Tag Archives: sorrow

Finding ‘True Refuge’ in the Face of Loss and Ego

true refugeKim, Seoku Jong, the reporter for the Kyungyang Shinmun, one of Korea’s major daily newspapers, recently interviewed me about my book True Refuge, which is now available in Korean. Since most of my readers won’t be able to read the article in Korean, I wanted to share the interview with you hear.

KSJ: How are you doing? Please tell us what interests you most these days.

TB: My mother, who lives with us, recently went into home hospice care. What interests me is that when we face the truth of mortality—that these lives can pass like a dream, that we will each lose those who are dear—what most matters is love. At the end of our lives, the question that will be central is, “Did I love well?” It’s clear that the more we remember to live this moment, here and now, in a loving, awake way, the more our lives will be truly aligned with our values and our heart.

I’m deeply saddened to be losing my mom – she is a wonderful being, filled with generosity, humor, and kindness. She meditates, as do my siblings, and by being together in the present moment, by loving without holding back, this time of sorrow is also a time of great beauty. This experience is, to me, possible throughout our lives. If we can remember what most matters to us, our lives will be vibrant, creative, loving, and beautiful.

KSJ: The world is full of suffering and it doesn’t seem to end. No one is free from suffering. Your book introduces to readers the moving stories of people who managed to heal themselves despite their wounds, and to a number of meditation methods that can be applied for the liberation from suffering. If you can briefly summarize the essence of True Refuge, what it would be?

TB:While the pain and loss that is part of life will continue, we each have the capacity to free ourselves from the suffering of feeling threatened, separate, or deficient. This becomes possible when we can see past our story of egoic self and contact the deeper truth and fullness of who we really are. The essence of each of us is loving presence – an awareness that is pure, wakeful, and boundless. This is our True Refuge. Those who have healed themselves with meditation have learned to pay attention in a way that has carried them home to loving presence, our true nature.

A key part of finding this True Refuge of loving presence is bringing a kind and mindful attention to all the expressions of our egoic self. We don’t find True Refuge by eliminating the ego; we come home when, like the ocean, we embrace all the waves that arise from our Being. In a very real way, this means embracing the aggression and defensiveness, the insecurities and hurts. What we don’t love controls us. Yet, as we enfold more and more of our experience in acceptance and love, we realize the freedom and vastness of our awakened heart.

KSJ: What is false refuge, and how is it different from True Refuge? And why is it so important to have True Refuge?

Being human is challenging. We’re aware of the dangers we face—rejection, failure, disease, loss, death—and our habit is to try to control whatever we can. A false refuge is a control strategy that might give temporary relief, but in the long run does not serve us. For example, we might overeat to soothe our anxiety or to feel some gratification, but we then feel ashamed or gain unhealthy weight. We might work very hard to prove ourselves worthy, but become overly busy and neglect our loved ones. We might brag or exaggerate to get others approval, but inwardly feel like a fake. All these false refuges actually take us farther from the experience of being at home with ourselves, secure in the essential goodness of who we are.

To be continued…


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photo by: DarkAura

A Short Note If You are Feeling Sad or Discouraged About Anything

Yes, it is our inclination to want to feel good. To be happy. That is what we do and should strive toward – happiness.

But that does not mean that you won’t experience sadness and feeling discouraged.

If you live life, sadness will happen. The more you live, and the more you love, the greater the rewards, but also the greater the sorrows. Indeed it is a marker of a life fully and deeply lived.

Some of these sorrows will come and then eventually go. But other sorrows are so deep that they will remain for good.

Whether it may someday fade or forever linger, when you are amidst it, sorrow is sorrow. The pain cannot be rationalized away. The pain cannot be masked. Nor, however, does the sorrow mean you are not allowed to feel happiness. Indeed, the sorrow is there to be embraced so that, even through it, you may feel a greater sense of joy. Not necessarily the joy of immediate laughter, but the deeper joy of gratitude.

Instead of trying to run from or mask sorrow, it is there to be embraced and nurtured. Sorrow means you were given a gift; that pain means you were given something worth rejoicing in.

In a world with absolutely no guarantees, you were granted something beautiful for a while. Whether it was a relationship or another being that was important to your being or something else, you were granted a gift so worthwhile that sorrow has blossomed inside you now that the something is gone.

Imagine a world without such gifts. That would be true tragedy. "Tis better to have loved and to have lost then to have never loved at all," as the famous poem goes.

Amidst your sadness, rejoice that you were given something that is worth the sorrow you feel now that it is gone. All things including sorrow have a side that points toward shade and a side that points toward sun; be sure to also dwell on this sun side of the sorrow … the beauty, the joy, the gift of whatever or whomever you were given, in whatever amount of time it was granted to you in its physical form.

And if, by the way, you feel you did not cherish the gift that is now gone enough while it was here, recognize these two keys: first, just as you forgive others for being human, you must forgive yourself. Think of someone you love dearly – perhaps this is the very person you are feeling sorrow over – and then ask yourself what you’d forgive them for. Are you not worth that same level of compassion?

Second, remember that you have done something right enough to recognize the value of the gift … you don’t feel sorrow for something you don’t cherish. And it is never too late to feel such gratitude, to cherish. That is the beauty of the gift.

You may no longer be able to get what or who it is that you hurt for back. But the bounty of the gift remains. Your sorrow proves it. So embrace it. It will help you remain aware of the greater happiness that the sorrow is wrapped within. It will help you move toward all the joys you so deserve. And there are plenty of them. They too are waiting for you.


Please pass this on to anyone who may benefit, and please head to www.IntenseExperiences.com to receive your FREE copy of Embrace Death to Thrive in Life: The Six Ancient but Forgotten Lessons.


The Heart Of Humanity: Sitting With Our Sadness

When we are dealing with sadness it is important to really sit with it and have to courage to do so

The last thing most of us want to hear or think about when we are dealing with profound feelings of sadness is that deep learning can be found in this place. In the midst of our pain, we often feel picked on by life, or overwhelmed by the enormity of some loss, or simply too exhausted to try and examine the situation. We may feel far too disappointed and angry to look for anything resembling a bright side to our suffering. Still, somewhere in our hearts, we know that we will eventually emerge from the depths into the light of greater awareness. Remembering this truth, no matter how elusive it seems, can help.

The other thing we often would rather not hear when we are dealing with intense sadness is that the only way out of it is through it. Sitting with our sadness takes the courage to believe that we can bear the pain and the faith that we will come out the other side. With courage, we can allow ourselves to cycle through the grieving process with full inner permission to experience it. This is a powerful teaching that sadness has to offer us the ability to surrender and the acceptance of change go hand in hand.

Another teaching of sadness is compassion for others who are in pain, because it is only in feeling our own pain that we can really understand and allow for someone else’s. Sadness is something we all go through, and we all learn from it and are deepened by its presence in our lives. While our own individual experiences of sadness carry with them unique lessons, the implications of what we learn are universal. The wisdom we gain from going through the process of feeling loss, heartbreak, or deep disappointment gives us access to the heart of humanity.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / Thorsten Becker

5 Ways to Heal Grief: One Couple

 The one thing we all pray won’t happen, happened one day when Art was driving home from a hockey game in Vail, Colorado, with his wife Kathy and their two young sons. As he drove through Glenwood Canyon, high up in the Rocky Mountains, a boulder leapt off the canyon wall, crushing his car and instantly killing his wife and sons but leaving Art unharmed. Several years earlier, Allison’s brother committed suicide three days before she was due to get married. The marriage ended in divorce. Art and Allison met some months after Art’s accident, became friends, and eventually married.

Ed’s mother died when he was five days old. His father married his mother’s sister and she died when Ed was 14. As death is such an intimate subject for us both, our meeting with Art and Allison forged an instant and deep friendship.

Healing from profound grief, which is one of the hardest of life’s challenges, is not easy. Friends exhort us to get busy, get back to work, keep the mind occupied, as if doing this is somehow going to replace the emptiness inside. But grief demands attention, it needs to be known, so that we can keep on living. As our friend Jacqui says, “Do you shatter like a teacup, or like an egg and be reborn?”

Art writes in his and Allison’s poignant and heartfelt book, OUT OF THE CANYON, a True Story of Loss and Love: “How do I do this? How do I survive, how do I move on, through and beyond this awful grief, this darkness? I learned the answer was one hour at a time. One day at a time. Taking your eyes from the ground and looking a little higher each day until suddenly there is a glimpse of blue sky, of a star, and the world very gradually becomes brighter.”

Grieving is often a frightening and overwhelming time, one of fear of the future and yet also a rediscovery of ourselves. Whether it is our own loss or that of someone we know, here are some guidelines that may help you through the unknown landscape. The quotes are from Art and Allison’s book. 

1. Support from Others

This is so essential: Don’t hesitate to seek help. In the first few days after the loss of his family, friends and loved ones took over the details of Art’s life, such as food and filtering phone calls. “I am normally quiet happy when I’m by myself, but in those early days it would not have been good for me to be alone, and in truth I didn’t want to be.” Without such support, seek it through your church or grief support groups.

2. Support from a Grief Counselor

Although many think that they do not need to go to a “professional” for help, it can be the best thing to do. Grief may make us unaware of how much shock we are in. “Blindly twisting and falling down the rabbit hole of grief is a scary thing, and it is immensely reassuring to know that you are not going crazy.”

3. Take Your Time

Grieving is so personal and each of us have to find our own way and in our own time.  There is no set moment of time when grief should be over. It takes immense patience and great love for ourselves. “Above all, wrap your arms around yourself and turn your love and compassion inward, where it is really needed.” Become your own best friend.

4. Remembering

Remembering those who have died is essential to healing: They were deeply loved and that love does not die the moment the body does. Celebrating birthdays and other special moments reminds us of the love that was shared and is still in our hearts. “Probably nothing has been more important to my recovery than remembering my family.”

5. Solitary Time

Spending time alone can be immensely healing. Only then can we sink into that quieter place within and find a deeper peace with ourselves and our circumstances. You can read more in our upcoming book, BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World.

Do you have any stories of healing grief to share?

Our book will be published Nov 3, and you can pre-order a copy at: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World


Ed and Deb Shapiro’s new book, BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You And The World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors such as Marianne Williamson, astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Byron Katie, Michael Beckwith, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jane Fonda, Jack Kornfield, Gangaji, Ellen Burstyn, Ed Begley, Dean Ornish, Russell Bishop, and others, will be published November 3 2009 by Sterling Ethos.

Deb is the author of the award-winning book YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND. Ed and Deb are the authors of over 15 books, and lead meditation retreats and workshops. They are corporate consultants, and the creators of Chillout daily inspirational text messages on Sprint cell phones. See: www.EdandDebShapiro.com

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

-Oriah Mountain Dreamer

The Day After Mother’s Day Make Peace If Need Be

For some of us, mother’s day was wonderful and beautiful. Hopefully we can give thanks today for the wonderful times we shared yesterday with our families.

For others, mother’s day was tearful and sad. My thoughts go out to all those in grief who no longer have mothers who are living in the physical body.  Know that your mothers are in the world of spirit and their spirits are around you. My thoughts go out to all of you who have living mothers or mothers in spirit whom you do not or did not get along with.  Your memories are difficult to cope with at times.  From my perspective as a psychic medium, your mothers in the world of spirit are evolving and raising their consciousness. And if your mothers are still living and you do not get along, consider finding peace with your mothers.  As a psychic medium, I speak with people everyday who did not make peace with their mothers before their mothers passed to spirit. These clients have a difficult time.  Although it is possible to make peace with your mother’s spirit  after she has passed on, if you still have the chance to do so while she is still living,  take this opportunity unless your anger is so great that it is not possible.

Some of us were sad yesterday because we are mother’s who have lost children.  My thoughts go to all of you who have lost children as this has to be the most difficult experience any human being, mother or father, sister or brother….can have.

This is a sad post, but it is important to remember that all of us have both wonderful and sad times on holidays.  Let us send our thoughts and our prayers to those who may have been in grief yesterday.

Psychic Medium Carole Lynne, Author of Cosmic Connection: Messages for a Better World




God’s Dictionary: Sorrow


sar = sore


            Sorrow is sadness times a thousand. Often it is associated with grief, or prolonged sadness. When someone is sorrowing, their soul is sore, from the Anglo-Saxon, sar. Soul soreness is not as unusual as you might think. Sometimes people call it regret, or unforgiveness, or hatred, or resentment. Whatever its cause, the soreness can be unbearable. 

          When someone comes to me with sorrow, regardless of its origins, I recommend Sorrow Appointments. They serve the same function as gravestones in cemeteries. When you go to visit someone’s grave, you don’t stay there forever.  You go, you visit, you do your talking to whoever is symbolically there, and you leave, knowing you can go back whenever you need to go back. The same with Sorrow Appointments. Make an agreement with yourself every day to do thirty minutes of sorrowing, and then leave it till your next appointment. If you’ll do this for a few weeks, you’ll be decidedly less sore because you’ve honored your sorrow. Ask:  How can I keep my sorrow from becoming sore today?


          If I carry sorrows, I set up my Sorrow Appointments right now for the next few weeks. As I honor my sorrow, my soul soreness is eased.


reprinted from God’s Dictionary (Tarcher/Putnam 2002)

Find more divine definitions at the God’s Dicitonary blog

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