Can Practicing Mindfulness Help You to Cope With Grief?
Practicing mindfulness can be extremely helpful when coping with the loss of a loved one. Find out more in this informative article.
Be Present. Live in the moment. Phrases like these are commonly found on clothing, pillows, and decorative signs.
But what do they actually mean? They are an important part of practicing mindfulness.
Practicing mindfulness is the ability to focus on what’s happening in the present. Mindfulness means preventing outward influences from overwhelming us. It’s focusing on the here and now, and not surrounding stressors.
According to mindful.org, every human being is already mindful in some way. Practicing mindfulness is a way to make it a healthy habit.
Mindfulness and Grief
After the death of a loved one, even small tasks can feel overwhelming. Grief often feels like an unpredictable wave hitting with ebbs and flows. Mindfulness and meditation are helpful tools for those experiencing the loss of a loved one.
With practice, these tools are a great way to deal with the intensity of grief as it comes. Without healthy tools, a grieving person may slip into destructive habits or patterns.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Medium.com defines mindfulness as awareness of one thing and meditation as awareness of nothing. Both can be used to help cope with grief and many use the terms interchangeably.
What Does Practicing Mindfulness Look Like?
Mindfulness practices are different for each individual. There are, however, a few basic practices widely used to deal with grief.
Finding your breath is a great way to begin a mindfulness practice. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to imagine the air filling your entire body and releasing any tension or stress with every exhale.
Many people find it beneficial to breathe along with a rhythm of some kind. Your rhythm can be external, like music or ocean waves, or internal, like your heartbeat.
Once you’ve fully focused on your breathing, you’ve already achieved mindfulness! You’re fully shifting your thoughts and energy to what is happening now–your breath.
Medical Benefits of Mindful Breathing
Mindful breathing (or deep breathing) isn’t only good for your grief journey. Mindful breathing has many proven medical benefits as well. Breathing increases positive brain activity, blood flow, and decreases blood pressure.
Breathing is also widely recommended for muscle rehabilitation and strengthening.
Center Your Body
Proper body position is a simple way to set yourself up for a great mindful practice. Whether sitting or standing, make sure your knees are directly over your feet.
If possible, go somewhere away from any distractions. Many people find their mindfulness practices are more beneficial when close to water. Whether it’s a small counter fountain or an oceanside spot, find a calm, relaxing environment.
Focus Phrases or Words
Mindfulness and meditation practices are often aided by a focus phrase or word. This can be spoken out loud or internally. These phrases or words can be simple but should hold some kind of meaning or focus to you.
Here are some examples of mantras and scripts for coping with grief and loss.
- I choose to turn my loss into love
- Love guides my entire life
- I allow myself to recover and heal
People of faith will often choose verses or prayers that hold meaning as their focus phrases or words. Whatever you say, make sure it helps you focus on where you are and what you are doing, and nothing else.
Don’t Time Yourself-Unless You Have To
Not everyone has an extra 30-45 minutes a day to practice mindfulness. Like any other skill, the more you practice it, the easier it will be. Carve out what works in your schedule.
If you only have 10 minutes a day, put on some headphones and sit at your desk. If you’re able to get out for a walk, find someplace outside where you can practice. If possible, try to get two 20 minute sessions per day for practicing mindfulness.
How to Meditate
Many meditation practices look very much like mindfulness practices. Meditation practices almost always use a script or matra (that meaningful phrase). Here are a few suggestions for grief meditation.
Take several candles that have about 20-30 minutes of burn time left. Sit in a quiet, dark place away from distractions. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
You may lay down or sit down. Focus your eyes on the burning candles and repeat the mantra, “I release my (insert negative emotion/thoughts) with the flame.”
The idea is that you’ll let go of destructive or ruminating thoughts with the extinguishing of the flames. Sit with the burning candles until the last one burns out.
Let Go Of a Meaningful Object
Bring something that was your loved ones that you’re willing to part with. Sit with the object, and begin mindful breathing. Close your eyes and imagine your loved one sitting with you.
Allow yourself to get lost in a happy memory. Talk to the person, saying words like “I love you” and “I miss you” or even “I forgive you.”
Let yourself cry, laugh, or experience any other emotion.
When you’re finished, leave the object you’ve brought when you go. This is a way to acknowledge the reality of your grief while continuing on in your life.
You’re Not Alone
Each year, 2.5 million people die in the United States, each leaving behind at least five grieving individuals. Finding support for your grief process is an important part of healing. While grief may feel isolating, if you’ve felt the pain of loss, you’re not alone.
Honor in a Meaningful Way
Finding a meaningful ritual is another way of practicing mindfulness and moving through your grief journey. Some scatter their loved one’s ashes in a special place. Others may make their loved one’s favorite meal or listen to their favorite songs.
At Lone Star Cremation, we can help you honor your loved one in a meaningful and respectful way. Give us a call at 817-546-0108 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us partner with you to make sure your loved one is honored and remembered.