With the exception of very young children, all of us have experienced the loss of others in our lives. While the feeling of loss for those who we have hardly known or known of is usually minimal, strong feelings are normally present for those with whom we’ve had a significant relationship. The sensations we feel may range from real pain to that of joy. More often than not, many of us may choose to avoid those feelings while others will wallow in them. The point is, however, that if we learn to take a middle ground to consider those we have lost, we may just discover something amazing.
For example, my mother passed away 13 years ago at the very mature age of 97, and I find it valuable to focus on her from time to time. She was a farm woman, strong of mind, kind to her neighbors, religious, and of fervent opinions regarding life. While she presented an excellent model for honesty and good work ethics, she certainly had a strong temperament and was prone to make human errors just as all of us do. The good times that I remember are many, such as the wonderful meals she prepared, the time she took to talk and read to me, and the way she showed me how to interact with others. When I was quite ill with bad colds or the flu, she took great care of me. On the other hand, there were experiences that weren’t so great—after all, I was quite rebellious. For example, she didn’t spare the rod or hold anything back in terms of tongue lashing. Spending an occasional few minutes in a dark pantry was her form of ostracism along with some threats of being sent to the reform school. The use of religious intimidation wasn’t out of her reach either. All told, the good far outweighed the bad.
In fact, learning to take the middle ground to consider Mom has given me the opportunity to see her in ways far differently than ever before. First, I had to learn the technique which involves focusing on a state of mind between the experience of her loss and the freedom from the pain of that grief. This involved concentrating on the in-between emotions and feelings, and absolutely none of the thoughts that came up during the process. Having a background in concentration, mindfulness, and loving kindness techniques was very helpful. Second, the initial experience was quite different from what I had previously encountered because of an increased need to center myself from my forehead down through the heart. Finally, I learned that patience was a key factor while continuing to focus and let go of whatever came up. It became quite clear to me that Mom had had a great hand in helping me to grow in so many ways, especially with unconditional love, compassion, non-harming, spirituality, and helping others throughout my life.
By taking this in-between state of mind to consider the experience I had with my mother, I’ve learned a great deal that has added to the mindfulness practice I follow. It has allowed me to add a new channel for personal growth, so I adamantly recommend that others try this with the people they have lost. Moreover, it is worthwhile to do this with other experiences we’ve had or are having, especially those that have to do with fear. In conclusion, this life-long personal training without doubt prepares us for whatever comes our way in the course of daily living and, I would daresay, in our dying moments.