Meditation is a valuable practice that can help people in the process of grieving for a loved one.
If you’re not familiar with meditation, “How To Meditate FAQ” by Tara Brach is an introductory guide that will help you become familiar with the principles of meditation. Tara’s teachings blend Western psychology and Eastern spiritual practices, mindful attention to our inner life, and a full, compassionate engagement with our world. She has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, and her dissertation explored meditation in the treatment of addiction. Visit Tara’s website here.
Wellness & Grieving guest author Jeff Kober teaches people how to meditate, and his article below, “Meditation To Help You Heal,” begins with the distinction between pain and suffering, and leads to tips on how to be “in the moment” in order to find your way back to an embrace of the joy of life despite a loss that you will never forget. — The Editors, HOPE Connection
Meditation To Help You Heal
Jeff Kober has spent much of the last 30 years studying metaphysics and meditation, traveling extensively in India. In 2007 he began to teach Vedic meditation, and writes a daily Vedic Meditation. Visit his website Jeff Kober Meditation.
By Jeff Kober
The pain that we feel at the loss of someone in our life is a given. Where once there was another human — a husband, a wife, a child, a sibling, a friend — there is now an absence. Where before we had someone to love, someone to reflect that love back to us, there now is only an ache. The purpose of mourning is to allow these feelings to live in us, to move through us; and to accept the changed reality that is now our life — a life without this other.
Pain is a given. But suffering is something else. Something unnecessary. To understand this distinction, it helps to look at how the human system functions.
We are spirit, having a human experience of embodiment, and subject to all the ways it feels to be a body. The fight/flight response to a perceived threat, the pleasure or pain of contact with objects in our environment, the joy of lying in the sun or feeling the cool of a breeze on a too-hot day. What distinguishes us from the animals is of course our consciousness. We have the same experiences, but unlike the animals, we are aware of these experiences from the consciousness of a history of like experiences; and with this history, we tell ourselves stories about what these experiences mean — about ourselves, about the world and about our place in the world. These stories lend a richness and meaning to life that indeed is the source of art, music, narrative — all the ways we have of sharing our aliveness with each other. But this story-telling, when misused, can cause suffering.
We feel the pain of loss. Sometimes sharp. It can be overwhelming and seem to drown us in its immensity. But it is a feeling, a body sensation that has a beginning, a middle and an end. It will pass through us, often in great waves, then piecemeal. But it does pass through us. The problem arises when we buy into the stories our mind tells us about the pain, and our attention to these stories rather than simply to the sensations. Stories our mind uses to explain these painful sensations in our body. Stories that bring us to the wrong conclusion:
- I wasn’t a good friend.
- I don’t deserve love.
- I don’t deserve to be happy.
- The world is hell.
- Life is not worth living.
- She was too young to die.
- I’ll never be happy again.
- God hates me.
- He was too good for the world.
- I didn’t love her enough.
- It’s too hard to go on.
- What’s the point? We’re all just going to die anyway.
- If I weren’t such a bad person this never would have happened.
- It’s too late for me.
Thoughts like these and the stories built around these thoughts are pointless. They do not lead us to life. They lead us only to darkness and despair and circle endlessly in our speculating mind, keeping the pain intact within us, defining us by the pain and causing us only to suffer.
Speculation leads to suffering, always. It takes us out of the flow of life, removing us from the very place that healing can occur. The place of life. The place of nature itself.
Meditation As A Way To Find Yourself In The Moment
The path through our grief lies in finding our place within the eternal movement of life.
You can find this place through meditation, in three ways specifically:
1) By becoming aware of the sensations in your body in this moment and then insisting on being present to the world.
2) By insisting on living in your experience of the world rather than in your thoughts about the world or your thoughts about yourself.
3) By becoming aware in the present moment of your five senses.
You may work toward all three goals by truly asking yourself:
- Can I feel my feet on the ground, the air against my skin?
- Can I see the different colors, shapes, forms around me? The play of light and shadow in all the corners of this room?
- What sounds can I hear at this moment? The creak of a chair, the singing of a bird, the movement of traffic outside?
- What are the smells around me?
- What can I taste? The coffee I just drank, the mint of toothpaste, the aftertaste of an apple?
Focusing on these things brings you into the present and the way it feels to be you. Then you can point yourself outward, into the world, and engage in the movement of life.
As you do so, nature is allowed to do its job, which is to bring you more and more to life, more and more into the flow of life — the flow of life that, over time, will give you a story in progress of a life worth living. A life capable of joy that is big enough, wide enough, alive enough to include even your sorrow.