Bookends to death - building a bigger container of love by Gaynor Quilter 
 
I’ve been reflecting recently on how different my experience has been in sitting with how I feel over the loss of my younger brother in May this year. 
 
I came to meditation practice after the death of my Mum in 2005. I’d been on a Mindfulness and Compassion course in Brighton run by Suryacitta. The meditation and and Voice dialogue practice, allowed me to gain some relief and release from my early rage. 
My practice was sitting for as long as I could with what was there, not interfering and noting my resistance and default mind, the need to keep asking “why” . I could last a minute sometimes building up to 5 minutes. Never much longer than that to start with. I can’t say it was easy, it certainly was not. But I noticed the daily, very subtle shifts and I learned to trust that I could sit with whatever arose, however painful. 
 
With this daily “dive in” (I also used to swim most days) I built a compassion practice. In the early days it was more self care with me and my family in the first two stages of the compassion meditation, but as the year went on I included all five stages. It really was an expansion of my “container. By expansion of my container I mean my capacity to kindly “hold’ my pain was growing and I was becoming less likely to try to push it away. 
 
My mum‘s death which was a slow and painful death to observe as she became more and more fragile and lost her capacity to do the things she loved is in complete contrast to the sudden death of my younger brother. 
 
What I know now, as it’s been supremely tested, is that my meditation practice has given me a solid foundation to be with the disbelief, anguish, regret, loss and depth of sadness I feel. In the changing family dynamics, as we steer a new course without him, I can see and feel my own love and strength. The need to care for me, whilst providing support and guidance to my niece and two nephews as they live through their own rollercoaster of emotions and responses. 
 
Life does not stop - until it does - sudden or expected. At this challenging time, for all of us, living with so many different and competing changes and emotional responses, we are all finding new ways to be with what life throws in our path. 
 
If you have lost a loved one recently, my heart is with you. Try sitting even briefly and connecting with what is there. The pain is real, but it passes. It arises again but it’s different next time and the next time and the next time. Your practice can give you the space in which everything can be welcomed. 
 
The container of love and acceptance keeps expanding. Gaynor 
 
 
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