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Mindfulness when Grief visits

At some point in our lives all of us will experience the loss of a loved one, a relationship, a job, a pet, a home and even maybe permanent changes in our health, there are countless reasons in life that we will grieve. Grief is a completely natural human response to loss. There is no right or wrong way for any individual to go through this process, it takes the time it takes and the feeling of loss may never truly pass, it will just becomes a part of us, as we travel through the journey of our life. Whatever kind of loss, bereavement or grief that we experience, we cannot predict what our thoughts, feelings or physical sensations will be, and arise in such an impossibly hard emotional time. Grief is universal and happens all over the world, a shared human experience, and each person will have their own individual beliefs and cultural values when this time arrives for them.

Mindfulness practice is not meant to minimise any of the pain we experience or suggest that by meditating everything will be okay, but what it does do is, teach us how to experience our thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations in the present moment, and with a huge amount of self compassion, allow and give yourselves the permission to feel what you feel without judgement, moment by moment in a healthy environment. It is acceptable to most of us that we generally want to avoid pain and suffering, but to resist and suppress our emotions becomes exhausting, taking up far too much of our emotional and physical energy.Sometimes you may need to kindly remind yourself that grief can become too much for one person alone, you may want the help and support from family, friends, your religious community, a grief support group or a healthcare professional.Also remembering that there is never a destination to reach when experiencing grief, however there are many different mindfulness practices that can help with the grieving process, try not to rush things and maybe start with a simple practice, it takes time to learn new things and when you feel ready, maybe a breathing mindful meditation is a good place to start.

Mindful breathing can be done anywhere at any time without anyone realising you're even doing it, your breath is your anchor, it always with you and on an average we breath 22,000 times a day without even being conscious of it.In a comfortable position, focus all of your attention on your body, as your breath enters and exits the body, there’s no need to change anything just your normal breathing pattern is good, pay attention to the gentle rise and fall of your chest, the feeling of the cool air in your nostrils and the warmth of your breath as it leaves your body, can you notice any other physical sensations as you breath? the whole of your body as your breath rhythmically flows in and out? a sense of stillness, restlessness, lightness maybe some heaviness, whatever you feel in this moment is ok and if you feel nothing that’s ok to, all you are doing is noticing what your experience is right now in this present moment, your mind will probably wonder, thinking of all the other things than seem more important to do at this time, do acknowledge and not linger on these thoughts (your thoughts are just that thoughts) and then gently without judgement bring your attention back to your breath and all the sensations that you can feel in this moment, this wandering or distraction may happen one or more times during your meditation time and that's okay, its the noticing that this has happened and bringing your attention back to the breath that counts (this is meditation) and when you feel the time is right for you, finish your breathing meditation by taking just a moment to sit, and give yourself a kind thought for the rest of the day. Mindfulness practices help us by activating the parasympathetic nervous system (our bodies rest and digest system) when this is activated our heart rate and blood pressure will lower which can then help us to reduce the feelings that occur when we are anxious. 

Mindfulness allows us to embrace and accept what is happening now in the present moment to be without judgement in this moment, to recognise what has happened and allow us to have some self compassion. Gently remind yourself that your process is your own it will rise and fall, be gentle and patient with yourself and take all the time you need.

 “You will survive and you will find purpose in the chaos, moving on doesn’t mean letting go” Mary VanHaute

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