Buddhism is an ancient practice that billions of people follow. It teaches that life is suffering and the way to stop suffering is to let go of our attachments.
My guest today is Simone Seol a marketing coach, author, mystical goddess, owner of many fabulous glasses and mother who has experienced a miscarriage and now has a sweet baby in her arms.
She shares her take on Buddhism and how it’s teachings can help us all heal and be better people.
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Follow Simone @simone.grace.seol
Photo provided by Simone Seol
Music by ZingDog on Pond5
welcome to smooth stones, a podcast for moms raising children on earth while remembering their babies in heaven. Come on in and let’s chat. I made me. And I’m so glad you’re here.
Welcome. I am so excited for our episode today. It is such a good discussion. You are going to love Simone and all the things that she shared just really quickly. I wanted to tell you that I am taking new clients in January. I would love to work with you. If you’ve been thinking about working with me, you got to get in the show notes and sign up for a consult call.
I will be doing one-on-one and also group coaching in the new year. So whichever one is the best fit for you, there are a couple of different options. If you come to a consult call, I will explain them all to you. Life after loss is hard, but it doesn’t have to be less than anything. Your life can be beautiful.
And I want to show you how by teaching you all the skills you need to make life after loss, even better than you could ever imagine. You’re going to make space for grief. You’re going to get more confident. You’re going to make peace with your body and your regrets and all the decisions that you’ve made.
It’s going to be so good. Now I did not get a chance to talk about this one thing about Buddhism and loss. And so I wanted to add it here. I didn’t get to talk about it with Simone, but if you have heard of the Jesus. Have you heard of , Mizuko Jizo which is in Japanese Buddhist tradition and is also spreading around the world.
Way to remember miscarried and aborted embryos, fetuses, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths. They all have this name, me Zuko, which translates as water, child, or water baby. And there are rows and rows of baby like stats. At many Buddhist temples in Japan and they are Water child Buddhas. So they have a double purpose.
The image represents the soul of the deceased infant or fetus, and is also the deity who takes care of children on the other world journey. So protects them. And it’s so interesting to research these and I actually. I looked it up and you can get these on Amazon. You can get your own little statue.
There’s beautiful ways. People dress them, bring them flowers, bring them things. And I think for us where we don’t have a way to represent our miscarried babies, sometimes this can be a beautiful way to do it. So if you are interested in learning more about this, just look up, music. Jizo or, Buddhist miscarriage, Japanese, Buddhist miscarriage, and learn more because I think it’s beautiful just to see the representation of all of these loved babies who are no longer with us.
Okay. Let’s get into my conversation with Simone soul.
Welcome. I’m excited to welcome Simone soul today to talk to us about Buddhism and a baby loss. And Simone, do you want to just introduce yourself a little bit to us? Sure.
My name is Simone Stoll and I’m the joyful marketing queen. And I am the host of the podcast called joyful marketing. And I teach life coaches how to love and enjoy and be as good as Mart at marketing as they are at coaching.
So that’s my jam and I’m so happy to be here. Thank you for having the app.
Yeah. Thank you. And tell us, you have a, interesting. So you’re living in Korea. Yep.
I’m living in Korea with my Korean husband and my Korean baby. And, but as you can hear from my voice, I have lived most of my life in the U S where I was born.
And so I’m like straddling cultures and time zones and working with people in the U
S yeah, that’s awesome. It’s such a fun, I don’t know. It’s always funny where life takes us.
Yeah, it’s fun also because, I get to. Experienced different cultures and provide insights, what we’re about to do today, about where.
It just gives us a greater, more richer understanding of life and we can look at it from more than one perspective as well. So I feel like I’m always doing that. It’s
I know that you’ve had a loss of a baby.
Would you tell us a little bit about that? And I like to ask my guests something that. Like something about that baby’s life. A lot of times we’ll talk about what happened and how they died, but maybe like how you found out you’re pregnant or how any cravings you had or anything like that, or any lessons that, that, baby taught you.
So I lost my baby at seven weeks, which is really early. I know. And at the time. I didn’t know what was early, what was late? No, anything about pregnancy? I hadn’t. Seeing that many pregnant women, like growing up around me and I like didn’t know anything. I just thought once you’re pregnant.
But then I found out later that, oh, that’s not the case at all. Tons of women experienced miscarriages. And it’s also very common that early on, but I will tell you, it was like my whole world had been. Completely lit up one minute and completely extinguished the next. And. At this point, like having, carried a baby to term and having given birth, like I have my little baby, my son now.
But the pregnancy before that, and I have a different perspective because I’ve been through the whole workable now, but, and I can say, oh my gosh, like seven weeks. That’s like the beginning. That’s like nothing. I feel like I, I can say that, but at the time it was like I had never been pregnant before.
My husband obviously had never been pregnant before. And. We were going to become parents and I felt. I w I felt enthralled. I felt like I was my whole body and life. And being in the world had become enchanted with magic and just, I, we were on this high and when we, one morning I woke up bleeding and I ran to the hospital and, we did, an ultrasound and confirm the loss and we came home and my husband and I sat on the couch and we cried for a few hours together.
And. It was the most heart wrenching devastating experience of my life. And since then, I’ve learned how, despite how common it is, how isolating it can be, how women aren’t, there’s really nowhere we can talk about it. And even like my father-in-law whom, So I confided in a few close friends about it.
At that point, I hadn’t even told anybody about the pregnancy, except for very few close friends. Cause you know how it is in the first trimester, blah, blah, blah. And most people were supportive, but it’s not like I was in such deep pain, but it’s not like I could advertise to the world, Hey, I just suffered a miscarriage and I’m like falling apart, and when I. When I was talking about how sad I was, even my father-in-law whom I normally have a great relationship with and I, who I love, who’s very good to me. It was like, you just have to put like sad things past behind us. And we can’t like dwell on them and think about positive things in the future.
And you got to focus on future possibility at the time. I just felt like being like, I get to grieve. I want to be sad right now. I, my husband and I have this theory. I, we obviously have zero way of a certainty if it’s true, but we just decided that baby decided that it wasn’t right.
It wasn’t the right time for whatever reason to be born into my body and waited a little bit, and then just came back to my body, at the right
and made it. And that is now my baby that I have now just four month old baby. Is that true? How will we ever know? I don’t know. We just made up a story and we like it.
So I lost that baby with the baby came
back. Yeah. And I think that’s beautiful. And I’ve heard other moms say that too, that they felt like that was what had happened, but thank you for sharing that. And, I’m really sorry for, the experience you had to go through, but
I, as her wrenching, as it was.
I was, and I would not wish that on anyone. I want wish for all women to carry their beautiful babies to term and not suffer that heartache. But at the same time, it taught me so much because after that loss, it was so painful that I asked myself, I actually, my brain told me, I can’t do this.
I can’t go through this again, because I can’t do this hope and the, happiness of confirming the pregnancy followed by the devastation. It’s too much. I can’t do it. And deep inside me in that moment, they’re also welled up a kind of deep knowing and a deep resilience of I know this really sucks.
And it’s the hardest thing you maybe ever gone through, but we can do this again. We are willing to do this again, because something in you is calling you to be a motherand it made no logical sense, but at that time I learned maybe for the first time in a really visceral way, what it means to really know what the stakes are and to be willing, to deeply fail and to be willing to have your heart broken and know that is 100% of possibility.
And to go ahead and try anyway. And as a life coach, I was like, oh, this is like the deepest version of this that I’ve ever had to experience. In our businesses, we constantly have to fail. We constantly have to re reaffirm our commitment and, believe in our goal, regardless of what happens, so all of that, I felt like it was nothing compared to how my belief and my willingness to. Pursue, what I wanted was tested by this miscarriage. And I was like, bring it more heartbreak, bring it more uncertainty and fear and devastation and bring it like all of the possibilities I say yes to all those possibilities so that I can, so that I can become a mother because it matters that much to me.
And that was cool, like in the middle of all of that, all that pain was like, Connecting to something that deep and strong inside me. That was cool. Even though the miscarriage. Wasn’t cool. It’s
powerful for sure. Thank you. Okay. So we’re going to talk about Buddhism a little bit. Would you just tell us, what does Buddhism teach about babies who are miscarried or what happens to them or,
yeah, so my qualifications to speak on this is at.
Someone like, I wouldn’t say that I’m like very actively practicing Buddhist. My husband and his family are like, they actually go to temple and they’re part of, they’re like the temple community. They’re they’re, they’re actively practicing and they actively study. And I come from a family of Buddhist and I am steeped in a Buddhist culture and I, If I consider myself a student of Zen Buddhism, I’m a big fan of Buddhism.
I’ve been like reading about it and thinking about it and applying aspects to it. Of Buddhism to of my life, my entire life. So that’s my qualification in Buddhism. I do not have, I’m not like a super expert or authority on the subject, but I do feel like I am an expert in the kind of cultural, the cultural reality and application of Buddhism where I live, which is in Korea.
As far as I know, because I went through a pregnancy loss within a Buddhist context, like with my in-laws and with my husband. And I actually even talked to my husband about it before this podcast, just to make sure that what I’m about to say is that he would agree with what I’m saying.
He has at one point memorized entire Hartsutra, he’s very serious about the Buddhism and, I. I S I said here, tell me if I, if this is right, because my thought is that the Buddhist perspective on miscarriage is that it happens in life. What do you think? And my husband was like, yeah, that’s pretty
The Buddhist perspective. The first teaching of Buddhism, the first noble truth that the Buddha taught is life is suffering. That means happens. The Buddha came out of his, Royal estate and saw that there are people who are sick. There are people who are poor. There are people who are dying, and.
Taught that as essential truth of life, it’s like suffering exists. Human life is full of suffering period, the end. And so when you encounter suffering, it’s it’s not oh no, what happened? Or when you encounter suffering, like in the more Western Christian context, that’s because, oh, because you sinned, because of original sin, let’s talk about your sin. Trying to find the cause. Analyze it and scribe meaning to it and weave stories out of it. And to make it like a whole thing is very unbiased because Buddhism teaches that life happens. . Suffering is inherent to life, and that is just how it is.
And my husband actually said, this metaphor, which is not, maybe not the most elegant, but he said, it’s like you’re walking down the street and sometimes you just step on a giant pile of dark poop. And it’s what happened? And that something maybe that stepping in a pile of dog poop is maybe that was your miscarriage.
Maybe you got into a car accident. It’s like things just happen that are painful. The second thing to say about what to make of miscarriage in Buddhism. Is that so the first noble truth of the Buddha taught is that life is suffering. And the second noble truth is that , it’s our attachments. It’s our, the thoughts that we create have in our minds, our attachments, our desires, right? I want a promotion and that I don’t get a promotion and that I suffer.
. I want my kid to be, become a doctor and they don’t become a doctor and I’m suffering. I wanted a hamburger and I didn’t get a hamburger. Now I’m suffering. I want that person to be nice to me. And they’re mean to me and I’m suffering, so I want. The sentence is I want it should be, I want it to be like that.
I don’t want this, like all of the ways in which we fight reality, all the ways in which we create attachments and desires with our minds is what is the cause of suffering. And the Buddha says, of course, if you want to stop suffering, let go of your attachments, let go of your desires. That’s how you attain enlightenment.
So that’s like Buddhism in a nutshell , but this is the second part of it that my husband confirmed for me as well, which is, if you had a miscarriage, your first job is to stop suffering about it. And by that I don’t mean like the gas lady way of oh, be positive.
But that means is to realize that you are not. Because when you had a miscarriage and you think, oh, what if I did something wrong? What could have been in like, I bet it was because I did X, Y, Z, or, why is, why do these things always happen to me? Like you’re creating all these stories about it that add extra suffering and to detach from whatever your mind is wanting to make it mean that makes it even more painful.
Let’s let go of that. That’s what Buddhism teaches. What is the part of the suffering that you’re making up with your stories in your mind? Let’s tease that apart. Let’s let that go so that you can have this, you can just have this pure experience without the added layer of like your stories about it that could make you extra, suffer extra.
Yeah. And that leads perfectly into my next question, which is, could you, again, in a nutshell, and I know I wrote it down, but I didn’t say it that, you’re just sharing your experience and I appreciate that you’re not speaking for all Buddhists or anything like that. But what is the idea of karma.
And then maybe in this context of miscarriage, because as I was researching for this, I did see some people who said that there is some belief that, it could have something to do with either the baby’s karma or the parent’s karma. I don’t know. What do you think
that Buddhist do believe in karma and reincarnation and all of that.
And they’re like, oh, I think the correct, the authentic Buddhist way to look at karma. Wouldn’t it? When it comes to miscarriage, is that yeah. Sometimes like babies leave for karmic reasons, but not in a way where the mother did something bad or somebody did something bad. Like it wasn’t bad.
Like the baby, it wasn’t the baby’s time for whatever reason. So even if it does have, cause in a past life or whatever, it’s not like somebody doing something wrong. Because it does not necessarily see the miscarriage as like a bad thing in the grand scheme of things. I think we coming from a Western perspective, like a Christian perspective.
It’s very easy to think that when there was something painful happens, it’s whose fault was it? Like somebody has to be at fault. Like it has to be somebody like Senator or whatever. But, I think that a more. Like the, I think the, I say the authentic way to look at karma is that because I know that in a lot of cultures that, that practice Buddhism, but with their own like folk tradition, traditions mixed in, Have fear laced, beliefs about karma, right?
Like for example, there are certain societies where if you are born into, you really unfortunate life, really bad things happen to you. They will, if they’re also a Buddhist culture and they’ll say, oh, it’s because you get a lot of bad things in a former life. And that kind of, Like a way of thinking about karma that’s about blank.
That’s about saying you deserve it cause you, in the past life, you must’ve done this horrible thing. And you’re to blame that kind of blaming attitude is very unbiased, right? Because that assumes like a right and a wrong and like the correct way to behave and not correct way to behave and like a hierarchy.
Like all of that is very unbidden. That’s why I say when it comes to the pure heart of Buddhist teaching. There are still my there’s you, even as you acknowledge karma to say that the miscarriage was because of something like bad that something’s on, somebody did is I think is an incorrect understanding.
Like I said, it might’ve been because it wasn’t right the right time for the baby. Maybe it was the baby was just meant to occupy the mother for the mother’s womb for a little bit of time and then not be fully born for whatever reason. So I, whatever reason is where the karma part comes in, but it’s never like you did something bad ever.
I had a question that kind of goes along with that, like you said, there’s the teachings and then there’s the culture, right?
In the culture. Do you see, and maybe just what’s your experience been with do people when they see someone suffering a loss or losing a baby, Is there that, oh, she must’ve done something?
No, not at all. Like when you told me about that kind of thinking as something that Buddhists do, I was very surprised because like I said, as a woman who went through miscarriage in a Buddhist culture with a Buddhist family, I didn’t get that at all.
What I did get instead is a ton of compassion because. That’s like the other heart of Buddhism as well, right? It’s no, the cause of suffering know that life is suffering, know the cause of sufferings, whether you can remove the cause of suffering. And then when you are wise enough to be able to see that help other people see the cause of their suffering.
Have take compassionate action towards them. That is like the foundation of, we call them behind a Buddhism and all I got was compassion, like from my, family members, from just people who just knew who, who are Buddhist, they just said, Like I said, sometimes you walk down the street and step on a giant pile of dog poo.
I’m so sorry that happened. Heartache just happens this time. It just ha just happened to be that you’re experiencing this and we’re so sorry, and it’s going to get better and we’re praying for the spirit of the baby praying for you, et cetera, et cetera. So the Buddhist, the correct Buddhist response to miscarriage, when somebody around you is going through it is just compassion and kindness.
That’s beautiful. And I’m glad that’s been your experience. So what are there any rituals, could you explain to us, like any rituals or things that you would do when you’re going through something like this as a Buddhists or in the culture? Yeah,
so the simplest things I can think of that people practice in my culture and there might be more like specific technical things that I don’t know of, but here’s what I do know is.
So remember when it comes to Buddhism, the point is to realize where the suffering is coming from, which is it’s coming from your attachments, it’s coming from your mind. So for example, if you suffered a miscarriage and you think this shouldn’t have happened, Or like I’m screwed because this happened or like I’m, I don’t, I’m never going to get pregnant again because this happened or, how our minds, let love to create really dramatic, awful scenarios or make up really awful stories about who we are or how we did it, whatever wrong.
We’re never going to get what we want, all those things. So that is the cause of our suffering and who cleanse our minds from those and to find our equanimity and to find our center and to break up with these stories, extra stories, creating. Pain, it is often recommended that you, recite a Buddhist mantra with, I have these set of beads that are, what do you call it?
It’s not a necklace, but it’s a beat yeah. Of, 108 beads so that you can, recite the mantra. 108 times. And while you, and it can be any mantra, right? You can look up simple Buddhist mantras, or you can like really use any mantra if you’re not Buddhist. And to be in like the re repetitive prayerful mode of just reciting the mantra.
And asking like the attachments and the stories to release. Another similar practice is, this is this is the thing that Westerners don’t do, but people in Asia love to do, which is like full body. Prostrations. And they’re like an old workout. I have to tell you. It’s like very, I’m like, oh, I can’t do it because my knees aren’t.
But you would do, it is often recommended that you do again, a number of frustrations. Often the number happens to be 108, cause that’s a sacred number in Buddhism. Do 108 prostrations to Buddha again, with the purpose of it’s like a workout for your body and your mind where you are focusing your intention.
To, to be present with your life and to, asks like almost asked the Buddha and the buddy Sophos to take your painful thoughts away and to replace them with, with peace. Eh, There is full body prostrations there’s mantras there’s. I know that there are more like easier practices, say walking meditation, in which maybe you are, walking around, like moving your body, observing your thoughts, and then giving those painful thoughts as they like watching them as they arise and giving them permission to be released.
Oh, yeah. And I think that’s interesting when you’re talking about the prostrations. There is that for a lot of us, when you go through something hard, it’s you just naturally, sometimes fall to the ground.
I know when I was like, in my saddest times, I would go in my closet and sit, be on the floor. So I think that senior year, yeah, I think that’s really interesting that, it is natural maybe to just. Ground yourself.
That’s a really interesting insight that you just said you’re right.
Cause like, when something, when we suffer, we like fall, like we want to be close to the ground. And actually one of my, one of the Zen masters that I really admire, when a follow of her, his asked, no, why a prostrations like, why are you always telling people to do? Prostrations like, what’s the point?
Like what? What’s why. The way it works and does master responded because when you do the prostration, your forehead touches the ground over and over again. And when your forehead touches the ground, you’re reminded that you’re not so high and mighty, right? Like it, it humbles you. And so it reminds you like you suffer because you think you’re entitled to this and this and life should be like this and other people should be like that.
But when your forehead touches the ground before the Buddha you’re reminded, oh, I am. I am I’m low. Like I can experience what it’s like to be humble and to be one with the ground. And that is oddly, very, a very freeing thing. It’s a very, it’s a place where you can break up with your suffering when you’re on the ground.
Not trying to be high and mighty.
I like that. . Thank you.
That was so beautiful. I love that so much.
Can I ask you just for a minute? I know again, it’s like a, probably a much bigger topic and we could talk forever, but tell us a little bit about what is reincarnation.
How would you explain.
So it’s this idea that, similar to Western, like Judaica no, not Judeo. He’s just Christian idea of an eternal soul, where you are primarily a soul and not an earthly body and you. As the same soul, get, keep getting born into different bodies and different lifetimes on earth, over and over in order to achieve spiritual evolution.
And when you achieve, when you evolve to the fullest, then you just stop being incarnated. And then you just go into the land of the realm of spirits where everybody’s ascended. I don’t know. I don’t know because I’m not there yet, obviously. So yeah, this idea that we can. Being born over and over again, and often with the same set of like same souls around you, who was the person who was your father one day might be born, like as your child or someone who was your spouse could be born as your, neighbor, whatever.
So that’s the idea.
. Thank you so much for everything you’ve shared today. My last question is, Someone who’s been through loss and now had another baby and you are, an amazing woman with a lot of energy and passion. What message of hope would you give to someone who’s listening right now who maybe is struggling, in their grief over the loss of their baby.
I would say, no matter what your brain tells you, it’s not your fault and trust that voice that I was talking about earlier, that voice deep inside that says, Hey, like you’re meant for. X, maybe it says you, you are meant for motherhood. Maybe it says, this is the correct journey for you to be on.
Maybe it says there is a soul that is waiting to meet you at the right time. So you got to, in order to hear that maybe you got to do some of the Buddhist practices to quiet the chatter in your mind, but. I hope you have a safe space to feel all of your feelings where nobody’s, you’re trying to get you to feel better.
Like you really want to be able to feel as much grief as you, as you need to. And, I hope you are treated with compassion and kindness and understanding, and I know that it can be hard to feel, alone in your grief, but like Amy and I know you’re not alone. You, there are, women all around.
All around, including Amy and I, who are thinking of you and praying for you and sending you so much love. And, yeah, just tuning into that inner knowing like that’s totally a hundred percent leading you in the right place. Even though at this time, it might feel really bad.
Thank you so much, Simone.
welcome such a pleasure to be here. And I hope that our conversation was helpful. .