Grief can be experienced for many reasons; the loss (loss of a loved one, of physical wellbeing, of material comfort, of an expected future, of innocence or loss of a close relationship). Grief deposits in layers through our awareness and can surface months, sometimes years after the loss occurred. It is not a sign that you are regressing, going mad or what you have been doing for your mental health hasn't worked, it is just that the next layer is ready to be released and you have worked your way a little further down through the layers.
Today's Dru Yoga tip for life is all about releasing that grief. The first step in releasing grief is allowing it to be there. Our first reaction is often to try and stuff it back in from wherever it came, but the grief will just keep surfacing until we release it, so why not now? The first step is to simply acknowledge, "I am feeling grief".
Some of the intensity of the grief may be reduced just with being named. Notice where in your body you are feeling the emotion and take some time to breathe into that area; there is nothing to do here, just keep a gentle focus on the area and watch your breath.
After sitting with your breath, choose a yoga posture that opens your chest and lifts your focus up and out; for example, the middle sequence from Salutations to the four directions is great for releasing grief and opening your heart for joy to come in.
- Sit or stand in a comfortable upright position (outside works fabulously well), breathe and lengthen through the front of your chest.
- As you breathe out take your hips back and come over into a gentle forward bend so that your hands are resting at the level of your lower abdomen with the backs of your hands facing each other, relax your neck and contract your core stability muscles.
- With the in breath, uncurl your spine and draw your hands up through the midline of your body, above your head then open your arms into a challis position (you can imagine drawing the grief through your body and releasing it, if you like).
- Rest in this posture for a few moments and feel the strength through your body, making space for joy to enter your heart.
- Draw your hands back into prayer position (palms touching) above your head, draw them mindfully back towards your chest and pause for a few moments in silence.
- Repeat this sequence of movements several times through the day until this layer of grief has been lifted.
Making the time to be present in this practice or any other practice that helps to lift grief, even for just a few moments every day, will help you to consciously resolve the aspects of your life that have caused you pain, and allow more joy to come into your life.
Remember, if you are feeling grief, acknowledge it is happening, breathe and release. The full sequence, Salutations to the four directions, can be incredibly powerful in helping you to find a new direction and can be found in Stillness in Motion, or the Dance between Joy and Pain, at www.druyoga.com.