2022-07-06 Grief (3 of 5) Stories and No Stories
3:00PM Jul 6, 2022
On this third, talk about grief. First, I want to say that grief is a huge topic that certainly deserves a lot more attention than, than I could give in this short 15 minute talks, five talks that I'll be giving. And one of the things I'd like to convey is that that grief is something to respect. Grief is something to allow for grief, it's something to that has its own process that we want to make room to unfold, without complicating it unnecessarily. There is no shame with grief, there's no pride with grief. Grief is you know, many, many factors come into play with grief. And one of the things that comes into play with grief is the stories that of our lives, the stories we associate the grief with. And they might not be so conscious that there's a story involved in grief. But it can be very, very simple. It can be the story that the person we loved is no longer here. And then we won't be able to do the things that we love to do and won't be able to share the things that we shared before. This is all true. And it's a story. Saying it's a story is not meant to diminish its value or be disrespectful for it. But it is to identify there is a certain processing and functioning of the mind that is operating. That's in addition to just the simplicity of the present moment. Now we don't want to overvalue that simplicity of the present moment and dismiss the stories we live in stories are a huge part of our life. And related to stories are meaning that things have meaning. So the death of someone the meaning of that is that that person won't wake up in the morning to make me coffee anymore. And and that was just that was just kind of a ritual of love and someone who cared and, and so now there won't be that caring of me anymore. And so is assigning meaning and to that event, sometimes the meaning the stories that come into play with grief, have to do with past griefs, unresolved grief serifs that were quite strong and powerful that still somehow live in us. And new griefs come along. And the stories of those griefs, the meaning of those griefs, the that the that take the form of very powerful emotions and feelings might come up and arise as well. So sometimes when there's grief, it's very useful to go find someone to talk to, that you can just talk the story talk what's going on, talk about the events of it, and and talk about the expectations, the hopes that have been shattered, talk about the you know, what that relationship or that thing or whatever that's been lost? What that meant for you and the value of it. Talk about the the metaphors are you relate to this? What are the beliefs that come along with the grief that you have. And so to be able to talk to someone about it is invaluable because or write about it for yourself, because it allows room for us to hear and see and understand, give voice to the stories and the meanings that are operating. And if they're not seen, not understood, then they operate kind of underground. And they have momentum and strength to them that will influence our emotions or feelings or attitudes or beliefs, but what's happening in kind of unconscious ways. But bringing things to light is part of the function of living a wise life. If we're dismissive of grief, and think that we're not supposed to grieve or it's wrong to grieve or have to, we have to grieve quickly or something, then we don't allow ourselves to grieve in our way. We don't allow to grieve in such a way that we bring to light what all the different elements and aspects of what's going on with the grief. So talking to someone and sometimes it's best to talk to someone maybe who's not too close to you and who's kind of maybe caught in the same den some of the same dynamics and how Mmm, and can be useful.
In mindfulness practice, we do something that's maybe unusual. And that is, we recognize what's happening, that's really a big part of it is bringing things to light and really seeing, and learning to identify all the different component parts of it. The emotional aspect of it, the physical aspect of it, the cognitive aspects of it, that involves the beliefs and the stories, that those beliefs stories that might be somehow unconscious in their subconscious. Bring them to light and understand what's going on. We sit down to meditate. And it's a wonderful time to discover how much the mind is spinning around and around maybe saying the same thing over and over again. And we start listening more deeply, what's the mind saying what's going on? It's like you're listening to someone else to hear deeply what's going on underneath the words. So we can listen more deeply to ourselves, because we're spinning the same story, the same idea, the same meaning that's going on. And, and some of that might be very personal, the meaning now my life has changed, my life has changed in this way. And I can't do this anymore. It might be more about the other person, it might be more about society, or the world or the wider family. Now, I won't have this be part of that. And many things. And so to bring that to light, and let it be this live there and be see it clearly. So that's part of mindfulness practice. The other part that's maybe the more radical and the more surprising for some people aspect of mindfulness practice. And that is to temporarily, not forever not to dismiss its importance, but temporarily put to rest. Put aside, story making, put aside meaning making, put aside the flow of thoughts and thinking and ideas that flow and, and come with grief, not to dismiss any of the grief. But there's a way in which the story mind that repeats itself over and over again, the meaning mind can also interfere with the deeper process of grief that that is going to somehow bring something to something subtle. So I'm just going to open, something's going to unfold. Through it all. It's kind of like giving your grief its freedom. Freedom from the cognitive mind the thinking mind, meaning making mind the story mind, the predictive mind, the predicting the future, or free from the memory mind that's constantly reviewing the past, not to shut this part down. But to put it aside, let it just kind of drift by, don't live in the thinking. And one of the ways that you can do this is of course, you're going to be thinking anyway, you can't just turn turn a switch and turn it off. But recognizing it as it is. And then take the story as if you have you can gather together that meaning and composted in the body. Feel what's happening in your body in relationship to it. The body is not a story. It might be impacted by a story, but the body is not a story. Just keep going back and feel the breathing, feel the body, feel the embodied experience of what's happening as you're grieving, and make room for it. And make more and more room for it. And part of what meditation is doing is expanding our capacity to hold difficult states of mind difficult emotions, but feeling it in the body as best you can. For as long as it's useful for as long as it's feels, it's as it doesn't spin out and being too too challenging and you start maybe panicking or start to kind of feeling like you're drowning. At that point. Maybe get up and go for a walk or talk to a friend or do something different. Do some metta meditation. You always want to moderate yourself and not do these this too much with with grief. But, but they come in feel the body be here. And the point is to live in alternative than to live in the stories alternative live in the meaning making mind and allow something deeper to unfold. And then a kind of a freedom that comes from that.
And we can't really free ourselves from it from the story in the meeting making, unless we learn to recognize it first, and recognize it as something that's not wrong or bad. But it's not something we have to live in all the time. And there is no alternative. And so with grief, what's so powerful about this stepping away from the meaning making, it allows for the deeper aspects of the heart to have more space, it allows for the deeper emotions to unfold without being renewed without being new data, new, new things coming in and just keep spinning and spinning. And allows for some us to kind of drop into the depth of some deep aspect of who we are. And I'd like to propose that the grief is connected to the beautiful depths of our own heart. Sometimes grief is connected to our love. And to be able to put aside the story and the meaning making it sometimes we can settle into where the love is. Sometimes the grief is connected to a desire for safety or desire, a hope for a better life. That gets complicated when we start telling ourselves stories about what that's gonna look like. But the very idea of wanting a better life is part of self care and part of self love, perhaps, and to settle that back and just feel that self care. Without the complications of stories that may or may not be realistic, is it dropped down to something that's deeper and more present here. And so, to put aside, that's why when we sit and meditate and keep putting aside our thoughts, letting go over thoughts, and learning the skill, learning the art of that, that this serves us really well in times of challenge like grief, where sometimes that's a trigger for a lot of intense aspects of the story and meaning and purpose and memories and the operation, you know, it churns up expectations and anticipations and hopes that are now been shattered. We didn't even know we've had, and so to let to let go. So a wise life is one that understands the stories we live in some stories that we receive from our culture, from our family, from our religions, that are contingent that are not absolute. But it's a story. It's a meaning it's a, that's a sign to this life into ourselves. And, and to respect that for sure. But then also to learn how to put that aside. And so I define grief, as the, the pain that arises in the emptiness, associated with loss. And, and here rather than filling the emptiness, with words with stories, meaning ideas, the idea is to let the emptiness be there without story. Without meaning, without a lot of thoughts and ideas. And see what happens. And maybe that emptiness will become large, maybe that emptiness will be freeing, maybe that emptiness will make room for more the depth something to deep the thing inside of yourself. And and to do this work of letting go of the stories and allowing the emptiness to be empty is to allow the a contemplative life and meditative life to allow something to flower something to settle in a deep, deep place a place that is deeper than the surface mind. So perhaps you'll have an occasion to have grief.
And if you do this next 24 hours, see what it's like to sit with a grief. And putting aside the stories, the ideas, the meaning of it, and just sit with your perience see what that's like to that emptiness, and see if it does, in fact, allow something deeper and more profound to happen. So thank you. And tomorrow, I'll be at the Insight retreat center going down there, when I finish here today, and I'll be there for two days. So it means that this tomorrow morning, I'll be in a different location. I'll be in one of the meditation halls of the retreat center. So probably I'll be with patipada Chara that the statue of the nun that we have, that some of you probably remember. And so I look forward to connecting you to you from from IRC. Thank you.