We’ve all experienced it—grief.
That sadness and emptiness that seems insatiable and unshakeable.
We’ve all lost someone we loved and cherished. Someone that made our days brighter, that brought joy into our lives, that made us feel whole, that allowed us to feel like we mattered and were meant for something greater. Maybe you lost your best friend, a co-worker you confided in every day, your pet, or a close relative.
Me, I lost my dad.
See, my dad was more than just a dad. He was my best friend, my confidant, my mentor, and my business partner. We had the kind of relationship you read about in novels—seriously.
When he passed, I had to dig deep into my decades of meditation and yoga practise to find a way out. I had to turn my focus to the great teachers and spiritual healers I had studied for years. Everyone from B.K.S. Iyengar and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois to Gabrielle Bernstein and Tony Robbins.
When grieving, pain can overshadow our inner light. But our light is always there. And it always shines.
Based on teaching from the great masters, I’ve identified three practices that can bring us the peace and calmness we crave and an outlet for our emotions so they don’t overtake us.
There’s little magic in this method. Like anything else, it takes practise to get good at it—daily practise. And as we string the days together, this practise will make us feel a little better, encouraging us to return to it again and again.
The key here is routine.
By applying the same practises each day, grief slowly makes space for calmness and fond memories. We are not focusing on getting rid of the grief itself; we are focusing on happiness, calmness, and light. And by changing our focus from grief to calmness, we change our inner dialogue.
Morning mindfulness routine:
This practise is about bringing our focus back into the present moment. It’s about giving our feelings an outlet so they are honoured and not suppressed. It’s about allowing us to feel fully again.
1. We’re going to start the practise with the ancient practice of nadi shodhana or alternate nostril breathing. This practise will help harmonize the two hemispheres of the brain, resulting in more balanced physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
There are many great articles written on nadi shodhana, but here’s a quick run down on how to do it:
Sit on the floor with your legs crossed or in a chair, making sure you keep your back straight. Take a deep breath.
>> Close your eyes and lift your right hand to your face. Close your index and middle finger, and keep your thumb, ring finger, and little finger open.
>> With your eyes still closed, take another deep breath, breathing in and out through your nose.
>> Close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through the left nostril.
>> Close the left nostril with your ring finger and little finger so both nostrils are closed; retain your breath at the top of the inhale for a brief pause.
>> Open your right nostril and release the breath slowly through the right side.
>> Keeping your right nostril open, inhale through the right side slowly.
>> Hold both nostrils closed with ring finger and little finger on one side, and thumb on the other side.
>> Open your left nostril and release your breath slowly through the left side. Pause briefly at the bottom.
>> This is one cycle. Repeat the cycle eight times.
2. Now that our mind is calm, take a few more deep breaths. Then say the words “thank you“ out loud.
Repeat those words as many times as you like, and allow the feeling of gratitude to slowly make its way to your heart. Don’t think about the words. Don’t think about feeling gratitude. Don’t look for something specific to be grateful for. Just say the words.
Gratitude is a strong feeling. It correlates to something deep within us that wants to be good and do good. And good is how we want to feel.
Once you feel you’ve repeated the words enough times—for me 11 times seems to do the trick—take a few deep breaths and feel the gratitude in your heart.
3. For this third and last practise of the morning, open your eyes and reach for your journal. This journal can be as fancy or as simple as you like—a beautiful leather embossed journal or a simple note pad.
Don’t let your head get in the way. Just let the words fall on the paper. It doesn’t need to make sense. Allow your feelings to pass through you. Allow the words to come in their natural state, without forcing them into sentences.
Just let the words be. Let the emotions be.
Write as much as you feel the need to. Some days, you might write pages upon pages, while other days might only have you putting down a few words. It doesn’t matter. What matters is to grant yourself the creativity to write and a place for your feelings to be expressed.
Your emotions need an outlet. We don’t want them bottled up in our hearts and heads.
When you are done writing, put your journal aside, close your eyes, and breathe.
Allow yourself to feel proud.
Allow yourself to feel your inner light shine a little brighter.
I said earlier that this was a morning practise. It’s actually an anytime of the day practise. Whenever you feel grief overtake you, go back to your practise or simply close your eyes and remember how you felt during your earlier practise.
I truly hope this helps and heals you.
Author: Eloise Gagnon
Image: Carli Jeen/Unsplash
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Travis May