Overcoming the Pain of Heartbreak
Loss is part of life. It is deeply interwoven with the constantly changing unfolding tapestry of you and your life. It is simply inevitable that you will lose something precious or someone you love—a close friend, a parent, or a beloved pet. It is painful. Loss is especially painful if it is sudden and unexpected. The shock of losing someone you love can leave you feeling empty, alone, and even violated. Loss of any kind can be devastating and even a debilitating experience. But have you ever wondered what causes this pain? How can you overcome the heartbreak of loss and the sadness and despair it is known to generate?
Every single day someone dies. Instantly you receive news about death, destruction, cold-blooded murder, and terrorism on your smartphone—the inhumanity of human beings towards other human beings can be a tremendous assault on your senses. You might have a momentary feeling of ‘oh my god that is awful’ or a deep feeling of dread that coincides with the thought ‘not again.’ A tear might even slip down your face and you can even feel a deep sense of despair or compassion for those who are suffering from the heartbreak of loss, but then your attention shifts almost immediately to the constant thoughts about you and your life.
Even the most shocking news eventually falls away from your mind after a few days—in spite of the constant drumbeat of the news media’s obsession with the dark side of the human psyche. This morbid fascination with the endless tales of death and destruction unfolding around the globe almost continuously bombard your senses every single day. But even with this unending deluge of horrifying news—after a while, you can become numb and indifferent to this barrage of death, destruction, despair, and the gross suffering it generates. The news simply has little or no impact on you.
On the other hand, if it is your leg that has been ripped off by an improvised bomb, or if your best friend, or husband, or wife, or child, was killed by a mad man’s bullets while they were enjoying a concert, a movie, a vacation, a religious service, or simply going to school—you would have a completely different perspective than someone watching the news. A personal loss has a searing burning painful impact on you. It is much more intimate and the pain lasts much longer than a blip on the news. The heartbreak of loss can simply be devastating.
The lingering impact of loss actually intensifies once the initial shock evaporates and you are left reeling with all of the life changes this loss signifies. Naturally, it is essential to allow time to mourn the loss of someone you love, especially if you have experienced a sudden or unexpected loss. It is perfectly natural to find yourself on a wild rollercoaster ride of emotions as you attempt to assess the impact of loss and deal with the deep painful burn of heartbreak. This swirl of emotion has led to the new cliché of accepting your new normal—the spiritual teaching of accepting what is.
This is definitely a step in the right direction. The idea of a ‘new normal’ gives you a new baseline for beginning your life freshly, which naturally minimizes the pain of longing for what was or the powerful tendency of the mind to revisit the past in a desperate attempt to create a different or more desirable outcome. This exercise in futility only leads to more heartbreak, despair, and a deep sense of hopelessness. If, however, you pay close attention you can recognize this very strong tendency of mind to revisit the past only serves to maintain your pain. The past is the graveyard—revisiting it only creates more pain and suffering.
The more you accept the new normal of a lost limb, a debilitating or disfiguring injury, or the diagnosis of a terminal illness, or the death of someone you love, the more you will be able to endure and eventually overcome the pain of heartbreak. The full acceptance of your life the way it is now is simply a catalyst for a more rapid healing process so you can get on with your life that way it is instead of dwelling on what your life was before. As powerful as this approach is, it does not alleviate the burning, raging, the sting of loss. It simply does not address the underlying issue—what causes the intense pain of loss? This is one of the great riddles of life.
The clue for solving this riddle lives in examining your reactions more closely. A news report about someone you don’t know generates little or no reaction, while your own direct personal experience of loss can be totally devastating and can generate an intense reaction—what causes this dramatic difference? The answer lies in the nature of how you perceive yourself and the world. Perhaps you could say it is the very nature of your perception that causes this difference. Who perceives? What inside of you perceives anything?
It is your relationship with your mind and your identification with your body that creates the intense pain of heartbreak. Naturally, you are intimately attached to people, pets, and things you love. This attachment is very intimate and personal. This personal attachment combined with your identity, or ego, is the root cause of all negative reactions you experience as your life unfolds. If you are unattached you feel nothing. If you are attached you feel pain—and often intense pain, which is rooted in the deep feeling of you or ego.
Certainly, loss can shake you out of your complacency and give you a new lease on life. Often the tragedy of loss leads to a totally new direction for your life. It can also infuse your life with a new sense of purpose and a deep sense of urgency. This is one of the great benefits of loss. But how do you overcome the heartbreak of loss? What makes it hurt so much? The reason is simply your sense of self, or ego is very sensitive and perceives everything personally. The news is mostly impersonal—you have no attachment—so it has no lasting or real impact.
The events in your life, on the other hand, are deeply personal and are steeped in your attachment. The longer you are attached someone or something the deeper the pain is when the attachment is broken or ripped from you. Naturally, you are very attached to the people, places, things, and animals you deeply intimately love. If this is stripped away from you—it hurts because of this intimate personal attachment. If there is no attachment then there is no possibility of pain. Since your attachments naturally evolve over time you are not necessarily aware how deeply attached you are until you are experiencing the searing pain of loss.
The pain of heartbreak extends over time due to the deep longing for things the way they use to be and the strong tendency of your mind to revisit the past. But knowing this does nothing to alleviate the pain. The intensity of the pain of loss can actually seem to get worse or more acute overtime—the old adage ‘time heals all wounds’ is not at all true unless you are intimately aware of the secret workings of your mind.
The untamed mind relentlessly, and often chaotically, moves from one thought to another. It easily flits to the past or flies to the future in a kind of time travel. Your mind has the innate tendency and power to constantly revisit the past in an attempt to fix what happened or use what happened as a springboard to fly into the future as a strategy of preventing this pain from happening again. Sadly, this powerful movement of your mind only serves to continue your pain and re-traumatize you.
Releasing the pain of loss begins instantly when you find the source of the pain. What is actually causing this pain? Who is in pain? If someone you love dies, obviously they are no longer in pain, but naturally, you are in pain, because they are gone—this is the pain of attachment and the source of the heartbreak of loss. The deeper question is who is this who that is experiencing pain? Who are you—really?
This type of inquiry solves the riddle of the pain. Clearly, if you are suffering from the heartbreak of loss, you are the one who is in pain. But if you take this a step further to examine the nature of this you that you think you are then you can begin to see through the source of your pain—your ego—or the deep identification with your body. But what exactly is ego? Is it even real? If there is no ego there is no possibility of attachment to anyone or anything. If there is no ego there is naturally no pain even in the midst of the most heartbreaking loss.
Typically, you give your attention to the thoughts rolling through your mind, or your memory, which only serves to continue and even intensify your pain. The pain originates with you, or ego, and your thoughts. If you give your attention to your thoughts or memory, it intensifies your pain. But if you stop giving your attention to the thoughts rolling through your mind and instead shift your attention to the source of your ego it immediately eliminates the innate power of your ego to take things personally. Taking the events in life or loss personally is the reason you unknowingly inflict pain upon yourself.
The events in your life, no matter how dramatic they might seem, are not personal. It is really that simple. Events in life are simply events unfolding it actually has nothing to do with you. This simplicity, however, does not equate to easy. You have to be willing to stop listening to, and believing, your mind and give your attention to the invisible depth of your heart—the source of the deep feeling of ‘me’ or ego. It is seeing past the heartbreak into the invisible presence of you, or pure awareness, that is free of any heartbreak. Giving your attention to your attention or the vast presence of your awareness beyond all ideas of you instantly ends your pain.
It does take an intense resolve and a fierce desire to be free of your pain in order to see through the powerful illusion generated by your ego. But if you fully give your attention to the source of your attention, or the source of your ego, you can see for yourself that there is no ego—it is simply an illusion generated by the feeling nature of your body. If there is no ego there is no pain—how could there be?
This does not have to take years—as fast as a click of your fingers you can be forever free of the heartbreak of loss. In an instant, you can discover the vast intelligent awareness within you—the eternal now where no loss exists.
If you recognize the vastness of now alive in your heart how can you possibly gain or lose anything?
No loss is possible in this Holy Instant of Release—the eternal moment of NOW!
( ~ >