Coping with Grief: How Meditation Can Help You Find Solace
The experience of grief is one of the most profound challenges a human being can go through. Whether you’re dealing with the loss of a loved one, a setback in your career, or the end of a relationship, you have to live through something that can be extremely difficult to cope with. The world would be a better place if this event hadn’t occurred but here you are.
Your challenge now is to live through this event without becoming bitter and getting lost in your grief. If you rise to this challenge, in time, you will find yourself more steady, more compassionate, and more appreciative of your life and relationships.
Meditating during this time can help you rise to this challenge. Meditation is a subtle, precise, and powerful approach that can help us become more deeply human and pass through grief without damaging ourselves.
In meditation, we experience each moment fully — more deeply and intensely — and then let it go. This is your goal in grieving as well.
If you repress your grief and don’t feel it fully, your sadness will stick around and distort your thoughts and actions in the years to come. Experienced meditators often say that we need to metabolize our emotions. If you are overwhelmed and crushed by your grief, it is essential that you do not get stuck in that emotion, and that you process your feelings fully.
Meditating Through Grief
A formal meditation session is a good place to start changing your relationship with grief. If you’re an experienced meditator, follow your usual meditation approach.
If you’re a meditation beginner, find a comfortable seat in a chair, on a cushion, or on the floor. Close your eyes and start noticing the feeling of your breath entering and exiting through your nose. Stay with that feeling for a few minutes.
Next, allow a memory of your grief to come to you. However grieving feels to you, notice what that feels like.
You might experience despair and emptiness or you might find that your grief comes in spasms of pain. You might feel anger, or you might feel a constant deep sadness. Grief comes with all of these faces and more.
If this is too intense, go back to focusing on your breath for a few moments, and see if you can find a feeling of rest or peace. It’s okay to process your grief a little at a time.
Returning to your feelings of grief, find where your sadness lives in your body. Every emotion comes with a thought — words and images you hear and see in your mind — and with a feeling somewhere in your body. In other words, emotions are always stored in your body. Emotions are physical.
For instance, you may feel sadness in your cheeks as a feeling of tension or heaviness. You may feel it as a pressure in the back of your eyes. You may feel your grief in your chest or your stomach as pressure or slight nausea. Some people feel their knees go a little weak.
Whatever your physical sensation, find it and focus on it. Ask yourself exactly how this sensation feels. Is it constant? Does it come and go? Does it throb or pulsate? Does this feeling have a shape? Or maybe it extends higher or deeper in your body?
Every time you feel grief, be sure to pay attention to what comes after. Over time, a feeling of sadness may also remind you of good times. You can re-experience happiness or feel grateful for the good times.
Although you’re trying to experience your grief, it’s also okay to back off when the feeling gets too intense. It is okay to find a feeling of rest, peace, or happiness in your body and focus on that instead.
Take Your Practice Off the Mat
Even when you’re not sitting to meditate, when feelings of grief come to you, try to follow the steps you follow during your meditation. Notice what kind of sadness you are feeling. Then follow the sadness to the part of your body that’s experiencing it and examine closely how it feels.
In this way, you can transform your experience of grief and, in turn, it will transform you.
If you find it hard to concentrate on your solo meditation practice as you work through your grief, you might consider attending a meditation class or downloading a guided meditation app that can help lead you through each step of your meditation process.
Deep sadness usually comes because of something that shouldn’t happen, and so it is hard for us to think about grief as a way to transform ourselves. Just like deep joy though, deep sadness can be transformative. Whether you have experienced a dramatic loss in your life or not, the benefits of meditation can be an effective and powerful way to mediate your emotions and move forward on your journey.