From the moment we are born we are grieving. We know we’re going to die. We know everyone we love is going to die. We have memories of times that didn’t work out well at all, sometimes from the cause of others, sometimes from our own doings.
So the strategy of our lives is in part driven by trying to find a solution for grief: money, work, love, family, play, food, comfort and security. All this is noble and good. We grow. We gain strengths and abilities. There is warmth and comfort when things are going well.
And at the same time, grief is still there. All things change. And in the deepest sense, there is no solution for grief, because grief belongs to love. Too much suppression and love becomes trapped, and the coping mechanisms can become destructive. Addictions, controlling behavior, avoidance, to name a few.
It’s sort of a radical idea to soften and make room for grief, rather than contract and suppress the difficult feelings. Radical because grief really does hurts.
It helps to grow a space within for grief, for anger, for hurt, to be allowed. A place where there is the understanding that these deep feelings are part of the wholeness of our being, and when we constrict upon them we imprison ourselves. If, even for a moment, we can step back from our natural reactiveness to emotional pain, put a pause on the interpretations of our survival brain, and simply look for ways to care for ourselves, the pressure of the pain is relieved. And we’re more able to be in the present moment, more connected, more vulnerable, more loving.
Practice this. When there are difficult feelings, notice where you’re tightening up in your body. Usually the belly will be constricted, the breathing tight. There will be a battle going on in your heart and gut, and the mind will waging it’s own battle. Acknowledge that is going on, and for the time being, back off from trying to fix anything.
Soften your belly. Physically soften your belly. Relax the muscles down there. They’ll get tight again, and when they do, just soften that belly again.
As you soften the belly, you may notice feelings, often of grief or anger, start to rise out of your softened belly. Just physically softening the belly helps to release the feeling trapped in the stomach muscles. The feelings rise like smoke towards the heart and the lungs.
Then do whatever works for you, just an intentional thought is sufficient, to expand the space within your heart and lungs, your chest and throat, to make room for those feelings; to help the grief to find it’s natural home within you. And breathe.
Breathe. Soften the belly. Make space in your heart and breath to help grief find her natural home, where love resides.