StarFire Teja’s Sad Photo Challenge for Suicide Prevention

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and I am launching a Sad Photo Challenge. I invite everyone to share photos of themselves crying and/or looking sad, to help those who are suffering in despair to realize that they are not alone in their sadness.

Think about how much we all put on our happy faces for others, especially for social media. I think that as a society we need to allow sadness and realness and authenticity of feelings. I don’t think that we should wallow in sorrow or overindulge in it, but rather, we need to allow sadness to naturally flow through everyone, including men, women, teenagers, and children.

When I took the photo featured in this post (almost ten years ago), I was crying and feeling very, very sad. As I looked in my sad eyes in the mirror, I suddenly became inspired to snap a photo, never dreaming that I would ever show it to anyone! At the time I thought, “Why not capture this sad moment, like I capture all the happy moments?” So now I challenge you to also share a sad photo of yourself, with the caption “I am accepting StarFire Teja’s Sad Photo Challenge for Suicide Prevention.”

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If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you know that I have been dealing with a Fibromyalgia flare lately, and I have to consistently work to happy up my mind and to keep a good, positive attitude. Well, one night a few weeks ago I dreamt that I walked up to two fellows from my high school class, and I said, “Guys, I’ve come to the end of my rope.”

People who commit suicide have truly come to the end of their ropes. When I say that I would never commit suicide, because I couldn’t do that to my family and friends, and because I don’t believe in killing living beings (which is why I choose a plant-based lifestyle), and then I say “but I am in such despair that I wish I would die of natural causes,” no one is alarmed and sends me to the psych unit because I first stated that I would never commit suicide. Not only are they not alarmed, they might say something like, “sorry you’re having such a hard time,” and then go about their day, without realizing that the despair I’m feeling might be every bit as alarming as the despair of someone who would commit suicide… Perhaps the only difference is that I would not kill myself… But, as I said in my dream, sometimes I feel like I’ve come to the end of my rope…

How can we truly help people who have come to the end of their ropes? I believe we can help through active listening, genuine compassion, and understanding. Even if you have never felt deep despair yourself, you can still listen and try to understand. You can also remind people that they are not alone in their pain. In fact, suicide is among the leading causes of death in the United States, and according to the World Health Organization, “Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds. Suicide is a global phenomenon and occurs throughout the lifespan.”

We need to welcome the tears of others and meet them where they are, so that they can feel that where their rope ends, a greater rope begins. We are all connected as part of one continuous energy. We all feel pain. We all want happiness. Not just the human species, but all living beings feel suffering as well as happiness. We are all part of the same rope, and we need to help each other feel that connection to everyone and everything.

If ever you feel that you have come to the end of your rope, please know that you are not ever alone in your pain. Help and connection are always available to you.

For further hope and inspiration, please read my previous post, “It Is Your Duty To Live” and my new book Reaching for Orange: Practices, Visualizations, & Blessings to Help You Happy Up Your Life.

If you live in the United States, you can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It is available 24 hours everyday. You can also visit the website: SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.

So, will you accept the challenge and share a sad photo of yourself for the world to see? Your sad photo might just help someone in despair to grab onto that greater rope that we all share.

May this post be helpful to many beings.

May All Beings Be Free of Suffering.
May All Beings Be Happy.

 

 

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The Bird who watches the bird eating the fruits

“Like two birds of golden plumage, inseparable companions, the individual self and the immortal Self are perched on the branches of the selfsame tree. The former tastes of the sweet and bitter fruits of the tree; the latter, tasting of neither, calmly observes. The individual self, deluded by forgetfulness of his identity with the divine Self, bewildered by his ego, grieves and is sad. But when he recognizes the worshipful Lord as his own true Self, and beholds his glory, he grieves no more.” ~ The Upanishads: Breath of Eternal Life, translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester.

The ancient sages and mystics of India said the same thing that Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within.” One way to connect with the Divine inside you is to practice cultivating the Witness.

Cultivating the Witness Consciousness means attuning with the Bird who is watching the bird eating the fruits, which is to say aligning with your deepest self and observing all of your thoughts, words, feelings, and actions. Creating and nurturing this connection, between your deeper witnessing mind and your surface acting mind, can help you to feel more peaceful, loving, and kind towards yourself. The Bird who is watching the bird is like a compassionate friend who is always with you, showing you the truth of how things are with neutrality and wisdom.

Cultivating the Witness is a practice you can do anytime, anywhere by just simply stating the observable facts to yourself. For example, if you are waiting in line at the grocery store, you can witness your thoughts and feelings, and then think to yourself, “Some impatience and irritability are passing through me.” Once you witness what’s happening, then you can work with it skillfully by deciding to focus on gratitude, or to say a prayer, or to send blessings for goodness to all of the other people waiting in line. In this way, your deeper observer self can help your cranky surface self to transmute the frustration into loving kindness. So, cultivating the Witness is a great tool for working with difficult emotions.

In the tree of your life, can you see the Bird who is watching the bird eating the fruits? Do you take time to nourish a loving connection between these two birds?

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Photo of birds and blossoms by Zane Lee on Unsplash.

 

Three Hours Left

Dear readers, the intention of this post is not to induce fear, but rather to impart feelings of awe, appreciation, positivity, connectivity, and rootedness in the priorities dwelling in the ground of your being.

Imagine that we humans discovered that in three hours time, some natural force was going to cause planet Earth to explode and entirely disintegrate.

What were your first thoughts when you read that?

When I imagine that there are only three hours left, my first thoughts go towards trying to grok what would happen to everything and everyone… Where would all of our souls go? What would happen to all the memories and experiences and energies?

All of the stories would just be done. All of the histories, cultures, art, music, inventions, and creations would be gone. It is mind-blowing to even consider the ramifications of such an explosion. All of the mountains, oceans, rivers, deserts, canyons, forests, flowers, birds, butterflies, cows, and bears would be gone. And what would happen next?

After considering all of that, my next thoughts go towards deciding how to spend the last three hours. I decided I would spend the first hour calling loved ones and saying good-byes, and the last two hours praying and chanting (singing sacred mantras). My intention would be to die consciously while feeling connected to the Divine Source. To me, that would be the ultimate Surrender to God. I am not sure what happens to us after we die, but I know that when I am singing spiritual songs, I feel connected with Something Greater, and I feel calmed by that Force from beyond this realm. So, I feel that chanting at the time of death would be a way to die peacefully.

I began chanting as a daily spiritual practice more than fifteen years ago. I usually sing along with CDs by my favorite chant artist, Krishna Das. One day in 2008, I was evaluating my priorities in life, and I suddenly found myself saying out loud, “I want to live inside the chant.” Well, at that time my sons were 8 and 11, and I was busy with many worldly responsibilities, so it was not possible to live inside the chant all the time!

Now I’m in a new nun phase, but still there are many things to do each day beyond chanting. So when I think about my priorities if there were three hours left, versus what is happening in my life now, it makes me wonder if I could somehow commit to chanting more each day… But, then I also think that if you knew you were about to die, and you wanted to die a peaceful, conscious death, then of course you would drop everything and just focus on that. Whereas, if you are still in the midst of full-on living, you can’t just drop everything and do your top passion all the time.

What do you think about all that? What would you do if there were only three hours left, and how would those priorities line up with how you live your daily life now?

I hope this post inspires you to feel awe and appreciation for this sacred planet Earth, as well as rootedness in the priorities dwelling in the ground of your being.

May you feel positively connected to everyone and everything!

 

 

image Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

StarFire Teja’s StarFire Friday Blessing: May You Embrace What Is

 

May you trust the divine unfolding of life.

May you remember your connection with all that is.

May your weekend be blessed with moments of deep gratitude.

May you embrace what is.

 

 

Magnolia photo by Mabel Amber on Pixabay.