Ever since I was a little girl I've known that I am part of a tribe of women who love fiercely. That phrase exactly, "I love fiercely," has rung in my head and my heart for as long as I can remember. Before it's ever meant violent or rageful, to me "fierce" has always represented something powerful, rich with a strength imbued by nature. Which only makes sense; the word itself comes from "ferus,' Latin for "wild." Untamed.
Looking at the women of my family, we don't shriek like Xena, and we don't strut like Beyoncé. It is not immediately obvious that we are warriors in our own right. But the fierceness in our hearts, and the depth of our love for each other and the world, is staggering.
But loving that deeply and freely is a dangerous game. It's so easy to sink your soul into something you shouldn't, so easy to give your all to a bad situation, despite the sensible part of you flashing red lights. So that logical side of you tries to work damage control while the love you can barely control spins around, nipping at heels, aching to run. It is, after all, wild.
So, what is the solution? Does logic try to rein in love, keeping it down until it weakens and pales? Having attempted that method several times, I can tell you it's not a long-term plan.
When I realized what the real way around it is, I felt, as is so often the case with life's problems, surprised it hadn't occurred to me earlier. But that's just it, I didn't find a way around. I found a way through. The best way, the only way, to handle an untamed, loving spirit, is to give in. Let it grow. Listen to it. And, over time, discipline it. If you let your heart lead the way you'll actually be less likely to lose your head.
I very recently, and very serendipitously, stumbled across Annapurna Living. I've known of Carrie Anne Moss through her acting for almost 20 years, but had no knowledge of her background in kundalini yoga or her passion for spiritual and whole living. So when I happened upon her website and discovered that she's put together a community of women and a year long series of creative prompts and meditations meant to bring us closer to our true selves and the true selves of other women, I was immediately fascinated. When it happened to be called the Fierce Grace Collective, I knew it was kismet.
Carrie Anne believes that one of the keys to creating a simple and sincere life lies in discipline. I share this philosophy in a physical sense (though I've only ever put it into practice intermittently), and know for a fact that when my life is organized and my body and schedule are pretty well disciplined, it opens up space for my mind to relax and for me to just be. But why only respect my body and my time enough to organize them? Why not also develop enough of a relationship with my mind and my spirit to create a sense of order there, too? I've always valued meditation, and the feeling of walking into a room you've just reorganized, that deep sigh of relief when everything is tidy and beautiful, is exactly the same feeling as when you get the flow of thoughts in your mind to become a cool, clear stream of nothing.
"To meditate means to go home to yourself."
Thich Nhat Hanh
Here, then, is the way forward. When my mind is calm and my thoughts clear, that wild fierce love settles down into a fierce grace. No less intense, no less giving and free. Just more symbiotic with my deep self, and more aware. More ready to turn that love inward and leave some of that fierce affection for me.
It's been nearly two weeks since I started this year of learning to embrace my fierce grace, and I feel simulaneously renewed and returned.The very first time I sat and chanted along with February's meditation, I immediately started sobbing and couldn't form the words. It had been well over a year since my body and my mind had occupied the same space, and now here they both finally were, quieted to everything but my breath and my heartbeat. This has been a year of strife in so many of my personal relationships, of exciting but difficult new projects, of the very fabric of my life feeling like it's being rewoven. Mostly, I'm okay with this, the new pattern that's unfolding seems much stronger and more flexible. But the culmination of all of the stress and pain and excitement and tension that I haven't let myself either fully feel or fully release, coursed through me as I chanted along (or attempted to), and, in time with my deep, measured breaths, out of me. I was free of the weight of them, at last.
At the end of one video, Carrie Anne tells us, "welcome to the beginning." She says this because the lunar year has just started and this Collective has come together. But it struck me because I hadn't even fully realized something had ended until I was already started on this new journey. I will talk more throughout the year of my progress down this path, the incredible collective of women I'm meeting, and returning to myself and a more mindful life. Specifically, of how I aim to take better care of myself so that I may take better care of others, my wild love no longer caged by my mind, my brain no longer shackled to a runaway heart.
Whether or not you "believe" in anything, it's hard to deny the benefit of nature on us, both scientifically and spiritually, and once you strip away the social constructs and artificial devices we've created to try and define life, you get to the soul of you, the more animal part of you that is attuned to nature. The bit of you that hears the ocean of your breaths and the constellations behind your eyes. For so many people meditation is near impossible; we've grown too unaccustomed to quiet time alone with ourselves. But I would urge you to try every day to spend that time, uncomfortable though it may be. Breathe deeply at red lights. Think a mantra while you brush your teeth. Go big and spend 10 minutes simply sitting and breathing before bed and after you wake up. Take comfort in knowing there is nothing but nature deep within you, and breathe yourself to that place. Let your wild part free and find it's not as unmanageable as you thought.