April 22nd, 2015

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Befriend Gain and Loss

Claire, a beautiful, fiery red head, artistic in everything she does from her painting to her flamboyant costumes, doesn’t appear to be afraid of anything. “And I’m not,” she assures us in our Rise Up! session. “Or I wasn’t until I lost my husband. He was much older than I. Neither of us was foolish about that fact, but he was literally sun and moon of my life, my constant supporter, advisor and lover. He valued my Art and found me galleries and patrons. Everything he touched turned to gold, me included. I was seduced into warm suds of GAIN, success, and good-times-forever. I couldn’t imagine life without him!”

“And then my dream ended. My beloved man was diagnosed and dead in six months. I was consumed in the darkness of loss. I regretted ever marrying, told myself ‘pain of loss wasn’t worth ten years of joy;’ crazy! I couldn’t paint; alcohol became my BFF and old friends gave up on me. ‘New friends,’ happy to drink my husband’s expensive wines, agreed ‘life sucked.’ I lost the essence of Art, life, and being human: Art is life! And life gives and takes. At Rise Up! I re-learned true artists stay in the dynamic dance between dark and light, joy and sadness.”

Results of “no failure allowed; no loss” are all around us: mental and physical breakdowns, social inequities, stress and unhappiness. Frustrated we create a mind-heart silo titled “loss.” We bury it under bad dreams and rusty memories, or medicate ourselves with a myriad of “escapes,” or “fixes.” The only way out of cycles of suffering and into a fully realized life comes when we balance and accept the beauty of the dance and find possibility and opportunity in every moment.

Claire tells us Rise Up! helped her gain “the major epiphany of my life! At my lowest point ‘befriend gain and loss,’ finally spoke truth to me. I started to heal through stories shared by others. Gain was found in personal losses, un-asked for and unwanted separations or divorce; in tragic ‘love lost’ and love found again. Parents told of having to give up dreams of what their children ‘would be or should be’ and then falling in love with the adult child so different from their ‘perfect picture.’ Provocative stories of career successes that blew up into shocking failures only later to become successes no one could have predicted or planned, moved me out of my feelings that life was unfair and unjust. In all the generous sharing, the key was ‘stay in the flow of experience.’ No blame, gain or loss, success or failure is helpful. Attachment to ‘has to be’ is useless. Through Rise Up friends I re-engaged the dance of real life and said ‘bye-bye’ to my victim mentality.”

Loss, like gain, is an invitation to live life’s natural depths of sorrow and heights of joy! The Dance of life is a paradox! It asks us to find inspiration, strength, insight and opportunity in every twist, turn, step back or forward of the dance of experience.

Years ago I began to discover the Ten Principles because my own young life was fraught with violence, fear and the constant anxiety of children who have to grow up fast to survive. Looking for answers to unusual challenges, I asked myself, “can I survive this?” Eventually I found what I share at Rise Up!: Control is an illusion. “Success” never eliminates “failure;” but today’s loss may open a door of awareness, awakening or understanding we cannot yet name.

The Universe is always seeking balance, and we are part of that enormous reality at all times. The wave of energy opens and so will it close, and on the last gasp of closure the next brilliant and beautiful, amazing and inspiring wave begins to rise, open and flash forward.

If gain is the only option, we can’t find the hidden gift inherent in loss. That gift may be that our field of experience widens, our hearts open to the shared suffering and joy on the planet; that we take responsibility for our lives and the lives of others. Attending to the gifts of Gain and Loss, we re-define “win” and “no-win” to better suit the reality of being fully human.

Hitting bottom, digging out of chaos, celebrating the inevitabilities of life, I began to find Light at the end of every tunnel. Learning and practicing Principle Number One: Stay, was, for me, the greatest hurdle. After thirty years of practice it remains a challenge to find that still, small place within and trust the process. BUT, when I am able to Stay, I allow myself sadness, to feel “put upon,” out-of-control; the range of emotions of loss. Eventually I ask, “where is the gain in this Life Lesson? What might lead to possibility and opportunity?

I remind myself to dance without blindly attaching to one definition of success. Dance without sinking into failure, denial, rage and suffering that accompany loss. I remember loss can’t keep us from celebrating wins, joys, victories of experience, of love and life itself. Loss can renew our faith, not destroy it.

Claire says, “loss, like gain, is an invitation to find gifts in any situation. Rise Up! taught me to ask: ‘selfishly attached to LOSS do I deny the GAIN that love was and is still?’ NO! I want to be the woman and artist he saw I could be. I keep my husband’s love alive when my true inner artist lives in every experience life brings to me.”

The Keys to Being Human not only ACCEPT the balance of gain and loss, they embrace the entire dance: success and disappointments, hardships, heartaches and rejoicings with the belief that in Every Experience there is an Opportunity for life, faith, and love.

Featured Exercise:

  1. Breathe and Stay: Three breaths, ground your energy; eyes closed and find your deep center. Stay gives me the opportunity to re-engage the dance and flow, rise and fall of every experience.
  2. Make a list of 3 easily recalled LOSSES and ask: “What was the gain? What was the gift of this loss?”
  3. Make a list of 3 easily recalled GAINS and ask: “What was the loss? What was the gift of this loss?”
  4. Choose one from each list and write a poem about the gift, or send a letter to someone who deserves to be acknowledged for either a gain or loss in your life. Put on your favorite music and make yourself dance. Make a collage. Do SOMETHING to CELEBRATE your understanding of gain and loss!