Have you ever known someone close to you to become ill, get injured, or find out something devastating?
Yes, everyone’s had this kind of moment in life.
“Dad’s got cancer.”
I remember hearing these words from my mom.
A panic began to rise inside, instantly.
What does this mean? Wait…what? What kind? What happened? Why? What’s going to happen?
The mind is filled with pictures, imagination, possibilities, trying to grab information desperately.
A huge NO fills the body. No, I can’t take this. No, this can’t be happening. No.
When the “worst” thing happens, it’s shocking.
When my dad was receiving treatment for leukemia, which lasted about two years, he was sometimes very sick, sometimes better. He lived just about exactly the length of time they anticipated. The doctors knew so much about the disease, and trying all kinds of ways to make it go away. To fight it.
That was a long, long time ago in my life experience. I was in my twenties, living pretty close by to the big house I grew up in.
I didn’t have inquiry, but my mind had so many questions. Constant questions. Disturbed questions. Questions I had no answer for, couldn’t answer.
Many years later, when I discovered self-inquiry and The Work by reading Loving What Is, I thought….
….well, it’s good for feeling angry and upset with your neighbor (judge your neighbor, right?)….
….but I didn’t even imagine using The Work for situations of life and death.
But then, I was in a weekend workshop with Byron Katie, never having successfully “done” The Work after reading her book, and I recognized one of my greatest, deepest, terrifying, sad, frustrations in life was…..death.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had a very weird and troubled relationship with loss, change, things being temporary, endings.
The biggest ending of all being “death”. The biggest “neighbor” I wanted to judge was loss, death.
I had something, and now it’s gone. I have something, and I will lose it.
My health, my boyfriend, my wife, my kid, love, my life, my daughter, my house, my necklace, my guitar, my friend, my dad.
It was mine. I had it.
Now it’s lost. It’s gone. Or will be.
This is hard for some people to think about. Well, I speak for myself.
It’s hard to look at these places that have been so painful. But oh so powerful for The Work.
Stay with me here, and let’s do it today.
As you see those things, places, times or people you lost….
Is it true you lost them?
Yes. All gone.
Are you absolutely sure? Do you know this in the most deep, absolute way?
Are you positive the energy, love, kindness is lost? Are you sure it’s gone, just because you can’t see it or touch it? Are you sure everything about it is completely 100% gone?
Do you need it to be present physically, in order to be happy?
Wow. No. Not really.
I should still have that person, that thing, that other situation.
Is this true?
Who would I be without these thoughts?
Who would I be without BELIEVING these thoughts?
I notice no thoughts hang around 24/7 without one single other thought coming in for a visit. There are seconds, moments, of other thoughts.
The day my father died, I am quite sure I drank water. I went to the bathroom.
Probably several times. I was capable of having that thought to get up and go. It appeared. I went. People brought food. I ate a little. I breathed. I spoke to my sisters and my mom. I stayed. I was there, holding my dad’s hand as he died.
Who would you be without the belief you lost her? You lost him? You lost it?
That’s what we say about profound moments, eyes-wide-open moments, present moments, astonishing moments.
Turning the thought around: I did not lose my father. I will never lose him.
I lost myself. I lost awareness.
I believed I couldn’t survive loss. I believed there was nothing here, remaining, with myself. I believed I had something, it was mine, and now it’s gone.
Who would you be without your story of losing?
“It’s your body–can you absolutely know that that’s true? That’s a very old concept. ‘This is mine. I say so’….It’s not yours. Just because you believe it doesn’t make it true. When you know that you’re not that, you can sit back and watch.” ~ Byron Katie in Who Would You Be Without Your Story
Could this be also the case for my father? My house? My childhood? My earrings?
Not mine in the first place.
And not required for living, or loving, or happiness, I notice.
Today, can I find evidence for how I gained, how I received, how I lived….instead of the opposite customary sadness?
It doesn’t mean “trying” to be positive and fakey or plastic or thrilled about death or loss.
But I have discovered, with The Work, it’s miraculous to wonder who I would be without my stories of death and loss, and to find examples of joy, acceptance, receiving, kindness, even benefits for what has happened….
….and maybe even though I apparently lost….I also found.
Maybe all my thoughts about death and loss are….