Grounding is a vital tool that yoga and other Eastern wisdom teaches that helps us manage our emotions and reactions to our current circumstances. In a sense, grounding helps to give us distance from what grips us, but in grief, perhaps ‘distance’ isn’t the best word to use.
No one in bereavement wants to distance from our dearly departed. No one who has lost something they loved wants to consider putting distance between them and what they have lost.
We grieve because we love, and sometimes we think if we stop grieving, we stop loving.
This isn’t true.
So perhaps a better word to use is ‘equanimous’. Dictionary.com defines ‘equanimous’ to be “having emotional stability and composure, particularly in times of high stress”.
So perhaps in our grief, we may wish to experience this, being emotionally stable and composed as we experience our grief – perhaps even watch our grief.
Here are a few things we can practise for equanimity in our grief:
The simple idea of having awareness to the body can be found in yoga and Anapanasati meditation, Theravada meditation, Tiantai and Chan traditions of Buddhism as well as a part of many mindfulness programmes.
Simply put, it’s pretty pervasive in Asian tradition.
When we are experiencing grief, sometimes the emotions overwhelms us, or the thoughts and anxiety of what we need to do build on each other until we feel buried in responsibilities.
This may cause us to want to fight (perhaps even in anger), flee (this was me, and still is – just disappear), or freeze (also me – not do anything, just ignore everything and focus on ‘normal’ life).
When we bring our attention to our body, a few things happen:
- We place ourselves in the moment – right now – the tactile sensations of our feet on the ground, our sit bones on the chair, or sensations of wind on our skin, etc. Our thoughts move away from what grips us to our body
- We see what grief is doing to our body – is our body tense, where in the body is experiencing tension, which part of our anatomy is feeling unhappy, etc.
- After a few moments, or even just a moment, we may feel a sense of spaciousness away from our distress and sorrow. We may be able to examine those tasks and duties with a little more calm, we may be able to perhaps even watch our grief and see that it arises from love.
Our body houses ourselves – our consciousness. In some Eastern traditions, there is no separation of mind and body. What the mind experiences, the body experiences, and what the body experiences, the mind experiences.
Grounding – or body awareness – is a powerful tool that helps us navigate our journey in grief. Practise this and let me know how it goes.
I also consider this a form of ‘grounding’. Some people call breath-focus as ‘centring’. Whatever you call it (and it doesn’t really matter – there is no wrong or right), it works the same way as body awareness.
From what I understand, breath awareness is also derived from Anapanasati practice, where we notice the breath (the quality of the breath), count the breath, and focus on different aspects of the breath (exhales, inhales etc.).
Bringing awareness to the breath also usually automatically makes us breathe deeper and longer. We don’t usually breathe to the best of our ability or lung capacity. The shallower (higher up in the chest) our breath is, the more likely our body is in a distressed state. And if our body is distressed, and so is our mind.
Also, the breath is one of the ways lifegiving prana is brought into the body. The prana, moving in our pranamaya kosha (energy / breath sheathe), channels itself through all the remaining koshas (learn more about the koshas here). And the pranamaya kosha sits in-between the (the food sheathe) and the manomaya kosha (mind sheathe).
As such, the pranamaya kosha has a greater influence on both the mind and the body. Or in other words, the energy that we bring into ourselves influences both mind and body, and both mind and body influence each other.
So when you feel grief overwhelm you, bring your awareness to your breath, and let me know what happens.
Enhances sense of security.
When we focus on grounding, especially having body awareness, feet awareness or sit-bone awareness, we bring our attention to our root chakra, the muladhara chakra.
This chakra sits at the base of our spine, the physical location of which is near the perineum. Energetically, it is in our pranamaya kosha – the energy sheathe. And it is the energy wheel that helps us to survive and feel secure and stable.
And focus on the earth, or anything earthy is focus on the root chakra. Our capacity to feel secure will be heightened, as well as our sense of stability.
While in bereavement, sometimes we may feel unable to live, have this sense of “why should I go on living?”. We may even have this sense when we lose a job or have lost something material. This is all related to our root chakra, our capacity and will to survive, be secure and stable.
Just knowing this is great, and noticing it in your mind when it floats up is better. The next step is to bring your awareness to your body or your breath.
Alternatively, doing anything grounded in the body – such as exercise, or working out, or yoga asana practice – may help you feel grounded and less shaky in the will to survive.
Yoga asana that ground.
Although any focus on your grounding points in yoga poses will help you ground (for e.g. focusing on your forearms and head in a headstand), the most effective yoga postures that help ground and enhance your work on the root chakra are standing / sitting yoga poses.
Check out the blog posts below to help you work on yoga asana that help you ground:
- The best yoga poses for grounding
- Yoga asana for root & sacral chakras
- Best yoga poses for balance
- Yoga practice to ground and balance
Try these yoga asana and yoga practices (the last link above), and tell me how it works for you.
If there is any way at all that I can help you in this journey, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.
Yoga For Grief
A FREE online immersion through the chakras
A FREE 5-Day online 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.