In my studies this week the conversations turned to the experience of natural setbacks in life and how we each handle them. Sometimes our setbacks are so difficult we cannot see to focus on our goals, and we’ve only the energy to ‘not give up,’ and can only muster the energy to merely stick to the plan, yet in a minimized version (Kaptan, 2016). When we experience a loss or unforseen setback in our lives we have two choices, we can begin an obsessive and relentless pursuit to turn the sky upside down, or we can settle in and work on ourselves toward understanding the lessons through the internal treasury of knowledge that lies sleeping within us.
In an interview many years ago with the incarnate Lama Gehlek Rimpoche, he talked about fleeing Tibet and the experience of the immediate loss of his homeland, property, teachers, students, friends, and attendants. When asked how he responded to the loss, he replied that at first he didn’t. When you are simply running for your life, this question of how to respond does not come up. As you get further from the danger and slow down, it is only then that you begin to miss things and grieve. Your basic needs, once denied in your haste to escape the danger begin to surface. You need food but there is none, you need shelter but there is none, you need a horse but you have none, and you stop to smell the coffee, yet it is absent. Many of us spend our lives running, without ever a notion of caring for our own basic needs, or responding to them with intention and thought. This work takes much practice.
Within each breath an old moment is lost, and a new moment awakes… Susan Thorn
It is during this time of practicing with loss we must also practice how we think about our ‘selves’ for it is through resting in our own sorrows that the lessons we need begin to percolate to the surface. This is a time to procrastinate in getting to the solution, and rest quietly within the struggle, the sorrow, … the setback. When once faced with deep depression I found great opportunity in developing a determination of mind; my grit. As did Lama Gehlek Rimpoche I asked myself…. Am I going to act like a silly little goat and allow my grief and my loss to push me further down the road of depression, or will I choose to use my higher power and abilities and intelligence to contribute to the greater good in others and do well in the world.
Once we are able to ask this with the determination of our innate will, we have already begun to tap into our current internal treasury, making the decision to let it go and move past our current set of circumstances. During this period in our lives we must allow ourselves a certain and set time to mourn, when that time has passed, let it be in the past. We gain our sense of appreciation for our journey, when we forego the control of the loss itself. As long as we maintain a death grip on that which we fear to lose, we will be prisoners to a living a life of fear.
The question then becomes how can we apply this to our current relationships in the attempt to heal? We can stop fighting with family members and spouses and friends. We can stop judging and start appreciating. We can ignore the faults and appreciate the differences. The time we have in life to appreciate our journey is short. Learning to let go and move on is not easy, yet when we learn to trust our higher power and tap into the internal treasury within us, we will find great peace and be in full control of our journey. Loss and setbacks are a part of all of us, using those times to learn and grow taps into your internal treasury of wisdom, and this is where empowerment begins.