Friday, April 26, 2013

My Grief Project - Meditation

"She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts."  ~George Eliot

This month I have committed time to sitting meditation in an effort to heal my grief.  Doing this practice has allowed me to really spend time attending to my sorrow.  According to Sameet Kumar, Ph.D. and Author of Grieving Mindfully, in practicing sitting meditation on a daily basis and being mindful about my grief I am “giving myself permission to mourn.” As Kumar explains, that is the whole essence of grieving mindfully. 

In setting aside a time for grief and focusing on accepting my emotions without judgment, I am giving myself the gift of healing by allowing myself permission to grieve.  In doing so I am opening my heart, allowing my emotions of loss and sorrow to be heard, and permitting my body and mind to process deeper the pain and longing I have for my dead daughter. 

Thich Nhat Hanh, a famous Zen Buddhist Monk, poet, author, peace activist and spiritual teacher describes the process of meditation as “looking deeply into what is there and understanding the source, the deep cause of it, the nature of it.”  Meditation has allowed me to understand that my grief is so powerful and painful because the source of my grief is rooted in love.  The true nature of my grief is longing for a love beyond words.  The love of a mother for her child.  That is the nature of it.  That is the root of my grief. It’s beautiful really, and mediation has helped me come to terms with this. 

Besides allowing time for me to tune into my body and mind to connect the two in my effort to self-heal, meditation also provides other wonderful health benefits that we all could benefit from during a time of grief.  Many studies have been done on the power of mindfulness living and meditation.  Research shows that meditation reduces stress, improves the immune system, can reduce the physical symptoms of chronic pain, lessens the symptoms of depression and anxiety, and recent studies indicate that meditation can actually rewire your brain to be more content.  So even if meditation doesn't soften your grief, it can still improve your overall health and state of being.  I know that I need this right now.   

Ultimately, mindfulness is the practice of accepting life just as it is whether we are elated with joy or stricken with sorrow.  The practice of being mindful is returning one's attention to the present moment over and over again; this type of practice I believe can really benefit the mourning process.  Meditation I have found is a great way to be intentional and purposeful about experiencing the entirety of grief. 

I plan to continue to incorporate it throughout my healing process.  I suggest you try it.  The only harm it could do is make you more content.  I think it's worth a shot.

If you don't know how to mediate I have included a link below on how to get started. Then once you learn the basics of mediation you could try the guided meditations linked below.  If you are intrested in going deeper in your practice I have also recommended some books in the resource section.  

I personally really like the Daily Mediation for Working Through Grief book by Maratha Whitemore Hickman.   You can use this book daily to reflect for a moment on your grief before you go to bed at night or maybe right away when you wake up in the morning by reading it's short passage or quote for that day.  It really isn't associated with sitting mediation, but I have used it to each day by reading the passage for the day before I practice my sitting meditation. I find it insightful. 


Quick Instructions on How to Meditate:
How to Meditate

Guided Meditation:
A Place of Refuge Mediation
Meditation for Grief After Baby Loss

Grieving Mindfully by Sameet M. Kumar, PH.D.
Daily Meditation for Working Through Grief by Maratha Whitmore Hickman

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