"How can we resolve feelings of loss and sadness?"
Great website. I read with interest a lot of the letters posted on your site. The one about the dog was very sad. I had a similar experience. When you said guilt and sadness hurt the spirit, could you explain a little more about sadness. Why do we continue to feel sad long after the loss of a loved one? Even though I know that one day I will see them again, we can not help missing them in the present time, and when we realize this then we get sad and maybe cry and then we're ok for a while. How do we resolve these feelings, or do you think it is ok to have these? How much does it hurt the spirit to occasionally feel sad? Why does losing someone so close feel such a loss?
Thanks for writing. This is a big question. So, here goes.
When we have a thought, any thought, a corresponding reaction takes place in the body. For instance, if you have a thought such as "Oh, that is so sad that my friend's mother died", the body will create from that thought a chemical response to match it. If you have an angry thought, the body will turn hot, the skin will turn red, there will be an acidic reaction in the stomach, etc. When people say they felt anger about something, you may have heard the expression, "It made my blood boil!!" That is actually true. The blood overheats and produces such reactions in the body. Sadness causes a heavy, depressed energy in the body - it weakens the immune system and drains it of energy and vitality as the dismal thoughts then produce corresponding chemicals in the body. EVERY thought we think, and every emotion that we then feel from that thought has a corresponding chemical reaction in the body. Some are very harmful, create stress and possibly eventually illness or some form of misalignment (your back goes out, etc.) if kept up over a long period of time.
The body therefore shows us that what is best for health is joy. The chemical that is produced in our body when we feel joy is an overall tonic and is known to heal cancer. The body shows us exactly what we think in every moment - it is like an immediate mirror image of our inside self that we can see. Deepak Chopra speaks of this very eloquently in his tape series Magical Mind, Magical Body.
So, what I get from all of this is that we are made to live in joy. Now, when we misunderstand things in life, such as thinking death is a sad or bad thing - or when we believe that we are alone (how can we truly feel alone in the universe if we TRULY know and remember that we are intimately connected to all of life?), or if we think we are bad or "a sinner", then we will feel something other than joy. I heard once that the true evidence that someone is really connected to God is the presence of joy in their life. Real joy - not the distorted sense of joy where someone tries to convert someone else - or tell another what's right or wrong - just true joy - as a child has joy.
Now, when we do have a sad or angry or fearful thought, the important thing is to be kind to oneself and to explore it. So many people say "Oh, don't feel sad" or "don't be angry", and that does not work. We have to explore these energies, these emotions, to learn from them - to give us the experience of being human. When we allow ourselves to experience sadness, or fear, or anger, we teach ourselves about compassion, and about what we DO want to feel and create in our lives. We give ourselves the right to make a choice. These emotions are what we create our lives with, and as we explore how our lives feel and look when we create from sadness, or fear, or anger, we get to see what happens - and then we can create differently if we want to, if we would rather feel something else.
All emotions come from thoughts, and thoughts come from what we believe in. If you were taught or decided somewhere along the way that life is a sad thing, then you will see life through sadness. Everything will seem sad, even if it doesn't have to be. It's all a matter of what you choose to paint your life with. Let's say sadness is the color black. You can paint your life with that color as long as you want to. When you want to paint your life with a different color, you can. But you also must then choose to change how you think about things. Maybe it's good that the friend's mother died, for instance. How can we tell what's right? By being open to life and allowing. By trusting that all is as it should be, and that we have the right and the ability to create our life from thoughts and emotions that create joy and happiness in our lives. And one other thought about joy: it is not an excited thing - it is not something that goes up and down depending on what happens - it is a steady, deep, profound knowing, a trust and strength in who we really are - touching that spark of Godness within us, and being connected to it at all times. And then living from that place.
There is a great story about a farmer in China who had one son and one horse. Now having a son and a horse was considered a great blessing for a poor farmer. One day the farmer's horse runs away. The people of the village come to him, gathering around, and they all moan and say, "What a terrible thing to happen to you!" He says, "Maybe yes, maybe no". One day soon after, the horse returns and brings a mare back with him. All the villagers eagerly gather round him and say "Oh, what a blessing! How lucky you are!" He says, "Maybe yes, maybe no". Soon after that, the son is working with the new horse to train it, and he breaks his leg. The villagers appear once more and moan "Oh, what an unlucky man you are! What a terrible thing to happen! Your only son!" He says, "Maybe yes, maybe no". Later that week, the Chinese army comes riding through the village and forcibly takes away all the boys old enough to be in the army. But they can't take the farmer's son, as he has a broken leg. The villagers all gather round the farmer and say "Oh, what a good thing your son broke his leg! How fortunate you are!" And the farmer, of course, says, "maybe yes, maybe no".
If we look at what would be happening to the villager's bodies as they waste their energy going up and down, and feeling sad, excited, and distraught, we would probably see some not so good things happening that are stressing their bodies. The farmer, on the other hand, remains at deep peace, no matter what is going on around him.
Have you read the Winnie-the-Pooh stories? Well, in those stories, there are characters that in some ways represent different ways of seeing and being in the world. Eeyore is the sad donkey. When we read about how he is, we have to laugh, because he always sees everything as so droopy and awful. He plays the victim to life. Everything bad always happens to him, he says. Then there's piglet, who sees life through fear. Rabbit who worries about everything, Tigger who bounces around in excitement out of control, and Pooh, who seems to represent a more steady form of love. We can choose how we want to perceive things. We can chose what colors we want to paint our lives with. We choose this by what thoughts we choose to think. For instance, you could choose to think, "Oh, I am alone and sad and I will never have such a good friend again" ( and your body will respond accordingly and lose energy and get droopy and dull, like Eeyore) or, you could think, "I have a whole world of wonderful beings out there waiting to meet me and share who they are with me" - and that will create an entirely different set of chemical responses going off in your body that will make you feel alive and enthusiastic and energized.
It is important however, as you explore energies and emotions and thoughts and what they do, that you do it lovingly. To tell yourself or someone else that they "shouldn't" feel something is to deny them their growing and learning process. Instead, you can be compassionate when you or others are in the throes of feeling something and appreciate that they are giving themselves the chance to enrich their souls by feeling and learning different things. It's important never to suppress an emotion, but to allow yourself to feel it and go through it appropriately, without turning it against yourself or harming yourself or anyone else - but to just explore it, watch it, watch how you feel, feel it, and love yourself as you are on this journey of discovery.
In this way we develop compassion and deep understanding. We gain strength of character. But we must be aware not to use our emotions ever to harm ourselves or another. We do this by being like the farmer in the story. We keep a part of ourselves detached enough not to get so caught up in so believing an emotion that we harm ourselves. We know that we are to embrace everything in the bigger picture of love and understanding. Emotions come and go. They are like waves in the ocean. They are on the surface. But the ocean itself is the true strength. It is deep and abides forever. Emotions are just forms of energy that we are learning to work with and understand, and by doing that in a Loving way, we develop joy and love, the depths of who we are, which is where we want to be.
Blessings on your journey - Ayal