Monday, May 24, 2010

Grief and the Path of Loss

Grief comes in waves in awakening and healing like the tides of life.
I'm continuing to take my inspiration for these spirituality blogs from some of the experiences that my friends have had. One of my friends had tons of grief to work through on her path, so I wanted to dedicate this blog to her.

Why Am I Crying Again?
There are so many personal answers to this question, and I can outline a few that I've seen and a few that I've experienced. It's a very normal part of the process, and in this society, it can take some courage to experience this deep sadness. There's nothing wrong with you for crying, and typically, this is a phase that will pass as long as you engage fully with this spiritual awakening and healing process and get to know what's moving in you. It can happen a lot more than you expect and at odd times (how about hiking up a mountain--seriously, that happened for me). Do your best to have the courage to face it.

The Path of Loss
In many respects, the spiritual path is the path of loss. You lose everything. You lose everything because it was all piled on top of the stuff that is who you really are. All that ego you built up around being a mom, being a great lawyer, being a fantastic athlete, being able to remember your schedule and tie your shoes, it all breaks down. In many respects, some of this grief can be the grieving of your ego. You may be grieving all the things that you once were, and now you no longer can be those. It's a crazy feeling. It can plunge you down into despair, depression, or suicidal tendencies, depending on how hard your ego is holding on and the support network that you have. If the road gets too dark, it's definitely important to reach out to others. Obviously, if you're reading this, you can message me, but there are usually lightworkers not far away from where you are in whatever area that you live in. We all seem to be springing up faster and faster these days.

Ego Death
When I was hitting one of the early crescendo moments in my growth in August of 2007, I had these visions of six men beating me to a pulp in a dark, empty parking lot somewhere in Northern California. Being a very intuitive person, that image scared the hell out of me. In some ways, I feel like my ego-self took that beating even if that image never physically manifested. And in all the ways that I've held on to a former version of myself, I took that beating. But "who I think I am" is not me. An ego should only ever be a tool, and some tools have a lifespan. If you're grieving a lot, you may need a ritual to allow this ego-self to die it's natural death. Along the way, it's important to be actively developing the "who you are now" ego to replace it. With this authentic ego, you can hold it more lightly and give yourself a sense of greater space for what's emerging in you. This type of positive intention can also make the grieving less difficult as you're providing yourself that hope and that light at the end of the tunnel.

The Grief of Despair
Not all grief is necessarily good. Sometimes, it's a sign of things going horribly wrong. It can be a sign of reaching the edge of the chasm. I know that I was peering over that edge towards the end of 2008 with no job and a lot of energies draining me, making me weak and sick. Around this, I learned how important it is to listen to my body. If this grieving makes me feel lighter and healthier after I've gone through it, then that is definitely positive. But if it makes me feel more despondent and hopeless, then that's despair. Something is draining me too much, and I need help. I need outside inspiration. I need spiritual community.

Eventually, I hit the wall in February of 2009 and reached out to my mom and my teacher, and then suddenly, I was out of San Francisco and into my new apt in the awesome energy that is in Pleasant Hill. Soon jobs were easy to find again. When you find the cause of the energy drain and address it, the change in your life can be dramatic.

Journaling, Journaling, Journaling!
Many of my friends and students have this as a big part of their processes, and I can't encourage people to do it enough. I truly think that it's absolutely crucial to engage with your feelings, to hold them, and to know them. Bringing your intellectual awareness into those spaces helps you to heal and transmute them. The great thing about journaling is that no one else has to ever see what you write. You can even destroy your journals later if you're afraid someone will read them. It can be a great ritual for letting go of your past too.

Nonetheless, dealing with grief and grieving old wounds, an old ego-self, or even past lives (I'm not big into past lifes, but every now and then, huge things come up around this) is tough. I think community is always a huge help, and if you need certain types of spiritual people, they will appear for you if you look for them.

Finally, if you are working with the grief around past trauma, please read this blog. This spiritual awakening blog post will help you through the fire of awakening, but the blog I just linked to you will help set the groundwork for pain and trauma, which you must also re-experience to release before you walk into the spaces of ego death.

The picture of the moon is generously given to me by Becky Stiller. You can find more of her work on this photography link.
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