Tonglen

It is a Tibetan term that summarizes as “breathe in suffering, breathe out joy” also it signifies becoming one with the pain. I am not an expert, just a student, so if you feel this is incorrect please correct me.

My parents passed away within a few months of each other. I had not only lost my best friends but my supporters and cheer leaders. Having grown up in a close knit family, losing not one but two in quick succession was excruciating.

In the years that followed, when depressing thoughts hit, I turned on Netflix. I watched some shows that distracted me for a while but the sinking feeling came back. I bought a lot of stuff from stores (that I would now categorize as junk). Every item in the dollar bin was on my shelf, lots of clothes that I did not need, cookware, bake ware – you name it I had it. The T-fal I bought at Costco was one such item. Every time I looked at it, I thought of my mom. Not because she loved cooking but it just reminded me of her.

I have always been a workout junkie – but way back then, after walking 3 miles, I followed it up by doing HIIT every day. I was trying to work something out, did not quite know what. I came home around 1 pm, showered and left again. I was never home until my family got back in the evening. The emptiness during the day was just too much to handle.

During those times I became an avid reader. I spent long hours in the library trying to find the perfect book that had all the answers. I did find one. It advised me to become one with the grief. It said don’t push it away, embrace it. The more you try and forget the pain, the more you will remember it.

And so, I did embrace the pain and suffering. I mourned and cried for my parents privately. I filled up journals on how much I missed my parents and the void they had left in my life. I told my loved ones that I was in mourning and would be happy once I got over the grief. I asked them to let me know if it ever became too much to handle me. Even my 2 year old understood why mommy was sad.

Once my tears and ink were all dried up, I birthed the new me, The one that did not need to watch endless hours of TV, or buy stuff to fill the emptiness in her heart or workout like a maniac to get rid of the pain. I started to stay at home longer, stepping out only when needed.

My advice to anyone suffering from anything would be to embrace the pain, live with it and cry over it. If you avoid it, it will come back to haunt you. Ask for help if you are unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel. There is no shame in seeking help and acknowledging you have a problem and don’t know how to get over it. Do not use fillers to plug the emptiness. Avoidance is the beginning to the end.

Love and light to anyone reading this.

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