Archive for January 30th, 2012

Simple Notes on Sitting Meditation:

“Allow all the muscles in your body to relax. Don’t fight or struggle.   There are people who, after fifteen minutes of sitting meditation,   feel pain all over their body because they’re making an effort  to sit or striving to succeed in their sitting meditation. Just allow  yourself to be relaxed, as if you were sitting by the ocean.”

“To succeed in your sitting, release the tension in your body and  in your feelings. Get comfortable in your seated body. When you  begin to breathe in and out, enjoy the breathing in, the breathing  out. Give up any struggle and enjoy sitting and smiling. This is a  privileged moment, having the opportunity to sit quietly like this.  You are your own island. Nobody at this moment can ask you to do  anything. Nobody will disturb you, no one has the right to ask you  a question, or to ask you to go and wash the pots or clean the bathroom.   This is your precious opportunity to relax and be yourself.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

Happiness:  Essential Mindfulness Practices

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reflected sadness

Image via Wikipedia

Physical Reactions

  • Nausea
  • Tiredness and exhaustion
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia or
  • Tenseness, irritability
  • Headaches, Muscle Aches

I think we forget that we are physical beings that have been a physical relationship with another physical being that is no longer here.  I know that sounds really crazy… but it’s true.  I am not just a heart, not just emotions, not just a head/mind…  I am the totality of my physical body, my history, the epoch I find myself in, the things I ingest, etc., etc.

I learned part of this lesson when I was new to grief counseling and had set up several sessions where I had professionals come in to do some workshops with my clients on mind/body modalities.  The day the two massage therapists came, I was really excited.  I had a pretty large group and was excited to help my clients see that they needed to take care of themselves as they were grieving.

Less than 20 minutes into the presentation, the participants started to share. . . as I looked around at them, while listening to what they were saying, I realized that everyone in the group was grieving the loss of a spouse.  And I don’t think it would be too off base to say that most of these participants had not been really touched since their spouse died.  We spent the next 45 minutes talking about this very issue and what it was like for them.  What a gift this group gave to me!  And I think that’s what healing is, mutually opening our hearts and touching each other’s lives.

One reason that we can have physical manifestations during grief is because we’ve been a caregiver for someone who is aging, ill, and/or dying.  Caregivers can be amazing people who give their whole hearts, minds, and bodies to their caregiving, and in the process, neglect their own health.  I strongly encourage anyone who was a caregiver to get a physical when things have settled in the first few months after a loss.

Please hear, I am not suggesting going in for meds because of lack of sleep, anxiety, etc.  I am suggesting you have labs drawn, get your BP checked out, etc.  We may neglect an ache or a pain because we are up all night with our loved one and don’t want to get away to have ourselves checked out.

People who are early in grief also can be more susceptible to things like the flu.  Again, part of it is not being able to take good care of ourselves.  The other is that our immune systems are challenged and not as able to fight off infection.

A few things that are important during this time are water, sleep, some healthy food, and some exercise.  If you are too tired to cook for yourself, you may want to keep bowls of things like nuts or trail mix around the house.  Having things like cheese, hard-boiled eggs, grapes or other foods that take very little preparation can be very helpful.  And I am not suggesting joining a gym, just taking some short walks — 30 minutes a day that can be broken up into 10 minutes at a time.  Studies have actually shown that these lifestyle changes, for some, can be as effective as some medications.

Of course, this blog is only about information and you should always work with your provider to stay mindful of what you need medically, psychologically, spiritually, and nutritionally.

Remember that you are an embodied being… you have arms that once held someone, hands that once ruffled someone’s hair, shoulders that were there to capture your loved one’s tears and worries.  Take gentle care of yourself.


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