Hope While Grieving Estrangement
Awakening is a multi-faceted process that includes spiritual revelation and euphoria yet also includes confusion, uncertainty, times of “no-available-answers” and the absence of “light”. Is there hope, here, even during these moments — which seem to stretch longer than we’d wish -and are “darker” than we’d prefer?
We’ve heard it said in human terms that these times “build character”, they’re the growing-pains of maturation and development. It can be difficult to “see progress” when the topic is ethereal and as subtle as spiritual development or the expansion of consciousness. We can’t see progress, we can’t “touch it” nor measure it. We can only feel the effects of suffering and notice the speed through which we move through it and rate the intensity of reactivity compared to our past conditioned patterns.
What about when we’re estranged from someone we love?
A friend, a spouse, a parent, a child, estrangement can take many forms, even space and distance from a pet, from a job, from a former habit or routine. We may view the separation as involuntary if it wasn’t our choice or perhaps necessary albeit undesirable, even if it were our choice. We hurt. We wonder if we’re doing the “right” thing. We worry if perhaps we’re “wrong”. We may feel ambivalent, sorrowful and yet relieved; self-righteous yet guilty; resigned yet depressed.
There are times during Awakening when we feel alone, as if no one seems to see what we see nor understand what we’re beginning to comprehend. It might feel as if we’ve suddenly awakened one morning speaking a new language. No matter how hard we try, everyone with whom we attempt to communicate, cannot understand us.
It’s one thing if we try to explain the inner workings of a diesel engine to someone who knows nothing about trucks, at least we can draw pictures or use metaphors to get our point across. But, spiritual awakening? No pictures work, metaphors seem to fall short, belief systems and narratives might clash. We have many experiences where we simply cannot “get through” to someone for whom we care so much.
The frustration of “bumping up against” differing levels of consciousness can create overwhelming feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. It might feel as though the person we’re attempting to converse with is blocking open communication; it feels as though emotionally, their heart is shut-down; a closed mind is causing conversational gridlock.
We feel separate, alone, stymied, at a loss and desperately wanting some type of agreement to feel that we’re still “close”, that we share some type of common ground. Egoic mind needs agreement so that “self” doubt doesn’t arise.
Grieving is perceiving loss. It’s not “good, bad, right, wrong”, it’s simply a slant on a story believed by mind. Grief is part of the human experience. “Loss” is part of mind’s attachment, an element of change within our physical, mental, emotional dimensions. Thinking mind attaches to people, animals, the physical body, clothing, houses, relationships, cars, money, body-weight, body-health, favorite foods, sex, drinks, habits, routines, preferences.
Our pain-body, the collection of innocently ignorant, uninvestigated and often repeated actions and reactions which creates suffering bonds with these attachments to form identification. This is egoic suffering, the “personal me”, the identity which “hurts” when changes happen at unwanted times, in undesirable ways, to the attachments within mind — to objects -in our physical or emotional worlds.
For example: When mind attaches to hot chocolate there is an experience of pleasure. When we become stressed and rely on hot chocolate to self-soothe and the coffee-shop is sold out of hot chocolate, we hit-the-roof with anger or feel we can’t cope with the depression, shock or loss of having to go without “what we need”.
This is our pain-body’s identification with the mind’s attachment to hot chocolate/self-soothing and the identification of “me” who is hurting right now and in need of relief. There’s no problem with mental attachments, no problem with pleasure, nor self-soothing, no problem with an angry nor grieving “me”, it is just emotional suffering — when it goes unrecognized.
The egoic mind, attaching to objects and forming identifications around a “me” is convinced that a specific circumstance is causing pain. It cannot see that it’s mode-of-operation is the cause of suffering. Egoic mind substitutes a piece of cake for hot chocolate, a cigarette, a different drink, or a release of pent-up frustration by cursing the coffeeshop staff. The pain-body seeks relief in any way it can. If there were no loss…where is the suffering?
This is why we can say that grief is a perception of loss, a slant on a story or narrative about loss created by thinking mind fueled by the pain-body. If there were no (story of ) “me”…where is the suffering?
Estrangement could be said to be separation from someone/something we love/need which feels in some way undesirable, it is tinged with loss. The pain-body might have other emotions bonded to the loss such as righteous anger, shame/guilt, jealousy/rage, bitterness/resentment, depression/despair. Negative emotions have their energetic vibration and tend to “clump up” in pairs, triples, multiples. Each emotion is “tied in place” or justified by a story.
The ego’s pain-body tells its angry story, we believe the story and the emotion anger is felt. The ego’s pain-body tells its resentment story, we believe the story and the emotion resentment is felt. The pain-body shares its perception of loss, we believe the narrative of loss and grief is felt. None of this is wrong nor bad, it’s the way of the thinking mind, the egoic mind, the pain-body as they make up the human emotional-mental experience in the context of relationship.
That Which We Are — beyond yet including our human experience- is immensely Wise and vastly Intelligent. Awakening brings recognition or Awareness of this depth of Intelligent Wisdom that is beyond mind yet It expresses through the mind to dawn as revelation or intuition.
During Awakening we become more aware of:
· Emotions; intensity, frequency, positive/negative “spin”, reactivity
· Thoughts: individual thoughts which when believed, create a particular emotion and and patterns of thoughts: which when woven together create mental-emotional themes
· Patterns of thought-belief-emotion of the pain-body based on past pain which, when repeated, innocently, re-create suffering
· The “personal me”, the stories believed which create an egoic “self” or story
· Positive “happy stories” and Negative “sad stories” of a “personal me”
· The Intelligent Wisdom that is beyond thinking mind and all stories
· The Unshakable Peace and Certainty beyond the “personal me” and pain-body’s suffering
Awakening offers opportunities to recognize Freedom and this may come by walking through the dark alleyways which frighten us. Grief can be scary. Estrangement can be frightening. Loss can feel overwhelming. Confusion and the vacillation of changing perception can feel worrisome.
If we dive into That which arises, whether it is grief, estrangement, loss, confusion, worry, anger, resentment, uncertainty…we let go of egoic thinking mind and all of its attachments and pain-body identifications…into That Intelligent Wisdom within which all forms appear.
This Spaciousness has no separation for It is Our Very Beingness. This Knows there is no true loss of any kind. This is beyond story, beyond pain and contains no suffering.
We face Grief in Estrangement so that it can lead us through the portal of suffering into That which is Peace, Itself, Our True Transcendent Nature, while we’re experiencing the human condition. This transforms human suffering, itself. We can directly experience this for ourselves although words are limited to describe what we witness.
We can walk directly into the darkness of grief during estrangement, fall into its shadows to discover the “un-darkness” it contains. It only looked dark because we’d not directly-experienced it. Fear made it look “dark and black”, it was colored by a fearful ego’s negative story.
“But, this is so airy-fairy, you’re not describing anything concrete in real world terms, I’m looking for answers for how to deal with no longer being able to get along with my family member. What am I supposed to do? Do I stay distant and not contact them or am I supposed to forget it all and just call them and get over it even though I know the drama is gonna start all over, again?!”
This is how the thinking mind, the ego and its pain-body approach its “problems”. Not wrong, just notice. The “cause’ for its suffering is “out there”, someone else, a circumstance. The cause is the ego-mind’s story about the circumstance and the way the pain-body is identified with a “me” and its suffering. There’s no wrong answer, even no answer is okay if no-answer comes.
Just watch the egoic mind look “outside” rather than at its own method of operation by demanding an answer. Rather than being pulled along by the momentum of thinking mind’s obsessive need to problem-solve, dive into the formless beingness of the present moment.
Watch the mind’s movement. The mind’s movement is then entered contemplatively by Awareness which refocuses mind on identifying egoic thought and emotion. Awakening will release the conditioned patterns of thinking mind. The starting point is the Stillness beyond mind and moves through mind instead of starting with the twisting and spinning point of reactive egoic thinking mind. Start from Stillness, intense Presence. Awakening will guide the use of mind as a tool. (The shovel doesn’t create a garden, the gardener uses the shovel as the tool to create the growing area of the garden).
Identify what the pain-body considers to be a “loss” of estrangement. The pain-body will speak in terms of “I/Me”. “I” miss feeling supported. There’s no one left to validate “me”. “I” miss feeling close. “I” feel all alone without them. “I” can’t be around that person anymore, it stresses “me” out. “I” miss feeling whole, like a family. “I” need their company. “I” need them to encourage “me”. The ego always wants/desires something and the pain-body always needs/is lacking something. No judgment, no criticism, just observe, see if you can determine what feels like loss, which seems to be “caused” by the estrangement.
Notice this “loss” is being told by the egoic personal me; it is a created story. Allow the story yet don’t completely believe the story. Be willing and open for the Wisdom of the Transcendent dimension to see through the story. Let the Truth of Who You Are see through the suffering.
This is the void which gives way to the “Peace that passeth understanding” as mentioned in the bible. The thinking mind is bypassed and Wisdom dawns, clearly with powerful Certainty which is full, alive, lacking nothing, undisturbed, filled with pure unconditional love and goodness.
How This shows up within our experience will be tailor-made to our Awakening. What actions might follow this direct experience to take place in the physical dimension will be tailor-made to the people/situations involved. Some might call that person and forgiveness might flow restoring contact and communication. Others might allow estrangement to continue yet will feel a shift of compassion within their Hearts so the grief becomes “sweet” rather than bitter-reminding them of the depth of love they have for that person every time a thought of them comes to their mind, yet no contact is resumed. The “how’s” and “what’s” are as varied as are the variety of human experience, yet each of us will experience that which is perfectly suited for us at the appropriate time in the most loving and beneficent way intended specifically for us.
Awakening cannot be described like a cookbook or a textbook with steps 1, 2, 3. Recipes and stair-stepped solutions are creations of thought, of mind which work on objects within the physical dimension. Since we’re not only the physical form called a body, we are offered the much larger all-encompassing Wholeness expressed recognized during Awakening. The Transcendental realm is of direct-experience which reveals Itself to Itself-as-Who-We-Are.
Conditioned behavior can be managed using steps, such as certain recovery solutions, healing strategies, adaptive behavioral change, etc… Consciousness expands when the innocent ignorance of conditioning begins to awaken. The seeming “change” in consciousness is seen on the physical level as “change” to conditioned patterns. By tuning into the Transcendental, the physical process of change is seen to be already taken care of within the larger process of Awakening to the Wholeness of Who We Are.
Diving into the grief of estrangement will reveal the egoic thinking mind’s story and the pain-body’s identifications causing the suffering blamed on the estrangement. We can allow even this to deepen the experience of the Truth of Who We Are. The grief will give way to a deeper and stronger experience of unconditional love of which the thinking mind doesn’t know.
The Truth of Who We Are cannot be separated nor estranged, only in the physical experience of the human can egoic mind believe itself to be “separated” from “another”. The pain-body is needing something, the egoic personal self is wanting something. That something is being perceived as being “over there” or “given by them”. This is an innocent yet ignorant attachment and identification made by thinking mind and pain-body overlayed onto that other person.
Since the other person is “separate/estranged”, it seems to be “missing”, hence…the “loss”. Seen clearly, what is needed/wanted is here, already, within, right here, right now, not dependent on anyone else. No circumstance has the power to cancel the Peaceful Wholeness available in this Present moment.
We are courageous enough to question the validity of “loss”. As the spiritual teacher Byron Katie says, “I don’t let go of my stories, I meet them with understanding. Then they let go of me.”
There is hope while grieving estrangement. We step into the depths of Who We Truly Are, undisturbed, to discover our wholeness, completely at peace, right now.
With You as Awakening Unfolds