How to Forest Bathe With Your Dog
Familiar with forest bathing? Try this meditative practice with your pup for an added benefit.
Grief demands our attention. It consumes us in a way no other feeling does. The only emotion I can compare its intensity to is, I suppose, love. As I see it, to grieve means we have loved deeply.
While nothing can erase the current pain you feel if you are grieving, meditation can be used as a tool to soothe your heart.. It encourages you to sit with what you’re feeling in a non-intrusive way. It requires no explanations, makes no demands, and doesn’t ask you to comfort others. Your only requirement is to take care of yourself. Better yet, it is a practice that is intended to meet you entirely where you are.
Whether you are grieving the loss of a parent, a friend, or a chapter in your life, here are seven meditation techniques to bring you comfort during this time.
While traditional meditation is done seated, ensure that you are as comfortable as possible — whatever that looks like for you. I curled up on the floor for the first few meditations I did while processing the loss of a loved one. The fetal position (lying on your side, knees drawn up close to your chest) can provide you with a sense of protection. It acts as a self-soothing mechanism for your nervous system and helps you slowly start to come back to baseline. Phases of grief tend to leave us feeling exhausted and mentally drained, so know that it is entirely okay to fall asleep during your practice. You probably needed the rest. Go easy on yourself.
This is a beautiful technique I like to use to feel held during difficult times. Envision yourself being hugged, protected, and supported. Picture yourself melting into these invisible arms. Drop your defenses and soften completely to what it is that you feel. This act of surrender will help you to relax and take some of the weight off your shoulders.
Just because the person or situation is gone does not mean that what you feel must leave. Send endless amounts of loving energy to the deceased or to whatever or whomever you have lost. Send loving kindness. Send gratitude. Allow that love to be received by the Universe and then ripple back towards you. This can also take the pressure off of the need to process or heal before you are ready. Repeat the mantra “I love you,” and let it be as simple as that.
Speak to grief almost like you would to a friend. For example, saying the phrase, “Hey grief, how can I support you?” may feel strange or even uncomfortable, but it gets us into the habit of checking in with ourselves and seeing where we can show up, where we can soften, and in what ways we need guidance. You use this method of creating dialogue with your emotions either in your head or out loud. Talking openly to your grief acknowledges the fact that it is there and even embraces the function it serves. This is a far more effective way to interact with grief than ignoring it or pushing it away.
Just by sitting and breathing, you are doing the whole “being present” thing perfectly. No need to overthink this step. If you’ve shown up, you are meditating correctly. If being present is difficult due to the grief you’re going through, think of it as taking a break. Simply start to follow the flow of your breath. Pay attention to every inhale and each exhale. If your mind is lost in thought or sadness, try using the mantra “I am here.” Repeat this phrase again and again until you feel settled.
It is okay if your meditation practice consists of sitting with silent tears streaming down your face. You may cry, laugh, or scream. There is no right or wrong. Give yourself permission to feel it all, and through it, know that the emotions will eventually pass. They are never permanent. In the midst of grief, the fact that you are feeling is a good thing. It means that you haven’t fully dissociated with your current reality. Use your breath to gently navigate the waves of emotions, breathing a little more deeply when things get uncomfortable.
I’m not one to pretend that hardships will magically disappear; it will likely always ache. That is not to discourage you or to say you will never feel joy. Of course you will! Your life will be beautiful and full of good things. The ache is what it means to be human, and it is a sign that you have loved. As best you can, be okay with the groundlessness of the situation. Use your meditation to practice being okay with not being okay. For more guidance on this, I highly recommend reading Pema Chödrön’s book When Things Fall Apart, which teaches about the concept of things being neither good nor bad. They simply are.
To speak to loss (and to meditate with it) is to speak to all you dearly miss. Let the knowledge that you have loved fill you with comfort during this transition. I hope these techniques make it a little bit easier.
Join me in this 10-Minute Guided Meditation for Grief.
Disclaimer: Meditation is a complementary practice, not a substitute for professional or medical treatment. Please seek additional support should you need it.
Read more: Holistic Practices for Grief
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