actively embracing loss

"Samhain heralds in a terrifying season when we are asked to embrace loss."

I'm really into dharma talks and recordings of meditations lately. I have a commute now; plus, I'm spend so much time at a computer for the 9-5 job, I do less of the computer stuff I used to do for fun — like read a million articles and scroll through Facebook groups. I'm spending more time resting my eyes.

But often, I still want to engage my brain and relax and learn.

So I've been listening to more podcasts, and looking up more youtube recordings, too. This one I'm sharing with you is "Through the Veil," a samhain meditation.

Samhain (pronounced saah-win) is the witch's new year, a celebration of the end of the harvest and the calling in of the coldest part of the year. It's a festival of the dead, and a celebration of all those things we don't necessarily see or look at directly — the unconscious.

I used to have a shirt that said "this body will be a corpse" in really big letters ... I wore it a few times, but I got too many stares. I already feel as though I stand out, I didn't like the attention it drew.

This culture I'm in doesn't embrace thoughts like that. I wasn't taught to honor death, to invite loss, to embrace it, to hold it like a lover. But what if I had been?

The buddhist dharma talks I've been listening to lately have a similar tone: an ask to embrace the inevitability of loss. It can be a way to be more conscious both of our grasping for something that does not exist (like stability, and guarantees) and of being grateful for the things we do have, that we have not lost.

There are fires near my home in Oakland. A hundred thousand acres, last I heard, with hundreds of homes burned down, dozens of deaths. I woke up on Sunday night at 2am and asked Hunter, "Do you smell smoke?" I thought our house was on fire, or our neighbor's house — but it was huge forest fires on dry land 60+ miles away. The smell was so strong — strong enough to wake many folks in the Bay Area. I'm shocked by the loss, devastated by the photos. Some moments in the last few days, that's all I feel — completely full of loss.

So I try to be grateful for what I have, reaching out with compassion (and money) to support. I practice letting go — of this moment, of this feeling, of this argument. Because everything is temporary. Even this body I'm in right now, it's temporary. It, too, will be a corpse.

Samhain is an invitation to consider the dead, the loss, and non-attachment. A time when the veil between worlds is thin, thinner, thinnest. We can feel the death part of the life and death cycle the closest.

But also consider this: in this loss comes unexpected beauty, gratitude, compassion, and blooming. Something continues beyond that loss — seasonally, it is winter. And she, too, has blessings to offer.

ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “actively embracing loss”

  1. Hethre October 27, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Thank you for this post. I struggle in the fall and winter. In the winter I experience a struggle between my body asking for slowing down, and this culture of constant frenetic pressure to DO, to PERFORM, to PRODUCE.
    Like many others, I experience lows in the winter. Fall is often a time of petulant denial for me, a child stamping her feet before the inevitable bedtime.
    This year, I’ve been trying to use fall as a time to prepare a plan to care for myself so that winter won’t feel like such a loss.
    My therapist said the other night that fall is a time to fall back into our bodies.
    I connect all this with the idea of surrender. I can’t keep the winter from arriving, so why deny it? Why not look at it like an opportunity to offer my surrender to a tenderly fierce Dominant?

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