Practicing Vipassana in Grief

This morning at breakfast, my daughter asked me why the petals on the purple tulips were missing. The bouquet arrived last week for my birthday. After a week of being the centerpiece on our dining room table, it began shedding its bloom the past few days. Kayman and I had great fun, using the vibrant pieces as counting exercises.

“What happened to them?” she said, holding one up. I shared that is where all flowers must go someday, that it had wilted. “Oh, you mean it died?” Yes, I replied. “Like your mommie?” Pause.

Well, yes and no. By that time, her focus had gone elsewhere and off to pre-school we went.

However, it gave me pause to reflect. Grief and loss, death and dying, so many levels of it occur in everyday life. How is it we are as a matter of fact about some things while we are torn up by others?

As a practicing buddhist, I often try to incorporate some of the teachings I’ve learned into my grief work. We intrinsically know that all things, living things, our loved ones, and ourselves, are impermanent. Yet, we can’t help but become emotionally attached to the things and people we love.

When we experience a loss, there is suffering. Out of the suffering comes our attachment to what was. In our desires to make relationships last, we are overcome with pain,and disappointment when it ends. We do not feel in control. And wanting to feel some sort of control over our pain, we get on the emotionally roller coaster of pain.

Sometimes, we try to drown the awareness of our pain with avoidance. Avoidance by burying ourselves in our work, with food, with shopping, with television.

Yet,inevitably we end up feeling anxious, depressed, sadness or anger.

What can we do to move through our grief?

By accepting what is.

Easier said than done right?

By practicing Vipassana meditation or mindfulness even in our grief.

There are many organizations that teaches mindfulness in mediation. On great group in Los Angeles called InSightLA offers courses to bring more joy and peace into everyday life.

Or try this simple heart opening meditation when you feel your heart closing off from the grief.

Find a comfortable place to sit down. Close your eyes. Bring your left palm flat against the heart center and place the right palm on top of the left. Let your mind settle, relax. The thoughts from the day, let them unwind. With each breath, relax your body, let your mind wander, not settling on anything in particular. Bring your awareness inwardly. Become aware of the sensations in your body, notice with each breath you are letting any outward noise fall away. Notice that anytime your mind wanders, just bring it back to center. Bring your attention to the center of your chest, where your heart is. Allow yourself to sink into your heart. Breathe into your heart. Feel the beating of your heart against your left palm. Feel your heart. Notice any emotions that come up, any energy. So much is stored in the heart. Unconditional love, compassion, kindness. Let your heart open. Allow your heart center to be filled with unconditional love, compassion, kindness for yourself.

Notice with each breath the sensations in your body, continuing to relax, let your mind come back slowly to the present. Take a few moments to sit quietly with eyes closed and surround yourself with the loving. When you are ready, open your eyes. Take a few minutes to journal and jot down any thoughts you may have had.

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