Martin Hamer, a native of The Netherlands, has been a yogi and has practiced Transcendental Meditation since 1977, and the advanced techniques called TM-Sidhis since 1980. Now retired, he worked for American Express and a local chiropractor for many years, while also working for (mostly American) translation agencies as a trained English-Dutch translator and vice versa. In 1984 he co-authored the first book on chiropractic in The Netherlands, his country of birth and residence. For one year, he lived in the United States as an exchange student. He lives five minutes from the sea. Martin knows grief through the death of many loved ones, including the death of his father when he was only eight, all four of his grandparents, his mother and stepfather in 1994, six months apart, and more recently his mother-in-law, who chose euthanasia, legal in the author’s country.
“We really don’t want to stay with the nakedness of our present experience. It goes against the grain to stay present. There are the times when only gentleness and a sense of humor can give us the strength to settle down.” — Pema Chodron
Grief is universal. No one is immune. No matter who and where you are in the world, grief is felt when a loved one dies. It is a normal reaction in our bodies to loss.
The way it is expressed and how one copes differs from individual to individual.
Grief affects and changes our neurochemistry. In their 2002 Caregiver Grief Study, Thomas Meuser, associate professor of neurology at Washington University, and Samuel J. Marwit, professor of psychology at the University of Missouri, state that “grief is our innate adjustment process to loss and, when ignored or downplayed, can result in complications such as depression and other co-morbidities.” The powerful impact of grief often makes it difficult for grieving individuals to pay attention to their own physical needs, which may lead to an increased chance of health problems and mortality. So what can help?
We need something to gently bring us back from our isolation and into the reality of our changed life and new connections.
There are many things you can do to help yourself to grieve. Meditation is a choice that has helped me through so much of the pain of life. It can help to change your neurochemistry and help you to heal your grief.
So what is meditation? Unlike popular belief, meditation does not necessarily require you to sit with your legs crossed and say “Om.” There are many forms of meditation, including Transcendental Meditation and guided meditations, where someone leads you on an internal journey to a calmer, more peaceful inner state.
Whatever method of meditation you choose, be prepared for personal shifts.
Meditation will, over the course of weeks and months, change your neurochemistry “back to normal.” Don’t be surprised if meditation sessions bring up strong emotions and even tears. You may be releasing those pent-up emotions that you weren’t even aware you were holding. Breathe into that grief with meditation.
Meditation influences us more deeply than you might imagine. It can help you to feel in touch with yourself again and even touch your spiritual and/or religious beliefs.
Also, depending on what method of meditation you choose, it may bring you new friends that you meet at group gatherings. In my personal experience, and that of many others, there is nothing better than group meditation. Of course, this is something you might want to consider at a later stage, after meditation has helped you “channel” your grief and has helped it to find a place in your heart and mind. Meditation will never cause you to forget your grief or your loved one, only help to deal with it in a healthy and more gentle manner .
To get started, I would highly recommend downloading a free app for your phone or IPad (Google Play Store or the App Store) called Insight Timer that offers over 5,000 guided meditations, several specifically for grief. Guided meditations are a great way to begin your pathway to meditation and healing.