Tap Into the Teaching
My brother and I sold my childhood home this past Friday. The couple of weeks beforehand had me preparing, packing and thinking of next steps. The selling of the home is significant in many ways because it represented a space of safety, memories (happy and sad), of comfort and also of smallness. This last piece is significant because I’ve had to overcome many feelings of guilt, denial and smallness in order to move forward. I realized through this process that I am so much stronger than I ever knew. There was a time when the thought of not having that home or my mother any longer was so unthinkable.
I imagined I would evaporate without them. I could not even imagine it; just figured I would not be able to handle it and may end up in some sort of asylum or institution. That is not what happened. It turns out that the pain is unavoidable though, and it is terrifyingly achy all the way to the majja (marrow). I stayed in that house for a year after my mother left her body, and it was a perfect amount of time. I took her clothes off the hangers, smelling each and every garment and placing in bags to gift to women coming from abusive situations who are looking for work--just what my mother would’ve wanted. I touched each and every item from her, from my grandmother, my great grandmother’s (even her moccasins), deciding how and where to distribute everything. This process was painful, but it was the type of pain when you are rehabbing a part of your body and it hurts but it is beneficial. I ran my hands over every wall of the home and thanked them. I thanked each and every plant and tree in our backyard. I spread my mother’s and dog Enzo’s ashes together under the tree my father planted in the backyard in the 1960’s. It offered us such protection and love and home to the birds she fed every day, and that I continued to feed every day this last year. One little bird took refuge in the patio cover all year long and I believed my mother was visiting me. I saged the house before I left it for good.
The way that the teachings of Vedanta in Acharya Shunya's Vedic Spiritual Studies program apply to my life, especially this last year of grief, are immeasurable. Through Sakshi Chaitanyam (witnessing consciousness), I take refuge in the observation of maya (illusion). I realize that praise and blame, loss and gain, fame and shame are all a part of the ego life. It was a fine line for me to allow my feeling body to grieve, to heave, to experience through uncontrollable shaking and hysterical crying, the loss of my mother’s physical presence in my life. I’ve learned to accept and allow grief to come through into my physical body as it pleases, to sweep through, rattle my bones and lightly leave. Many times I was tempted to suppress my feelings and take a false refuge in knowledge. Although the knowledge itself was not false, my refuge in it in place of having my feelings would be. I believe undigested grief can cause disease. I also believe staying willfully stuck in grief can cause disease. It has to move. The balance was allowing the grief to run through me like a river, and in times of quietude to remember my mother and I are not separate. We reside in the same place. The guilt and self-blame I carried were and sometimes still are the hardest thing. I have found that I have to forgive myself in order to be free from those shackles. It is paradoxical. It is an oxymoron that I must have full compassion for myself and my mistakes in order to honor my mother. The absolute trust, the willingness to surrender and receive guidance are some things I’ve received from the Vedic Spiritual Studies program as well as my recovery program and attending meetings. It really distills down to the oneness I feel in meditation, knowing I am “not that”, that joy and peace are my truest nature; these things I’ve learned from Vedanta and am able to tap into anytime I want.
The author Fiana Anderson is a long -term student of Acharya Shunya.
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