While my father was hospitalised, when we weren’t sure what the situation was – whether he would live or die – I had a surplus of time just sitting around, waiting to see the physician-in-charge or just for any update.
To be honest, this situation wasn’t new to me. My mother has been in and out of hospital countless numbers of time – her stroke, her dementia, complications from an operation, her contracting Hepatitis-C, so you would think I would be used to it.
But the truth is, no matter how many times you go through it, you never get used to it.
Grief and loss pool in your body at this time. Fear and anxiety grip us, stress and trauma tighten our hearts – emotions truly get trapped in our bodies.
The difference between this situation when my father was hospitalised to all the other situations when my mother was warded is my maturity in yoga and spiritual practice.
So here are four practices I exercised while I was in the hospital for my father. They really helped me, and I hope they help you too.
Discerning what we are feeling.
Find a comfortable and quiet spot. Begin to ground by having your awareness on your sit bones (if you are sitting) or feet (if you are standing).
Once you feel ready, bring awareness to your breath. Just watch your breath; every inhale, every exhale, and perhaps even the micro moments in between the inhalations and exhalations.
Then, bring your awareness to what you’re feeling. Name these emotions. Do you feel stress? Do you feel anxiety? Fear? Frustration? Anger?
(As an aside, anger is a very valid emotion. Perhaps you had advised your loved one regarding their health, but they refused to listen. Perhaps your loved one hid symptoms from you, because he or she was fearful of visiting the doctors. Anger arising from situations like these are understandable.)
Back to the practice, once you have identified the emotions, see if you can find the dominant emotion. If this is not possible, that’s okay.
If you have a dominant emotion identified, visualise this emotion. Visualise a fence or a gate separating you from this emotion. Understand that you are safe, as you begin to reflect on why you feel this emotion.
Once you know why, visualise a boat on a river, and the emotion stepping on to that boat. Watch that emotion sail away from you.
When you are ready, open your eyes. Perhaps wash your face and hands, visualising any remnants of this emotion being washed away.
If you didn’t find a dominant emotion, but found several emotions gripping you, perform this practice with each emotion in turn.
If you are feeling certain emotions in certain parts of the body, and wan to learn more about how to release them through yoga, check the FREE Yoga for Grief Chakra Immersion here.
Yoga asana to help release trauma and grief.
Actually, there isn’t any one single yoga posture or yoga sequence that will get rid of all the trauma we retain in our body. However, certain movements and poses help with locked or trapped emotions because the seat of emotions – especially traumatic emotions – are stored in the svadisthana / sacral chakra.
As such, yoga postures that help to lengthen and strengthen our hip region (including our lower back) will help us release emotions of this nature kept in our body.
Check out the following posts to learn more about which yoga asana will help:
The breath, especially the exhales, are a good way to cleanse ourselves of the stress that arises from our loss and grief. To learn more, read the blog post below:
Alternatively, check out pranayama practices I have on the Insight Timer app:
Or contact me if you’d like to work with me on your breath-work.
In Sanskrit, the term used is ‘sankalpa’, which Yogapedia explains to be:
This term comes from the Sanskrit roots san, meaning “a connection with the highest truth,” and kalpa, meaning “vow.” Thus, it translates to denote an affirming resolve to do something or achieve something spiritual.Yogapedia, https://www.yogapedia.com/definition/5751/sankalpa
Meanwhile, Antonio Sausys in his book, “Yoga for Grief Relief” states that this meditative resolve:
… takes the form of a short mental statement, which is imprinted by repetition on the subconscious mind. Sankalpa influences the way things are to happen with determination and intention… The statement represents a mold that, once created, allows for the providential powers of the Universe to help manifestation occur.Antonio Sausys. “Yoga for Grief Relief”
Think of a positive statement in the present tense (e.g. “I am calm” or “I have clarity”). A simple way to use this meditative resolve is just to repeat it three times at the end of your meditation practice.
Avoid negative words or statements (e.g. “I don’t want stress”) and avoid stating what you don’t want (“I don’t want to be poor”). You should also avoid things you well know won’t happen (i.e. against the order of nature, e.g. “I want my deceased loved one alive with me now”).
Thinking of what you really want in a positive manner can be difficult, mainly because we tend to know what we don’t want, rather than what we really want.
Remember that our brain can learn new tricks, and mere thought can alter the physical structure and function of our brain – see this research piece by neuroscientist Alvaro Pascual-Leone, a professor of neurology at Harvard University.
This is why this meditative resolve practice can greatly help us when we’re experiencing stress in our grief and loss.
There are more ways…
than this to find clarity, but (aside from yoga asana) these methods are handy to use on-the-go, including in hospital waiting rooms.
Let me know if you use any other ways for clarity in your grief.
FREE ONLINE IMMERSIVE COURSE
YOGA FOR GRIEF
A FREE 7-Day yoga immersive course that will help you to:
- find some peace and respite from grief through the exploration of your body and mind through yoga
- practise tools and processes to help you find clarity and compassion in your sorrow
- find a way forward through grief that will honour who or what you have lost