In this podcast, psychotherapist and soul-activist Francis Weller joins philosopher and social entrepreneur Terry patten in a tender conversation about embracing grief and loss, and the importance of ritual during these times.
In today's world the resistance to feeling negative emotions is such an inherent aspect of our society that the question arises: how can our emotions function as a sacred gateway to the higher dimensions? The human higher dimension where a lot of our real power lies, our ability to be healthy and alive.
In this beautiful conversation, Francis Weller explains that at this moment in Western civilization our relation to grief can be called pretty primitive. Our two basic strategies are basically, pushing it away or drowning in it.
This observation asks for the ripening of us human beings into a certain direction. The ripening of how we approach our experiences. Weller says that the splitting of the positive and negative in our society is so arbitrary. He suggests that we should change this splitting, instead of something being good or bad, into the question is this: ‘alivening’ or ‘deathning’?
Because all of our emotions, whether it is sadness, anger, grief, they have vitality in them. They are not deathning emotions. But we live in a kind of flat-line culture where we have compressed the range of what we are allowed to feel to a very narrow band. Where we have lost the lower register of sorrow, and where we have overexercised the upper register of joy. So we have this very narrow range of what we are allowed to feel.
So what this conversation is about is that what we are asked to do, how to break the range of feelings open again and to find in them wisdom, teachings, healings, instead fear and anxiety. The objective is not only to get our arms around the feeling of hope, joy, and happiness, but to open the registers to so-called negative emotions. Because by embracing grief for example we’ll find out that through that acceptance and embracement we, as a human being, become so much larger, so much wider, so much more alive. And whether we want it or not, there is no escape from grief. So instead of pushing it away, can we use that as remembering the invitation towards spaciousness and immensity. And therefore we have to invite ritual back into our lives, to be the vehicles of leading those emotions.
For thirty-five years Francis has worked as a practitioner of soul-centered psychotherapy. He has synthesized insights from psychology, anthropology, mythology, alchemy, indigenous cultures and the poetic imagination in healing rituals and guidance for groups and individuals working with shame, judgment, and grief. He is the author of The Wild Edge of Sorrow and The Threshold Between Loss and Revelation and he is currently completing his third book, A Trail on the Ground: The Geography of Soul.
Terry Patten is a philosopher, teacher, activist, consultant, and social entrepreneur. He is the author of A New Republic of the Heart – An Ethos for Revolutionaries and the co-author with Ken Wilber and others of Integral Life Practice. Terry is the founder of the nonprofit A New Republic of the Heart and the creator of the State of Emergence podcast.