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An Excerpt from “The Final Gift of the Beloved: Her Disappearance-13 Days” by Barron Steffen

Posted by on August 18, 2020 in Books, Media & Arts with 0 Comments

By Barron Steffen

When I was in the ashram in July, one of the things I made sure to do was meet with a woman whose role for several years had been to help those whose loved ones had recently died. She assisted devotees in understanding what supports they might choose from and which spiritual practices they could offer at the time of death to bring blessings and grace to the one who had passed. At the time, I had asked to meet with her because my mother seemed to be approaching that threshold-time in her life.

During our lunch, Mary reminded me that in Siddha Yoga the most auspicious and beneficial action to take upon learning of the death of a loved one is to chant the Guru Gita on his or her behalf. Its sacred syllables and their vibrations carry an immense amount of grace and can help the departed individual navigate the transition from form to formless life. This centuries-old Sanskrit text was first introduced as part of the ashram daily schedule by Baba in the 1970s.

Mary also shared with me the concept of thirteen days. In the mostly Hindu tradition, a person is mourned for this period, and on the thirteenth day a ceremony and celebration of life is performed to honor and invoke blessings for final release from anything that may be holding that person to this physical world.

Sitting for meditation this morning, I found it to be uneventful and quite disappointing given the gravity of events. Although I have been taught the importance of remaining detached from judging my daily practice, the fact was that, much like my experience yesterday of returning into the Intensive hall for the chant, I still held unrealized hopes and expectations. In meditation, I found it difficult to go any deeper than surface level, and for the entire hour my mind was neither malleable nor still.

Afterwards, I took a pause to eat something, assess my day, and send off an email seeking support from one of the monks in upstate New York at Shree Muktananda Ashram.

Aside from the one call that unquestionably had to be made to Seana’s mother, Swamiji was the only other person I could envision wanting to speak with today.

Soon afterwards, I sat for another round of the Guru Gita. As it progressed, I was easily distracted by thoughts and noticed a core physical exhaustion. And even though tears spilled forth, cascading down my shirt and onto my lap, by the end it felt inadequate and decidedly incomplete. I wondered if harboring the clandestine desire that something be revealed to me was instead impeding the very thing I yearned for. Somewhere within the randomness, I felt sure a larger plan was concealed. In the tranquility following the chant, I quickly became lost in thought. I began to wonder what Seana might be experiencing. Is she feeling lighthearted and free? What is this transition like for her, and where is she in the process? Is she thinking of me at all, or is she already detached from the physical world and moving onward?

The truth was, I had no idea. I could only stick to the plan of offering as many blessings as possible and rededicate myself to remaining as present as possible in my heart, rejecting nothing and noticing everything. And while I did not relish the idea, it was indisputable that Seana’s mother needed to be told as soon as possible today.

As I contemplated what would be the best approach, I grew increasingly troubled. How do I tell the mother of my wife that her only daughter is gone? And what might that unleash in her? This truly concerned me. If my own anguish was any measure, then there had to be support for her in place. Gradually, a plan emerged.

Reprinted from The Final Gift of the Beloved. Copyright © 2020 by Barron Steffen.

About the author:

Barron Steffen is a longtime student on the spiritual path of Siddha Yoga, a big band crooner, and a widower. He has been a big wave surfer, a 1980s Italian pop singer, and an award-winning elementary school teacher. Steffen has now fully transitioned from the elementary school classroom to his company, The Yoga of Mindset, where he teaches children and adults how to use their thoughts so they're not used by them.

About the book:

If you could leave your true love one final gift, what would it be? This intense, moment-by-moment chronicle begins with the officer's words, “She is deceased.” For the next thirteen days following the fatal automobile accident of his wife, renowned thought-leader Dr. Seana Lowe Steffen, Barron draws on nearly forty years of study and training with gurus and meditation teachers to discover ecstatic love, save fractured relationships, and glimpse a greater arc and purpose for being alive.

A love story disguised as a tragedy, Barron weaves extraordinarily poignant and powerful experiences with honesty and revelations that will change lives. Along with intense pain and emotion, there is also great beauty and transcendent insight, for nothing is as it appears. The Final Gift of the Beloved is the story of one man's sudden, astonishing brush with devastation and the Divine under the most heartbreaking of circumstances.

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