Grief is my terrain.
Not wallowing in grief but honoring it. Learning from it. Integrating it. Mining it for hidden truths. Discovering the lessons it has to teach, lessons that are nearly always painful and also pure; profound.
I don’t shrink from grief. I don’t try to cover it up, and I don’t conflate it either. I respect it. Bow down to it. Am humbled in the face of it. Grief peels back the veil of ignorance and fantasy to poignantly display uncontestable truths about life that we are powerless to change.
It cannot be ignored, not for long anyway. Avoidance doesn’t work. It is not a stink one catches from someone else, yet it is incredibly prevalent. Some say grief is the second most abundant emotion in the human heart after love. We might argue whether love is actually an emotion or is, instead, a state of being, but perhaps can agree that grief fills so much territory within the heart space.
Grief is not ‘just’ the consequence of losing a loved one to death, although that is widely acknowledged as a major source of grief. Grief is the normal human response to loss, and, it turns out, we lose things all the time. We lose face. We lose innocence and youth. We lose faith in institutions, governments, religions, each other. We lose jobs, relationships, pets, hair, mental acuity and physical prowess. We lose ‘that loving feeling,’ motivation, a sense of purpose. In fact, in a world of impermanence, we must reconcile the reality that we will lose everything we love. We lose it because it changes. We lose it because we change. We lose it because nothing is built to last.
Perhaps our biggest challenge in life is to dare to love in the face of inevitable loss, knowing that we get to HAVE so much, we just don’t get to KEEP any of it. And so we must learn to mourn our losses; all of them.
The process is hallowed ground, sacred terrain.
As a long-time yoga practitioner who ‘came up’ before there was much scientific inquiry into the practice, and way ahead of therapies that employ yoga techniques to create the conditions for healing, my personal experience and opinion is that all yoga is grief yoga. The story of our lives is stitched into the fabric of our bodies: our biology and biography are intertwined. By employing the embodied practices of yoga we metabolize and digest the experiences and emotions that we’ve lived through, integrate the lessons, glean the wisdom and release the toxic residue. It is that simple and, of course, it’s not that simple.
Lately I’ve been working individually with people who are consciously and unconsciously grieving; people who have just walked through a threshold that opens up to a previously unforeseen reality.
Whether the shift has resulted from empty-nesting, losing a job/retiring, recovering from a major health condition, divorce/separation, the experience has very similar qualities. There is bewilderment and sense of disorientation. Often there is a wish to move quickly through the experience to arrive in a place of comfort and perceived security, yet the sinking in and opening up to what is actually occurring/arising is where the medicine is.
The techniques I use are time-tested and tailored to the individual. Breath work, yin and slow-flow yoga, visualization, meditation, deep rest and personal inquiry are the tools I most frequently utilize. Sometimes I give homework.
In our work together my hope is that each person is reminded of their inherent strength, that they connect with their courage and bravery, face their fears and discover they actually CAN do it, can triumph, can laugh, and can envision something like a different flavor of happiness somewhere on the horizon.
If you’d like to work with me in the terrain of grief please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Share with me whatever you’d like me to know about the threshold you are moving through, and let’s set up a time to talk. If it seems my skillset will be useful in your journey of integrating loss and celebrating life I will be honored to work with you.