I remember crying with grief the day my mother told me that my long time friend, King, my horse, had died.
I was living in San Francisco. After hanging up the phone I kept crying with grief off and on all afternoon. I remember clearly what happened later that day.
My then boyfriend, now husband, sat down next to me on the edge of the bed in the light filled room. He said, he had a romantic plan all lined up. But since I was so sad, crying with grief, he decided to scrap the plan and try to cheer me up now. He handed me a small box. I opened the box and inside it was an engagement ring. I burst out crying once again. For a moment he may not have thought it was the right thing to have done. However this time my tears were tears of joy. I was not crying with grief. I gave him a great big embrace.
This wasn’t the first time nor the last that I felt myself squarely living in the duality of grief and joy, pain and happiness, sorrow and serenity.
I have learned from the teachings of my guru Paramhansa Yogananda that normal life is a life of duality; hot and cold, light and dark, pain and happiness. When you can live squarely in the center of these opposites, in full awareness of opposing emotions, feeling them both but not being highjacked by either, you are moving into the realm of self-realization.
I don’t claim to be living in that space 24/7. In fact sometimes I find it harder to be there when life is not so extreme. When life is so-so, you can get through each day unchallenged. Your habits take over most of what you do. However, unless you are among the few who has carved out habit after habit of clean living, healthy relationships and spiritual practices such as meditation, your habits ultimately will take you in the wrong direction.
When you find yourself mournful from loss, know that grief is a healthy emotion.
Grief is an emotion to be in, move through and to sometimes remember. Though you are meant to grieve, you were not meant to stay stuck in grief. While mourning you can still have happiness in your life. While crying with grief you can still smile with joy. You can be in all honesty experiencing two opposing emotions at once. How long your grieving process will take cannot be quantified. The process will take whatever time it needs.
My yoga practice has been my rock through difficult times. Last year alone, three members of my family died. Sometimes my practice is long. Sometimes it is short. But I do practice. I also know from the yoga teachings that community and mentors are important to help you get through the rough times and move forward during the good times. This has been true for me.
Here are some 2 Minute Yoga practices to help you though sorrowful times, crying with grief and smiling with joy, 2 Minutes at a time.
MOVE: When you are wanting to be inward, practice child’s pose. You can modify and use props as needed so that your body will be comfortable and relaxed in the pose. You can even sit in a chair with one or more pillows on your lap. Lean forward and rest on the pillows.
To feel more expansive practice chest expander. Either variation of the pose pictured above will work.
BREATHE: Deep breathing is probably the single best yoga practice for grieving. Full Yogic breathing is recommended as is blowing breath, sighing breath (just like it sounds, let out deep sighs) and lengthening your exhalation. Here is a video practice for deep belly breathing.
CENTER: Sit tall and relaxed. Take a few breaths. Acknowledge your sadness. Be ok with it. Then practice gratitude. Think of all that you are grateful for. Listen to my short 3 minute talk on the benefits of practicing gratitude here.
COMMUNITY: Having a community of support is important. Also give yourself some time alone. Find your own balance between being with others and being by yourself. If you would like an online supportive community, come hang out with us in the Stress Free Zone, a private Facebook Group. We keep our posts positive in the group. It is ok to reach out for support, by saying something like “Hi tribe. I could use some virtual hugs today. I am feeling grief.” Keep brief without the details. You will find support. And when you read others posts, support them if for no other reason than it will make you feel better. Click here and ask to join the Stress Free Zone.
If you need more support a yoga therapist or other trained medical professional can help you. Do not hesitate to reach out for medical help if you think you might need it. Click here for online yoga therapy sessions with me.
So whether you find yourself crying with grief or smiling with joy, take a deep breath, move, breathe and center. I hope to see you in the Stress Free Zone.
What has helped you deal with grief? Let me know in the comments below.