A big enough container

The other night, my wonderful meditation teacher shared some present moment mindfulness practices to help navigate feelings. A phrase she used stuck with me : that part of what we want to do is create a big enough container for the feelings we’re experiencing.

The same day, Amanda, who has been holding the reins for the Wellness Almanac on instagram, shared a deeply personal reflection about the 111st anniversary of the Lillooet Declaration, which was acknowledged this week, and how it feels to walk through her territory, the land that informs her identity, and that is her community, among really high end housing developments that are being built without any understanding of that deeper context of place.

She writes, “There are iskten sites near the area. The rez is on what used to be called “throwaway land”.

Back in the day we were punished and arrested for leaving the rez without the written permission of the Indian Agent

My job is not to speak for Amanda, or interpret her words. I hope this post doesn’t come across in that way – as someone who is used to have the microphone, elbowing her way back into the frame. (I think this is part of what we’re called to do in the world right now – to centre the people whose voices have been marginalized, and then to hold the space for them to safely put words to huge feelings. Not to grab the mic the moment we feel uncomfortable and say, well, what she means by that is…)

What I hear in the words and the song and the emotions she shares are feelings that are too big for any one single human body to have to hold within it. Feelings that are exhausting for the depth of loss, betrayal, anger, grief.

The uncomfortable, angry, indignant, confused, guilty feelings I have, in response to confronting these things, are also too big for my little body to hold on to.

What would it look like if we tried to build a bigger container – one that can hold all our feelings, without cancelling any out?

I commit to making this effort – to holding space for the expression of things that make me feel uncomfortable and to try to just offer witness and acknowledgement, without resorting immediately to centring myself, to asking “what about me? Does this make me a bad person?” I laugh about this sometimes with my partner, about how it can be hard for us to hear the other person say, “I’m having a tough time, I have a need that isn’t being met right now”, without automatically defending or wondering, what does acknowledging this mean for me. But that frame has never been particularly generative or constructive in my relationship. When I express my need, I’m never trying to take away from him. I just want him to listen. We’ve been practicing that… and haven’t achieved any kind of mastery… but practicing it is part of the commitment to being in relationship. Maybe it’s a practice we also can expand beyond our immediate relationship, to our relationships throughout this territory. Instead of always defaulting to “what about me?” let’s try and hold space to hear “what about you?” And know that we won’t disintegrate for that effort. We’ll just create a bigger container.

Thank you Amanda, for your voice.

Photo by Jade Scarlato on Unsplash

Some people might wonder why I’m so upset by Sunstone building houses on this hill
Like I said there are Iskten sites near the area
Guess who [trained there] before the settlers came and pushed us onto the “reservation” 
where back in the day we were punished and arrested for leaving the rez without the written permission of the Indian Agent
The rez is much less farmable and used to be called “throwaway land” than where so called pemberton is now
the rez that Lil’wat got put on happens to be a place where our oral history tells us we should not be living

we are still here and this is still our rightful territory 

I am not saying non-Lil’wat people don’t belong here
I share that because I know the reaction I get when I state my rights & title and I need to be heard
I have a responsibility to protect the spirit of Tmícw
so just know that I am watching 👀
and Non-Indigenous folks can’t carry the roles and responsibilities that we have been passed down
the responsibility of Non-Indigenous folks in my eyes
is to give back and pay attention
to stand with grassroots movements
to not act like your some savior for giving back what was taken
to not try to co-opt narratives and steal voices
to acknowledge that many of the plant knowledge and spiritual knowledge you learn from fellow white folks is cultural appropriation and stolen rites 

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