Lessons from Death and Loss
In the path of Buddhism the first 3 of the 4 noble truths is there is suffering, we must find the origin of the suffering, and knowing there there is a way out of that suffering. The fourth truth is the path to practice to eliminate suffering.
As a young teen I didn't know why, but I felt so deeply connected to these four noble truths. The simple fact that I am suffering was a relief, Buddha knew we all came here and we would end up suffering as humans, but he also knew there was a way to be with the suffering for transformation. This is also in yoga. To me this is what yoga is all about. This is what LIFE is all about. We experience suffering, loss, grief and that is only temporary. The weight and heaviness gets lighter as we move further away from our painful experience. As we gain tools to work WITH our pain.
I won't go into all of the stories that make up my pain and suffering that lead me to be the human I am today. Sometimes it's not about the story, but what the experience brings up inside of us, and how we handle it. I have had friends and family members either leave this plane before I was ready for them to go or they almost did. From chronic illnesses to freak accidents these losses have shaped me into the person and guided me into the chosen path/dharma I am now living.
What have I learned?
1. LIFE is SHORT!
Everyday is a blessed miracle! Every breath, every hug, everything! Life is precious, so take care of yours.
2. In the words of Nike, "Just DO IT".
Life sure can creep up and mess up plans. If you want to do something make it happen. When there is a will there is a way. My husband and I decided to celebrate another year in this life together by making a road trip this summer. we haven't traveled due to his health for 2 years. Road trip NOT feasible, what about a movie night OUT? A walk around the neighborhood? Something small, but something "new". It doesn't always have to cost money. The best things in life are free.
3. Gratitude is my attitude!
I practice gratitude daily, even though I have bouts of negative self-talk ("You the yoga teacher?" YES! This human named Ashley has negative self talk. LOL) I try to change that into a positive. For example I may not have enough money to buy all the flowers at the garden center, but I have seeds that I can sow and watch my own flowers grow! You see how we can maximize the positives to change our habits, mindsets and overall being. There is a fine line, acknowledge what is happening, but do not ruminate there forever (if you have serious depression seek help. You do not have to suffer alone).
4. Who's on first?
Remember that classic joke? Hopefully you will find humor as you also continue to find out who is on your team? When I became a caregiver 2 years ago I needed a team of support. Not only for my own mental stability and processing, but for everyday things and the emergency coverage here and there. Know who's on your team so you can call on and reach out to when needed. It really does take a village, in all aspects of our lives.
5. Self-Care is NOT self-ish!
We need time after loosing someone or something to feel and process what is happening. Saying NO is important as well as saying yes. No I will not get out of bed today, but Yes I will continue to drink water to rehydrate. Self-Care doesn't always have to be a spa day, which is nice and sometimes needed, but sometimes the simplest thing like changing clothes and brushing teeth is self-care.
Death is essential and is always happening whether it is an actual loss of life or death of ego; we as humans are continuously evolving, shedding, and losing unnecessary aspects in ourselves. Death is really sad and upsetting so give yourself time to be with and without the expressions of grief. There is a fine balance of being with these strong emotions and life changes and the opposite which is spiritually bypassing the whole experience. I am not a grief counselor, but I am a person who has experienced great loss and is continually fine tuning my tool kit to find balance in times of crisis.
I hope this gives you or someone you know some hope and not too doom and gloom for the times.
May you be well,
May you be happy,
May you be full of peace.