Horne: Learning to be kind to ourselves in a time of loss

We come to understand grace when we accept that everything that happens in our lives happens for a reason.

We are all on a spiritual path whether we know it or not. Increasing awareness and developing our consciousness is a shared bond we each have with humanity.

We come to understand grace when we accept that everything that happens in our lives happens for a reason.

Our experiences are our own curriculum of learning on our unique path towards recognizing that the bond we have with each other is determined by our willingness to be kind to ourselves.

There are four key elements of self-compassion:

•Recognizing your own suffering is caused from a self-critical mind

• Responding to your own suffering with kindness

• Understanding that you are not suffering in isolation

• Cultivating a practice of mindfulness as the antidote to self-criticism

Mindfulness cultivates acceptance by becoming a neutral observer of negative thoughts and emotions.

It helps us disengage from an emotional response to an event and allows us to navigate challenges with equanimity and perspective.

As a society, we are quick to judge, quick to blame others and create cultures in our own home, at our workplace or within our own circle of connections that sometimes feeds on discord.

We forget that our longings, hopes and dreams are a universally shared bond.

When we each accept that we can profoundly affect positive change by eliminating our own tendencies toward creating separation, seeking control, or manipulating others, greater harmony will be created.

This process requires not only tolerance of our differences, but a genuine willingness to work with them. It requires focusing on our commonality rather than our dissimilarity.

We all experience loss in our lives and it is a gateway to taking us deeper into how we feel about ourselves.

It is an open window to vulnerability, which is a very strong motivator to letting down our armour long enough to connect to hurts we have protected that can result in cynicism and the projection of that hurt onto others.

The busyness of our lives does not create moments of stillness unless we choose to stop, slow down and let the energy of spirit speak with us to reveal where disconnection, judgment or blaming others is actually negatively affecting us.

The experience of a loss sometimes stops life for a time and by grand design, we are forced to experience our own pain more fully and just be for a while. There is infinite wisdom and learning from it.

We all create habits of doing things and once a habit of behavior is established, we continue to use the habit unconsciously.

There is great insight available as we go back to explore the losses in our lives, how we dealt with them and what perceptions we formed from the experience.

When you are in the middle of a present loss, it is an opportunity to dive in deeply and if willing, you may heal many losses from the past that have been left unresolved and have affected your habits of behavior and patterns of separation and isolation.

As I have quite recently lost my mom, the opportunity to explore how loss has affected me, not just now but over my lifetime, is available in a very transformative way.

I recently spent time doing what is called a loss history graph. This process allows you to come to a clearer understanding of your own patterns, so that you can confront and change them.

Especially as we age, it seems that more and more losses enter our lives. As the old mountain man told the young mountain man, “If you want to avoid bear traps, it’s a good idea to know what they look like.”

Learning about your behaviour of dealing with loss is incredibly insightful and valuable to increasing joy in your life.

You begin a Loss History Graph by writing down your first memory of loss of any type with a couple of words and the date of the occurrence.

Follow that with a recording of each of the losses that present to you.

Some will seem full of emotion and you can write down how it affected you, decisions you may have made and any insights that present themselves to you.

Others will seem of less significance and perhaps not require much additional information.

Give yourself lots of time to do this or allow several time periods to return to it.

Rest when you need to, be aware of your feelings and connect into your body through slow, deep breaths and just allow that which comes to your awareness to do so as you are still.

Pay attention to where you want to blame someone for actions that were taken.

Let that go and be willing to let spirit guide you to insights that are important for you to realize.

As you see from this exercise how deeply your patterns of loss can affect yourself, you may want to take it further.

The Central Okanagan Hospice Association is starting an eight- week Adult Grief Group on May 6 that will run on Wednesday evenings from 6 to 8 pm.

Call Pauline at 250-763-5511 for more information.

There is great discovery in exploring your feelings of loss to promote healthy living and well-being.

I guarantee it will be worth the effort and the peace of self-compassion is the result.

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