Good news. You can use meditation for grief.
When you’re suffering after the loss of someone, or when you are grieving for any other reason, you can use meditation to help overcome grief.
Meditation is a very effective remedy to soothe the physical and emotional pain associated with grief. Through meditation we can gently let go of the pain and restore inner peace. And meditation restores emotional balance too.
In a moment I’ll share with you some of my favorite meditations for grief. But first, let’s take a look at the general process of using meditation to overcome grief.
Why Meditation Helps With Grief
If you want to overcome grief you first have to ask yourself what the nature of your grief is.
What is it that causes suffering?
According to Buddhist philosophy (and many other Eastern philosophies) suffering is caused by attachment.
So what is attachment?
Attachment is when you hold on to something in your mind.
For instance, imagine that you have lost your father (which is something I personally went through a couple of years ago). Now the reality, of course, is sadly that your father has passed away. But because you love your father so very much you are not simply able to let him go. Your mind holds on to the image of your father as a healthy man. This is called attachment. Your mind is attached to the idea of your father as a healthy man.
Now imagine that there are two forces. One force is reality. The other force is your idea of reality (for instance, your idea of your father being alive). These two forces are working in opposition. And when any two forces work in opposition, there is strain. And the strain is the pain in your mind; your grief.
Buddha’s belief that the root of all suffering (including grief) is attachment. This is one of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.
So, your grief is caused by mental attachment. And when you use meditation for grief, you teach your mind to let go.
When You Let Go, Your Grief Will End
Have you ever felt that there is a tussle going on in your mind?
If you are suffering from grief you may feel as though one part of you is pulling one way, the other the other way.
If you lost your mother, for instance, part of you would be holding on and refusing to accept reality. The other part would be eager to accept reality and move on.
The split in your mind is where the grief comes in. You have pain because part of you is fighting to accept reality and let go, and the other part is fighting to hold on and never let go. So your mind is at war with itself, one part attacking the other. And while that continues it is impossible for you to find freedom.
One of the reasons highly emotional people are unable to control their emotions is because they cannot stop this fight in the mind, the fight in which one part of them is pulling one way and the other part pulling the other way. Meditation balances your emotions, returning you to your natural, calm state.
If you want to have inner peace, you need to stop the war that is going on in your own mind. And the best way to do that is by meditating.
So how do you use meditation for grief?
As we’ve discussed above, the process for using meditation for grief is to stop the war in your mind, to balance those warring factions in your mind. And to do that you need to let go.
When I say that you need to let go, I genuinely mean “let go” in a very real sense.
Imagine for one second that your grief is not something in your own mind. Imagine that it is a physical thing. Let’s say for instance that you are carrying a heavy weight and that you need to let go before you injure yourself.
Notice how this analogy works perfectly. You are carrying a heavy weight (your emotional burden) and you do need to let go before it harms you.
To let go of the weight you literally let go. What happens to the weight after that is up to the world. The world will take the weight, and of course gravity will drop the weight to the ground where it will come to rest.
And the exact same thing needs to happen with your mind. You need to let go of your grief by dropping those thoughts in your mind. Essentially you need to stop thinking those thoughts. And once you drop that weight (you stop thinking those thoughts) you need to let the world take over.
So how do you do that then?
To let go and let the world take over, use meditation
You may have never meditated before. So let me explain meditation very briefly. Meditation is focusing your mind on reality (and normally on one specific part of reality).
When you meditate you focus your mind on reality. You let go and let the world take over. And you do that by focusing on the present moment. You might focus on your breathing, on the sounds around you, on a movement (for instance yoga and tai chi) or anything. What matters is that you are focusing your mind on the present moment.
When you focus your mind on the present moment in this way, you let go and let the world take over. And just as when you drop a weight the world takes over, drops the weight to the ground and lets it rest there, the exact same thing will happen when you meditate. You will give your mind over to the world. The world will drop those thoughts (which are your grief) and you will be free.
And that is how you use meditation for grief.
Guided Meditation For Grief
Now, one of the biggest passions in my life is to help people by teaching meditation. And I love to hear back from everyone. It makes me genuinely happy every time I hear from you guys.
You might also like to try art therapy
It’s been a few months since my father passed away. Anyone who has experienced the death of a parent knows full well how harrowing it is. It feels as though your spirit has been severed in two. When my father died, at first I didn’t believe it. His death was an accident and a shock. I denied it. Then it gradually dawned on me, over the course of a pone call with my mother, that he really was gone and would never be coming back.
That was when the grief began to set in. I felt so alone in the world, like a ship without anchor lost in a bizarre world. I drifted through the pain. At times it came pouring out of me and I wept. Grief seeped through my body, mind, and spirit like water through crevices.
Today, the wound is still open and at times I will weep. What I really need, for myself and for my family, is to be able to truly let go of those emotions. I need to allow my father to be in heaven.
This is a beautiful quote about the death of a parent.
Grieving is not easy. As a meditation teacher, I’ve had many people say to me “Well, surely you know how to cope with this sort of thing.”
I suppose that’s true, to an extent. I do know a great deal about how to cope. Meditation has helped me immensely. But there’s a certain inalienable reality: losing a parent hurts no matter who you are, no matter how well equipped you are to cope. You can’t prepare yourself for such a life altering event.
Overcoming the death of a parent is a challenge for anyone
Losing a parent is a difficult challenge. I remember being at my father’s funeral, people placing roses, the music… but to overcome the death of a parent you have to look at it in the right light.
No matter who you are, when you experience the death of a parent, or a loved one, or a friend or family member, there is pain. And that pain needs to come out.
It’s the same for people dealing with anxiety, stress, depression and many other psychological complications. There are pains, and those pains are going to stay inside you until they come out. The best thing we can do—perhaps the only thing we can do—is to help the pain come out in a healthy way.
One such way is to express pain through art therapy.
One of the modern creative holistic therapies, art therapy offers an opportunity to let pain out. When we grab a piece of paper and a paintbrush, a notepad and pen, or an instrument, and let go, we give our pain a channel through which to flow out of our bodies and minds.
You might think that’s similar to talking to someone. When we talk to others we do offer ourselves a chance to express things. But talking to others is very conscious. We rarely, if ever, genuinely let ourselves go. Most of us don’t allow our words to flow through us freely. We filter ourselves for the benefit of the other person. This impedes our expression and impedes the release of our emotions.
Art therapy, on the other hand, allows us to let go absolutely. We paint, or draw, without thinking, just letting the pencil or the paint splash out onto the page. But it’s more than paint. It’s our feelings, our fears, our thoughts, our suffering… it all comes flowing out.
Art therapy can be an immensely emotional, spiritual experience, because there simply aren’t that many times in our lives when we just let go.
Art therapy can help me to overcome the grief of losing my father, as it can help anyone to overcome the death of their parents. Sometimes, what you really need to do is just let go. Let it all out. Let those feelings, thoughts, and emotions splash onto the page. Watch them leave your mind.
A painting can be more than a painting. It can be a profound, spiritually healing experience.
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