Grief and Mindfulness

Some mindfulness masters teach, that you cannot fully begin to meditate until you have wept deeply. I once read a story of a Zen teacher who flirted with meditation for years before he decided to commit. He recalled how he wept openly and often for two years and after he had grieved for many things in his life, only then was he able to sit in silence.

I was sitting outside this morning, enjoying the beautiful day when I began to feel the pull of profound grief and sadness for the life I had uncovered. For the loss, for the pain, for the torture, for the years that I clung to survival as my only way of life. Sad for the years of having no hope, no dreams, no promises made…thinking that whoever came into my life would go. Not by virtue of old age, sickness or played out friendships. But would just turn around and go. I don’t dwell there very long anymore, but sometimes, it’s a place I walk through after being triggered. 

I began to recall the lesson about weeping. I thought about the many times during guided meditation that I would begin to shed tears. Not weeping, but feeling the unmistakable wetness on my cheek from tears. Feeling the tears stream down my cheeks, I stopped and pulled myself back to reality. The reality of kids, shopping lists or work. Never understanding that perhaps those tears marked the beginning of my spirit wanting to open up, cleanse myself through grief and help guide me on my path. I couldn’t tip-toe around those intense feelings, I didn’t understand that there is openness after grief, and it is an important part of life and growth. 

Before I came in to write this, I grabbed a leaf that was floating down from a tree, made a wish, blew it away and came in to write.

I wished I could go away deep in the woods without the sounds of the world and cry. I thought about a story I once read of a girl in the silver boat who had gone through the woods and came out on a beautiful shore. I thought about my intense pull to grieve, and to also have the life I want to live. I yearn to go into the woods without the sounds of the world and cry. But I get triggered in the woods, bad things happened in the woods. And, still, I love the woods! My desire to go into the woods to grieve, to find peace, is coupled directly with trauma so triggering that going into the woods is a challenge. Mindfulness comes in by bringing myself back to the present, after experiencing a flashback. But, that’s not the simple experience I want for my life, my grief, my practice. It’s a paradox. 

I realize that the girl in the silver boat and the zen master who said they wept for years are stories. They are books, metaphors that help show us another way and provide hope and give us the strength to keep trying, keep breathing.  Admittedly, sometimes I don’t have faith in my ability to heal completely. I can stay in my head and trick myself into thinking it just the words I am supposed to feel, not feelings, I am supposed to feel.

My body, my mind, my soul wants to feel the feelings and grieve whatever it is I need to grieve. I yearn to be like those who have the ability to find solace in quiet places. Who emerges from a weekend alone with full cups and peace in their heart. I’m not ready to dwell in those quiet places. I have been wonderfully surprised that some mindfulness teachers are saying, that if a person is working through trauma, perhaps sitting and meditating is not the best path at the moment. For me, that’s the way it is right now. I accept it and respect the reality and the process of healing. Someday, I may be able to cry an ocean of tears that will take me through the woods, to the sparkling sea, and then be able to sit on the cushion just acknowledging my thoughts vs spinning into the past. 

I am not a Zen teacher. I don’t necessarily want to be able to sit for hours. I try to live mindful, present and surf the waves of emotion as they happen. I also intend to stay the path.  I set my intention every morning, I try to evolve, but know deep down inside that without shedding the tears, feeling the words, experiencing the grief, I will never heal the way I want to heal. Without grieving over the life that was, I will continue to open the scab without letting it healing into a beautiful gnarly scar. 

photo: pixabay

Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

 

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105 thoughts on “Grief and Mindfulness

  1. This is so true, I can relate to this so well. “I try to evolve, but know deep down inside that without shedding the tears, feeling the words, experiencing the grief, I will never heal the way I want to heal.” This is exactly what I also think. You can my recent blog posts on grief and depression and share your views.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hollie May Beeston

    I lost my father at the age of 3 and have recently published a blog on my experience and what my loss has taught me throughout the years. A lot of what I say is extremely positive regardless of my loss.

    This was not just a therapeutic act of expression for me, but I am also hoping it will positively reach out to others who have grown up with a similar experience and make them feel less alone, as well as serve as an eye-opener for those who have had no insight into the traumatic loss of a parent. I really believe that this will help others understand that acceptance of such a loss is in fact NOT impossible.

    https://fatherlessdaughters97.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Healing is a process we need to trust. Some days I want for things to speed up and be grief-free and pain-free. But instead I came to accept that maybe this is what my life is about – to heal a much deeper generational pain and that maybe I’m not supposed to be or do anything else. Surrender and accept things as they are. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Beautifully moving and made me quite thoughtful. I have always felt that crying was cleansing-and that grieving necessary when faced with a loss or calamity. I have never tried to “shy away” from feeling the sadness that follows some tragedy. I have not had the kind of experience, you have, but I do know that I have several events that seem to creep out slowly making me “cry some of it out” little by little. Thank you for making me consider such things.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I have been sitting here absorbing your words. I have been thinking over the past two days how terribly afraid I am of my feelings. I think grieving comes in waves just like you are experiencing. It is hard to say how long it takes. I guess until! Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This is beautiful. The emotions you poured into the words…I’m no meditator, neither do I hold much interest to it, but your words were powerful, and you were able to communicate with such depth.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. This reminds me of my mom. After her father passed away (she was in her 20’s), she went on a meditation retreat and couldn’t meditate until she sobbed it all out. She told me everything was released and although still sad it wasn’t prolonged grief. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Tears are so healing. I have cried a river since I lost my dear Dad and our brilliant cat and will keep crying whenever I need to. Like you say, this is how you let go. Thanks so much for sharing. I have a poetry blog here on WordPress in case you have time to look? Have a nice evening, Sam 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is so beautiful, Ali. Thank you for your insight and for sharing your breakthrough. I love it that you were able to just be in the moment without judgement. That is huge!! Thank You so much for your support. Have a wonderful weekend. 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Alexis, I relate to what you have shared. My most recent breakthrough with meditation was sitting in a room full of people in silence as tears ran down my face. I was proud to be, feel and act just the way I was feeling in those moments of time. It is a promise I kept to myself to not hide who I am anymore. Give yourself grace as you continue to let the light into the past memories that still cause you pain. Walk gently, remind yourself how brave you are and know that love walks with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Im so sorry to hear that your little boy has cancer and that you lost your dad. Thats a lot of pain and grief. Im glad to hear that this post provided some comfort. Sending you support and holding space for you in my heart. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you so much for this beautifully put post. I lost my dad 4 years ago unexpectedly and grieving has been very hard. I also have a nearly 3 year old little boy who is a cancer patient. All i ever feel i am doing is seeing death everywhere, i have such a fear of who it is gonna take from me next. I am the youngest of 5 and i,m at least 10 years younger than them. So i have this fear that i am going to lose them all eventually and be alone. When my little boy got cancer, i began to worry it would be him who i would lose. I dont think i could bear that if it ever happens. Losing my dad has taken life from me. I just feel like life has burst my bubble and given me a hard slap. All i feel is pain and loss and fear that i am going to continue losing pieces of my heart as i lose each person.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. houseofrogue

    Thank you so much for being this open. What a wonderful post and moving story. I’m working within the theme of mindfulness as well at the moment, currently writing about accepting and letting go; your post is a true inspiration for my writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m so sorry for your loss of your Nana. Grief comes in such hard, hard waves. I’m grateful to hear this post helped, even if it’s in the smallest way. Thank You for reading it. Big Hugs as you move through your grief. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Keri, Im so sorry for your loss. Im glad that my post came at this time especially if it gives you a modicum of comfort. Take good care of yourself. Thank You for reading and commenting. Peace to you. Alexis

    Like

  16. This couldn’t have come at a better time. My mother-in-law died yesterday. My own Mom died 18 years ago, and my second Mom came into my life around the same time. I thought a lot today about how I will grieve. I am not ready yet to cry that hard, hard cry. This post was just what I needed. It was beautifully written and touched me deeply. Thank you… Keri

    Liked by 3 people

  17. A very powerful message. It took me a long time to grieve for the hurt experienced in childhood. When it began, the tears flowed, long overdue. It’s an important step that we should not ignore. Loved your post. Thanks. 💝

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Thank You for sharing this. Yes, it seems as if the tears are never ending sometimes. The cleansing and the painful tears. I’m so happy to hear you are feeling your way through this painful, yet powerful step. Have a wonderful day! Alexis

    Like

  19. dbest1ishere

    I went for years without being able to cry. I wanted to believe me I so wanted to. The flood gates for that finally opened up in therapy and it seems like the tears will never end. It feels good to be able to cry and grieve the past I had and the one I missed out on.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Very timely. This is where I’m at – realizing that my attempts to think positive and focus on the present are inhibited by my reluctance to fully process and grieve for the past. It’s a painful step, but it cannot be skipped. Beautifully written. Best to you. 💕

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Alexis, you’ve said something here to make me think. Those who are still in trauma are not necessarily prepared to meditate or sit quietly. A friend of mine once said she tried to meditate, but she couldn’t stop crying long enough to focus. It didn’t make sense then, but the way you’ve said it here does. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. They say that time heals all wounds, which I don’t think is exactly true, but maybe time makes all wounds hurt a little less (even though they’re not totally healed). I hope you can find that the pain is not so acute as time goes by.

    Liked by 4 people

  23. Right?!? We get to have this my friend Summer. Someday, we will do that together. I can see it, and we will look at the trees and sky (maybe a moon sky?) and know we are okay!! I can see it for both of us! 💜💃🏻💃🏻💜

    Liked by 1 person

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