But there are circumstances in our lives that require almost super-human strength to get through. These are things that focus alone simply cannot prepare us for. It is especially for these situations that Shiva offers us his 2nd Truth: the practice of Vairagya.
The Art of Vairagya…
To follow in the footsteps of Shiva, we must learn this art of detachment. During times of great difficulty, detachment is like a trusted friend, helping you remove yourself from the intensity of charged emotions such as fear or sorrow or rage.
Understand the Cycle of Grief
Loss is, sadly, a part of our physical existence. It is neither easy nor desired, but it is inevitable. And what studies on loss and mourning have found is that there is a discernable cycle to grief.
In her groundbreaking work, On Death and Dying, Swiss Psychiatrist Dr. Elisabeth Kubler Ross (1926-2004) revealed her theory of “The 5 Stages of Grief”. And while other models for the grieving process have since been proposed by experts, they all share the common theme of acceptance as the way forward.
In order to reach the phase of acceptance, however, one must achieve a level of detachment .
Other experts, such as Dr. Edward T. Creagan of the Mayo Clinic emphasize that grief is a process rather than a state of being. “There is no fast-forward through grief,” explains Dr. Creagan. It is “a necessary process,” he adds, with “no set timetable” for completion. (“Recovery from Loss”, Dr. Edward T. Creagan. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/recovery-from-loss/MY01933 )
In his Psychology Today article, “Six Mindful Strategies to Recover from the Shock of Loss”, Dr. Ronald Alexander, PhD takes a contemporary approach to the ancient wisdom of detachment. Of his 6 strategies, four of them are indeed, directly connected with the power of Detachment. These are:
• Sit Quietly and Reflect
• Trust your Inner Resources
• Learn to keep yourself Centered through Unbearable Feelings
• Practice Mindfulness
As you are about to discover through the story of Shiva’s own personal tragedy, leading thinkers of our modern world are guiding us to the same profound Truths that were taught by this ancient god thousands of years ago.
How to Achieve Acceptance after Loss
The process of reaching acceptance after a grievous loss comes about, as we learn through Shiva’s own great loss, through applying his second Truth: Vairagya, or Detachment. When we are able to create a degree of emotional detachment from loss or other painful circumstances, it is possible to move forward. This is because until you develop some degree of detachment, you will remain mired in the pain and confusion of your personal tragedy.
Shiva is in many ways an enigmatic God. This is due, in large part, to his capacity for detachment. When you consider the stories of his life, many paradoxes arise which can only be understood through the lense of Vairagya. So at one level, Shiva is detached, breaking his ties with his family to meditate. And at another level, he is a loving husband and a doting father. He refuses to abstain from the pleasures of a spouse and parent. But he is still an ascetic. Dressed simply in a loincloth, his hair is matted and ash is smeared on his forehead.
When you understand the Truth of Vairagya, you have the ability to free yourself of the binding power of emotions.
Shiva’s role as an ascetic strengthens his ability to regulate and control his mind and emotions. And while you probably cannot simply take off to the mountains to utterly remove yourself from trying circumstances, you can follow the simple practices of meditative focus and emotional detachment. When you do, these will help you cope with situations that can otherwise have a devastating effect on your life.
Learning from Loss and Death
Let us see how Shiva handles death …
When his first wife Sati died under tragic and unnecessary circumstances, Shiva was utterly devastated. In fact, his personal suffering nearly destroyed the world!
At first he grieved for Sati, but soon that grief turned to rage. In his anger he began to dance. The ferocity of his rageful dance had a near catastrophic effect upon the Earth. Something had to be done. In this story, the god Vishnu intervenes. And it is thanks to Vishnu’s presence of mind that Shiva could be calmed down enough to reconnect with his Vairagya, avoiding further destruction.
Even for a great god like Shiva, death can have a devastating effect. For us, trying to deal with the grief, hurt and anger that death or loss brings can be a totally debilitating experience. But if we practice Vairagya, then the healing period is a lot easier.
No one can ever be prepared for death, no matter how much they try. The death of a loved one or a pet or even an acquaintance will always come as a shock.The finality of death makes us question our own mortality. It also causes us to face a new, different, and usually unwelcomed lifestyle – one without our loved one. This is painful indeed, and raises questions such as:
• How will I go on without her/him?
• What am I to do now?
• What burdens must I now carry alone?
• How will I face my own, inevitable death?
• Why did this have to happen?
• What if I can’t go on?
When left unanswered, these questions will destroy your inner balance, your focus and your future.
Thus, during times of great loss, it is essential that you look within and ask yourself such difficult questions. For it is through this type of introspection that you will recognize your own strength to deal with death or loss. Bit-by-bit you will gain detachment from the loss and shift your focus forward into your own future and your own life.
Death is not the only situation in which you will need Vairagya.
Whenever in life you feel stuck in a circumstance you have no solution for, make every effort to detach yourself from the situation. Pretend you are a neutral, ‘3rd party’ observing the situation. Then use focus to examine possible solutions with a clear mind. It is with this degree of detachment, Vairagya, that you will be able to make an intelligent decision – one disconnected from emotions.
But What IS Detachment?
Please realise dear friend, that when I talk of detachment, I do not mean a complete lack of emotions. Shiva is the epitome of detachment, while still maintaining a deep love for his family and indeed, the world.
Through Vairagya, we can learn to control our emotions as Shiva does. We must learn to keep emotions in check, so that they do not overpower us and control our lives. And we must strive to achieve inner peace and outward calm. For Shiva, detachment means being calm internally as well as externally.
Each one of us has some personal history that is responsible for our attitude towards life. Some incidents in your life – and the persons responsible for them – may have profoundly affected your mind and thinking in a harmful manner. If you have had an impoverished childhood, for example, it can make you miserly. Or if you experienced cruelty from adults you trusted when you were a child, you may still experience fear and lack of trust in relationships.
This is why detached introspection is so necessary. When you examine your pain with detachment, your own capabilities and inabilities, you are empowered to make positive changes. We must each come to realize that our personal history should not define and limit our greatest potential.
Instead, by using Vairagya, you can develop greater self-esteem and confidence, regardless of previous circumstances or suffering. Through Vairagya, you can move on with your life, detaching yourself from the distasteful incidents you experienced in the past. Then, once you have achieved the right balance between Vairagya and attachment, you come closer to achieving the ultimate goal: Purnatva.
An Important Note about Vairagya…
Like everything in life, a Balance is essential. In Lesson 4 we will learn much more about the Truth of Balance as Shiva teaches us, but for now, please understand that too much detachment also leads to suffering. It is necessary to find the right amount of detachment. If you become too detached from your life, your loved ones or your dreams, you will find yourself in equal trouble! For you will bring yourself to a state devoid of emotions towards those around you. This will push people away from you, causing pain for all involved.
Thus, the goal is to strike the right balance between detachment and emotions, helping you move away from adverse situations, away from brooding and worry, but toward a state of deeper awareness and indeed, compassion for yourself and others.
Cultivate Detachment (Vairagya) for Strength in Difficult Times
If you have ever faced a distressful loss or terrible tragedy, you know how difficult it is to maintain strength for the other areas of your life – your family, your work, and your responsibilities. While Vairagya cannot return a loved one or change the essential nature of your difficult circumstance, it most certainly can aid you. Like a pillar of strength or the shoulder of a most trusted friend, detachment can be there for you in your time of
greatest need. And even if you are not undergoing a major loss or challenge, the power of Detachment can free you to move with greater grace, ease and trust in any area of your life.
In the full, Shiva Experience program, you will have access to the full power of Vairagya through the stories and teachings of Shiva. Not only will you gain deeper wisdom, you’ll also get skills and tools for practicing Detachment and easing your mind and heart.
Here are a few other benefits of working with the full program:
● When you channel Viaragya into your career… you will be able to focus on your professional goals regardless of the doubts of anyonearound you, office politics, financial worries or troublesome employers.
● When you channel Vairagya into your relationships… you will be able to communicate more effectively and compassionately, especially when emotions run high!
● When you channel Vairagya into your health… you will gain perspective on unhealthy lifestyle choices, and gravitate towards the choices that honor your mind, body and spirit.
● When you channel Vairagya into your finances… you will be more able to handle fiscal burdens in a calm and rational fashion in order to make the best possible decisions for your financial future.
● Besides Viaragya, in the full program you will also enjoy detailed lessons for mastering the rest of Shiva’s steps to Purnatva.
Start accelerating your growth and Master the Power of your Heart and Mind with your Shiva Experience Program!
In tomorrow’s Lesson, you will discover Shiva’s 3rd Secret, and how mastering it will
>> help you identify your true and unique nature
>> trust your own interests and desires as important to your development
>> take action to develop the skills you are best made for
>> Start down the road to both success and greater happiness
So be sure to look for and open tomorrow’s email from me, entitled: “Svabhava – Shiva’s 3rd Truth”
Om Namah Shivaya
Dr. Nilima Chitgopekar
PS: Help us spread the word and enlighten more people by sharing this lesson with friends you think might enjoy it ☺!