A friend of mine sent me a wonderful photo of her napping cat lying on its back, completely relaxed, back legs wide, toes in the air, neck stretched out, back of head tucked against the soft blanket, one leisurely paw reaching up and over.

It was one of those settle-in-for-a-nap-while-the-universe-has-everything-under-control positions—absolute trust and faith without reservation. I thought: wow, wouldn’t I love to embody that amount of deep relaxation while sleeping, and perhaps even carry a bit of that feeling into my everyday waking life as well.

Most domestic animals take advantage of the knowledge that they are protected, and that allows them mental safety in their moments of complete exposure and relaxation. You can see this in the many photos of napping dogs, cats, other domestic animals and with some wild animals.

A colleague’s very healthy octogenarian father recently died from a 16-day bout with Covid. The email notification that he sent after his dad’s passing showed my friend as raw and vulnerable; he had reached the point of figuratively exposing his underbelly. This normally mild-mannered, soft-spoken, gentle empath, who was usually healing others, was expressing a loving grief, and at that moment, as a result, became even softer, lighter and more powerful, I also believe he became more fully protected, which is what we empaths strive for daily, that protection from the chaos of the collective unconscious.

What I began to realize is that our moments of grief can surprise us with a heart-opening so large that we expose the vulnerabilities of our being. This experience can become so vast that it encompasses us and those around us, and in that lies our real protection. We stop thinking for a moment and relax by getting out of our own way.

We may sometimes think of this as a state of being lost, but what we’re really doing is stepping away from our ego for a moment. And in that moment, when our hearts are consumed with love, there’s no need to think about protection; the protection comes to us and surrounds us like a cocoon of light.

Embraced by this light-cocoon, we can express our loving compassion for ourselves and feel the love from others without fear of defilement. For me it’s like being surrounded by a host of angelic-realm beings that want nothing more than to beam constant love, joy and support my way. My angelic team actually does this all the time, but I get so wrapped up in comparisons (as with social media), and judgment (as with the news of the day), or fear of not having, doing, or being enough, that I can’t feel this great loving as strongly as I’d like to.

It’s unfortunate that we’ve had so many instances of needing to acquire compassion and love through our collective grief this past year, and I suspect we’ll have even more, possibly in larger quantities, well into 2021. And yet I’m heartened to see how we come together with our collective open hearts, supporting and consoling one another, and feeling the depth of our innermost selves. We’re being forced to open our hearts on so many levels now, and to face our potential for new levels of compassion, understanding and loving-kindness, being called to deepen our faith in the All that is the best of mankind.

By metaphorically exposing our underbellies—trusting that we can call forth our best possible future selves—we’re creating a safer and more sacred place for all sentient beings. Our collective grief is teaching us how to bring love and joy back into our lives through faith and trust.

Whatever your religious affiliation and whatever the stage of your grieving process, whether for your primary relationships, your health, financial situation, the state of the world, or the planet, I offer these symbolic Tibetan flags saturated with powerful and joyous prayers.

May the breezes carry these sacred prayers to you and your loved ones, adding, as my colleague did after I sent a video to him of my tiny prayer flags, “May they represent the freedom of all Spirits no longer encumbered by the physical body.”

I add to this with purity of intent; “May the breezes carry these sacred, joyful prayers, sending comfort to all who are suffering on all levels throughout time, space, and that our best possible future selves guide us through to meet the loving, joyful beings that we already are.”

Blessings and gratitude for this joyful, heart-opening and beautiful you.