Our homes and our minds both have the ability to be our sanctuary and personal prison depending on what we may be experiencing in a given moment. As we enter into our 1 year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic I personally have experienced the highs and lows on a daily, weekly, or moment to moment basis. A lot has come up in as I am sure it has for you, and the feeling I notice bubbling up lately is grief.
We have been facing uncertainty at an extreme level for about a year now, on top of the organic uncertainty we face by simply having the human experience. Some of us are grieving connection, how we thought work would look or feel, life prior to the pandemic, loved ones, births where limited people were able to be there and you were masked (because there was a deadly pandemic in the same building you were birthing a child), first years of college, high school, or elementary school, canceled or delayed weddings and funerals, jobs, a big move, putting yourself on the market to start dating, your first year as a teacher and you’re doing it virtually, you name it, and the list goes on and on. Your grief is extremely valid.
Fortunately, meditation, yoga, and visualization can help transform our relationship with grief, and how we carry it.
When I dropped into meditation and took a look at the energy of grief I saw it as a cave. It was dark, daunting, hidden, rigid, rocky, created tension in my neck and chest, and felt as if there is some terribly beast looming inside; so if I were to enter it, surely there would be trouble up ahead. And so I sat and looked at this cave, and realized the beauty that comes with being the creator of our own narrative and going into our darkness versus ignoring it.
I decided to do some gentle yoga and release some of that heaviness and tension the grief had been creating in my body. I used gentle asanas, the support from my mat, as well as mother earth, combined with breath to come home to my body, as well as my grief. Inhaling love and exhaling acceptance was helpful.
I finished my yoga practice and then decided to revisit the grief cave within my mind. I felt different. I imagined myself standing outside of the cave, and felt validation for it to look and feel daunting and scary because a lot of the experiences that shaped my experiences with grief have been daunting and scary. I realized the looming beast and darkness within that space, felt like old friends, that had become very comfortable taking up that space within the psyche and cells.
We can accept our grief, but also change the imagery and the energy of how we choose to store it in our mind and body. So I destroyed the image of the cave and the beast and thanked it. I then imagined the setting of a beach, clear shallow water and gentle waves, with a view of where the water becomes deep towards the horizon, because grief requires depth at times. The sun was shining, it was safe to look around and explore what my grief felt and looked like by imagining a bright sunny day. There were tropical plants and palm trees behind me and the beast was gone. Next to me, sea turtles sunning themselves on the beach, and flowers were blooming. I consciously sat in meditation with this new image while consciously breathing and felt a real difference in my body.
I could feel the shift within my parasympathetic nervous system and the signals it was sending to my body to ensure it was okay to energetically redefine grief for my body, as well as relax.
You’re not alone in whatever it is that you are grieving. I am not here to tell you to close your eyes and imagine and beach and miraculously your grief is fixed, because there are parts of this experience that don’t feel like rainbows and unicorns, nor should they.
However, using visualization techniques and feeling into your grief rather than avoiding it or suffering hopelessly from it, can change your relationship to it and take away some of its heaviness. The only way out is through. Play with the idea of setting an image for your grief, whether it's in a Pacific Northwest Forest, Thai temple, Mountain landscape, or wherever it may be, and breathing in love, and breathing out acceptance.
You can use asanas, imagery, and breath to shape your relationship with grief to become accepted, seen, and validated, even if it brings tears, it can help free the body and the mind and spark the soul into unconditional love and acceptance for its ability to experience being human.
By Angela Droughton
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