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Ritual/ How Mindfulness Can Help Us Cope With Loss

How Mindfulness Can Help Us Cope With Loss

by Kristin O'Connor

Inevitably, each time we sit down to catch up with friends this week, we end up expressing the awe we feel about the dramatic and sudden loss of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and everyone on the helicopter with them. Equally, we are struck by how deeply it has impacted each of us and how saddened we are by the loss of someone we did not know personally. Which leads me to the question - how does wellness help us we cope with loss?

The understanding of holistic wellness teaches us that it is not limited to eating and exercising right; it’s also about how we can train our minds to grieve and yet continue to move forward. In Buddhist teachings, there is this idea that a broken glass should be treated as though it’s already broken. As told by Buddhist teacher: Ashaan Chaa referenced in an excerpt from Mark Epstein's book: Thoughts Without A Thinker: 'You see this goblet? For me, this glass is already broken. I enjoy it; I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably, sometimes even reflecting the sun in beautiful patterns. If I should tap it, it has a lovely ring to it. But when I put this glass on a shelf and the wind knocks it over or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, 'Of course.' But when I understand that this glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious.'. Indeed the act of looking at the things we cherish the most as if they have already broken or disappeared from your life is rather liberating. So how exactly do you do that?

  1. Start slow by picking an object rather than a living creature/person.
  2. Close your eyes for a minute.
  3. Picture that object being gone forever.
  4. Open your eyes.
  5. Look at, touch, hold that object with the knowledge that it is just as much gone as it is there. 

    You may then experience an overwhelming sense — indeed a flooding — of appreciation for that object. And if it does’t work the first time, simply try it again with another object so that you can share in the wonder of stepping into THIS very moment. You are being present with this object and thus you are in the here and now in a new way that allows you to be more mindful and present than before.

    And then healing can begin to sneak in, so you can ultimately learn from loss. Love hard, express that love and share the kindness in your heart now, while you can. Learn that right now, being present, appreciating the things and people who fill our lives is the way to honor all that we have lost.