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© 2018 Bronwyn Ayla. All Rights Reserved.

Global Grief: Dancing with Collective Heartbreak


I’ve been struggling with words and with how to hold the heartbreak of what is happening around me. I feel devastated by what is occurring at Standing Rock, with the devaluation of Black Lives, with what is happening to our oceans, our planet, our people, and our political system. I struggle with a sense of impotence to affect real change.

I am writing now from Bali. I came here to try and get some perspective on it all. Yesterday I took my daughter, Nymue, to the beach to jump in the waves. The ocean was covered in plastic - as we waded in the water there was plastic all around us - bumping into us. The poisoned and chocking bodies of the fish that eat it haunt me. I met a sailor today who told me of the huge islands of plastic she has come across in the Pacific ocean. I had known of it - and seen pictures - but to hear it first hand and see so much pollution yesterday hit home in a different way.

I review the Buddhist teachings on suffering for a clue as to how to hold this. My friend, Sarah Marshank, says perhaps our role now is that of hospice work. To hold and witness and cry and be exquisitely present with all of our grief. We will never give up. We will never forsake why it is we came here - as a tribe - to generate the aliveness of ourselves and our planet. Yet now I am also present to a holding quality in all of this.

Nymue is a constant reminder to me of what it is we are passing on to our future generations. I think of her grandchildren. I want to be able to look Nymue honestly in her eyes when she is grown and tell her, ”I tried”. Yet I struggle to do more than parent and work. I comfort myself with the idea that raising the next generation must be a big part of what I can contribute. That perhaps now my path is one of generating rather than fighting. That Nymue will be one of the seed children. She will go out and manifest as her own spiritual warrior - or whatever it is she came here to do.


In the mean time, I chop wood and carry water. Being a full time single mom has shaken me to the core, humbled me, shown me amazing grace, and forced me to consistently apply the gratitude attitude. Not as some new age technique, but as a basic daily survival means. It has taught me to let go of my plans and to surrender to the divine dance of life.

I immerse myself in dance. Dance is my ritual, my spiritual practice, my fervent prayer that somehow there will be a way through the plastic, the pollution, the extinction, the racism, and the mysogeny. It is my way of staying in touch with the magical aspect of life. Dance, ritual, prayer and my daughter.

I offer a simple meditation at this time that has helped me stay focused and present amidst all that is occurring. Light a candle and put one hand on your heart, and one on your belly and breathe. Feel gratitude for the opportunity to breathe in and feel gratitude for the opportunity to breath out. Simply this.

How do you dance with collective grief?

#Grief #DanceHeals

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