Well, last week we wrapped up the filming of Yoga for Grief, which will air in November on Yoga Anytime. (If you want to check out their top-notch content then or before then, use the code MICHELLE for a 30-day free trial.) I will, of course, let you know when it comes out. I am beyond excited to share it.
Being immersed in this topic for the past couple of weeks make me think of the adage: A spoon of salt in a glass of water makes the water undrinkable. A spoon of salt in a lake is almost unnoticed.
Like in grief, any intense emotion or challenging situation can make our world really small. Everything contracts, shrinks.
It feels like the container gets smaller, which makes the emotion or hardship more potent.
That very thing happened to me last weekend…
Some friends came over for dinner and toward the end of the evening shared the news that they are pregnant. They were excitedly giving details, talking about the timeline and morning sickness and ultrasounds. Having lost a child, situations like this have the potential to shrink my world, which is what happened that night.
I’d been immersed in the topic of grief — as well as my personal story — for the video shoot, and I’ve started working on my book again. So the topic and my emotions were right at the surface. This is a deep wound — sometimes I’m fine and can talk about pregnancy and babies…and sometimes my world closes in around me.
What helps me in these moments is a bigger container. More space for the emotion, for my experience to be fluid.
How to expand the container? No one thing works all the time. Considering that, here are some ideas.
Move and/or get outside.
That night, I used the dog as a scapegoat and took her outside to potty. Moving around helped expand my sense of space and being outside gave the feelings lots of breathing room.
Give it voice.
Maybe in the moment: “I find myself feeling….” Or later to a friend or therapist or to the trees or in a journal. I can’t overemphasize the power of feeling held and validated: “Yes, that hurt; yes, your experience is real; yes, there’s space for that here.” Just that helps us step back just a tiny bit and see a little more of the landscape.
Not much helps us be available to our feelings like sitting with them, quietly and gently. In a world of distraction, the practice of letting things be — without reaction or even response — is totally radical. As a visual person, I often use the image of “mind like sky.” This gives me the sense that there is unlimited space for my experience/thoughts/feelings to move through like clouds.
Basic self care.
As you can see, some of these are ways we can fortify ourselves in advance, knowing that we will be ambushed from time to time. Getting rest, good food, moving every day — just taking basic care makes it easier to handle whatever comes your way. In my example, I was tired — I’d been traveling, so my sleep and eating were out of the ordinary. This made me feel less steady in the moment.
Compassion, forgiveness and love.
For yourself! Because it won’t always go well. Maybe you break down (which is ok!). Maybe you lash out. Hurt people hurt people. Having our wounds poked can make us do weird things. Or you might even have judgment about having a reaction at all. “This STILL? I thought I’d moved on!” And Goddess forbid someone else has those judgments of you (give them my number). Compassion, forgiveness and love, gentle reader. Shame has no place in grief.
If this is of interest to you, there are a few different ways we can be together and explore ALL of these things. Check out the workshops page.
If you think this information might be helpful for someone you know, please pass it along.
And tell me what’s happening in your world!
How do you expand your container or perspective?
Wishing you more space for all that comes and goes,
These were the words of my 23 year old stepdaughter at lunch last week: "It's not like it is in the movies!" She was talking about love. She continued, "I thought...you meet someone, you move in together and get a dog and everything would be great. But I did all those...
Last week's post on creating a bigger container seemed to resonate with many people. Grief and loss touch all our lives and remind us of our togetherness. Related... for the past couple of months, a friend and I have been sitting together every morning at 7 am....
It's a common scenario: at some point after consistent yoga practice, a student will make the bewildered comment, "I used to feel so much better after yoga but lately I feel worse." This is actually good news. If one of the purposes of Yoga practice is to know...