Many of us experienced grief in some form or the other when the pandemic unleashed its full fury. Some of us felt it more acutely than the rest- whether it was the loss of a loved one, personal hardships or financial setbacks. What followed was a different kind of pandemic, less visible but possibly as damaging- the pandemic of grief.
Grief is like the ocean; it comes on in waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim – Vicki Harrison
In sorrow, our sub-consciousness creates mental barricades around our fragile self, to protect ourselves from feeling more pain. Many people tend to bury their grief deep inside, but that only prolongs the journey to healing. Mindfulness can help you pull those barriers down, bring the light back in your heart and find the will to swim ashore.
But what is Mindfulness? How can it help you heal?
Mindfulness is the innate ability to be fully present in the now, to experience the moment as it happens without interpretation or judgement. When you practice Mindfulness, you allow yourself to be open to the nourishing power of your own energy.
Our body and spirit are truly remarkable in their ability to heal. But an injured psyche needs positive nurturing to stay in balance. Mindfulness teaches you how to give expression to your grief. When you externalize the hurt, and allow yourself to be in its presence, you feel the weight start to lift off.
So acknowledge your grief. You will see it slowly change shape. It will change what it means to you, and the response it evokes in you. Grief will transform into something you can control. That is then you will start to heal.
Here is a simple Mindfulness exercise for whenever you need some self-healing energy:
Find a quiet place and sit comfortably.
Close your eyes, relax your body and try to centre your thoughts around how your chest heaves and falls with every breath.
Once you have your full attention, focus on what is weighing on your mind.
Be mindful of the emotions you are feeling, but do not succumb to them.
Try and recognize the biggest questions that are causing you distress. It is important to understand that there are questions you can answer and there are those you cannot.
Concentrate on the questions you can answer and the things that you can control.
Transfer your energy towards things you can control.
Make the affirmation to yourself that you will embrace your grief but also that you are bigger than your biggest sorrow.
During mindful reflection, the biggest hurdle to overcome is calming your mind. Emotions like grief, anxiety, anger, frustration can particularly send your thoughts flying in ten different directions. Do not fight it, but gently bring back your thoughts to the now, to what you have chosen to focus on.
With practice you will notice your emotions find an equilibrium. Your thoughts will merge into one. And you will be at peace with yourself. So when waves of grief start rolling in suddenly into your day, you will be able to summon your calm energy and centre your thoughts till the spirals of gloom subside.
Mindfulness helps you discern with clarity about what is happening around you. It helps you look inside yourself, to see who you are, what drives you, what gives you happiness, and what makes you sad.
During mindful reflections, bring yourself to the place where your grief resides, and concentrate your energy into transforming it into kindness and compassion and healing.
HH Dalai Lama says, “Instead of being sad, you should fulfil the wish of your loved one. Find your inner strength and determination to carry on your good work to honour their legacy.”
Whether it is a heartbreak you have faced or losses in business, practicing Mindfulness can give you the ability to move from detachment towards connectedness , towards compassion, tenderness and love. It can show you that although grief may have temporarily claimed a part of you, you can still make yourself whole again.
As Jon Kabat-Zinn says in one of his speeches, “It is the art of living our lives as if they really matter. When we ‘drop in’ on ourselves, we can actually reclaim this moment in this body, and begin to shift the default settings on how we live our lives.”
So let life take over. See the underlying beauty of life that is waiting for you. Let your own grief complete its journey of transformation and healing, for you to emerge stronger, more compassionate, and open to all the possibilities that life has to offer.