"As adults, we still suffer from a lack of soothing." Yes, yes," I thought as I read this during my morning meditation yesterday in a book that takes my breath away on almost every page, Healing Through the Dark Emotions, The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair by Miriam Greenspan. I could easily think about all the times when I needed to be soothed and comforted, when a lingering hug would have made a huge difference, but then just as easily I thought about times when I have failed to soothe and comfort another. Times when I wasn't even aware giving comfort would have made a difference. Or times when I tried to offer solutions, instead of offering a listening ear and cooing softly, "I know, I know. I am so sorry." I ached with that recognition.
Greenspan continues: "Given the state of the world and its everyday assaults and stressors (including the speed at which we in the West are now living and the overwhelming inundation of information we have to contend with, as well as the everyday violence of the culture), we could all stand to be rocked like babies every day! But even if you've got someone to do this for you, it's important to be able to soothe yourself."
Easily, happily a wave of my comforts swept over and through me.
Writing at my desk with a candle lit and soft music playing.
Holding my husband's hand as we cross a busy street.
Tossing a shawl over my shoulders on a blustery day.
Opening a new book, a new journal.
Easing into morning meditation time.
Preparing a meal I know will be enjoyed--the chopping and stirring and simmering and smelling and waiting.
Seeing the light on in our living room as I approach the house after an afternoon walk.
Thinking about our grandchildren--being with them is certainly better, of course. The smiles, the laughs, the morning cuddles in bed, the reading before bedtime, the seeing the world through uncensored eyes.
Watching the birds at our feeder and spotting red-tail hawks as I drive long distances.
Hearing my husband come in the door in the evening.
Practicing T'ai Chi, meditating in motion.
Noticing my mother's ring on my finger and pausing to feel her ongoing presence in my life.
Spending time with dear friends, doing what we do best --antiquing, shopping, discussing books and sharing thoughts about this time of our life.
Noticing how our children are now more receivers of our friendship than of our parenting.
Finding the National Public Radio station when I am away from home.
Looking out our bedroom window every morning, catching the first glimpse of the day.
Decorating our home for holidays and the changing of seasons, especially fall when I indulge my love of pumpkins, all kinds.
Learning something new or deepening, broadening what I already know. Do you want to know what I learned at a lecture at the arboretum about wild turkeys yesterday? Ok, too bad.
These are more than pleasures, although experiencing each of these does bring pleasure. These are ways of soothing my supposedly misread ego or my tired, weary heart; ways of turning loneliness into satisfying solitude of soulful connection. I'll add one more thing, before I leave you to compose your own list, composing this inventory of comfort has comforted me.