A tragic day – how can meditation help?

Sad flower

Two days ago, Friday 22 July, Norway was hit by a tragic series of events. At around 15.26 a bomb exploded in front of the government´s building in central Oslo. I work in a building nearby and heard the explosion, and felt the building shaking. Few hours later, a man started shooting young people at the Labour party´s summer camp, on the island Utøya.

I would like to share some words on what I experienced. Shortly after the explosion, the alarm in my building went off, we all ran outside. We did not understand what had happened, but several thought it was a bomb. We saw many windows that had blown out. People talked about wounded people and we saw smoke. I was horrified and sad, with lots of thoughts running through my head. What if I had went out that afternoon to buy a cup of tea? What If I had left work early that day, around 15.30, going out the main entrance? The windows near the entrance of the building, where I walk every day, were all broken.

As I came home and turned on the television, I felt paralysed and scared. The news of shooting at the Labour party´s summer camp made me feel like a glass broke inside of me. In this very tragic situatio, my daily meditation felt particularly meaningful. There were lots of thoughts in my head, some of them horrifying. I was imagining the series of events that had taken place, seing injured people and people running for there lives, fearing, hiding away and being killed. All these thoughts after a while gave space to sleep, before I woke up and felt strong tensions in my back and neck.

The day after was even sader, with the news that 85 people were killed at Utøya. Meditating will not change what happened, it will not make the events less sad. But my experience is that meditation brings me more in contact with my own sadness and feelings. They can come very strongly during the meditation and also afterwards. But it feels like the repetition of the sound gives me some kind of comfort, and that the meditation helps me work through some of the psychological residues from the last couple of days.

When such terrible events take place, I feel it is important to spend time with friends and family, but also have time for silence and reflection. Time for taking in what has happened, and mourn, for example by visiting the centre of Oslo and lay down flowers or light a candle.

8 Comments

  1. Kaif

    Thank you Carina for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I have been following the events on the BBC and thinking quite a lot about them, having been in Norway at this time of the year, every other year since 2006.

    It reminded me of the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai where gunmen held hundreds of people hostage in a hotel for three days. Such events create a lot of solidarity among people, and I can imagine that this is even more so in Norway, where the population is very small and there have probably been no terrorist attacks before.

    I hope you cope with the impact of the events. I am sure meditation would help integrate the various feelings these events have brought up rather than splitting them off from the rest of ourselves. Perhaps it will make us appreciate our lives and those of others more.

    I hope nobody you know has been injured or killed.

    Warmly,

    Kaif

  2. Petter

    Thanks for a good article, Carina. I have the same experience.

    Petter

  3. carinah

    Thank you for your kind comments. Right now I really feel I struggle to cope with this. Goes a lot up and down. But I feel a little better than yesterday. Hugs

  4. Karan Sewani

    Hi Carina
    its so terrible that it happened, but you rightly pointed out the importance of meditation in these times.
    Hope you deal with the distress and find peace within.

  5. josefina

    Dear Carinah,
    Your article translated into spanish has been very present in the one-week retreat in Spain last week. It has deeply touched our hearts.

  6. Almost a month later, life goes on (except for those who didn’t survive), seemingly without much change, but in addition to the short-term influence on the election next month, I think this will have far-reaching influences on Norwegian society. I wish I knew how!

  7. Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts with us Carinah, extremely touching. While it was very different of course, I recall a similar incident here in the UK in the city of Manchester after the IRA bombing in 1996, desperately sad and I only visited Manchester the day after the incident.

    I feel you’re right Carinah, after such a profound and emotional experience, providing a time to reflect and explore ones thoughts is a necessary healing experience, and I’m sure something that you have done since and no doubt will return from time to time.

    I’m sure you will agree, some of the most memorable moments from that tragic day, was the incredible response by our Norwegian friends, something that I will never forget and hope will continue, remarkably restrained, calm and spiritually centred.

    May you, and indeed anyone else touched by this tragic incident find peace, understanding and happiness once more, and may you always be open to the path of forgiveness and understanding.

    Much peace and love Carinah, and take care my friend.

    David.

  8. Carinah

    Thanks David.
    Life is now more or less back to normal, and more and more facts on what could have been done otherwise by the police and politicians are coming out. The debate is heating up.

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