Meditation and Mourning?

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Meditation and Mourning?

Postby eaglestare » Fri May 23, 2014 8:51 am

My husband and I had 2 dogs, a collie Cirrus, and a black German shepherd Rook. We both developed special relationships and strong bonds with them. Their special gift to me, among many, was helping me practice meditation, tai chi, be mindfully aware, and just BE. I did this a lot, always in their presence, with them either watching me, and just being with me, and me focusing on the moment and enjoying their presence, especially among nature. We must have walked millions of miles together in those 11-14 years we had them.

Last year, Cirrus passed away. About a month ago, Rook passed away. Whenever I try to practice meditation or tai chi, I think of Rook and how he was with me in those special moments, and how when he was sick and had moments of good energy we would still be able to feel each others presence and enjoying just being together celebrating the little miracles.

I remember particular enlightening moments with him by my side out in the forest or by the lake, or wherever we walked together. I would always make a point to take my time, not be in a hurry and just enjoy being with him and nature. When I feel this connection of him and being in the moment, like walking meditation, I start missing him, and I feel like I can't do any of this without him to support me. Whenever I wasn't at work, my life was focused on him and I couldn't wait to walk with him and practice being. Intense sadness comes over me in this time of mourning, and I think, "How can I ever do this again? How can I mediatate without him?" He was always part of my practice. He helped me snap out of my thoughts and feelings and enjoy peace and happiness.

This feeling kind of happened while mourning the loss of Cirrus last year, but this feeling of strong connection between Rook and my meditation practice and feeling part of nature seems to be deeper, blocking my ability to be in the moment while out in nature, because I end up missing him, think he should be with me now, and all that stuff that goes with grieving. Sometimes when I'm out at the park, I keep thinking about him instead, and end up talking to him hoping he can somehow sense me and hear me, and I tell him that even if I can't see him, to follow me and be all around me anyway, and let me sense his presence. I invite Cirrus, too.

Do any of you have ideas about this? How do I continue practicing without always getting sad? When I was mourning over Cirrus, my tai chi instructor said when I get sad, stop, and just go for a walk. At that time it was easy to do because Rook was there to nudge my hand and bring me back to the moment and give me little breaks from my sadness. What would Eckhart Tolle say? Thanks for any insight you can offer me. Otherwise, though, I am doing okay and hanging in there, hoping time will lessen the pain.

Patricia
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Re: Meditation and Mourning?

Postby Enlightened2B » Fri May 23, 2014 6:44 pm

Hey Patricia,

So sorry to hear about your loss. I lost a cat a number of years back, so I can empathize.

My opinion, for whatever it's worth. Meditation is not about embracing a certain feeling while not embracing another feeling, or position or a certain 'structure' in order for it to be performed correctly. Meditation is about embracing all that is, right 'now'. This includes all emotions, thoughts, etc.

Feelings of sadness are stemming from the thought of your dog right now. Therefore, why should you avoid that, if that is part of the 'what is' of this moment? Embracing 'what is' entails embracing the perceived good and the perceived bad.

Put your attention to start, on the breath or something neutral. Whatever else arises in meditation is perfectly normal and allow all that is, to merely be, as is, including sounds, thoughts, sights, etc. Just allow those thoughts to be there and if it brings up feelings of sadness or strong emotions, allow those too to be there. Meditation is about observation. You're playing the role of the 'witness'. Observe your thoughts. Observe whatever sensations they might bring ranging from perceived 'happy' emotions to perceived 'sad' emotions. No need to label, no need to reject. Just watch as they arise and dissipate and allow them to be there as long as they need to be.

The minute you notice that your mind is dwelling on those thoughts of your dog and the story that those thoughts created about you and your dog, simply take notice of this, and gently bring your attention back to the 'breath' or something neutral. After all, the minute you notice your mind dwelling in thought, you're already back to the 'Now'. Notice how the thoughts will stir up strong emotions, but you are the one 'witnessing' all of this.

That's the beauty of meditation. Your mind strays a million times into 'thought' and a million times, you bring your attention back to 'Now'.

Check out the book 'Meditation, now or never' by Steve Hagen. Some really great tips on how simple meditation is.

Hope that provides some help.
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Re: Meditation and Mourning?

Postby eaglestare » Sat May 24, 2014 7:01 am

Thanks for your response. I think you are saying that it's "normal" for thoughts and emotions to pop up here and there during meditation, and to allow it to be observed or "witnessed". So, when the act or process of meditation reminds me of how Rook was always there helping me, just let that association be as it is, and let the tears fall, and allow myself to miss him. Is that right?

I wonder if anyone has experienced anything similar, like with a dog, or another being, who had been part of a very "conscious" and amazing moment(s). This is what Rook has meant to me, and it's hard not to cry whether it's sitting, standing, or walking meditation, or tai chi, because without him I would not have experienced the peace that I experienced with him, know what I mean? Yes, I am aware that I am observing my surroundings and thoughts and feelings. Perhaps a consolation is knowing he was a gift and a blessing in this way. When I think of it that way, I smile more. But it doesn't stop me from missing him. This must be a normal part of the grieving process.

Any other comments or perspectives would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Patricia
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Re: Meditation and Mourning?

Postby Enlightened2B » Sat May 24, 2014 6:12 pm

eaglestare wrote:Thanks for your response. I think you are saying that it's "normal" for thoughts and emotions to pop up here and there during meditation, and to allow it to be observed or "witnessed". So, when the act or process of meditation reminds me of how Rook was always there helping me, just let that association be as it is, and let the tears fall, and allow myself to miss him. Is that right?


Yes, it's very normal for thoughts about anything to pop up during meditation. Since meditation is about observation, there's no need to want or not want certain thoughts to be there. So, if emotions stir up, that's perfectly normal and simply allow them to be as such. But, when you notice your mind straying into thought, simply take notice that your mind strayed, take notice of the thought and gently bring your attention back to something neutral such as the breath or nature or whatever works for you. The point of meditation is observation which means you're not giving life to your thoughts. You're merely observing them like a train going by and the emotions they bring as well. However, if a strong emotion should arise, that too is part of 'what is' and should be embraced as such, meaning it's perfectly normal and simply allow it to be as such. You can't observe an emotion without actually feeling an emotion. But, when you're not dwelling in a thought and merely observing that thought, the strong emotion can not take on a life of its own and will gradually dissipate.
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Re: Meditation and Mourning?

Postby eaglestare » Sat May 24, 2014 7:40 pm

Yes, thank you for this insight. I will try this today, or rather "do" this today. I will probably read and reread your messages as a reminder.

By the way, just now, I pictured the moment when I witnessed 12 eagles soaring and circling a huge circle above us by the lake one early morning, and Rook was right there with me. I remember staying right there in awe observing their smooth flowing movements and kept saying to Rook, "Wow, that's amazing. See that?" I would not have experienced such beautiful things in nature without going out and walking him everyday in the forest by the lake. On our walks I would always make a point to stop for water, kneel down next to him watching him drink from the water bottle, listening to the big giant German shepherd slurps of water, and focusing on his presence and everything around us. That is how he helped me, and I would often tell him, "Thank you, Baby" once we got back to the car. This is what he has meant to me. These were very special "in the moment" moments that make me smile.

Patricia
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Re: Meditation and Mourning?

Postby Enlightened2B » Sat May 24, 2014 9:58 pm

I'm sure the memories will always live on and you will always feel the presence of your dog especially in those intimate moments that remind you of him. It's like losing a family member. You spend so much time with them that they become human.
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Re: Meditation and Mourning?

Postby eaglestare » Sun May 25, 2014 2:18 am

More likely better than human! :D

...because he was my connection to nature and my state of being.
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Re: Meditation and Mourning?

Postby eaglestare » Wed Jun 04, 2014 8:42 am

Everything that is natural and beautiful reminds me of Rook right now. Like now I’m thinking (uh-oh), “This is the same sky, the sun, the moon, the clouds, the forest, the lake (etc.) I gazed at in awe with you, and now you are part of that.” Even so, it doesn’t stop me from missing him and wishing he were here to meditate and walk with me in nature. It’s like I’m resisting enjoying nature because I have to do it without him next to me. Or it’s because I don’t want to enjoy nature without him. I can’t, or I don’t want to, or maybe it’s all just part of the grieving process. I think, it took me a long time for the grieving to lessen for our other dog who died over a year ago, and it will be less painful or less frequent tears over time, but it sure is hard when I’m in the sadness.

Last night I was sleeping in my husband’s arms, and when I moved slightly, he suddenly woke up and thought I was Rook, that Rook was laying on his arm. That’s when it started all over again, even though it was kind of nice that it seemed so real to him and it felt warm and comforting to him. He and Rook had an especially strong deep bond. I am sure there was a deep sense of yearning or disappointment that it wasn’t real, that he couldn’t really hold him.

I also had a dream that I was cooking scrambled eggs and asked Rook if he wanted some eggs, and then I saw him and said is that you, want some eggs (one of his favorite), and as he sat there looking at me, I called to him “come”, but he didn’t come, and I called and motioned for him to “come” again, but he disappeared and I woke up, I think. I don’t know if it was imagination or a “visit”, but I was initially disturbed and disappointed that it was not real and I couldn’t hold him. In a way, though, it kind of makes me smile, because he sure liked scrambled eggs!

So, it is still hard, it sometimes feels like the waves are getting worse instead of less. Then when it’s less painful, I feel afraid that I’m going to forget the wonderful feeling of being in his presence. Then I think I make myself bring the sad wave on again. Hard to explain, but if any of you have ever grieved deeply before, I wonder if you know what I mean.

Patricia
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Re: Meditation and Mourning?

Postby smiileyjen101 » Thu Jun 05, 2014 1:37 am

Dear Patricia, how beautifully you're expressing your love for those who have touched and contributed to your life.

May I reassure you the love will never die, the hurt will ease in time and you will grow into your 'new' different life as things rebalance in time. For me, grief and the associated emotions are a gift, for they tell you you have loved, and there is no more wonderful thing than this.

So, it is still hard, it sometimes feels like the waves are getting worse instead of less. Then when it’s less painful, I feel afraid that I’m going to forget the wonderful feeling of being in his presence. Then I think I make myself bring the sad wave on again. Hard to explain, but if any of you have ever grieved deeply before, I wonder if you know what I mean.

It is the very natural unfolding of grief, in the beginning some emotions overwhelmed others, as they subside another arises, as one 'problem' with, 'fear' of, the changes arises, another waits quietly for its time, so these 'waves' are all a part of the ocean of grief, and the ocean of grief a part of the much wider world of loving.

'Had we never loved sae kindly,
Had we never loved sae blindly,
ne'er been met,
and ne'er been parted,
we'd hae nae been broken hearted.'
From Ae Fond Kiss, Robert Burns.

I have another in my head a quote that I cannot remember the end of, nor where or who it came from - it says 'When you can be as happy in your sorrow, as you are in your joy....
(what?.. :wink: ... it's just a feeling that can't be described where the two are one.)

To feel sadness is to know the love, they are one and the same.

I was initially disturbed and disappointed that it was not real and I couldn’t hold him. In a way, though, it kind of makes me smile, because he sure liked scrambled eggs!

sigh - yes, we always want more.

The gift that he gave you in sharing your / his presence with nature was a two way thing, you dropped your 'busyness' and became present with him, but it wasn't all him, you dropped your 'busyness' and became present. This you can still do, and if he accompanies you in your thoughts or your heart so be it, it is what it is, and there is much peace to be had in accepting that.

Accepting it not as in making it up, forcing it, but by embracing what is within you, around you, noticed and experienced by you in this moment. This moment is fleeting, not to be held onto or railed against, just is.

...because he was my connection to nature and my state of being.

May I gently suggest, his reason for being was not this, this is an assumed perspective. And your connection to nature and your state of being is yours, always was to freely give, and still is to freely experience.

The 'niggle' is in the misperception of this, not in the reality that he is not here. You always were and always will be a part of nature and free to notice whatever or not of it. Your state of being is vulnerable and hurting at the moment and in part attributing that to his no longer being here - but the love has not gone anywhere, your awareness has not gone anywhere - you have not gone anywhere. You and nature are still here to experience each other, and yourself, if you will open your heart to it.

much love, Jen
Our rights start deep within our humanity; they end where another's begin~~ SmileyJen
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Re: Meditation and Mourning?

Postby eaglestare » Thu Jun 05, 2014 3:21 am

Thank you so much, Jenn, for providing words of wisdom and insight that completely makes sense to me. I have been wanting to have the right perspective about things while experiencing the ups and downs of grieving, and I can tell you, your message to me immediately lifted my spirits. Like, the best thing after coming home from a hard day's work with little first graders! And having to come home and feeling his absence. You have been such a great help in your way of explaining things, you (and others who have replied) should write a book!

I have been reading and listening to Eckhart Tolle for about a year now, it has really changed my way of being. Thanks for being part of this forum and helping me. I will reread your message as a reminder when things get me down. Many of the people here sound like they have studied Eckart Tolle and have great experiences to share. Thanks!

Patricia
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Re: Meditation and Mourning?

Postby smiileyjen101 » Thu Jun 05, 2014 4:12 am

Bless you Patricia - many people here have indeed read ET, but more so they've lived life :wink: and as you are, are integrating wisdoms and insights of self and others and applying them in different situations.

I have another quote for you - from a 'fictional' wise creature in a trilogy called The Ancient Future by Traci Harding (read as a somewhat distraction & giving me insights from its sharing when I myself was in deep grief). It says
"Wisdom, is knowledge, gained in experience, and implemented in love.'

Our experiences are ^ part of the getting of, and sharing of, wisdom. Sharing and implementing them in love (as opposed to holding onto them in fear)... that's the icing on the cake that we don't even think about, it just happens.
Our rights start deep within our humanity; they end where another's begin~~ SmileyJen
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Re: Meditation and Mourning?

Postby eaglestare » Sat Jun 07, 2014 7:50 am

Thanks for the quote Jen!

Patricia
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Re: Meditation and Mourning?

Postby eaglestare » Sat Aug 02, 2014 9:44 am

Here's an update about where I am in the grieving process...I did make a difficult decision to adopt a dog from the Humane Society where I've been volunteering at since our German sherpherd dog Rook died. It was hard because we are still mourning, and it is still very painful sometimes, and moreso for my husband. Even so, it seemed unbearable without the presence of a dog, I had an opportunity to rescue a dog I had particular interest in, and I wanted to use the skills I had acquired over the years as pack leader to our two dogs Rook and Cirrus (collie) to help another.

Rook is almost always on my mind and in my heart as we go for walks, especially because where we go, like in certain spots at the park, I remember being there sharing special moments with him. I sometimes whisper to him, and Cirrus, explaining to them we are not replacing them with this new dog, to please show her how to be, and welcome her to the pack. I ask them to let us feel the presence of their spiritual essences all around us and in us, and comfort us when we feel the pain of missing them. Even if they cannot hear me, it does help me somehow.

The good news is that recently I made myself finally walk alone in a special forested park by the water that I used to walk Rook and shared special moments together, carrying a coat he used to wear that still had some of his hair on it. I let myself feel what I felt, let the tears flow when they did, and talked to him when I wanted to say something to him. I stopped at a special beautiful spot and once the pain subsided and tears stopped, I let myself take in the surroundings with my senses, and once again I could feel the warmth of the sun, the summer breeze, hear the rustling of the leaves from the canopy of trees, see the light of sunset on the trees, and hear the gentle waves crashing below. And just as this has happened before while being out with Rook, everything around me appeared bigger and clearer, and I could really feel the moment.

I know that I can meditate without his form being next to me. I now know it is possible. It does not stop me from missing him, but I was glad that I found it in myself again. Perhaps his presence will always be in me. I tell him, you are peace and joy.

Patricia
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Re: Meditation and Mourning?

Postby smiileyjen101 » Sat Aug 02, 2014 10:13 am

Lovely to hear of your progress and your new adoption Patricia.

I have waves of goose bumps just flowing and flowing and flowing from this...
I sometimes whisper to him, and Cirrus, explaining to them we are not replacing them with this new dog, to please show her how to be, and welcome her to the pack. I ask them to let us feel the presence of their spiritual essences all around us and in us, and comfort us when we feel the pain of missing them. Even if they cannot hear me, it does help me somehow.


Such authentic gratitude & generosity - love - flowing out and out and out and out (wave by wave by wave by wave) :D :D :D :D
Our rights start deep within our humanity; they end where another's begin~~ SmileyJen
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Re: Meditation and Mourning?

Postby eaglestare » Sun Aug 03, 2014 6:48 am

Funny thing, after asking Cirrus to give some of her spirit to our new dog Shasta (4-5 yr old border collie mix), and help her to get along with dogs and be submissive like she was, Shasta one day started slurping water like Cirrus used to, in slurps of 3's, you know. :lol:
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