Everyday Ayurveda by Bhaswati Bhattacharya

Despite the wins, we all lost last year. Despite the losses, we all won last year.  Rather than making new year’s resolutions in 2021, we may find greater power in self-reflection about our attitudes about loss.


Most of us lost something in 2020, a relative, friend or colleague, property, a job, hard-earned money, investments, a booked vacation or travel plans, health, our favorite candidate for an election, or the sense of peace amidst a pandemic.


Loss is a painful emotion. The earliest need to survive latches us to mother, who can feed and protect us from the elements until we can walk and talk. If we remain desperately attached to our initial caregivers, we restrict great life lessons and perhaps constrict our ideas of love. If we instead remain connected to them in harmony but not for every need, we grow. We are less wounded when time takes them away from us.


Loss is also a powerful metaphor. We can choose to see loss as deprivation. If we choose instead to see loss as a clearing, making space for something new, every loss is a gift for learning something about ourselves, to evolve.


If we are devastated from each loss, we are stuck in time. The end of a year, the last day in a home we are  leaving, or departure from a job can make us sentimental, but hanging on with sadness creates a sense of loss. While it is culturally accepted, it is not the way of the evolved mind.


A truer acceptance of time ushers in realization that nothing belonged to us before we appeared. All we have either disappears or belongs to another once we are gone. What is ours – and only ours – is our attitude, memories, and relationships. If we remain stuck in material things we have lost, we lose more by not being in the present.


The west teaches us that wealth is about having more. The east teaches that wealth is about having enough to give away. True wealth requires that we attain enough to give, perpetuating the ecocycle of giving and receiving. The truly wealthy are the biggest sustainers of loss because they accumulate and lose in regular cycles. Those hoarding without giving appear on lists of  the uber-wealthy but indeed, they are often among the loneliest. Those who give wisely, knowing it could all be taken away by one sudden catastrophe, keep enough for emergencies but live fully in the joy in giving and watching others receive. As loss is replaced by abundance of kindness and fulfillment of others’ needs, true wealth transforms the hearts of a community. These simple truths are taught repeatedly in the books of wisdom around the world.


After great loss, it is common to begin accumulating items as a defensive reaction against the pain of depletion, humiliation, or death.  Hoarding items has become a common disease and is commonly associated with unresolved family losses, trauma, war, and childhood deprivation of proper loving care and guidance.  If we choose to release what we accumulated in our homes as donation and willful letting go, it is not uncommon to see great loss of physical body weight, new jobs and relationships, and shifts in life.


Loss is a great teacher. If we see ourselves as a being who came into the world as a part of it, we can feel the value of our presence as a part of others’ lives. When we see ourselves among other beings, spinning on a globe that hurls through space, we get a wider context of our vast but small physical place in our body.


If we choose never to think of ‘mine,’ we can never lose. We can remove the burden of loss and watch our life come alive. We can allow time to carry us forward, seeing the same spaces and people and allowing them to be new, rather than restricting them to our vision of them in the past. Releasing the old and allowing memories to remain quietly in our heart opens the space for new chapters to begin, again and again. This is one key to a good life, a life well-lived.


The South Asian Times Columnist Dr. Bhaswati Bhattacharya is a Fulbright Specialist 20182022 in Public Health and Clinical Asst Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York. Her bestselling book Everyday Ayurveda is published by Penguin Random House. 

Images courtesy of (Photo courtesy insight Timer) and thesatimes |

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