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Lions Roar : September 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN SepteMBer 2009 45 When sudden loss or trouble oCCurs, we feel shock and bewilderment, as i did when alan died. We wonder, what just happened? for so long we expected things to be as they had been, had taken this as much for granted as the air we breathe. and suddenly it is not so. Maybe tomorrow, we think, we will wake up to discover that this devastating change was all just a temporary mistake, and that things are back to normal. (after alan’s death i had some dreams that he hadn’t actually died, that it had all been some sort of correctable slipup). after the shock passes, fear and despair arrive. We are anxious about our uncertain future, over which we have so little control. it’s easy to fall into the paralysis of despair, caroming back to our childish default position of feeling completely vulnerable and unprepared in a harsh and hostile world. this fearful feeling of self-diminishment may darken our view to such an extent that we find ourselves wondering whether we are worth- while people, whether we’re capable of surviving in this tough world, whether we deserve to survive, whether our lives matter, whether there is any point in trying to do anything at all. this is what it feels like when the raw spot is rubbed. the sense of loss, the despair, and the fear are terrible and we hate it, but it is exactly what we need. it is the embryo of compassion stirring to be born. birth is painful. too many people in times like these just don’t have the heart to do spiritual practice. but these are the best times for practice, because motivation is so clear. practice is not simply a lifestyle choice or a refinement. there is no choice. it’s a matter of survival. the tremendous benefit of simple medita- tion practice is most salient in these moments. having exhausted all avenues of activity that might change your outward circumstances, and given up on other means of finding inner relief for your raging or sinking mind, there is nothing better to do than to sit down on a chair or cushion and just be present with your situation. there you sit, feeling your body. you try to sit up straight, with some Difficult Times: Wisdom from Our Readers Over time my fear and pain as an older person with dwindling economic “fluid- ity” seems less a crisis than before. I have my health, my work, my practice, and I’m safe physically and emotion- ally. And you know what? I’m really getting it that none of this is solid, real. I have a growing sense that I’m exactly where I need to be in exactly the way I need to be, and I’m okay with that. Barb Jones