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Archive for January 26th, 2012

Reblogged: Listening

I have just signed up to follow this blog in the past few days but I have really enjoyed the blogs I have seen so far… Listening, being present, companioning are all vitally important to being a caregiver, taking care of ourselves as caregivers, and meditative practices give us some of the “tools” to be a compassionate, fully-present listener. Take a look a this post!

Daring to Live in Love!

In our world today, we are not always so great at listening. What is listening? It is one thing to hear what someone says to you, but it is quite another to listen to it.

Listening implies that we take what someone has said and we begin to digest it. We analyze the various layers that the idea presented to us contains. We look to the person saying the things and to what we know about them. We use our knowledge about their situation and their past to try and gain a better idea of their perspective. We use our knowledge about the person not to create assumptions, but rather to strip them away. As we uncover the other’s perspective, we begin to see how they have reached their conclusion. Now we can begin to analyze the statement. We are free of assumptions and have arrived at the problem from…

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I have just downloaded my first book by Rick in the past month and haven’t gotten to it. I have several friends who practice who like his work so I will pass this on to you.
I will check back in when I get to read some of “Just One Thing”.

Everything Matters: Beyond Meds

Rick Hanson, whose work really delights me, now has a youtube channel with Just One Minute practices. They are simple and straight forward tips, making mindfulness practice a part of every minute of our lives. That is how it’s supposed to be, but it’s so often taught in ways that make people think it’s not something they can do. It’s for other people. But that’s just not true. It’s for everyone who is at all drawn to it! Start with just one minute at a time.

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Rick Hanson also has a book that is a collection of small everyday and every moment practices to build our “Buddha Brain:” Again, I love the simplicity of the exercises and that you do them while living your life.  Just One Thing: Developing A Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time

I get his Just One Thing newsletter to my…

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A toddler girl crying

Image via Wikipedia

We are more than the sum of our parts… and so is our grief… the next few posts will take a very brief look at common reactions to grief on a multiude of levels…

Please feel free to share any reactions that you have experienced… please note that each post will have a different theme (behavioral, spiritual, etc.) so please share on the post that is most closely connected to your experience.

Behavioral experiences

  • Crying – this is probably the most readily accessible behavioral experience that people connect with grieving
  • Outward expression of emotions – no emotion is off-limits when it comes to grief — irritability, silliness, angst, joy, anger, outrage, shock, sadness, relief, etc.
  • Increased use in alcohol. food, smoking, and other chemicals — we seek comfort in those things that we know have given us some sort of comfort in the past.  Sometimes we are looking to fill a void that is nagging at us, sometimes we are looking to escape.  We know that alcohol, smoking, street drugs, (some prescription drugs) can have negative effects on us — we often forget that things like food, ingestion of media, the company we keep, etc can all affect us in strong ways.  Thich Nhat Hahn has some wonderful writings on right speech, mindful consumption, etc that you might want to check out if this is an area that is you want to explore.
  • Accidents, absentmindedness  — For me, this always seems to be the last “gift” to leave… I think this might be why I’ve always carried more than I need to in suitcases, purses, etc… I’ve spent good amounts of time being absentminded, involved in thoughts and feelings surrounding my grief, only to find myself in situations unprepared.
  • Social withdrawal — You might not want to run back to sangha, synagogue, church, your book club, your parent’s group, etc.  As lonely as we feel in the midst of our grief, sometimes that loneliness is magnified when we are around others.
  • Obsessive activity — We like to feel in control and nothing makes us feel more in control than our obsessions, our tidy world… our minds have something to focus on other than grief and we often run our bodies until they are surely exhausted so we don’t have to feel them.  Other times, we have obsessive activities surrounding our loss (see below)
  • Searching behaviors —  Sometimes in crowds like malls, airports, etc we think we see the person who has died.  This behavior has been very common for mother’s who have had miscarriages or for families who have not been able to see the body of the deceased (such as accidents or service people being returned from active engagement).
  • Avoidant behaviors — We avoid driving past the funeral home or the hospital (always tough places to have grief groups for this reason).  We avoid “couple friends” when we’ve lost a spouse/partner.  We stay away from people, places, and things that remind us of our loss and that often deepen the very fresh wounds of our loss.
  • Other behaviors — Some really common behaviors are a little trickier to categorize such as wanting to call your favorite uncle with a joke someone told you at lunch and after dialing, remembering that he has died.  it’s not that you have forgotten but you are so accustomed to having that person and having your habits.  You want to fulfill the thoughts that start like, “Mom would have loved that light blue sweater in the Coldwater Creek catalogue” and then the heaviness sets in…
  • Some people have unusual experiences (and what I mean is not ordinary or extra-ordinary experiences) such as hearing footsteps, flowers blooming at in appropriate times, things falling, etc.  These aren’t exactly behavios but I always like to add them because they are normal and people need to know that they are not the only ones to have had these experiences.  Often when people know they aren’t alone, they can let go of some of the shame or fear they have.

Remember from previous posts on mindfulness and lovingkindness, we do ourselves (and others) the greatest gift when we learn to be present to our experiences, in this case grief-related behaviors, and touch them lightly.  This is where we need to let go, of our judgments, condemnations, or guilt over how we are reacting to loss.  Grief isn’t about learning to “let go” of the person who has died (or any other experience that we find ourselves bereft over) but it is in the letting ourselves be-with our experience and learning self-acceptance.  Then we can truly learn to be free and honor who or what we have lost with a full heart.

Namaste.

A side note:  for those interested in the profession of, science of, etc. grief, check out the two articles suggested below this article.  One discusses the American Psychiatric Association’s need to pathologize grief as something it’s not.  The other is an interesting article about letting people grieve how they need to as individuals.

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I have always loved hearing about Bernie Glassman’s retreats… going to Poland and sitting at the camps, being on the streets in a big city with nothing but the kindness of people you come in contact with…. this is a lovely humanitarian way of being present to those who have so few opportunities for connection…

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