Moving Past the Grief of Tragedy

by Nirmala Raniga

When unexpected tragedy strikes our families or extended communities, it can evoke an array of painful emotions. We are deeply saddened, and even angered, by senseless loss. We ask ourselves, “How could something like this have happened?”—a question that cannot be easily answered. While we may never fully understand why tragedy takes place, there are ways that we can help one another move forward through our grief and create a new reality, one in which such heartbreaking events become a thing of the past.
Tragic events often serve to unite us, and we share the experience through our collective consciousness—the stillness that joins everything in the Universe and from which all life is created. As individuals, we each have this stillness within us, and we connect to it in the space between our thoughts, often referred to as “the gap.” One of the simplest, yet most powerful, ways we can effect real change in the world and create an environment that supports peace rather than unrest and violence is to simply access this stillness by going within through the process of meditation.
Dr. Deepak Chopra, who has partnered with Paradise Valley Healing Center, writes and speaks extensively on how committing to a consistent practice of meditation can indeed heal the world. Meditation, Dr. Chopra says, brings all individuals to “an awareness of their body, awareness of their mental space, awareness of their relationships—not only with each other, but with life and the ecosystem,” which Dr. Chopra asserts, can lead to a “more conscious, awakened world.”
Through the easy practice of meditation, we can begin to access that place of stillness, the gap, between our thoughts. Then, when we return to activity, we take the sense of peace and equanimity that resides in the gap into our daily lives. In this way, we move from feelings of fight or flight—responses that are reactive and cause us to look for ways to either run away from difficult emotions and experiences or do battle with them—to a state of witnessing, restful awareness. In the latter frame of mind, we are able to find more creative responses to the challenges we face as individuals and communities and offer solutions to benefit the common good.
As we continue to manage the immediate feelings we experience in the wake of any tragedy and loss, we can employ another form of mantra repetition, a Sanskrit mantra called the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. Reciting of this powerful mantra aloud is especially beneficial for those who are suffering through pain and grief. The mantra helps ward off negativity, creating a protective shield, and awakens a healing force that penetrates deep into the body and mind.
Om Tryambakam yajamahe
Sugandhim pushti-vardhanam
Urvarukamiva bandhanan
Mrityor mukshiya mamritat

In English, the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra translates to:
We meditate on the three-eyed reality, the compassionate one whose fragrance nourishes all beings. May he liberate us from death for the sake of immortality, even as the cucumber is severed from bondage to the creeper.
When a tragedy or the loss of a loved one occurs, we can sometimes feel helpless and full of fear. Reaching out to our communities, families, and friends can assure us that we are not alone with our pain. However, if we come to know that solutions are available inside ourselves and that we are therefore not subject to random factors beyond our control, we not only find great comfort, but we can also access a wonderful sense of peace and understanding that we can readily share with one another to create a beautiful new world.