
and immediately opens
with a shout of joy there.