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If you’ve been through a heart-wrenching loss, you know just how hard it can be to navigate your way through the stages of grief. Waves of sadness, anger and depression can buffet us for months and even years.
Meanwhile, there’s often pressure from family, friends and colleagues, who try to force “normalcy” before you may be ready. They may want to “cheer you up” and help you “get back on your feet” rather than meet you as companions in the dark and scary places that arise when you’ve had a profound loss.
This can lead to deeper feelings of disconnection and isolation. It may seem that there are few people who have the time, wisdom and patience to help you navigate your loss in a way that really respects what your soul needs and provides you the safe haven in which to transform your heartbreak into healing.
If we try to avoid or abort our natural grieving process, we derail what can be a journey of profound healing, spiritual opening and transformation.
Working our way, step by step, through tragic losses can play a central role in our spiritual life, since grief tends to crack us open to the depths of life in a way that nothing else can.
As we engage grief in a transformational way, we get much more real about what truly matters. We clarify what we believe in. We commit to loving more deeply. And we engage more in making a difference.
Our heartache can turn into what St. Teresa of Avila called the “beautiful wound,” a kind of pain that actually connects us with the Divine. The wound, even while painful, can give rise, eventually, to the serenity, love and even joy that comes from feeling deeply connected with the Source of all life.
Seen through a spiritual lens, grief is thus a profound opportunity for our evolution — both a deeper embodiment of life as well as a greater connection to Spirit.
It’s no accident that many of history’s most renowned mystics were catapulted into their path of illumination and service through profound losses, tragedies and heartbreak. Such events have a way of bringing us humbly to our knees, willing to face whatever truths and emotions that stir within us. This, in turn, can open us to real surrender.
The “move on” mentality that pervades our culture can thus deprive us of a profound opportunity to experience more compassion, sacred connection and a better understanding of life’s meaning.
That’s not to minimize the loss itself, of a loved one, for example. But our grief can be a portal to a deeper, wiser and richer experience of life, when consciously engaged as a spiritual practice. In this way, the path of loss becomes a journey of redemption and healing.
In fact, each of the five traditional phases of grief, popularized by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, can be experienced as a spiritual initiation. For example, feeling the burn of anger FULLY can eventually open us to our inner fire to create change and feel passion for life again. Allowing ourselves to cocoon within ourselves for awhile can help us shed false images and goals.
Ultimately, grief and loss offer the potential for an alchemical journey in which the darkness and suffering we face can turn into the gold of a deeper life and connection to God.
But we need guidance and support to create a container in which our painful emotions can be metabolized and we can safely enter the heart of the fire to be reborn.
And that is where this 12-module virtual program comes in, a profound opportunity in which you will be guided in navigating your own losses as an alchemical path of transformation.
The course title, Caravan of No Despair, comes from a Rumi poem in which he writes, “Ours is no caravan of despair. Come, yet again, come.” It refers to an attitude of welcome, which is ultimately the path of surrender to what is.
Despair comes when we have given up all hope, which is all too common in the journey of grief. Instead, we are offering a sanctuary in which you will be compassionately guided through the natural stages of grief and loss so that you can open to redemption, healing and the promise of a richer life, without feeling rushed through each stage.
Indeed, it’s vital that we absorb the initiation that each stage of grief offers. Each wave is clearing us out for new possibilities to arise.
Your teacher and guide for this spiritual journey through grief is Mirabai Starr, a beloved spiritual teacher and someone who has faced grief at a profound, soul-wrenching level, including the sudden loss of her daughter in a car accident.
For Mirabai, the loss was both a crucifixion and a journey into deeper spiritual realization. Mirabai has thus walked through the full journey of grief and intimately knows its true, alchemical potential.
Mirabai has also written many acclaimed books on women mystics, including St. Teresa of Avila, and she has walked a path that includes Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist practices — all woven together in a deeply honoring way.
This course is her offering to your heart. Mirabai will guide you to a powerful reclamation of the path of grief as a way to harvest the “soul lessons” loss unearths, enabling you to live your life more deeply.
In the course of the 12-module journey with her, you’ll:
Mirabai will guide you on a profound, tender and sacred journey designed to help you navigate the phases of grief with more grace.
Each contemplation and teaching session will build harmoniously upon the next, so that you’ll develop a complete, holistic understanding of the practices, tools and principles you’ll need to navigate the stages of grief in a way that opens you to real spiritual transformation.
Grief is a natural response to the shattering of the foundation of your life. One of the most powerful forces for radical inner transfiguration is the death of a loved one.Yet loss takes many forms, and each can be a catalyst for awakening: the ending of a relationship and the circle of friends and family you shared, the loss of a job or career and the community that goes with it, financial security, a serious health diagnosis that reorders your self-image, infertility, innocence. Our culture has conditioned us to get away from painful things, but the world’s wisdom traditions offer us a deeper path, one that invites us to sit in the fire and allow it to transform us.
In this session, you will:
The 16th-century mystical genius, St. John of the Cross, coined the term “dark night of the soul” and developed a teaching that shows us how to surrender to radical unknowing and allow ourselves to be stripped of all that stands between our souls and the Divine. These and other mystics see deep sorrow as a great spiritual blessing, rather than as a problem requiring a solution.In this session, you will:
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, pioneer of the conscious dying movement, came to see that everyone grieves differently and that science collapses in the face of the mysteries of the heart. There is no map for the landscape of loss, no established itinerary, no cosmic checklist, where each item ticked off gets you closer to success. You cannot succeed in mourning your loved ones. You cannot fail. And yet there are certain common features, and knowing the signposts can help you navigate that wilderness.In this session, you will:
Denial is not inherently negative. It is, in fact, what saves us from imploding when tragedy strikes. It is a biochemical process that washes through our brains and wraps us in a protective cocoon. It can also be seen as the grace that descends when something terrible happens, the angels that rush in to hold us up as we are hurtling into the abyss. The force of loss can part the veil that separates us from the sacred and grant us fleeting yet transformational access to Reality.In this session, you will learn to:
When we lose someone or something we love, we have a tendency to withdraw from the world to protect our shattered hearts. We need time and space to turn inward and assess what has happened. We also may recognize that something holy is going on beneath the surface of the shock and pain, and we are reluctant to be distracted by other people and their opinions about our loss. While the desire for solitude can turn into harmful isolation, it can also be an expression of self-care, and a way of honoring the sanctity of the experience.In this session, you will:
Anger is a natural response when something we value is torn from us. Our whole being rises up in protest. Desperate for a place to put the fire, we may lash out and cause harm. Yet when we approach this powerful emotion with loving awareness we can claim the power of the spiritual warrior to cut through illusion and lay the truth bare. Grief may be the first time we experience the ability to set healthy boundaries!In this session, you will:
Bargaining can be one of the most vexing aspects of the grief experience. This is that phase where the monkey-mind takes over and you endlessly replay the tape of what happened, in the futile hope that you can make things come out differently.
But we cannot think our way through the problem of loss. No amount of righteous indignation, self-recrimination, or wistful “if only’s” will undo reality. The relentless internal monologue can make us feel like we are going insane, but if we are patient with ourselves and remember not to believe everything we think, this process will run its natural course.In this session, you will:
When all our efforts to strike a deal with the universe fail, we finally collapse, exhausted and surrender to what is. And “what is” may be really hard to bear. But at this point, there is nowhere left to turn, and so we sink into feeling our feelings at last. We get to be simply sad, without the storyline obscuring the experience. We shift from the head to the heart, and we rest there.In this session, you will:
Rumi says, “The grief you cry out from draws you toward union.” And that’s not all! “Your pure sadness that wants help,” he goes on to say, “is the secret cup.” Do we dare to believe this? Many mystical traditions affirm that the moment we reach out for the Holy One there is an immediate — almost quantum — response. The Beloved longs for us as fervently as we long for the Beloved. The human/Divine relationship is a reciprocal one. The fire of separation burns the boundaries between our souls and our source so that we can reclaim the power of desire.In this session, you will:
Acceptance is not light at the end of the tunnel that signals your grief journey is over. It’s not about glossing over the power of your experience. What happened may never be okay with you, and that’s okay! It is a matter of looking at your loss face to face.
It involves taking yourself into your arms and forgiving yourself for being unable to make things be other than they are. The loss may be amputation and that limb may never grow back, but we learn to find a new center of gravity.In this session, you will:
Once we have come to accept that who and what we loved in physical form is really gone, we are free to cultivate a new, metaphysical relationship. This does not happen all at once, and it is not subject to our ideas about it. Our connection unfolds organically, often quietly, and our task is to grow still enough to recognize the fruits of this love as they ripen and drop into our hands.In this session, you will:
Teresa of Avila spoke about her longing for union with the Beloved as a “beautiful wound” that seared her soul, and yet from which she would never wish to recover.
This burning yearning blessed her life. In this age of spiritual cynicism, we are conditioned to repress the devotional impulse and deny the validity of ecstatic experiences. As we integrate our losses and embrace our life, let us reclaim the power of ecstasy as a path home to our true being. From this place of devotion to the Source of all Love, we may find the energy of the heart to help alleviate suffering in this world.In this session, you will:
In addition to Mirabai’s transformative 12-module online training, you’ll receive these powerful program sessions with some of the world’s leading visionaries and teachers. These bonus sessions are being offered to further complement what you’ll learn in the course — and take your understanding and practice to an even deeper level.