In my previous post, I posed these questions:
How do we cope with these catastrophes? How as a human race do we continue living on without accepting a unified, shared consciousness in the pain of these calamities? How do we as individuals move on with our lives if the pain of these events or loss of a loved one hits us every day?
If you were directly affected by 9/11, you have felt the dire impact of suffering — perhaps loss of a loved one, loss of personal property, loss of self, and ultimately loss of the delicate balance of your web of life. When your life fabric is disrupted in such ways, severe sorrow and a stress response follow. Numbness (lack of feeling) and shock may first set in. Life appears to be a movie, and you’re just the observer. Tears roll down as you begin to understand the shear depth of the tragedy. You may find your life spinning out of control due to these unexpected, unplanned changed. You may develop insomnia and nightmares as a result.
The shock of what has happened makes it extremely difficult to adapt and adjust to these events. Your grounding is lost — understanding becomes clouded. Darkness sets in — there appears to be no clear light on the meaning of these events. You may withdraw from ordinary life, and even from loved ones. Eventually, depression sets in, and may be confounded by drinking or substance abuse as an escape.
The final result is a maladaptive response in someone who is merely trying to cope — trying to comprehend and assimilate what has happened. You try to remedy this, trying to feel “normal” again, but not knowing the path to “normalcy.”
In exploring this dilemma, I reflected on universal principles that could serve as guideposts on how to recover. I was looking for the modern adaptation of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. She had so eloquently described the stages of grief, such as what a person may go through when given a terminal diagnosis like metatastic cancer. The “grief cycle” consisted of the following:
Well, I wanted these principles to be positive, basically like lighthouses [points of light] guiding a path away from the rocky shore. This would be a step-by-step program, based on the system of chakras. I based it, as you may have surmised, on my training in yoga. It would take the person on a healing journey in a path of ascendance from the groundedness of the lower chakras, to the inspiration and guidance of the higher chakras. If a person could experience through ways of thinking or action the healing energy of each chakra, they would be able to transcend, transform and heal themselves of their suffering.
Why the chakras? The chakras are postulated to be energy centers in the body, starting at the base of the spine and moving up and along the spine, focused in specific regions of the body. There are purported to be seven chakras in the body, with more complex layers outside of the physical body. Each one of the chakras has its own unique vibration, the lowest at the base of the spine, and the highest at the crown of the head. This gradation of energy, from low to high, implies a hierarchy of being, or an order of passage, with the higher centers being closer to the soul, insight and understanding of life, whereas the lower centers ground us to our existence on this earth. The duality of life is captured in the chakra system, as understood and expressed in the various religions of the world — the physical and the spiritual. However, you do not need to be religious to appreciate the value of the chakra system as an intellectual tool by which to help transform your grief into joy and love.
At one point, I had suffered from depression late in my residency training, and I completely cured myself through yoga and meditation. So, it was through my own experience and understanding of universal principles, that I devised this series of steps.
The “laws” or “principles” will take you through the steps you need to follow to recover and shine as the being that you are meant to be in this world. Each law has a virtue. The virtue is like a key that unlocks the healing potential of the law. Each virtue frees you from the psychological blocks in each stage so you can move on to the next step. The laws are tools for achieving freedom from grief, thus opening the path to a heartfelt existence full of happiness.
The Eight Spiritual Laws for Healing Wounds of Loss and Sorrow
- The Law of Mourning: Virtue – Acceptance. Allow yourself to mourn thoroughly and completely. Ancient societies had rituals of mourning that could last for days or weeks. We often package our mourning into a contracted time, then try to jump back into our daily routines without sitting with our sadness. Give yourself permission to sit with the sadness. Let yourself experience it for as long as you need to reach the point of acceptance.
- The Law of Release: Virtue – Learning to Let Go. One of the hardest things to do is to let go of loved ones. In order to continue living, you have to release them. They will always be in your hearts, but give yourself permission to move on with your life.
- The Law of Creation: Virtue — Innocence. This one is fun. Find something you enjoy to do — whether it be painting, or sewing, or gardening. Whatever it may be, it has to be an active act of creation. Put yourself into the childlike mind of innocence, and lose yourself in the process of creation. The healing from this is amazing.
- The Law of Giving: Virtue — Selflessness. Find a charity you enjoy or a person that needs you, and give of your time. It could be anything simple. Lose yourself in the act. Become selfless.
- The Law of Forgiving: Virtue — Unconditional Love. You are now ready to enter the heart chakra. It is time to forgive. Forgive whoever/whatever you think needs forgiving. The simple act of forgiving releases endorphins and continues the process of healing. To move beyond forgiveness, offer unconditional love. To whom? Perhaps it is yourself that needs to be loved.
- The Law of Renewed Commitment: Virtue — Honoring Thyself. The act of love brings us to the act of honoring yourself. Allow yourself to do things that you enjoy. Spend meaningful time with yourself. Look at life with new eyes, like you are just being born.
- The Law of Insight: Virtue — Trust. We have moved on to the “third eye” — the center of insight. The step is about reconnecting with your inner voice. Learn to trust again. Trust your judgment. Trust yourself. Spend time meditating, breathing and focusing your attention on the third eye.
- The Law of Universal Sustainability: Virtue — Honoring Others. We are all in this together. Connect with others. Connect with loved ones, and what their needs are. We are all one on this planet. Connect with the earth. Walk barefoot on the lawn or on the sand by the seashore. Cherish the memory of your lost loved one. Understanding this is the path to Sustainable Health and sustainable happiness.